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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December 2004, 00:35 GMT
How best to promote your firm
Classic Guinness advertisement
Advertising can be expensive, but it certainly works
As Lord Leverhulme, the founder of consumer goods giant Unilever, once famously said: "I know that half of my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half it is."

Yet if one of today's small businesses wants to best boost their advertising or wider marketing efforts, what would be their best course of action?

Ray Perkins, UK
I run a successful and

growing company that sells packages of instrumentation for chemical analysis.

Up to now we have focused our promotional efforts on specific product offerings, and have paid no serious attention to promoting the company as a brand in its own right.

I now have a strong feeling that we can gain a lot by paying attention to this and I want to make a good job of it.

How do we start the ball rolling?

Simon Edwards, marketing director at Cobra Beer
Congratulations on your achievements so far.

First of all, make sure that promoting your brand is actually going to give you the results you hope for.

While there are a lot of benefits to having a recognised brand that gives people the confidence to try a new product, it is also dependant on people recognising a link between the products.

For example, BMW invests a lot of money communicating that their cars are designed with the driver in mind, so that every time they bring out a new car we expect it to be packed with engineering and technology that will make it a great drive.

On the other hand, Procter & Gamble doesn't promote the brand because the products are very, very different and it would probably be counter-productive to say to consumers "Drink Sunny Delight, the new drink from the people who brought you Head and Shoulders".

Saying that, if the service you offer is more important than your products, then no matter how diverse the products are, you can set up an umbrella brand in the same way the supermarkets have, and establish that you are the place to come to for reliability, service, variety, price or whatever it is you want to be known for.

A brand in simple terms is an identity and in creating a brand you want to establish and then reinforce that identity.

Where it starts to get complicated is that your identity is not just your logo or brand name, it is every aspect of your company.

So, depending on what you want to be known for, it should be reinforced by the behaviour of your staff, the procedures you have in place, the way you treat your employees, they way your phone is answered etc., everything.

Because whatever contact a person has with a brand, that will be included in their overall judgement of the brand.

To ask Simon Edwards a question about how best to market your small business use the email form below.

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