Building a brand need not be a task that business owners should consider daunting and expensive. While you might have to spend some money to build a brand, I can assure you it need not cost a bomb.

Traditional fruit juice shop
photo credit: Meena Kadri / Flickr

Here are 6 simple tactics that I have put together to help small business owners to build a winning brand:

1. Find, Focus and Refine your Niche

Tapping clients is an important part of the brand building exercise. As a business owner you need to cater to a niche market instead of going all out and trying to be all over the place. A lady I know is a dietary consultant as part of the brand building program I have developed for her I suggested that she stick to her niche as she already specializes in picky eaters, kids and mothers as far as dietary consultancy goes.

The key here is going all out means competing with other well established brands that have the money and the mettle to advertise branch out through franchisees and rope in celebrity clientele which my client does not have. Hence she might want to concentrate on these and build her brand. She can of course branch out later but its best to focus and refine first.

2. How to Reach Your Customers?

It is easy to say find your niche and service it but where and how do you find your niche. Taking the example of the dietary consultant she finds it easier to target customers from her niche as she is attached to a pediatrician. That means half her job is done!

I also suggested that she conduct talks at schools on nutrition or targeting women through clubs, associations or kitty parties. Why?

The point is reaching out to more people in the bracket she is catering to right now. I would say reaching out by talking about nutrition at parent-teacher meets might be one idea. For this she would have to tap some schools and network a little.

3. Try Philanthropy

Philanthropy goes a long way in building brands these days. My suggestions for my client in October were…The Joy of Giving Week is on…perhaps you would like to sponsor a meal (nutritious one) at an orphanage and get someone to write about you?

Either that or working with at least one or two orphanages to create healthy diet plans and getting someone to write about your endeavors might give your brand a human face.

Social brands are really the heroes of the market today and the time for social branding and marketing is now! So go on find a cause to support, even a simple move like associating with an organization like CRY or Helpage India might be a good idea.

MacMillan Cancer Support 10K Charity Run
photo credit: George Armstrong / Flickr

4. Advertising

Advertising costs money but you do want to get the word on your products and services out. Here are some free and inexpensive ways to advertise and promote your product and services:

Pamphlets? I think hoardings might be expensive to begin with but you could create interesting colorful pamphlets to distribute.

College students are always looking for a break and are intensely and insanely creative. I had suggested to my client that I could make this work with my students of advertising. We could run it as a contest and you could give them a prize (a cash prize and hampers may be).

In saying this I am doing two things at one go because students need some motivation and they would be creating an ad for you at a fraction of what an ad agency would charge. We have done this for a local bakery in Pune at my previous college. We created hoarding ads for them and they gave cash and hampers to students as prizes.

5. Social Media

Increasing your social media presence is a must not an option. Set up a Facebook page and a blog (free tools like Blogger are available), write on your venture, product, service, mission, etc and connect with people. If you can’t write yourself you could outsource.

6. Create Content That’s Useful

Add value to your product or service by creating something people can use. I asked my client to create a recipe booklet and distribute to clients. That way her tips, ideas and recipes that she was giving out to people could be clubbed once and for all, making a great free give away to clients.

A friend of mine runs a textile venture and she’s creating invaluable information on rare weaves and looms of India, documenting the textile heritage of the country and building a treasure trove of information that will function as a one stop source for anyone seeking to know anything about Indian textiles.

So there you have it…6 Simple tips for brand building that don’t cost the earth, make you stand out in the crowd and build a brand with a difference.