I got a fairly “expensive” haircut when I went back to the states last, and it brought a myriad of brand positioning examples and pre-eminent marketing goodness to the surface. There were keys inside this cultured experience and environment that any business can pick up and implement to attract and retain the right customers (while increasing profit margins).
Today will be a deep dive into one particular small business branding strategy, applied to the larger takeaways that’ll improve your experience in business life.
5 Brand Positioning Examples
I Learned From My $25
Now, I recognize a haircut for $25 is fairly mainstream these days, and is nothing compared to the $100-500 haircuts, (up in NY for instance) but still…
I grew up in a day where local haircuts around the corner were $5 and they included pretty much the basics. I’ve also lived all around the world and have therefore seen and received haircuts for the equivalent of $2 on the street!
Nowadays, I usually cut my own hair; it’s quick, free and easy with the clippers and takes roughly 20 minutes. However every once in a while, I enjoy getting a haircut from one of my favorite barbers when I fly back to the U.S.
We’ll call him Jay.
Since I live abroad nearly 100% of the time, I rarely go back to the U.S. to visit family or friends. But every now and again, I’ll pop in and catch up with the people I care about. And usually when I do, I’ll head over and see Jay because it’s part of the old “home” experience.
When you grow up in a certain environment, aspects there that are still in place seem to welcome you when you go back. It’s nice to have the aspects of “home” even though my normal home is pretty much anywhere in the world that I want it to be.
As a marketing consultant, it’s always fun for me to go into other situations where I’m being marketed to and see what’s right, wrong, and memorable.
Today, we’ll stick to what getting a $25 haircut taught me when it comes to your own brand building strategy. Let’s dive in…
Lesson #1: Branding And Identity – How Jay Grew His Business to the Talk of the Town That’s Always Booked in Advance
Jay’s a pretty popular dude.
He’s a charismatic, Vietnamese-Chinese immigrant, who speaks Vietnamese, some Chinese, and good enough English. Every time I go in, he’s always dressed in some suave business casual, and is trying out new highlights, coloring, mohawks or buzz styles.
He’s often wearing stylish, indoor light shades that have a purple/blue tinge, and gold frames. He’s usually got on some type of designer loafers and belt.
Dude walks his talk. He embodies his brand.
And he’s known for asking you funny, direct questions about your life that always catch you off guard.
“Why you don’t come in so long man, what the hell?”
“How’s Vietnam man, do women follow you home out there or what?”
“You speak some Vietnamese now, they love you over there, white man?”
“My assistant is hungry, go take her across the street to get a sandwich so she stops whining!”
“Your friend come once a year, tell him he looks like a girl and gotta see me.”
And other funny stuff…
He also knows I lived in Vietnam for a while and he knows the drill with my business lifestyle, so we always chop it up.
But every time I go in, he manages to cajole an unexpected laughing session or two out of me. And one thing that’s crazy about his shop?
He’s always packed. Always.
You have to call in sometimes days in advance to get a haircut, because he’s so busy all the time. He has a few other people working for him and had to move from another spot that was fairly big itself, because there just wasn’t enough space.
And this brings us to our first point…
Now I’m not sure if this is part of some in-depth brand buildings strategy; I think it’s more part of his overall demeanor. But the branding and identity he brings to the table is one of jest, lighthearted fun, and more than just boring conversation.
He’s a funny individual, who is fantastic at getting a rise out of people. Come to think of it, I’ve known the guy for over a decade, and he used to fight on my team when my mom would say “cut the bangs higher!”
I used to have some truly Justin Bieber hair, and my mom always wanted it shorter than I did. He was a great salesman, and said things like “it’s a lot longer now, but once it dries, it’ll rise a quarter inch…”
He wanted me to have the hairstyle I liked, but whenever she kept pushing and put her foot down, he knew the games were over. It was always funny to watch though, and that’s part of what gives people that reluctant acceptance towards him.
He’s great at what he does, he knows it, and he stands his ground while keeping it light. This is the first part of his personal brand identity, and why you should consider this piece in your own marketing.
Lesson #2a: Basic Principles of Marketing – How Jay’s Marketing and Branding Story Impact People More Than a Faceless Brand Does
One of the things I find fascinating about Jay’s shop is that it’s always full of people, returning and new. Most people there know him and are familiar with his antics. You can tell by the way they say hello, that most people go way back with him. He’s pretty much the neighborhood guy!
Now when you go to the nearest Great Clips, Supercuts or Sport Clips, you hardly feel connected. I’m not saying they don’t do great work, and that you can’t build a bond with your hairdresser; it’s just different.
You go there for a haircut that will be more or less the same every time, and it’s more of a business transaction than it is a relationship.
But at Jay’s, you never know exactly what you’re getting, and it’s almost an adventure.
He might try to sell you on a different hairstyle for this season, show you some examples in the magazines, or persuade you to get some new cologne that matches your shampoo.
You just never know, and it’s all fun and games.
We crave novelty as humans, and his approach to sales is a great one. Now, besides the fact that Jay’s built into his business and it’d be hard for him to step away…
… That it violates some principles of my vital business acronym S.P.E.E.D., defined here…
… And that he must usually be there to make money…
He’s figured out a few golden marketing and retention practices.
He’s so popular that people usually want to book him specifically, and going with his assistant is just not as fun. She’s a sweet lady, but she rips my hair off my skull when cutting it, and doesn’t speak much english. It just ain’t the same!
So he’s got a great problem of too much business, and he has built in some leverage of himself, for the demand is just so high.
This ties back into his personal marketing and branding, because he is the sole boss and owner. It’s clearly Jay’s shop.
It’s not a faceless franchise, or a random shop you go into once and never return. You can tell by the packed schedule and the fact that I choose him (and tip generously) over my own free haircuts when I go back to the states.
Everybody knows his brand story, his personality, and his skills.
They know what to expect when they walk in.
They want to be entertained, laugh it up, and he also takes a genuine stock in your life and what you’re doing, which makes you feel valued. Part of my own marketing philosophy is that you should market like you’re marketing to one person only.
All your writing, copy, and marketing pieces are just for them.
This is what he does, and genuinely treats you like you’re special, every time.
Lesson #2b: Basic Principles of Marketing – Branding Your Business’s Intellectual Property
Another thing Jay does exceptionally well is cultivate an environment.
The message he’s looking to purvey is one of a higher-class professional.
He utilizes the brand “Crew” a lot for the men’s shampoos and conditioners, and only carries lines that are premium and sleek. He turned me on to this brand actually! You won’t see any $3 budget shampoo bottles in his shop; his place is one of class.
His logo, business cards, and materials are reflective of this.
The magazines available for you as you recline in comfy, black leather single chairs are ones such as Fortune, Car and Driver, Glamour, Men’s Fitness, and more.
Sleek posters are up on the wall of fashionable hairstyle headshots of models and accomplished people. They all reflect the outcome of the service you’re there investing in.
He’s got a small section for kids as well, with some toys and little chairs, but mostly he grooms adults. While they wait, and while getting cut in black, branded barber’s cloth, everything high-class is reinforced.
Small business branding is ridiculously important for those who haven’t yet hit the franchise level, and the benefits of branding cannot be understated.
It not only makes you look like you have your stuff together, it subconsciously communicates that you have the other important areas in your business covered too.
In a word, it instills trust. And trust is a priceless currency in business.
Showing pride in your work, trademarking your movement, and creating a memorable experience are all keys to solid small business marketing.
Lesson #2c: Basic Principles of Marketing – Branding and Marketing Strategies That Offer An Experience
Atop cultivating an environment, another thing Jay masters is offering an experience.
A haircut is an event. Usually, a boring and less-than-fun one.
But what Jay offers is an exciting, funny, and pampering experience.
As you wait on him, (a great psychological marketing and branding tactic) you’re seated in cushy black leather.
You’re reading about all the successful individuals in these glossy magazines and visualizing and achieving whatever you want.
After you’re personally chosen, you’re led to a spotless sink and into another comfy chair to put your head back for a custom shampoo. Your choice of peppermint, citrus, mint shampoos, etc. are all available for your preliminary wash.
Women are reclined, getting their manicures and pedicures in the background; the whole atmosphere is one of service and excellence.
Jay asks you about your life, your recent events and what you’ve been up to as he scrubs your scalp gently with warm water.
Next, you’re led to an immaculately clean barber’s chair, cloaked in a branded barber’s cloth, taped up and the cut begins.
The point is, you’re feeling like a superstar, while connecting with the funny, in-demand barber on the block who everybody knows.
In other words, all the psychological benefits of branding are working in his favor all the time. He offers you an experience, rather than another boring old haircut.
Lesson #3: The Brand Loyalty Is Ridiculous – Seemingly All the Customers Inside Are Repeat Business
An after-effect of the brand strategy examples I’ve given is the loyalty. It’s simply uncanny.
I have never been in the shop where it’s dead quiet with all new customers who don’t know the drill. No, almost every single person who walks in the door is cracking it up with Jay. They’re all glad to see him, and walk in smiling from ear to ear.
That’s brand loyalty.
And it comes after trust, and consistently positive experiences with his shop.
If you get nothing else out of today’s brand positioning examples than that, keep this top of mind. This is what drives repeat business, predictable income, and steady growth. And if you already achieve results like these, when marketing and advertising your own business, you don’t really need to be here reading this.
This is part science, part art.
The crazy thing is that some people either are naturals, or seem like naturals. I highly doubt he started planning out a bunch of this brand positioning strategy stuff, just knowing him.
I don’t think that’s the way he runs his business.
Knowing his path to growth, and hearing what he complains about when we talk business, I honestly believe that he just worked his way to this point with his skills and personality, then picked up the rest along the way.
The reason for my conclusion is I’ve reviewed the website and the online presence (or lack of). I have also seen word of mouth play the biggest factor in his rise to a booming client base. So if you’re not quite there yet, work on playing to your own strengths.
The rest can and will come in due time, like his branding materials, environment, and cultivated haircut experience.
Lesson #4: Filling a Unique Need That Actually Has Demand, Where Barriers of Entry Are High
I’ve said it before, but when you nail the right principles, competition becomes irrelevant. One of the best marketing strategies for business is filling a unique need, that nobody has quite been able to fill.
Finding them is one thing, filling them is another beast.
This is because you’re the one in the marketplace setting standards, and also making it so you’re the only one fulfilling them.
Jay’s done this with his own marketing philosophy; do you have what it takes to do it with yours? Let’s find out…
Start by asking yourself a few vital questions:
“What do I offer that’s different (not always better) than my competition?”
“How could I be in my own class with my branding and identity?”
“What unique subclass could I be the first in, where there’s a new demand?”
If you’re one to think outside the box, while still being grounded in real market data, then you can have the keen eye to spot profitable opportunities that others miss.
Don’t setup a new painting studio on a street where there are already five…
Don’t setup a painting studio that offers nothing different, even if there’s no competition!
People will be bored to tears with “new things” that pop up that aren’t actually novel. If it’s just more of the same, you’re wasting time, energy and capital. You’re chasing your passion but setting yourself up for failure.
Jay’s done a great job with his brand positioning strategy, whether he knows it or not.
* As I mentioned, I’d lean more towards not, just knowing him. You don’t have to be a super-genius to make it work; don’t let that stop you.
There were no other “luxury” studios in the area offering what he wanted to offer.
No one-man haircut spots with a funny Vietnamese guy cracking jokes and giving you a hard time in the area.
And most of the marketers were competing on price, budget cuts, discounts.
Or trying to serve everyone.
Or not taking time to brand or cultivate environments and experiences.
Therefore in a word, he filled an empty spot.
And business boomed because of it.
Lesson #5: Intense Loyalty to the Point of Competition Becoming Irrelevant
There’s no spoken agreement when you choose a company to frequent. Capitalism and the free market setup a nice choice for you to do whatever you want.
However, Jay will give you crap for going to another shop, or not showing up in a long while, but it’s all fun and games. But even before he had a chance to give me a hard time, I noticed the competition almost became irrelevant, since I felt loyal to his service.
Even at higher prices, even at further commuting distances, and yes, even over spending just 20 quick minutes cutting my own hair at home!
This is another reason why competing on price is so stupid. But we’ll save that for another piece in the Direct Response Marketing Series.
One thing I noticed from the Ultimate Sales Machine is that I honestly felt like it’d be a violation of friendship to not visit Jay’s shop. Isn’t that crazy?
I didn’t want to go anywhere else, and it’d feel somewhat weird if I did because it’s nowhere near the same experience. Plus, I’ve got history with the brand!
These psychological factors all play a big part on why I’ve been influenced to go back again and again.
When you get these principles working in your favor, and intertwine them naturally into your relationships, nothing can stop you.
You’re an influential force to be reckoned with, who understands and leverages human behavior for the benefit of everyone. As I’ve stated before, small business marketing only has one proprietary principle when you’re getting started.
The World Has Too Much Marketing Information; Your Job Is to Pick ONE of These Strategies and Get Rolling
Seriously, it’s all info, all the time. That’s the world we’re living in.
And even though I just gave you five relevant brand strategy examples, it’s your job to go out and execute one.
Yes, right now! Work whichever one resonates with you at your current stage into branding your business.
Nobody said it’d be easy, but the best way to make it unnecessarily hard on yourself is to apply all five at once. You need focus.
So pick one, and this article will be here for you once you’ve mastered and applied the one you need most right now.
As a Direct Response Marketing consultant, I operate with this philosophy always. I tackle one concept with my clients at a time; usually the low-hanging fruit first. And then we take on the other leverage points that need work.
In descending order of potential, I help implement the marketing strategies for business growth as they need them.
The world does not need more marketing information. The world needs more proper marketing implementation.
I recommend the same for you when creating the lifestyle of your dreams.
Conclusion: Making Money With These Brand Positioning Examples, Deleting Competition, and Raising Barriers to Entry
No matter the strategies you choose to employ when branding your business, you’ll need to focus and prioritize.
Remember to ask yourself the demand and competition questions from above, along the way. Remember to cultivate the environment and experience in your business that you want to convey!
If you don’t do it consciously, you’ll have a brand message by accident that will convey what you don’t want.
Oh, and one more thing… You don’t need to have a physical E-commerce brand or a local business to leverage these superior marketing and advertising strategies.
You can use these within your own information product business, service or consulting company, or non-profit. Whatever you’re building, you can be sure you’ll need some variation of the branding and marketing strategy tips covered today.
Remember Jay and his carefully cultivated environment and experience. Seek to emulate the lessons in your own way.
Part of the reason Jay’s brand positioning strategy worked so well is that he knows his targets extremely thoroughly.
He knows who he’s speaking to at all times. Who he wants to attract. How to maximize revenue by keeping relevant products on hand and selling them.
The brand positioning examples you’ve seen here represent a larger sales and marketing strategy that was executed and crafted over years of work.
But if you want to do the same for your business, you’ll be starting from the ground up.
This means you’ll experience a ton of hard lessons.
Successful people don’t get a nice easy ride to success, and it’s not going to be like that for you. But there are tools that can make it a lot easier on you!
The new book I’ve put together, The Ultimate Copywriting Guide to Selling Anything Online has just finalized Volume I. It’s already been distributed to tons of marketers like yourself, and this volume contains a wealth of wisdom that will save you from:
– pulling your hair out testing everything,
– getting inconsistent sales conversion results
– stressing out from inevitable challenges, and
– generally make you happier on your journey to wealth
This is Direct Response wisdom compiled from years of my own trial and error, and it’s what I use with my own private clients.
Plus for a (very) limited time it comes equipped with my Profit & Conversion Sheet template that you can run your ads, funnels, and sales copy through to maximize sales.
Picking up the tools inside and applying them will no doubt make the road to the business profit much shorter.