How To Engage In Content Marketing Like the Big Boys Do

Here’s a terrific opportunity to educate your customers in a big way and at the same time show your expertise. Write an eBook on your specialty. This doesn’t have to be the size of a novel, it just has to be rich enough to cover what’s important for them to know. It gives you the opportunity to put any myths to bed as well. If a customer takes your eBook, you then have their undivided attention. They are actively seeking the information you are providing. Ebooks are great because not only are they typically a quick read, you also have the ability to put live links in place to bring in other resources for them to enjoy. Maybe send them to your website for more information.

If you move into eBooks you are actively participating in content marketing. This type of marketing is hugely influential online right now. Content marketing is massively desirable to the search engines. Ebooks are fresh valuable content. You can use it in so many ways. If you’re trying to grow your list, you can use it as an email harvester. Offer it to customers who give up their email to possess it. You can use it to influence the way people view you. It shows your authenticity. I try at every turn to show customers what I know and how it can help them.

Once you write one eBook, I can assure you, you’ll write more. There’s a large payoff, when people care about what you say. We all have an audience, most of us are unaware. Take the benefit of a doubt and try one small eBook. Email it to all your existing customers. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It will show your thought leadership. They will appreciate the education. Many I’m betting assume what you do or at the very least under estimate the full extent of your services. Consider an eBook for each service. Develop it into a series.

If you also do public speaking having an eBook, to draw attention to, gives your listening audience a reason to visit your website. Direct them to a landing page where they can get your latest eBook for FREE. On the front end make it look like the cover of a book. The graphic and message should resonate with whom your speaking. If you get enough ebooks together over time, you could put them all together and do a hardcopy book. I call my book of tips – “101 Branding Tips.” I refer to it as my 114 page brochure. (http://www.edroachbrand.com/) it’s unconventional but is always well received. As content marketing suggests, it’s all about valuable information that customers are looking for. It all follows the mantra of give before you get. NEVER use this platform to sell directly. As you write your content, try your best to not write an ad. It’s tempting, but i suggest you resist the urge. Once you first experience the reaction to authoring content, it’s value will be apparent. 

You Can’t Build A Brand On Today Thinking

A few years ago I pitched my branding process to a mid-size Canadian City mayor. Suffice to say he loved the presentation and the opportunities it would open up. The one item that buried the project was his short-sightedness. Knowing upfront that there were deficiencies in the brand, he didn’t appreciate my comment that those deficiencies would have to be fixed so that their brand had a better chance of being authentic to it’s target audience. The fastest route to failure is to tout something powerful and then have your buyer discover it was all just advertising spin. The city can’t walk the walk. Today they’re still just doing advertising but labelling it branding.

You Can’t Build A Brand On Today Thinking-043015

Here in my community we have a city market. The bylaws people saw an opportunity. They showed up early on a saturday morning and went booth to booth gathering business cards from the grannies selling biscuits, young people selling items from their hobbies and other micro entrepreneurs. Satisfied that they spoke to everyone, they went back to their offices and proceeded to send out notices to all these people that they’d all have to buy a business license or shut it down. Their phoney smiles hid the reality of their intentions – more fees for the the city. They didn’t care what happened to these individuals and their dreams. What they failed to see was the long-term benefits of city market vendors. Many of these folks are testing their ideas and planning for the future. A local furniture store just turned 90. It all started with one guy peddling furniture door-to-door. Where would the 4 locations and hundreds of employees be today if the city had shut them down because they didn’t have a $XX business license?

Another new grocery business in Ottawa, Canada ( Farm Boy ) started in their city market and now have multiple locations and are spreading across the province. That equates to property taxes, bricks and motor leases, employment, and investment all started in a small city market. What our city should have done was gone in, introduced itself and offered to help them in any way they could to succeed. They should provide mentors, and business incentives to go beyond the cookies in wax paper to opening a small bakery in an area the city would like to re-new. But, this involves long-term thinking and long-term branding.

Place brands like any other thrive on long-term thinking. Bureaucrats have to start understanding that short-term gains CAN and DO suppress long-term growth. Being smug about shutting down the painted flower pot booth today changed the future that might have been – namely a unique gift shop in a wanting downtown area. All this is branding folks. Doing it with vision creates log-term wealth. Short-term advertising spin is just that.

Lowest Price Guaranteed – All The Way To The Bottom.

Lowest price guaranteed!

We will not be undersold!

If you find a lower price we will…

Competing on price, not something we all relish. If you’re a discount store, it is part of your brand values. It’s what gets ’em in your door. For the rest of us, it’s something that can easily drive us out of business. Reducing our business to a commodity, is a horrible place to be. That’s especially true if the other guy is willing to buy the business or sell below their cost in an effort to outlast you. (who has the deeper pockets).

In the graphic design business, designers are repeatedly competing with anyone with a computer. How does a graphic design business compete with others who charge a fraction of their cost? Branding – plain and simple. When a person hires design projects on price they surrender professionalism, expert business advice, experience, communication smarts and ethics. Design professionals repeatedly win projects for several thousand dollars where their competition sells it for a few hundred. When you are aware of how brand works, you stop taking client relationships for granted. You over deliver on service. You keep your brand front and center and you continue to add value. Take the high road with your brand, look as powerful as you can.

The minute a business takes their eye off their brand, they start to slide toward commodity hell. At first glance, you might assume that there isn’t a problem competing on price. But ask yourself, “Where will this strategy take me, if my competitions believes it is the solution as well?” Definitely – it will take the both of you straight to the bottom. Deepest pocket wins!

Some may scoff at this article. Even they have to admit that at times they too have purchased the more expensive product or service, from businesses that on the surface are identical to their competitors. Roofers, hardware and auto parts suppliers for example. But the reason for these more expensive purchases was the value added. The experience of the employees from whom you draw great advice. The fact that they look like they are going to be around next week. All these perceptions are branding advantages. Consistency of image itself breeds familiarity and a sense of comfort.

If you want to avoid commodity hell, find valuable ways to build relationships with your customers. Stay in touch with them. Offer them valuable advice and connect them with resources that make them appreciate their connection to you. Have a positioning strategy that absolutely differentiates your brand and resonates with your audience in a big way.

Sure, every now and then it’s about price. Nothing is absolute. But this doesn’t mean you can’t step your brand up and try to side step the approach, by adding more value. You want to grow the new relationship not based on price but on brand. This involves a sell-up strategy and strong adherence to your brand values. It’s a constant battle – but the good news is that it’s winnable overall.

Brandless At The Beach – NEVER!

Just because you’re on vacation and lounging at the beach doesn’t mean your brand has to relax too.
Here are ten ways you can promote your brand when you’re supposed to be relaxing:

1: Build a sand model of your store or office.

2: This one’s for the ladies. Get a one piece suit and using an exact-o knife cut out a stencil of your brand logo. Next time you wear a two-piece suit your logo will be in a nice golden brown against your lighter skin.

3. Buy the beach volleyball team playing near-by some drinks and get them to wear your swag.

4. Stock a super-size cooler with free refreshments to share with your beach neighbors. Wear your t-shirt with the logo and website on it.

5. Put a sandwich board on your dog for that walk down the beach.

6. Whistle your companies jingle while you read your beach book.

7. Put that same jingle many times through out your music mix. Be sure that others around you can hear it easily.

8. Park your logoed vehicle next to the washrooms or refreshment stands.

9. Hire a plane to drag your sky advertising back and forth.

10. Be sure the whole family is wearing the corporate colors.

As interesting as these suggestions are, don’t blame the writer (me) if your family and loved ones abandon you for another locale down the beach.

Jump And Grow Your Wings On The Way Down.

The headline to this article is a quote from a client of mine – Belinda Bond. Belinda is the visionary behind the Celebrity Mama Tour. I thought it was the perfect bit of advice for entrepreneurs. How many times have you sat down for a chat with someone and they are pondering the age old question, “When is the best time to launch my idea?” or “Is it the right time to go into business for myself?” As someone who has been on their own for some time now, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong time to jump. The point is the jumping part. That action is what separates the true entrepreneur. It reminds me of a past article I wrote about planners and doers.

The wings referred to in the headline are really the passion and belief in yourself. The only way you are going to succeed is to DO IT. Nike had it right, “Just Do It.” If you jump and crash, then your wings were not fully unfurled. But like any new life, you have to grow. You have to brush yourself off and get back up there and jump again. Each time gaining the confidence to learn from past errors and gaining ground.

Risk is simply part of the process. If you try and wait for the “right time.” You will never jump, because there is always something that will give you reason to pause. We spend our whole lives trying to win. Most times we lose. We understand and recognize losing. Sometimes we are too comfortable with it. Comfort in the status quo keeps most of us from jumping.

If that sounds like your situation then my only advice is to STEP ASIDE, and let other visionaries start their journey. Not everyone is cut out to take the risk. Their role is to be the lightening rod for others. The key is to understand your role in business, and step into that role. Recognize your strengths and join the right team.

Belinda Bond is a ball of fire. Her comfort zone is in the risk taking. But don’t kid yourself – she and thousands like her couldn’t take that risk without key support behind her. But in the end it still boils down to jumping or not. If you want it bad enough you’ll jump. Growing the wings is the fun part!

How Your Brand Values Strengthen Your Business.

How fast do you return a telephone call or an email from a potential lead?

I ask myself this every time a lead remarks to me, how quickly I responded. I wonder if perhaps most businesses do NOT return contacts as fast as they could. I try to respond the moment I get a contact. Even if I am busy, I at least try to respond and inform them that I will return their call when I have time enough to respond properly.

Yesterday I left a message with a store, asking them to give me their store hours. The message said that they would get back to me. It’s been more than 24 hours and nothing. How many businesses do this – make a promise and then fail to act on it. What is the message their brand is saying to me? I believe it’s telling me that I am not important to them. Maybe the next time they complain about how slow business is they could also talk about how they failed to get back to leads who called to inquire about something and they chose to ignore them. Nobody is going to beg your brand to do business with them.

Most small businesses that I speak with, have service as one of their brand values. When a business leaves their customers on hold for extended periods of time, or they fail to return their calls and inquiries, then service is not something that their company takes very seriously. Service when it suits them would be more appropriate. Your simply can’t compromise your brand values if you hope to grow your business based on consistent delivery of quality. The marketplace thrives on authenticity in their brands. Paying lip service looks good on the surface, but when your offer is tested in the marketplace, you will be quickly found out, and your market share will diminish.

A great example of this in today’s marketplace is Toyota. After spending years bragging about their quality, they got greedy and failed to live up to their brand value regarding quality. Now their brand is suffering in the marketplace with lower sales and a renewed confidence in American models. Their arrogance cost them huge, and it will take years to regain their polish. Now I’ll bet those short cuts on quality, don’t look like such a great idea in their boardrooms anymore. They grew so comfortable with their quality reputation that they obviously felt that the brand would carry the day no matter if it were authentic or not.

Don’t make this mistake. Brand Values are essential to your growth and prosperity.

Branding Voodoo That’ll Smoke The Competition

There are lots of ways that you can approach your brand to make it more effective. Some can be
costly, while many are simple and relatively inexpensive. It is the latter that I will outline for you today. They don’t take much thought or effort but can impact your brand in a big way.

1) Sponsor a local adolescent sports team.
This is not so much to get your logo on a jersey but it
is part of giving back to the community. Volunteerism speaks to your brand values. Not to mention that many of the organizers are also leading members of the
business community.

2) Join local networking groups.
Don’t just join groups and wait your turn to say your
elevator speech, but take an active role. Join committees, offer your assistance where ever you see an opening. People are impressed by go getters.

3) Write a short eBook.
You are an expert in your field. Take that valuable knowledge and apply it to a subject your potential customers might find compelling. Offer it up on your website or blog for free. Doing this puts you on
the path to building a niche group to sell to.

4) Consistency of image.
Make sure that all your materials have the same brand image. Any deviation only causes confusion among your audience. I go to great lengths to be sure I stay on track with my brand, so should you.

5) Do you have a new product or service that needs attention?
Do a press release and spread the word in the media. Any pick-up is free advertising for you.

6) Do a color analysis of the competition.
See what colors the competition is doing and choose a color they are NOT using to own that color and differentiate yourself. Of course this is great if you’re willing to re-do your brand image. If not, look at the attitude or tone of their messages and differentiate based on that observation.

7) Go on blogs that your audience is on and purposely leave constructive comments.
These comments will lead customers back to you. This is a great way to get the conversation started. It also works the same way in Linkedin groups, Facebook and Twitter.

8) Track your online visitors.
Be sure that your websites and blogs have analytic code installed so that you can see what keywords people use to find you. Use those keywords as the basis of links back to you rather than your company name.

9) Record podcasts/videos.
They don’t have to be super professional, just decent so as not to cast any negativity on your brand. A/V adds a distinct tone to your online content and positions you nicely. It helps add a personality to your brand.

10) Lead don’t follow.
How can you lead in your category? Determine a way to take the high ground from your competition. In Branding Voodoo, you MUST have the bigger pins, anything less is just doodoo.

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