Dial Up Your Brand Value With Marketing
Tom Stimson
February 25, 2022
A women in the background reaches forward to press a gear-shaped button labeled

I’m getting clients coming to me saying, “My salespeople are really busy writing proposals.”

My initial response is, “How many of the proposals are closing?” And many clients are replying, “We’re closing most of the proposals we write. In fact, we’re selling out of most of our capacity.”

That means business is good, right? That’s what business is for — making money and being busy all the time.


That’s when I tell the client, “You’re doing something terribly wrong. If you have more customers than you need, you should automatically raise your prices, and then raise them again.”

“What?” says the client. “Our close rate will go down!”

“Of course it will,” I reply. “That’s what you want.”

Owners need to retool their marketing budgets to focus on raising brand value. When this is accomplished, customers old and new will be prepared to spend more to work with you. (For a deep dive into this subject, take a look at my book, Demand: How to Build a Smarter Sales Funnel So You Can Turn Down Better Business.)

The other option? Keep filling your pipeline with new customers at old prices and margins.

Market to Increase Perceived Value

It’s all about branding. If you have a pipeline bursting with customers, it might make sense to some owners to cut back on marketing. Bad idea.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, now is the time to increase spending on marketing. Marketing will increase the value of your brand while aiming it directly at your ideal customer.

Owners often worry their existing customer base won’t pay more and will instead end up looking to competitors with lower prices. But customers will pay more if they believe it’s worth the extra cost.

In other words, are you worth it?

I routinely ask owners, “Are you worth 10% more than your competitors?”

If a business can’t get customers to pay 10% more for their services, then they have two problems. This first is that maybe they aren’t as good as they think they are, and they need to reassess a few things. The second is marketing.

But if they can confidently say, “Yes, I’m worth 10% more than my competitors,” then they just have one problem: marketing.

In either case, marketing MUST be in your budget.

Use Marketing Strategies That Focus on Brand

Your sales pipeline may be full of great customers. But even a pipeline full of great customers has a bottom 20%. The dial you turn to filter out that bottom 20% is brand.

At this point, you don’t just need to attract new customers. You need to increase your perceived value so you attract customers who will pay more for your services. This kind of branding allows you to turn down better and better business and find the best-fit customers who want to work with you.

You can raise your prices and turn away non-ideal work — if you crank up your branding. I really believe that. After all, I did write a whole book on the subject.

What Can You Do for Your Customer?

When it comes to increasing the value of your brand through marketing, the greatest return on investment depends on one factor more than any other:

Focus on what you can do for the customer, not just on what you do.

It’s easy to talk about what you do. It’s harder (but much more important) to talk about why your customer should care.

I received a marketing email just this morning that’s relevant here. It boiled down to this: “Our event experience is something you can count on. Connect with us to discuss your options.”

Really? That’s it?

This does absolutely zero for the buyer. It says essentially, “We are great. Come to us.”

Stay away from the “We are great” approach. It gives off a sense of either arrogance or desperation. Worse yet, customers are bored with the strategy because it’s so commonplace.

Good branding sends the message that you’re attractive to the right people. It instills confidence. It says you are the expert your clients need.

Don’t Devalue Your Brand

I’ve had more than one client complain, “My competitor is giving away such and such things. The customer expects it.” People like free stuff, right? It’s just a principle of marketing.

Not really.

I advise clients not to give away too many freebies. The practice devalues their brand.

Do customers really need all the free stuff competitors are giving away? Is it the freebies that close the deal? If you don’t know, go ahead and ask them.

And even if they do need some of the free things, why would they want the free version over the version that has all of your committed resources behind it? You get what you pay for. Most customers know this.

Owners who rely on giveaways to attract business devalue their brand. I am sure you have seen attorneys advertise on billboards. Does the ad say 50% off your first lawsuit? Of course not. It’s all about brand. If you’re not drawn to the brand that is advertised, then you are not the target customer.

If you want to stop giving away free stuff that devalues your brand, your messaging has to change. To accomplish this, you need to explain to the customer what you need them to do next.

This is where my deep understanding of selling events pays off:

You need prospects who will have an honest conversation with you about their wants, needs, and budget. Anything less is just playing games with your time and resources.

When you have an honest conversation with customers about their needs, you don’t have to over-deliver by doing extra work or offering free stuff to create value for your brand. You’re creating value by listening to the customer and focusing on the job at hand.

Word will get around. You deliver what you promise, and you do it well. A bunch of free stuff, whether in goods or services, can’t compete with that.

Are you worth 10% more than your competitors? Then let your customers know why and how working with you will benefit them. At it’s core, increasing your brand value is a reflection of how well you know your customer.

Turn up the Heat

If you’ve got a pipeline full of customers, it doesn’t mean you should put marketing on the backburner. Instead, go ahead and turn up the heat.

Dial up brand to increase your perceived value and filter out non-ideal prospects.

It’s not just about revenue; it’s about margin and profit. Change your efforts from attracting new customers to increasing your value.

Will customers pay more if your perceived value increases?

Yes. As long as you deliver what you promise.

About Tom Stimson
Tom Stimson MBA, CTS is an authority on business and strategy for small- to medium-sized companies. He is an expert on project-based selling and a thought leader for innovative business processes.
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