Monetize Your Brand

For the last couple of years, I’ve been helping companies with their marketing strategies. I didn’t realize they weren’t doing one of the most essential things within their wheelhouse. And I get it. In the world of entrepreneurship, a lot of the hoopla is about the hustle and the grind.

Unfortunately, that’s short term thinking. I’m guilty of it too.

You see, the term brand gets thrown around with the wrong definition. A company’s brand is all about the customer’s point of view, not the founder(s). That’s called vision.

When I was driving for Uber, I didn’t think that much of how cash flow was going to impact my long-term success. It was more like a game or going fishing- and it was fun when the app wouldn’t stop going off.

The day in the life of Uber:
1. Turn on your app.
2. Wait for a rider.
3. Buzzing and flashing on your mobile Uber app.
4. Head to pick up your rider.
5. Give them the ride while you charm them for a high rating because they weren’t doing tips when I was driving.
6. Say goodbye (and check trip fare amount).
7. Start the whole process all over again.

I was happy when my phone flashed, and I had a rider. Each ride put money in my business bank account so that I could pay for both business and personal bills. To keep it real, Uber gamified the application, so it became addicting, but it didn’t matter to me at the time. Money was coming in, and I needed it.

Did Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp envision all of it? Probably, but not on day one.

We all love to pay the bills, but I wasn’t thinking about my future bills as I was building my business as an entrepreneur. I was grinding and hustling. It felt good. However, I didn’t have the right mindset.

My brand suffered during this time, but not for long.

Brand Value

My Uber’ing career was all about Uber. It wasn’t about NW & Associates or my nonprofit (Dream Big Community Center). Even though I told a lot of riders my Uber’ing wasn’t full-time as I passed out business cards, I was sending the wrong message in hindsight.

Because at the end day, I was going to be remembered as their Uber driver.

In today’s digital world, we all have a digital footprint we leave on social media, websites, e-commerce, and even on our smart devices. As a consumer, this makes it easier for us when we need a recommendation. We take a screenshot, bookmark it, or send a link to ourselves in various ways.

Every business should solve a problem by creating solutions in the marketplace.

For a company, that’s an excellent complement to be known as the problem solver. On a subconscious level, the individual places that specific brand as the benchmark. It becomes the #1 top-of-the-mind business because it solves their problem. It’s simple supply and demand. 

The prospective customer has a demand (a want) and the company provides the supply (product/service).

Each time the consumer engages with the company, it either increases or decreases the brand value. Over time, companies have done more to enhance customer service and shopping experiences to ensure the prospect’s illusion of the brand stays positive.

A great example would be Apple and their retail stores. Apple retail stores are modern with clean lines of open spaces with their latest technology devices enclosed in glass windows. Once you walk in the store, you’re greeted and encouraged to browse their products with hands-on experiences before your name is called out loud by the front-door ambassadors. After your name is called, you have a personal shopping assistant to assist you with every decision or question.

When you walk out of the Apple store, you will either have a good or bad experience. Ever since I’ve been an Apple customer, I’ve never had a bad experience. They’ve always solved my problem.

For me, the Apple retail stores are fantastic, which is funny because I swore by Samsung Galaxy and Toshiba laptop. After my Samsung tablet died on me, I crossed over. When the transition took place, I quickly crossover everything.

I have an iPhone (purchased in later 2015), iPad (bought in early 2015), and a MacBook Pro (my second purchased MacBook in early 2017). So far, their brand value has only increased over the years. My loyalty to Apple is called brand resonance in the CBBE (aka, Customer Brand Based Equity), which means I won’t leave unless they really mess up.

I’m proud to tell people I’m an Apple user. However, I’ve never left a review, but I don’t look for reviews either. For other brands, their customer reviews are the ‘bread and butter’ for the business.

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are critically important to online shoppers. People want to know the legitimacy of the product or service. Amazon would be a great example, but let’s go with a more prominent personal purchase. The best scenario is buying a home.

For example, when I look at houses on Zillow’s mobile application, it allows me to heart it (which means I can save it), but only if I’m logged in. Sometimes I get caught up on how a specific house staging of furniture and decor could be my setup and lifestyle. Then I look at the location, taxes, or HOA fees, bringing me back to reality.

But my reality is still within the consumer mindset.

Here’s where the consumer mindset is about learning, not about spending money or caught up in the materialism world. I tend to lean to minimalism. Zillow provided me an insight I never knew, and they become my unconscious housing expert. Instead of customer reviews, they give me a customer experience. As a brand, they got me hooked.

On the flip side, as a producer, as a newer and start-up business, companies fail to understand how to reach their target market via their digital footprint. Zillow does a phenomenal job making anyone believe they can be a homeowner. However, not everyone will be.

When I pull myself entirely out of that consumer mindset, I think of my brand.

Since we all have our own customer journey as business owners or key decision-makers, we have to consider how to turn our marketing and sales efforts into a seamless system. Even though I may not need another person’s opinion, I like to hear it for my purchasing consideration. I love how Amazon has customer ratings and reviews. It’s an element that compliments my experience.

There’s no way to know unless you ask them, but I wonder if Zillow or Amazon had this feature from the beginning?

I believe the answer didn’t come overnight. It takes some time to develop this answer for each company. Being that I haven’t used Zillow for my home buying experience, they don’t have me as a customer, which means their model isn’t about how I use their services. However, I am an Amazon Prime member.

Zillow’s brand is about selling houses. They want to make your experience simple and user-friendly. Here is a snippet of what I found on their about us page of ‘What is Zillow?’

“Zillow is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration, and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help.”

So yes, I guess I am their customer. As I read further, their brand is more than a one-time experience. You can use their services for anything relating to real estate.

Zillow serves the full lifecycle of owning and living in a home: buying, selling, renting, financing, remodeling, and more. It starts with Zillow’s living database of more than 110 million U.S. homes – including homes for sale, homes for rent and homes not currently on the market, as well as Zestimate home values, Rent Zestimates and other home-related information. Zillow operates the most popular suite of mobile real estate apps, with more than two dozen apps across all major platforms.

In a consumer mindset, I’ve found many of us don’t click on the ‘About Us’ section of the company or read any of the legality information. I included myself in that statement too. I’m guilty also.

That is why my goal is to educate my clients where we must both grow and learn together.

As we evolve, the brand needs to change too. This is when your brand equity increases because we like to know, like, and trust the companies we buy from, and that’s truer when it comes to local businesses. Hence, why all companies evolve their brand to accommodate the customer journey.

Personal Growth

To evolve as a critical decision-maker in a business, one of the first things you have to do if you want to capitalize on your brand’s monetization is the unlearning of your consumer mindset. Focus on the ‘work smarter, not harder’ of building the customer experience. Make it about the customer, not you.

Do not make the shopping experience about your ego. You are not your customer. Your brand logo should bring joy to your clients of trustworthy customer service and high quality.

For new entrepreneurs starting their side hustle, you don’t have a brand just yet because you don’t have any clients. But once you make that first sell, welcome to the family. If you have already started a business and selling items, you have a brand. Your brand is your customer’s experience.

Have you asked them for a review or feedback?

Here is where the journey of personal growth begins. People love to criticize. It is super hard to hear negative comments about something you created, but it’ll get easier. I’m not sure why people critique without offering suggestions. I believe it’s just human nature, but I haven’t checked on the science to back up my theory.

When you are a small business or entrepreneur producing a product or a service, your number one concern should be taking care of the people who are purchasing your product/service. If they have already made the purchase, you should want to retain them as best as possible.

However, not everyone will like it.

You’re going to hear negative feedback, which is fine. Some people love to criticize.

There will be horrible feedback. Keep in mind your product/service isn’t for everyone, so you need to protect your brand by doing your best to provide a quality experience. Also, this is why it’s essential to know your market and demographic.

Not everyone will be your customer. You’ll have some constructive criticism from people who want it, but there will always be tweaks that need to be made. These are the people you want to hear from regularly, which means it’s time for you to tell the selected masses about you, your company, and what you’re selling- which means your brand is ready to grow.

Promote Your Brand

It’s time to apply your marketing strategy to convert prospects into customers.

More than likely, you work harder for your brand, then your brand works harder for you. Ideally, I would assume you would want your brand to work harder for you and create an opportunity for passive income.

To keep it real, passive income doesn’t mean you don’t work on your company. You have to learn how to work ‘in’ and ‘on’ your business. There’s a difference.

One of the best ways to begin to monetize your brand is to build your funnel of what your consumer needs. It also needs to make the best sense for you and your business. Your funnel is the process of meeting a new person, which then turns into a prospect, then turns into a lead and then turns into a customer if your successful in converting them into a customer. Hence, the monetization of your brand.

Be the solution.

I write this because my business is personal because this service is for the advancement of all humanity. My failures and successes are for your gain. No strings attached.

Nathan A. Webster, MBA
Mr. Social Entrepreneur
Consulting | Marketing | Websites

Author: nathanwebster
From a US Marine to nonprofit executive director, I've been fortunate to do a lot of stuff. My quick history is I’m a brand marketer with a background in social good. In the process of running a small educational nonprofit, I learned the value of storytelling and digital branding. That’s how I got involve in marketing, websites, consulting via my podcast as well, and being an adjunct business professor at the local community college.