Archives for June 2014

The New Brand Benefit

bowIn a lot of ways starting a business and giving birth to a new brand can be an exciting process. No one knows who you are yet, so they have nothing to build an opinion on. On the other hand, since there is no formal introduction yet, everything about you is essentially rumour at this stage. A good place to start your brand is PR. Having a basic introductory website, and a weekly update to media, will help build interest and keep your information factual.
Any contact with suppliers and potential customers should alway be cordial. How you treat any contact at this initial stage, could set the tone of your new brand. Determine how you would like to be perceived and then strategize as to how you might influence this. Developing a positioning strategy that makes you the leader or the best at something will give your new brand resonance with your market. The worst thing you could do, is “follow the leader.” In doing this your brand offers nothing to the marketplace. Why bother existing at all? Every decision you make should assist in differentiating your new brand.
In discovering your difference, your launch can be exciting. You could be on your way to building a remarkable brand. Dream big! Don’t strive to be one of the best – strive to be the best. Just delivering good customer service isn’t enough – deliver the best service. Discover ways to over-deliver. Never forget that every thing you do affects the success of your brand. Don’t take designing your brand image lightly. An amateur attempt just reflects back on you. I’ve known some small businesses who took more interest in their decor than their brand image. Ultimately this shows in their success or lack there of.
Another important strategy is to build your “expert profile.” Your expert profile is your customer’s perception of your level of expertise. I typically recommend using Linkedin as a good start. Bringing your profile as close to 100% is a great way to get a handle on your level of expertise. Next round it out with a Facebook business page. But, I think that the number one activity that defines your expertise better than anything is blogging. It allows you to actively put your opinion out for all to see. With blogging the trick is to give away valuable information. It’s a lot of effort but the rewards over time can be extraordinary. I’ve not only gotten leads from blogging but press interviews and unique opportunities.
Your brand is in your hands. Ignore it and the competition will step up to define you. Own it, live it and strive from it.

Content Strategy Ideas That Work & Won’t Burn You Out

Chris Bennet of 97th Floor shares some wonderful content strategy ideas. The heart of the message – repurpose your content. Check out the presentation to see how he suggests doing it.

8 Steps to Creating a Compelling “About Us” Page

When someone clicks through to your “about us” page they’re looking to connect to you in a completely different way than if they click on any other page of your website. They are genuinely seeking to know how your company can solve their issues or fulfill a promise made. They want to see what makes your company (and you) tick.

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Your about page is a balancing act that requires you to focus on your target audience even while you are talking about yourself and your business. It depends upon your ability to speak with humility while understanding the words that your audience wants to read. In addition, crafting a compelling about page necessitates the use of just the right words that trigger your audience’s emotions; making them smile, cry and laugh.

Tell Your Story  

The content on your about us page is very important. Sadly, it’s often created once and never looked at again. Most about pages include a title, content about the business, images, social media links, and a way to contact you. But, the about us page is a huge opportunity to tell your story. Use this space to tell your entire story in such a way that it puts the audience first.

For instance: You don’t “Create Widgets or Perform XYZ Service” instead you  are passionate about saving your customer time or thrilled when you bring people together and create solutions to problems. If you focus the story about the solutions you provide and the problems you solve for your audience you’ll be able to tell your story in a way that resonates most with them.

Show Your Story

The great thing about the web is that you don’t simply have to tell your story, you can show them with examples and stories of other clients and customers within your about page that helps tell different parts of your story. Using testimonials can make your about page become more interesting and compelling. Weave the stories throughout the page, or make a special section for customer stories.

Additionally, a very important copywriting technique to learn is the idea of showing not telling. You want the reader to experience your story through their senses in such a way that they actually can feel what you feel and even smell what you smell. Include enough detail in your writing to evoke those feelings by using words that the audience will resonate with. To truly show your story you have to have an intimate understanding of your audience and use that understanding through the content you include on your about page.

Use Strong Images

Graphics, photography and even video can add to or take away from your about page. You don’t want images to distract your reader, but you do want the images to relate to and further explain what you are sharing. Share images of yourself, your staff, and even your location if it’s relevant. Also share images of the product or the results of the service.  The more you use the right images to impart information on your about page, the clearer your message will become.

Differentiate Yourself

Use your about page to further differentiate yourself from your competition. Study your competitions’ about pages. What do they include, exclude, and what type of words do they use? How do you feel when you read it? How does the information provided match up with the product and / or services they offer? How can you be different and show your differences through your about page?

Connect With Your Audience

Many business owners make a big mistake with their websites. They make it difficult for visitors to connect with them.  Include your social media network links on your about us page, as well as your contact information. Put that information on the page in such a way that visitors will not miss it.

Aside from connecting that way, ensure that the words that you use connect you with your audience. While you will include some sales page elements into your about page in the form of the story you tell, it is not a sales page. The people who visit want to know who you are, and why you do what you do for customers more than they want to know exactly what you do.

Collect Information

Never miss an opportunity to collect leads. The end of your about us page is an excellent area to put a newsletter sign up form. Make it an unimposing offer to learn more and stay up-to-date about your company.  If people liked what they read, they’re likely going to want more information, so you want to catch these leads while they are feeling connected to you. Follow up immediately.

Point to Resources & Further Reading

Your about page is also a great place to point your readers to other information on your site. Do not point them away from your website by linking to affiliates products, or even your own products and services. Instead, link them to more information that is about your business such as press releases, informative blog posts, spotlights on other websites or “as seen in” other publications.  If it’s positive news about the company or you or members of your team, it should be on your about us page.

 Update it Often

The biggest missing element in any about page is the fact that was mentioned at the start of this article. Most people create their about page and never look at it again. It’s important that as your business grows, and you learn more about your audience and you help more people, that you update your about page. You don’t need to update it often, but a yearly refresher should be highly considered.

Your about page can help your audience relate to you in such a way that they feel trusting enough to connect, and maybe even spend money with you. Creating a good one is an art that cannot be overlooked. You can learn the art with practice, patience and persistence. If you find that you’re having issues creating an effective about us page, consider working with a professional to ensure that you leave no stone unturned.

5 Ways to Pick a Great Domain Name That Fits Your Brand

Picking a great domain name that fits your brand is an important business decision. Likely, up there with some of the most key decisions you’ll ever make, and one you may be stuck with for a long time. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to give domain naming some thought before you jump in without considering the factors involved.

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1) Consider Your Business Model

Your business model consists of what you sell, to whom you sell it, and how you deliver it. Understanding these facts about your business will help you consider why you need a website. Every business has a purpose for needing a website. Consider some of these reasons for having a website.

  • Establish Credentials
  • Provide Information
  • Generate & Collect Leads
  • Sell Your Product & Services

What is the purpose of your website and how does it relate to your business model? Understanding your purpose can help you pick a domain name that resonates with your audience and business model.

2) Think About The Image You Want to Evoke

Words have meanings and bring to mind various images and connotations that should not be over looked. The meanings might be related to the dictionary but they might also be related to popular culture. Your domain name should connect your audience in their mind, before they even visit your site, to an idea of the type of content that will be on your website. That might be very remote such as with made up words like Yahoo.com which just sounds fun and people like to say. It might be more serious and direct such as with a domain name like shareware.com. It might even be brand related by name like MarthaStewart.com.

3) Know Your Market

Get laser focused on this but also look to the future. Do you see yourself expanding into other markets in the future? If you’re sure about your exact market right now, and in the future, you can choose a domain name that directly speaks to that audience. Your domain name impacts search engine optimization (SEO) in many ways making it either easier or harder for your audience to find you. Using a word that your market would use to find you can be an important and crucial way to being found online.

4) Research Keywords to Describe Your Business

You might think that you know all the keywords to know about your industry but you don’t. Try conducting keyword research using tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to help you choose a great domain name that represents your business in a good way, but that will also attract an automatic audience due to the use of the keywords in your domain name. Ensure that the keywords you choose have a high search volume and enough interest by your audience to choose those words as your domain name.

5) Know Your Current Position

Is your name known already due to work that you’ve done in the same niche? Are you a already a popular coach, author, well-known writer, virtual assistant or do you meet other criteria that would make your own name, or a made up name, an important domain name to consider?

These are names that you can brand. Good examples are SethGodin.com, Google.com, Etsy.com among others. If you are, or know you will be, very well known you can use your own name or a made up word to create a brand-new identity online but it will be a bit harder than if you choose words that already had meaning to the people searching for your information.

Picking the right domain name will help you establish credentials, provide information, generate leads, and / or sell your products and services. It’s one of the most important choices you’ll make going forward with your business idea. Take the time to use one or more of these five ways to pick a great domain name.

Brand Strategically: How To Tell When Your Graphic Designer Doesn’t “Get” Branding

Brand Strategically-060514There’s a great deal of discussion these days in regard to branding and re-branding. Typically branding is seen to be the domain of the big players in the marketplace. But what was formerly thought to be only available to them is now available to the rest of us – small and medium size enterprises (SME’s) who wish to use strategy to win. They are intrigued that they can absolutely succeed through taking a leadership position. SME’s turn to graphic designers to facilitate their “branding.”

It’s this writer’s opinion that a good percentage of graphic designers see branding or re-branding as nothing more than changing the logo and marketing materials – visual solution. The reasons SME’s have for needing branding typically have very little to do with visuals per se. Many are searching for a solution to flat sales, low moral, changing culture, up-dating of positioning, expansion , succession and any number of business issues. If you’re looking to have branding done properly, I’d recommend working with a firm that has a proven branding process that strategically looks at your brand and can develop strategies that position it as the leader in its category. If the graphic designers you’re speaking to only mention logo and marketing materials – hike up your britches and run like hell.

Avoiding these designers is imperative because they simply don’t “get” branding. They think it’s too complicated and frankly don’t have the confidence and expertise to deliver the real article so they deliver what they do have confidence in – a visual solution only. The unqualified designer will view a strategic, process-driven approach as counter-intuitive. I’m guessing it won’t to you when you understand that strategy is what the visual solution is based on. An experienced branding expert will deliver a strategic and visual solution together as an overall deliverable. Experiencing this properly allows you the customer to appreciate the value delivered. When delivered to your branding team, a qualified designer now becomes an integral strategic partner to your business. They will be able to assist you in not only developing a leading brand but also assist and facilitate launching it effectively.

Look for and demand that a branding process be utilized. A branding process allows everyone on your team to easily understand what is taking place. Your Team may not be used to things like branding, design and strategic brainstorming. A process allows everyone to see the deliverables as they emerge. They get that something comes next and over time builds into something very powerful and motivating. If you as an SME have experience in things like compliances, ISO and industry standards then a branding process with its validation components will make perfect sense to you with you.

As with anything an SME does to improve their business, it’s important to get it right the first time. Branding is no different. If you find it daunting to walk yourself through it, then it will benefit you to bring in qualified assistance. I’ve been branding companies for a while now and every time i facilitate the process with a business’s branding team, establishing a dominate position in their category has more impact than a slogan or a new logo. It reaches deep into the culture of the company and reflects the core values in it boldness. If branding is something you’re investigating but would enjoy some research in the matter, I’d recommend the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy” to help understand why positioning is the key deliverable from any certified branding expert.

For more information on how designers can work with a branding process, or for designers wanting to up their game and deliver a genuine branding experience, check out these two comprehensive brand training programs: “How to Talk About Branding,” and the Brand Academy Certification Workshop.
Designers should also catch the no-cost webinar, “How to Make $20,000 to $50,000 on Your Next Branding Project“.

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