Whether a business or a non-profit entity, a sole-proprietorship or a large corporation, your brand is at the foundation of successful marketing efforts. But your brand doesn’t start with your logo because it is much more than that. You have to know your business identity before you can select fonts or logo elements. Your brand is what people know and feel about your business. Reputation is as much a part of your brand as the quality of the products and services you promote. Reflecting on these 5 areas of brand development, take another look at your current strategy and see what needs to change in more completely establishing your brand.
The Emotions. What you sell isn’t your brand. When customers purchase your products, they are left with feelings of satisfaction, contentment…and sometimes buyers’ remorse. If what goes home with your customers doesn’t leave them with a positive feeling in the long run, they probably won’t be back to repeat the purchase. Consumers are usually driven by emotion when making purchases.
The Experience. Closely related to the emotional side of buying, the experience of buying is significant in establishing your brand. While your brand isn’t your product, the experience of making a purchase is an aspect of your brand. The music playing in a store, the lighting, the merchandising, and the greeting are all integral to the experience of your customers. They will remember if the shelves were messy, if the music was too loud or if they were ignored. The point is, we remember great shopping experiences, and we remember those not so great. We remember if the store environment makes us feel old, if the store was busy due to mismanagement or if it didn’t meet our expectations. Do all you can to ensure customers have an enjoyable, memorable shopping journey.
The Truth. People are not usually taken in by shallow marketing efforts. When they learn they have been taken, they react by taking their business elsewhere. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the unethical business and marketing tactics we’ve seen over the years from popular national brands. While its easy to want to overstate the quality of our product or service, the bottom line is that the best approach to marketing is an honest approach.
The Visual. Your logo and your tagline aren’t your entire brand, but obviously they play a crucial role in becoming established in the minds of your customers. You know your favorite brands because their logos vividly come to mind when you think about the experience with their products. You’re drawn in by the quality and your experience with it. As people have an experience with your business, make sure your logo represents what you do in style and quality. Keep it where it can be seen to help people to remember who you are. And while a lot more can and should go into your brand scheme, your logo is the gateway to your brand because it opens doors to more opportunity.
The Difference. Positioning is the key element of branding. What makes your product or service different from the competition? When traveling, I prefer to stop at gas stations like Kwik Trip or Casey’s because of what makes them so different from their competition: clean bathrooms and the availability of affordable food options. The consistency is apparently in each of their locations, a part of their marketing strategy that can’t be ignored. Clearly communicating your brand’s personality – what makes it unique – is key to growing your business.
Branding your business doesn’t need to be an overly complicated process, but these 5 areas of branding will help you to better define who you are and stand out in an among the businesses around you.
“Build it and they will come” works well for some well-known brands, but for others it can be a blind leap of faith. While faith in the future is a great attitude to bring to the table, faith without action is a recipe for disaster. It takes work to get the word out about any business endeavor. Even for businesses that have been around for a while, marketing challenges will create upheaval for you and your business.
Lack of Visibility. Does anyone know you’re open for business? Are you engaging social media channels and connecting with your target audience? There are many ways to get your business noticed. From billboards and print ads to social media marketing strategies, the options are many. Your online presence and your local visibility are equally important. But even worse than a lack of visibility is poor visibility. How people see your brand represented matters immensely. Establish your brand with quality marketing efforts and your target audience will want to remember who you are. Be seen!
It’s great knowing you have thousands of people following your Facebook business page. But are they translating to sales? If you’re not converting your followers to customers, here are a few tips to help you benefit from your presence on social media channels.
1 – Know your target audience. The shotgun approach helps you to connect with a few people most of the time, but if your target audience is women between the ages of 20 and 45, it doesn’t help you if your marketing appeals more to men between 40 and 60. Knowing who you want to reach will determine your messaging.
By now anyone with an Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook account or on any other social media channel has seen someone use a hashtag. Often hashtags are used to participate in a trending topic such as a political debate on Twitter (#electionresults2018) or on Instagram to to categorize your images so that they are discoverable by people with similar interests (#weightloss). On Facebook, the use of hashtags is being utilized by businesses to promote their brand (#pepsisweepstakes) or by individuals promoting a cause (#curecancer) or something just ridiculously funny (#vegancat). You’ll often see hashtags with a tone of sarcasm, because who doesn’t want to make a point about something insane on the internet? (#thestruggleisreal).
As a marketing tool, hashtags can either be your be a great opportunity…or just a waste of time. Hashtags are intended to do one of 2 things: 1) drive people to your content and brand, or 2) call people to action (which ultimately drives people to your content and brand).
New Year’s resolutions have become a way of life for Americans. Each year we set some goals and hope we keep some — if not all of them. But like any form of goal setting, what we demand of ourselves needs to be achievable. Resolutions can be challenging — which is why so many of us break them! — but shouldn’t be impossible to see become reality.
The same is true for business owners. While every business plan needs to include achievable goals, some of these goals need to stretch you a bit outside of what is comfortable. Success in any business demands effort and changing or improving the results of your work may mean doing something a bit different.
Web design businesses will often work to sell you on the “custom” website because your business will better stand out among your competitors. “Custom is better” they say, because it will be a design exclusive to you. Sounds reasonable but will always come with a massive price tag.
Those focused on building custom websites will also tell you that templates are the wrong route to go because your website will look like everyone else’s. They will also make the very compelling argument that the template based websites aren’t flexible enough to accomplish the goals you may need for your website.
When you start a business you expect to be successful, so you need a plan. A business plan is really a rational strategy that will help you meet your short and long term goals. It includes a few key areas including: business goals, mission statement, target market, competitive analysis, pricing strategy, promotional plan, marketing budget, action list, and a way to determine if you have met your goals. Key to this plan is your unique selling proposition. In other words, what sets you apart from your competition? What makes your product or service the best available to your target market?
Start formulating your unique selling proposition by answering these four questions:
- What is my product? (i.e. “skin care cream”)
- Who is my audience? (i.e. “women over 40”)
- What do I do well? (i.e. “demonstrating the skin improvements in past and current customers”)
- What is the problem my customer needs solved? (i.e. “aging skin”)
Answering these four questions will lead inevitably to your unique selling proposition. What is it that differentiates my business and my product from my competitors? What makes my product unique? (i.e. “my product is demonstrably effective for women over 40”)
If you’re not entirely sure that your product is unique, that your service isn’t distinguishable from that of your competition, you likely need to revisit your preliminary questions. Take a few minutes to answer these questions for yourself and see if you need to make any changes to your overall business plan or if you’re on the right track!
Hero images have become quite popular in the world of web design. We are an image-driven culture and connect with our customers through the use of the visual. But the use of these large-scale images on websites has taken away from the necessary focus on the written content. Once you’ve gotten their attention with images, visitors will probably continue to read, but sometimes your visitors are just looking for information, and some bells and whistles become more of a distraction than an appeal.
The appeal of content “above the fold” in the newspaper industry is that readers would likely see whatever is placed in that area of the paper first, before they visit any other page in the paper, or even before they look at what is “below the fold.” The same concept applies to web design. If on every page of your website, the content that is seen “above the fold” is stock photography or content that simply does not meet the visitor’s need for information gathering, something needs to change.
While imagery definitely speaks to the masses, the masses also want to easily find the information they were seeking when they came to your website in the first place. They don’t want to scroll into infinity looking for your menu or click out of all kinds of pop-ups just to see what time you open. When you plan the appearance of your website, keep in mind that ultimately you’re trying to make a sale or find agreement over a cause. Whatever your business or organization’s mission, don/t let the great visual design elements of web design hinder your visitor’s pursuit for the information they are seeking.
Within my coaching relationships, there are certain patterns of thinking that I find are most common. It’s definitely the case that leaders of businesses and organizations often know what it is they want to accomplish, but in the process of getting there, they fail to recognize road blocks—many of which they place in front of themselves. (more…)
Business consultants and coaches often overlap in their mission, to guide their client to meaningful decision-making toward the present and future of their business. Typically a consultant helps you work through business planning and strategy, marketing, project planning, website planning and the overall direction of a business. A coach will help you uncover obstacles from lack of focus, poor vision and self-sabotage and guide you toward clarity, purpose, and structure. (more…)