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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Four ways to improve your brand equity

How much is your brand worth? Donald Trump values his personal brand at more than $3billion. But while most business leaders aren't knee-deep in political controversy, the fragility of brand equity is something that all entrepreneurs need to be aware of

The value of brand equity

The brand equity of a business comprises all the associations, emotions, and experiences that come to mind when a consumer is exposed to the brand. What kind of bond is there between you and your customers? The stronger that bond is, the higher your brand equity.

And what does strong brand equity get you? It can get you widespread recognition.

As a side effect of success, some brands even manage to become part of our everyday lexicon. Think about someone sipping coffee from a thermos, but dreaming of a Bacardi and coke, while using a biro to write a reminder on a post-it note to buy a new hoover.

Boosting your brand equity

There are many ways to build brand equity. Your communications, your product performance, your customer service, even your brand name can strengthen or degrade your brand equity.

Here are four ways to ensure your business is focused on the right sort of brand equity development.

1) Quality products and services

This is the backbone of your brand. It's vital that you deliver a quality product to your consumers if you want repeat purchases and good word of mouth.

Unfortunately, businesses in every industry make the mistake of releasing products just to appear innovative. Releasing a product that hasn’t been fully tested and doesn’t match the performance expectations of consumers can erode brand equity.

2) Competitive analysis

A strong brand is a brand that can adapt to market changes. To be such a brand, keep an eye on industry trends and your competitors’ activities.

An effective way to build brand equity is to target a niche: meet a specific need that no-one else is currently satisfying. This radiates both innovative thinking and great understanding of your consumers. Being admired and respected is the hallmark of strong brand equity.

3) Consistent brand image

When you understand the market and your place within it, you need to communicate that to consumers in a consistent and engaging manner.

Your products and pricing are hugely important, but so are other aspects of your business. From your brand name and straplines to your social media activity, every part of your business that comes into contact with customers and potential customers must be refined to ensure it is highly targeted.

Establish your brand image from the start, and model your business accordingly. If you operate in the premium sector of your industry, be classy. If your product or service is about putting a smile on people’s faces, be fun.

Be consistent. Consumers know what they like, and they like what they know. Be in control of what they know.

4) Listen to customers

Brand equity resides in the minds of your customers. Listen to them.

Remember this?

Coca-Cola: Here’s New Coke.

Consumers: Meh!

Coca-Cola: Sorry about that. Anyone for Classic Coke?

Coke listened to customers and remedied the mistake. But they could have avoided it altogether, by asking consumers if they actually wanted the world’s most popular fizzy drink to taste different.

Make is easy for customers to give their feedback. This will help you understand your brand's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities for growth (and what to avoid).

Understanding brand equity is important, no matter what stage your business is at. You must create a positive image in consumers’ minds if they are to become repeat customers or a part of your referral strategy. If you achieve this, your brand will strengthen and you’ll see real growth.

Written by Shweta Jhajharia is principal coach and founder of ActionCOACH.

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