Good Impressions Are Good Positions, Notes Brandon Frere

If an entrepreneur wants their company to be noticed, they should pay attention to client expectations. When a product, business or person is shown to a customer, it leaves an impression and it is up to entrepreneurs to find a way to make that impression meaningful. By focusing a brand on client expectations, entrepreneurs may increase success over a long period of time. Brandon Frere, CEO of Frere Enterprises and other companies, encourages entrepreneurs to think about their brand's impression from their customer's point of view.

"I don't care how good your product is if I don't understand it," said Frere. "The easier it is for me to understand what you offer, the more likely it is that I will care about what you do."

It may be wise to focus development of any project around client feedback. From this feedback, companies might be able to find the impression, or personality, that their brand has in clients' minds. Instead of creating a new impression, it is often useful to conform to the clients' expectations and make the business predictable and memorable. This concept is similar to an idea called "positioning," a concept popularized by Al Reis and Jack Trout in the book of the same name. Positioning operates on the idea that customers are more likely to buy off the positive assumptions they have regarding a brand, rather than whatever image the company is trying to frame for itself.

If a company is the first to make something, such as IBM with computers or Coca-Cola with soda, then the business' name will be associated with the product. If Coca-Cola starts suddenly making cars, then customers will have a mixed perception of Coca-Cola. If Coca-Cola chose a different brand name for their car company, then they might be able to have more success. If a product isn't the first-of-its-kind, then the business should often be framed in such a way that it is thought of as the first-of-its-kind, often through specializing. For example, it may be better to be known as the traveling company that specializes in trips to Africa than it is to be just another traveling company. By positioning the company in a way that conforms to clients' understanding of the company, it is more likely that clients will remember the company.

An entrepreneur should think about how to use their impressions. People may look deeper if the impression makes them think that exploring it is worth their time. For example, if a product called "Pocket Burger — the capsule that becomes a burger — just add water" is in the grocery store next to a frozen store-brand burger it will leave a different impression. While this burger may not have a stronger utilitarian purpose than the frozen burger, it sticks as a novelty in the client's mind, which may increase the chance of sales. In addition, the growth of a burger with water may cause people to ask about the product when they see it in action, effectively acting as free marketing. However, if the company ever developed a normal "high-quality" burger after this, there would probably be some expectations of a sense of novelty based on the previous burger and brand. If an entrepreneur wished to develop "gourmet burgers," they may want to create a different brand. By thinking about a project in terms of the impression in the client's mind, it may be easier to attract more attention.

"It is important to remember that the decision to look at your company costs a customer's time," said Frere. "I've seen a lot of great services in my time, but I don't often see ones that I knew were great the moment I saw them. Any business that can make me visualize myself using the product the moment I see it has already succeeded more than most."

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