Coca ColaI can hear you all the way over here. “Linda, how is MY business like Coca Cola??”

I assure you, I am not crazy. Well, maybe a little, but only after too much caffeine.

See, here’s the deal. You go to a ballgame, every kid is sipping from a cup emblazoned with the Coca Cola logo.

Your favorite sitcom? There’s a can of Coke sitting on the kitchen counter.

Super Bowl? Yup. There’s a $4 million dollar Coke ad – or two.

Why? Isn’t Coke known throughout the world? Hasn’t “Coke” become the generic term for “fizzy cola beverage” – much the way “Xerox” has come to mean “photocopy” and “Kleenex” is understood as “tissue”?

The answer is yes, yes, and yes.

So tell me again, Linda, how MY business is like Coke…

Your business is just like the world’s best-known carbonated beverage because it, too, requires constant reinforcement with its market. Granted, for Coke that market is THE WORLD, and your market may be, shall we say, somewhat more niched than that. But the point is this: If a world-renowned brand like Coke needs to keep its market reminded of just how fabulous it is and just why you need to keep buying and drinking it, don’t you think we can learn something from that?

When you’re in the mood for a carbonated beverage and the waitress asks, “What would you like to drink with that?” do you automatically say, “I’ll have a Coke” – without even knowing which brand of cola they serve? If you’re like most people, you do exactly that. Now, how do you suppose that happened?

It happened because Coke has done what you need to do: Be the brand that instantly springs to mind when someone wants what you have to offer. This is known as brand awareness.

And what does brand awareness lead to? Brand loyalty, which is defined as “the extent of the faithfulness of consumers to a particular brand, expressed through their repeat purchases, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE MARKETING PRESSURE GENERATED BY THE COMPETING BRANDS.” [emphasis mine]

Sure, the economy isn’t roaring back as fast as we’d all hoped. Resources need to be stretched to go further. I get it. But if you’re thinking about cutting back your marketing, you are engaging in your own brand of SEQUESTER – using a chain saw where you should be using a scalpel. As small business owners, we have to behave more intelligently and logically than that!

Instead, I ALWAYS opt to model successful businesses. So let’s take a page out of Coca Cola’s marketing book and brand your business like Coke:

Be remarkable. Be memorable. Become indispensable. Be so damn good at what you do – and so great at letting your market know it! – that you are far and away the top choice in your niche.

This is the enduring branding lesson of Coca Cola, and it is exactly the same for your business.

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