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There are branding lessons to be learned from Pedego Electric Bikes, a company founded in the great recession of 2008 by two best friends who loved to cycle but hated hills.
Co-founders Don DiCostanzo, CEO, and Terry Sherry, CFO, overcame the significant challenges of being an unknown brand in the virtually unknown electric bikes category to become the number one electric bike company in the U.S. with a strong global presence.
“A brand is a promise of an experience and is directly connected to trust. It’s what your customers say when you’re not around,” said DiCostanzo.
When done right, a brand can’t be duplicated, and that is a competitive advantage.
I met DiCostanzo because we are both speaking at the Growth U Summit (www.growthusummit.com) at UC Irvine on June 13, 2019. I asked for a few preview tips on how to create a brand that can provide a competitive advantage:
Build a foundation with a brand strategy. “Identifying your differentiation enables you to identify, leverage and profit from what makes your company or product unique,” says DiCostanzo. “Include your mission, vision, brand values, brand voice, brand promise, positioning and messaging for your target audiences.”
Understand your higher value. For example, DiCostanzo says he sells “fun.” Like the Pedego tagline, “Hello, fun…” his bikes are fun to ride. Being a Pedego store owner is fun. He says his job is fun and he wants to make life fun for others. As he says, “Who doesn’t want to have fun?”
Create alignment within your marketing touchpoints. “Pedego’s integrated marketing touchpoints include its website, individual websites for each of its 150 stores, digital marketing, social media accounts for each store, and public relations,” says DiCostanzo. “For its first 10 years, Pedego did not advertise.”
Create a consistent brand experience. “Whether customers are visiting Pedego stores in United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the United States or other countries, we create a consistently delightful experience, which helps build a raving fan base with unwavering brand loyalty,” says DiCostanzo.
Delight your customers. “Offering free rentals and test rides gets ‘butts in seats,’ which sells bikes,” says DiCostanzo. “And that ensures more smiles per mile.”
Maximize ambassador marketing. A happy customer will sell more products than your best salesperson. Pedego empowers its best customers with “ambassador cards” that let them share “friends and family” discounts for bikes, accessories, and adventures.
Leverage the power of celebrity. “Ask your celebrity customers to spread the word,” says DiCostanzo. “A simple social post of the celebrity with his or her bike drives customers into stores, as proven by Pedego’s devoted celebrity fans, including William Shatner and Martha Stewart.”
Instead of running Pedego like every other bicycle manufacturer, the former automotive executive runs it like an automotive company. Its 40,000 square-foot worldwide headquarters building has an experience center. Its expansive parts department has parts for every Pedego bike, even dating back to 2008.
Here is his brand bottom line: “Even a customer with a 10-year-old Pedego bike deserves to be delighted,” says DiCostanzo.
April 16, 2019 at 09:59AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs