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To a small business owner, “branding” can sound like a big word. It can be intimidating to even a seasoned marketer; so, for the average roofer it is understandable that this concept can seem elusive.

Yet, it’s as important to the success of your company as many other things you may take for granted.

In this month’s “The Summit” article, we sat down with Jeff Williams, IKO brand director, to get his perspective on the importance of branding to sales and marketing. Here are the top five things our ROOFPROs should know about branding their businesses.

Question: What is “branding” and how is it different from marketing or advertising?

JEFF WILLIAMS: Marketing is a broad term that includes branding, advertising and more. Generally, marketing includes what are known as the “5 Ps”: product, price, promotion, place and people; and this defines how you intend to go to market to generate sales. Advertising and branding are both subsets of that. Branding is defining who your company is, what it stands for and why that makes you different in the marketplace. It’s the story you intend to tell when you go to market through advertising or other channels – your company’s personality.

Q: Why is branding important, even to a small business?

JW: Your brand is what makes you unique and gives you a unique selling proposition. It should be the footing you stand on when making a sale. Otherwise, when all else is equal, your ability to sell comes down to price. And in a category like roofing, where there is a ton of competition, you can’t sell on price alone. The most successful contractors are those who have identified what makes them unique to their prospects and spend the time, energy and money building equity in that story. You’ll never win a race to the lowest price — or if you do, it won’t be profitable. Selling your brand is selling your value, and selling value over the lowest price is what gives you the ability to have higher profit margins.

Q: What elements of your business make up your brand?

JW: Everything you say and do should represent your brand. There’s an old maxim that says, “A brand is one-third what you say and two-thirds what you do.” Slogans or taglines are helpful in creating something that is succinct and repeatable to reinforce your brand story, but it’s also the little, lesser-thought-about things: your company name; the way your people dress, talk and act; the professionalism of your proposals; the look of your letterhead, your advertising. Do your people go the extra mile? Do they follow through on commitments? Do they really care about the customer’s experience with your company? The value your company brings should be easily understood in every interaction your company has with a customer or prospect. This also includes your price! Does your pricing reflect the value of your brand? If you are selling a higher-value service, shouldn’t your buyers expect to pay more for that service? Most people think only of communications when they think about branding, and it’s more than that — it’s also the way your business is structured.

Q: What are some steps roofing business owners can take to start understanding and developing their company’s brand?

JW: First and foremost, educate themselves on how to find their differentiator. ROOFPRO can be a great resource for this, as can organizations like Certified Contractors Network (CCN) and influencers like Roofing Insights and Roofers Coffee Shop. Also, talk to your customers and your prospects. Read your reviews — good and bad. Why do your customers hire you? Why didn’t your lost prospects hire you? What are your competitors doing, and what makes them stand out? For those competitors that have established a unique selling proposition (USP), what is it and how are they messaging it? What gaps are there in your local market where you can establish yourself? Product quality? Manufacturer alignment? Warranties? Service? Financing? Maintenance packages? Find — and then own — something that no one else is selling.

Q: How can being a ROOFPRO help to elevate a roofer’s brand?

JW: Our mission with the ROOFPRO program is to invest in our loyal contractors to help them grow their business. As they say, a rising tide raises all ships. We know that the better our contractors do, the better IKO does. We offer tools, funding, partnerships and business-building assets that can help contractors stand out from the roofer next door. Additionally, the ROOFPRO designation tells a homeowner that the contractor they are considering is a professional who has a relationship with a leading manufacturer. And while that shouldn’t be the main story of your brand, it can certainly support it.

Interesting in learning more about developing your company’s brand or how ROOFPRO can support you? Reach out to a member of the IKO team, any time.