How to Make Your Online Branding Brilliant.
For many small or local businesses it’s not always easy to stand out from the crowd, particularly when almost any company you can think of already has a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed. Unfortunately, it takes more than regular social media updates to really make sure you stick in peoples’ minds; you need to create a brand personality that people will recognise, trust and enjoy hearing from time and again.
As every business and every brand is different you need to figure out what features best highlight your own brand. This is not always an easy task and is something that has made and lost fortunes for brand experts and marketers, at the same time many businesses can’t afford to spend the money or resource on expert help.
So how do small or local businesses make their mark in the crowded world of online marketing?
Here are 10 brilliant branding tips!
Remember your brand is valuable
Marketing and branding can sometimes be overlooked by small businesses who think of them as an unnecessary expense. If this is your attitude, then think again. Your brand image is one of your most important business tools. Online Branding is crucial, as for many people a quick internet search will be how they are introduced to your business. How much would it mean to you if everyone who visited your website became a customer? Probably quite a lot!
Protect your reputation
Anyone can write reviews or opinions of your business on the internet, and while some of these may be great, there may be a whole host of criticism out there on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ that is scaring potential clients away from you before you’ve even been in touch with them. Likewise, if people are saying good things about you then wouldn’t it be great to have those comments where everyone can see them? Set up searches or alerts to monitor your brand reputation online and make sure that if your business is mentioned, for good or bad, that you know about it and can address it.
Highlight your USP
Why should customers come to you and not your competition? Every business should have a Unique Selling Point, or a way to attract new clients. It might be that you do a great bespoke service, or you do home visits, or you have great aftercare – or it might be that you can be found at the top of the search engines while your biggest competitor is at the bottom of page 2!
Flaunt your size
Some people love the security of going with a big firm. Others like to know that they’re getting the personal touch of working with a small business. It might be that your small firm is just as good, if not better, than the international multi-million pound turnover business that does a similar job. Highlight exactly why you are proud of your size and make it part of your brand. Customers like to know what to expect, so if you’re a one man band then let them know why that works so well for you, or if you’re a small business with plans to grow then let your customers know that they are part of that.
Create a Buzz
It’s natural for people to talk about what’s interesting, so give people interesting things to talk about. The more your brand is talked about, the more people will hear about your name, and the more the word will spread, but it all has to come from somewhere. Whether you create a buzz by doing competitions, open days, offers, creating valuable content online or talking about new products or events, just try and get people talking about your brand. Try introducing a hashtag on Twitter, or joining conversations on Facebook.
No-one is interested in yesterday’s news. If you notice a lack of engagement from your customer base, then maybe what you are putting out isn’t entirely relevant to them. Understand exactly who your customers are and what they like. Use this information to make sure you’re hitting the right note with them. Read up on new trends within your industry, write opinion pieces, ask questions, or collect feedback. The more interesting and relevant you are, then the more people will choose to come back to you for further insights and the more likely they are to think of you when the time comes to buy.
Be an Expert
There is nowhere to hide with online branding. If someone asks you a question online then it’s in the public domain. Make sure that there isn’t anything you don’t know about your business or niche. If you don’t know an answer immediately, make sure you look it up and get straight back to the customer. Research your competitors, make sure your products and services are still relevant and needed, make sure your pricing is in line with market expectation and ensure that information on your small business website or blog is accurate. If you are not an expert in what you do, then customers will see right through you and move on to someone who can answer their questions.
Don’t lose Focus
You can’t and won’t get everything right all of the time. It can be easy to spend hours on end responding to comments on Social Media, or to get distracted when trying to write a blog. Try setting a time limit for getting each task done and forcing yourself to move on when you reach that time. Similarly, if something hasn’t been working and you realise you’re losing focus on the main goals then take a step back and re-evaluate.
Stick to your Values
Whatever brand image you try to create make sure you stick to it and replicate it across all of your online media. While each social network might naturally encourage a different style of follower you need to make sure that everything you do online reflects the true voice and values of the brand that you’re working so hard to promote.
Always try to improve
The internet changes and grows every day. Even if something works really well for you today, you might notice that in 6 months it doesn’t work at all. There are many household name brands that have been unable to keep up with the times, change and adapt as necessary in order to stay at the forefront of their marketplace. Don’t let this happen to you!
The last word on online branding is YOURS. Leave a comment below and share it with everyone.