Welcome to the first lesson in this blog sequence titled:
Brand & Grow using Customer Incentives.
Over the next few days, I will be posting several lessons that will help you learn simple yet effective ways to brand and grow your business using customer incentives.
In this first lesson let’s talk a little about the importance of business branding.
One of the most important things you’re going to do as a business owner is create your brand. It is one of the best forms of constant promotion you will ever have in your arsenal. It’s a way to represent what your audience thinks, says, and feels about your products and/or services.
Developing a solid brand can lead to a lifetime of sales and customer recommendations (priceless). Often, your brand has to be developed over time and is encompassed in not only the physical representation of your business, but also the feeling that develops in people over time when talking about or thinking about your business. There are some do’s and don’ts you should consider when seeking to better your business brand. If you can remember that your brand is really all about your audience, and how you want them to feel than about you, it’ll be a lot easier.
Branding is a long-term strategy that you’ll need to consistently work on.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin the process:
– Create a Plan of Action
You can’t properly brand your business without giving it a lot of thought in advance. While it may be something that is developed over time, it should not be done without a plan.
– Build up Your Online Presence
Everything you do online represents your brand, from the colours you choose for your logo to the words you put on social media. In order to do that right, you have to set up a branding guide to help you and others remember what you want to represent. This can be as simple or complex as you like and can grow in complexity as your business grows. Remember it is your business & your brand.
You decide what goes in there:
This document can be used as simple guide, outlining your email signature, your contact details, how you you answer the telephone etc.
At the other extreme, if you run a large business – you need your branding document to be a lot more comprehensive and this would need to cover:
Staff interactions with customers the do’s and don’ts etc. This document can grow and evolve with your business, however, the important thing to remember is which ever method you come up with, it must be consistent:
“Your Brand is your business and your business is your brand”.
– Build up Your Offline Presence
While your business may be an “online business” today, it’s becoming much more important to market your business offline too. If you truly want to be a brand people remember, (think Amazon) don’t trap yourself into only being an online presence. Use the online tools to build your offline presence. Think Social media and email. Hand out your business card/flyer/promotional material at every opportunity, have your contact details include your social accounts listed. Make a point of telling your offline prospects to check out your website, Facebook page. I have handed out a business flyer to a business owner, turned round, went and used the toilet and on my return found the business owner on the internet checking out my website before I had even left the premises. Never underestimate the reach your business has or its potential.
– Watch Your Competition
You may be a step or two ahead of your competition, but you may not be. Checking up on how they’re doing things is essential to keeping yourself on track too. You want to do a little better than your competition and stay ahead of the game.
– Push Your Comfort Zone
It can be frightening to get your name out there, but you need to. Post articles, guest blog posts, and do interviews. Host webinars and Seminars, and even publish a book. The more you can do to push your brand, the more people will start knowing who you are.
– Make Connections
Make connections that matter, both online and offline. Follow up with people you meet. Find creative ways to maintain the connections you make both online and offline. Consider sending a card in the mail, or a copy of an article you think they’ll enjoy.
When it comes to developing a solid brand presence there also a few things you shouldn’t do. Let’s go over a few:
– Blow Smoke
Don’t confuse branding with advertising. In advertising, a certain amount of smoke blowing is acceptable and legal. But, when it comes to branding, you don’t want to do that. You want to tell it like it is.
– Be Crazy on Social Media
You tell your kids that social media is dangerous, and one wrong picture will follow you forever; it’s true. Don’t post pictures of you living it up at that wedding, or hanging from the chandeliers at the office party. Keep your social media G-rated and appropriate for business.
You need to be yourself and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Lying about how much money you make, or about your experience, or about how well your business is doing is wrong (whether online or offline), and has no place in business.
– Avoid Offline Activities
It can be easy to get used to doing everything online if you have an online business. But, you have to remember that tools change. What used to seem like an anonymous adventure is now bringing people together in real life more than ever.
– Forget Your Call to Action
If you don’t ask people to take action, they won’t. Most people need to be told what to do next to make that next step. Following these simple do’s and don’ts will help you with your business branding experience. The main take-away is to be yourself, realise it’s about your audience, not you, and that branding is a process that takes some time and will not happen overnight.
Thank you for reading this blog post to the end.
Tomorrow we will cover using old school promotion to grow your online business.
If you have questions or need assistance please feel free to contact me. I will be happy to help.
Most importantly feel free to leave a comment..