For new business owners, establishing brand awareness, launching new products and standing apart from competition is no easy task. Marketers at emerging brands are inherently time poor and often operate on shoestring budgets, so breaking into crowded markets and reaching consumers is a considerable challenge. Hiring marketing staff or third-party advertising agencies is an expensive investment and a luxury for most SMBs, so how can new brands make a big splash given their limited bandwidth and resources?
Beyond more traditional marketing tactics like paid advertisements or exhibiting at trade shows, brand marketers can implement certain strategies that help raise brand awareness and drive sales. An often untapped, but powerful marketing resource for brands is consumer-generated content, or ratings and reviews, comments, or questions from customers and past purchasers. Collecting and distributing consumer-generated content is one of the most effective ways brands can emulate the buzz of word-of-mouth marketing, but at scale. If you’re an emerging brand looking to grow your business, you should make it a goal to:
Attract and convert consumers with trusted content
Today’s consumers are weary of traditional advertising and marketing messaging produced by brands. Instead, they have come to expect and rely on ratings and reviews while they research and compare products and make their purchase decisions. Providing consumers with honest reviews, feedback and opinions about products is proven to boost consideration and confidence to buy. In fact, brands that had ratings and reviews available for consumers to interact with experienced on average a 106 percent conversion lift. Collecting a high volume of fresh feedback from past purchasers can significantly influence future shopper decisions in the long run, so prioritize regularly asking for ratings and reviews from your customers.
Collect valuable feedback and insights about your products
One of the biggest struggles new brands must overcome is understanding their customers and how their products are perceived in the marketplace. Small businesses rarely have the budget to hire market research firms to conduct focus groups or competitive analysis to inform future product strategies or business decisions. So how can emerging brands learn what consumers think about their products? Ratings and reviews are an excellent source of authentic customer feedback. If brands amass a healthy amount of consumer-generated content about their products over time, they can analyze the data and identify trends in the ratings to determine what qualities consumers like and dislike about their products. Brands should regularly share and circulate this type of customer feedback with their product, R&D and sales teams to identify and fix product flaws and shape how they position and message their products externally.
Nurture relationships with retailers and partners
Another challenge new brands face is making a strong, positive first impression with established merchants and retail partners who could potentially carry their products and bring much-needed exposure to a wider audience. In order to sell products through big-name retailers, brands must prove that their product offerings appeal to their channel partners’ shoppers. Sharing ratings and reviews from real people is one of the most effective ways for brands to convince retailers that their products are in demand and well-liked by customers. Not only does this content help get their products on the retailers’ shelves, but positive ratings and reviews can improve product placement on in-store displays or on e-commerce homepages and category pages.
Launch new products with confidence
Introducing new products to the marketplace is no easy task. Not only must brands build awareness of new products and differentiate themselves from competition, but do so within a limited timeframe to sell and make their products successful. Ratings and reviews can help boost consideration and purchase, but also search and discovery. Brands can be proactive about collecting this valuable review content before their new products hit the shelves via sampling. Offering free samples of new products to communities of existing customers or third-party consumers in exchange for honest ratings and reviews. Running sampling campaigns ensures that helpful customer feedback is available to consumers from the start, giving brands confidence on launch date. Be sure to badge and acknowledge when your reviews are incentivized through sampling; this demonstrates transparency and is critical to maintaining consumer trust.
Repurpose and reuse the voice of the customer in subsequent marketing
Lastly, ratings and reviews do not only have to live on your product pages. Authentic testimonials from happy customers can be leveraged in subsequent marketing materials to make a lasting impact. Brands should get creative with how they repurpose their consumer-generated content. For example, using quotes from your reviews in social media messaging, featuring star ratings on product packaging, and utilizing this content in other promotions like coupons and email copy. The voice of your customer is original and believable, so be sure to fully leverage it!
When small businesses enter the marketplace, it can be difficult and intimidating to get in front of consumers and produce sales-driving outcomes. But brands who unlock the voice of their existing customers have a major opportunity to boost sales, gain valuable feedback, build relationships with their retail partners, and launch new products.
Patrick Kilgore is Product Marketing Manager for Bazaarvoice