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. 

My Self-Investment = Self-Confidence Rant!

whatisyourbrandI’m always trying to find ways to improve on what I do. I do a lot of reading, I reach out to people. I’m continually looking for great opportunities to get my message out there. I recently launched my new website that I had ported over to WordPress. Now my blog is within my site rather than at a separate location. I’ve also just launched my new ASK ED! question service. In the bag and ready for promotion is a 3 product mastermind like consulting packages that I will start promoting very soon. Also In the works is a new branding product for those in the graphic design industry and I’m also half way through my second book – “101 Branding Tips, Volume 2.”

All of this takes an investment in time, effort and money. It is frankly a dedication to self-investment. It’s important to keep the wheels in motion and continually and consistently delivering on the promise of being of value to my audience. What I see out there though (and on a regular basis) is a lack of self-investment. I can’t understand the attitude that to do nothing is acceptable. All businesses have peaks and valleys. I’ve heard every excuse why business is bad. Every time I’m involved in this discussion I ask “what are they doing to change this.” I get the same response – absolutely nothing. I do get lots of reasons for the lack of commerce, customer apathy, the bad economy, competition, advertising doesn’t work, promotion’s not for me, I’ve got no money, blah, blah, blah.

From my seat this lack of self-investment is a testament to their lack of self-confidence. These people WILL spend money on everything but the very things that will make them money. To do nothing delivers nothing. To wait is to add another excuse down the road – “shi*! I should’a done that 6 months ago!!!” If your self-confidence is waning, recognize it and do what have to to boost your moral. Join or start mastermind group. Network more. Speak to groups of people. A lack of self-confidence is written all over your face so there’s no hiding it. You either deal with it or suffer from it. This equates to your brand both personal and corporate. To do nothing defies logic.

Thanks for putting up with my mid-summer rant.

Brand Bump Ahead!

If all you have to do to succeed was to provide a valuable to service to a waiting appreciative audience, it would indeed be a perfect world. But from the moment we walk into our offices in the morning the real world kicks in and provides yesterdays unseen challenges today. If only we had a crystal ball, we’d all be a little smarter. What I hope you will find useful are signs to watch for that your brand has challenges up ahead and that perhaps now is the time to strategize ways of pre-empting what I call:

“Brand Bumps in the Road Ahead”.

Bump #1
You’ve begun noticing from that customers are mistaking your business for a competitor.

Strategic fix: You are not differentiated enough, meaning your brand message offers no compelling story that sets you apart.

Bump#2
More and more every piece of business is won or lost solely on price.

Strategic fix: Your customer has no relationship with you. You have become a commodity in their eyes. Maybe sales are relying on email too much and should get more face time with your customer.

Bump #3
Bumps 1 and 2 have you a little rattled – your first thought is to up-date the brand logo.

Strategic fix: You are missing the point and shooting from the hip. The problem is not the logo, your brand has lost it’s heading. It is high time you had a good hard look at just what you stand for to your customers. Survey them to identify what will probably be obvious problems.

Bump #3
Staff seem unmotivated. They have lost the fire in their bellies.

Strategic fix: They reflect a symptom of your leadership. You’ve no doubt lost a bit of shine and they’re attitude is a symptom of this. They look to you as the visionary. Any negativity has a direct effect on their understanding of what is expecting. It is time for an attitude up-grading – it’s time to raise the bar.

Bump #4
You can’t seem to attract the best people anymore.

Strategic fix: What has changed in your market is that your brand perception has taken a hit. In the mind of your community, your company is not seen as an opportunity or challenge. Your company is probably following not leading.

Bump #5
At business functions you are hard-pressed to give a quick description of exactly what your company does. You more or less tell them you are a provider of many and a master of none.

Strategic fix: Focus on what the company does exceptional well at that NOBODY else in your category does. This is your door opener. A differentiator.

Bump #6
You are at a company function and staff are wearing branded clothing. It hits you that there is no consistent color scheme.

Strategic fix: Consistency in brand image breeds awareness. Your brand image has be bastardized over the years. Have one person in the company be responsible for the brand image strategy. All color decisions must be approved by them to be sure the only the correct colors are used. Color is a powerful emotional icon.

Bump #7
There are trade shows coming that have traditionally gotten you important leads. Your attitude is to hurry up and get materials in place to bring and it is a grueling experience.

Strategic fix: It is grueling because you are not excited by your offering. Your message (I’d put a dollar on this) is the same old message you’ve always used. You have no differentiator, the booth staff will be unmotivated (sound familiar) and it will show big time on the show floor. The displays just shows pretty pictures of product, no humanity what so ever. Trade shows are theater. Time to put on a show.

Bump #8
In your trade magazines and community newspaper, the competition is quoted more than you.

Strategic fix: Your brand is not seen as the leader EVEN if you are the larger company. Time to develop a public relations initiative for a regular release of good news and information about your company. Maybe launch a blog to build on your expert profile. Reporters regularly look to blogs to develop stories. This has happened to me, and a number of my peers.

Bump #9
National competition is moving into the neighborhood. It is keeping you awake at night.

Strategic fix: I will bet that your marketing materials are either done in-house, done for free by the publication or by a son or daughter of. The public trusts professionalism. You must hire professionals to put the shine back on your brand image. Nothing brings success than the look of success. Nobody eats at a restaurant that has no cars out front. Nobody does business with the loser.

Bump #10
You find yourself looking for ideas to find that magic solution. Only your heart rate is going faster than your desire for that quick fix.

Strategic fix: It took years to get into this position, it will take time to fix. Give yourself a deserving pat on the back for the fact that you have at least begun your journey to smooth out the bumps in your road. Nothing is so broken it can’t be fixed. Get a group of stakeholders together, call them your road crew if you like.

It’s time to re-surface your brand! Do it today.

Don’t Copy Your Competitor.

copy cat brandThis afternoon I passed no fewer than 4 trucking company vehicles all sporting corporate logos that had a swish icon. They were either horizonal or vertical, red or blue. I’m sure if we check back with each of these companies, none of the images existed before Nike and their swoosh became synonymous. I imagine none of these companies realize that being a follower does nothing to strengthen their brands but rather strengthens the leader because of the similarities of image.

A lot of business people think wrongly that if they use a swoosh in their logos they will be on their way to fame and fortune. Let’s face it, Nike has worked very hard since it’s beginning to develop a brand that builds a strong active relationship with it’s customers. Their icon could have been a box – it is the association in the customers mind that is important. As Nike grew, it’s icon came to represent it. Much as Target and Apple are doing. Because of the reputation Nike has built, the association with the swoosh icon is strong and has cache because of it. Not the other way around.

Develop your brands to “Lead not follow.™” Differentiation is the goal, with it come the rewards.

Show Us How You Built Your Brand

Between the multiple expert authors, we have written a lot about ways to help you brand your business. Lately, I’ve developed a keen awareness that our readers (that’s you), also have some interesting stories to share in your branding journey.

We would love to hear your story. How did you arrive where you are? Did you have to do a painful 180 and re-brand your business? This is a wonderful chance for us (and other readers) to learn from your real life experience. You never know how you can influence someone else and ignite a flame to get them going in the right direction. Are you game?

Here’s what you do. Check out our submission guidelines. If all that’s written there agrees with you, go ahead and submit your story to our help desk. We will then work with you to turn them into a post we can proudly publish. We really look forward to read your submission and hope to develop a healthy exchange of ideas here at Small Business Branding.

Go ahead! Show us how you did it.

Photo by furiousgeorge81

Some New & Good Changes for Small Business Branding

There’s some pretty neat changes happening around here and I’m very excited about this decision. You see I’ve been wanting to pursue a road in life that is helping more people than just myself, and thankfully I’m now able to do this.

This is a bittersweet post.

Small Business Branding (SBB) has been a part of my life and my passion for a while now. I’ve ‘fallen in love’ with this community so making the decision to sell it wasn’t easy.

If you’ve known me for long you probably know that I’ve been a small business owner since back in 1996 when I owned and operated 5 retail stores. I made a huge decision to sell those retail stores so that I could create a life I wanted and so that I would have the freedom to spend more time with my husband and three kids.

I believe that there’s a time and a season for everything in our life. I ran those retail stores and SBB for a season and then it was time to move on. While I’ve made the decision to sell SBB I will still be a regular contributor around there.

This recent decision to sell SBB is going to help me move onto a new venture, one that will bring me closer to my genuine personality, my desire and passion to share my faith and do more for Mercy Ministries.

I’m excited to be able to start using my skills to help my church, my family and ministries. I currently go into a local children’s hospital on a weekly basis to deliver care packages, visit the children and just be there to be a voice of hope for them. I’m looking forward to doing even more and stepping out with boldness, doing things I’ve never done before and helping more people.

This is a new and exciting venture for me and I’m looking forward to being able to be truly genuine and share my faith on a regular basis. I’ve left Small Business Branding in the capable hands of Ken Chandler and I’m sure he won’t disappoint you. He’s got great ideas and I’m looking forward to still contributing.

Feel free to follow my journey into this huge leap of Faith! 🙂

You can see what I’m up to over at www.DestinedUnity.com and like I said before, I fully plan on being a regular contributor still here at Small Business Branding.

Please give Ken a warm welcome, he already has some wonderful ideas in taking this site to another new level and I truly look forward to see what he does in the future.

SBB Small Spark Winner!

The winner of the February Challenge is Jeric! Congratulations! Be sure to email me at vera @ smallbusinessbranding.com within 3 days.  Now onto the March challenge

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