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Steve Turner on Crafting a Unique Identity in Crowded Markets


Steve Turner on Crafting a Unique Identity in Crowded Markets

Principal, Solomon Turner PR


Could you tell us about your business and its brand identity?

Solomon Turner PR was formed three decades ago by a merger with S. Solomon & Associates, an advertising agency, and The Turner Group, a PR firm. We combined services at that time to offer a full complement of communications services to clients in our home market of St. Louis as well as others nationally. Over time as the advertising and graphic design landscape changed, my partner, Shelly Solomon and I found the biggest niche where we could have an impact was in public relations and event planning. We developed a strong brand in the PR arena. The Solomon Turner brand was developed by providing clients with the best results possible with a solid return on investment for their marketing spend. This has led to dozens of referrals and top-of-the-mind awareness with business owners who continue to recommend our firm to other CEOs and leadership teams.


How has your unique brand identity contributed to the success and recognition of your business in the market?

Solomon Turner PR has been named one of the top PR firms in St. Louis for 15 years in a row by Small Business Monthly magazine. This is not an award we take lightly. The top firms are selected by nominations from clients and those familiar with our work. We have leveraged that award, and several similar, to open doors with potential clients and as a point of differentiation with businesses interviewing several firms for PR counsel and representation. Area corporations and business owners have become quite familiar with our name and the ability to provide top quality work to help them meet their marketing and business goals.


Can you share the journey of how you developed and refined your brand over time?

The Solomon Turner brand was developed by doing great work and establishing a niche within the St. Louis business community and elsewhere. Originally, I started with a strong emphasis working with individuals and celebrities in personal development and motivational speaking. Clients included Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy and more, and we received many referrals from others in that industry. Shelly and her team specialized in event planning and was one of the best in the area in creating and executing all types of corporate events. Later we also became well entrenched in the tech arena with the growth of high-tech and related businesses and enhanced our brand in that niche. Though our focus has shifted our name has remained the same over three decades. It all leads to a brand that represents a feeling of trust and confidence, offering a PR partner with years of experience and expertise, and the knowledge to cut through the clutter and generate results.


Branding in crowded markets can be challenging. What obstacles did you face in establishing a strong brand, and how did you overcome them?

We were always confident in our ability to perform high quality work and help business owners meet their branding objectives. The main obstacles were letting other business owners know about our firm and sharing the expertise we could bring to the table to help those companies grow. There were and are a number of public relations firms in the St. Louis area, and we originally overcame that lack of familiarity by attending many targeted networking events, one-on-one meetings and applying for several awards. My partner and I both served on the boards of area chambers of commerce and nonprofit organizations. Shelly and I have always had the go-giver attitude of helping others without any real expectation of expecting something in return. Over time, as we have helped more people on their journeys, several have reached out to inquire about our services or refer us to their business friends and colleagues. This entire approach has helped Solomon Turner build a strong brand that has endured for over 30 years.


How do you ensure that every customer interaction reflects your brand identity, and why is this consistency important?

In business, one bad customer experience can cripple your brand, especially in this era of social media where everything results in an oversized reaction. In our case as a public relations firm, we strive to work hand-in-hand with clients to provide the best results possible. A certain chemistry needs to be created between the business and us. If we feel our personalities do not mesh with the business owner, we explain that they may be best served elsewhere. Trying to work with certain types of businesses can often create friction between the agency and client. It can result in a bad relationship with a less than desired outcome, one that can harm your reputation and your brand. We strive for customer interactions that will lead to great outcomes and result in many long-term client engagements that can span one, two or three decades. Vetting the types of businesses and clients you serve helps maintain consistency and high-level positive awareness of your brand.


In practical terms, how do you measure the impact and success of your branding efforts?

Branding success depends on your goals and objectives. In our case we could see a tangible impact of more awareness, growth in reputation and more referrals resulting in new business. For relatively new companies launching their brand, success could be measured by the number of hits or visitors to your website, an increase in requests for information about your products or services, requests for media interviews, requests for the leadership team to participate on boards with nonprofit organizations, and an overall increase in sales and revenue. When done correctly branding should go a long way to helping a business owner grow their company.


Can you share an example of a branding misstep, what you learned from it, and how it influenced your approach going forward?

Early on most business service type firms are willing to take-on almost any client in order to get established, generate some revenue and pay the overhead. We followed that pattern at first and did not do a good job of vetting some clients. It produced a few less than desirable relationships. The results weren't great for the clients or us. People talk to each other, and you certainly don't want any negative feedback (truthful or not) which can negatively impact your brand and stifle your growth. The lesson learned is to thoroughly vet a potential client so best possible outcomes are achieved, and the integrity of your brand is enhanced.


What key pieces of advice would you give to new businesses trying to establish a strong brand in a competitive market?

A business should analyze the marketplace and determine what product or service they offer that is different than anything else that already exists. The product or service may already be available but how you offer it to the potential consumer or target market may be a good point of differentiation. Perhaps they serve a specific niche or have an expertise in a highly specialized business segment. Once you determine how you are different, or basically why you exist, a company can then form some specific selling points that can meld itself into the basis of their brand. The major differentiator should be narrowed down to a sentence or two, and easily understood. It should be communicated clearly and efficiently in various forms of messaging whether it's the logo, press releases, website, social media, webinars, and brochures. Everyone in the organization needs to be on the same page sharing the benefits of the brand in a campaign that is both targeted and unified.






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