What Branding Means

How Seeley Medical shaped a solid branding strategy — and why you should, too.

Joe PetrollaFor Joe Petrolla, president of full-service HME provider Seeley Medical, branding is a way of life:

“The starting point for our branding efforts was to define our target audience — the best prospects and customers for Seeley,” he says. “As our company and capabilities have grown and the marketplace has evolved, we’ve revisited this exercise several times because we now have multiple target audiences.

“We defined our key messages for each target audience by answering the following question: What do we want our target audience to think, feel, remember and do when they have a need for the products, services and solutions Seeley provides? Think relates to logic and feel relates to emotion, components critical to our branding success because both are components of our target audiences’ decision-making process,” Petrolla continues.

“Remember and do are often the most challenging parts of defining our key messages. Like many HME companies, we do not have a marketing department or advertising budget — our marketing is done by everyone in the company, so we train everyone on our staff to be our brand ambassadors,” he explains. “And the more they embody our brand, the higher the probability the target audience they serve will: 1) remember Seeley as we want to be remembered; and 2) do what we want them to do — call us first when they have a need, problem or goal we can help with.

“Influencing perceptions is among the key strategies we use to brand our company. By definition, Webster’s defines ‘influence’ as ‘the power to affect others.’ Perception is defined as ‘mental grasp, insight and knowledge of others.’ Therefore, the combination of influence and perception creates the opportunity to impact how and what others understand, think and feel about you, your company and the products and services you offer,” he says.

“There is a conscious and ongoing effort at all levels within Seeley to constantly understand what the customer’s current perception is of our company, our products and services, and our ability to deliver both at the highest quality. We help our employees realize that everything they do and say infl uences perceptions, and we teach them the skills they need to learn to be effective communicators with both internal and external customers.

“It is important to recognize that there are existing and desired perceptions. Our goal at Seeley is to make sure that the exiting and desired perceptions are aligned. When they are not aligned there is a ‘perception gap.’ From a branding perspective a perception gap creates an obvious and major problem. If our prospects and customers don’t completely understand who we are, what we offer and how well we offer it, there is a very good chance we’re not going to get or maintain the business.

“We teach our employees that the information they provide and by the behavior they display influence their prospects’ and customers’ perceptions every time they interact,” Petrolla adds. “It’s equally important that every employee has the knowledge and skills to develop insight into their customers’ current perceptions. Once we understand how our customers currently perceive Seeley Medical, we create and implement customer specific strategies to: 1) reinforce and build upon positive perceptions; or 2) close the perception gap if one exists.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Joseph Duffy is a freelance writer and marketing consultant, and a regular contributor to HME Business and DME Pharmacy. He can be reached via e-mail at joe@prooferati.com.

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