By Dale Filhaber

At least once a year, every business owner needs to take a step back and conduct a thorough review of their brand. Marketing strategist Gary Hennerberg calls this a repositioning checklist; I call it Branding 102. The start of a new year is a great time to do this. With 2016 numbers in place, you know if you did well or if sales were off. If sales were down, maybe it’s time to tweak or even rethink your brand, your story and your unique selling proposition. This checklist is a combination of my and Hennerberg’s lists. I have adapted it for the water treatment industry for WC&P readers.

Brand name
Is it easy to pronounce and remember? Does it sound current with the times? Let’s use EcoWater as an example. It is a strong brand name and includes the word water along with a nod to the environment. In today’s culture, the environment can be a real hot button for people, which keeps the brand current.

Brand equity
By definition, it is the real value of a brand name for an organization’s products or services. Establishing brand equity is essential because brands are known to be strong influencers of critical business outcomes. Does your brand convey value? How long has your brand been around? Is your dealership known by the brand name? In the water industry, many dealerships do not take advantage of the power that comes with being a dealership for an established brand. Let’s face it, a Culligan water dealership has serious brand power behind it. This also speaks to the companies and manufacturers that offer dealerships. It’s time for the national marketing management to make sure they are up-to-par with their brand equity, since marketing is a big piece of what the dealers are buying. If you have dealers who are not using your brand name or materials, you need to ask yourself why.

Do you have two or three words that pay off your brand name? (Example: RainSoft, Taking the Worry Out of Water Since 1953). If you don’t have a tagline, you should create one. Sometimes, just refreshing your tagline will be enough to breathe new life into your brand. (Example: Tri-County Water Treatment Specialists, Clean water. Green Future). There is also no reason why a dealership cannot personalize their firm by adding a few solid words, as well as their location. (Example: Hague Quality Water of Kansas City, Top Distributor for the 14th consecutive year).

Is it modern? Are you using colors that bring out the desired emotion of your customer? There are many studies about the psychology of color. Yellow is the happiest color; the color blue conveys trust. Here’s a link to my favorite article about this:

Unique selling proposition
What makes you different, better than your competition? Is it product, service, knowledge, years in business? Many dealers provide lots of home products. Some dealerships market themselves as a one-stop shop for environmental services for the home, including air-quality systems, generators, energy-efficient HVAC systems, windows and doors, and tankless water heaters. Other dealerships may stress the fact that water quality is the only product they offer. Still other dealerships highlight their community involvement and years in business. (Example: Quality Home Products of Texas, Quality Service since 1989)

One word
What is the one word that describes the essence of your product or brand? It’s really difficult to distill everything you do into just one word, but doing this exercise with your staff can be a great team builder and give you great feedback. I have worked with a few dealerships on this exercise. I have heard teams select words like quality, service, eco-conscious, cost-saving, community, family owned and operated.

Brand emotion
Does your brand reflect what you are known for or would like to be known for? Great brands aim for customers’ hearts. One of the keys to building customer loyalty is invoking emotion. It’s no secret that the highest volume photo genres on Facebook and YouTube are babies, puppies, dogs and cats and shots invoking love. These make us feel good; we smile. Can these fit in with your unique selling proposition?

Core message/mission
Your mission should weave throughout your messaging. What are the two or three words (or a brief concept) that you can continually use to bring your customer back to your unique selling proposition, your story, the content you provide to create connections? (Example: Let’s go back to Tri-County Water Specialists, Inc. who took their tagline and made it into their core message: Clean water. Green future. Is not only our company motto, it’s our mission.)

Your story
Stories differentiate you from your competitors. With so many marketing messages bombarding consumers every day, you need to stand out from the crowd more than ever before. Think about how you can take your unique selling proposition and turn it into your story. Remember, the most important stories are not the ones you tell about your company or your product/service. It’s the stories going on inside the heads of your customers and prospects that influence the decisions they make on a daily basis. This is where you start to consider how you want to create your branded content. Your goal is to entertain and engage your audience, make them familiar with your brand and keep them connected so they eventually become customers.

This is also where emotional storytelling comes in. Can you illustrate how your brand can positively enhance the lives of your prospects in a story? To develop the relationship you want with consumers, your story needs to evoke the brand emotion of those relationships. In the water industry, we know that the health and well-being of children in a household is a hot button. We also know that photos of babies and children get high scores in terms of brand emotion. Many dealers feature these kinds of warm and fuzzy photos on their websites, mailers and brochures and even carry this branding over to their company vehicles.

Persona/positioning alignment
Is your positioning aligned with the personality, the persona of your customer? First, you need to create your buyer persona. It’s not just the demographics; a persona goes beyond demographic and behavior information. It gets to the intuition and core thinking of the fears, hopes, dreams and values of an individual. Think of a person as a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. Hubspot offers you a detailed buyer persona template to help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads and customers to your business.

Media choices
You have laid all the groundwork and are ready to decide how to reach your best personae with your marketing budget in mind. We know that different media resonate differently with the different persona. Top media choices for lead generation in the water treatment industry include direct mail, telemarketing, home-store programs, home shows and door-to-door (read more at

Long-lived businesses have learned to stay competitive by responding to changes in customer sentiment. A simple change in logo, mission statement and/or taglines can make the difference between being a great business or remaining a good one.

About the author
Dale ‘Data Dale’ Filhaber, Listologist Supreme, Author and Direct Marketing Commentator, is President of Dataman Group, a direct marketing company based in Boca Raton, FL. She is a Past-President of the Florida Direct Marketing Association and has been active in the Direct Marketing Industry in south Florida for many years, serving as a member of the Florida Direct Marketing Association Board of Directors for 28 years. ‘Data Dale’ is a frequent lecturer on direct marketing and has spoken for the Direct Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America, the USPS Postal Council, the Small Business Administration, the Water Quality Association, International Cremation and Cemetery Association as well as local colleges, rotaries and chambers of commerce about direct marketing. Her book, Lead Generation Made Easier, was published in mid-2016 and has been downloaded hundreds of times by businesses throughout the country. An upcoming edition, specifically created for members of the water quality industry, is expected to be published soon. Look for Data Dale at this year’s upcoming WQA show in Orlando, where she will be presenting a marketing educational opportunity, The Latest Buzz in Lead Generation.

About the company
Dataman Group was founded in 1981 and has provided thousands of clients across the country with accurate, high-quality direct mail and telemarketing lists. Dataman Group specializes in lists of new homeowners, parents of new babies, homeowners, families with children, mortgage data, as well as lifestyle, donor and compiled lists.


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