When you build your brand online, you’re taking a targeted audience on a journey from “awareness” to “purpose”. You’re looking for ways to grab their attention and inspire them to take a specific action. The end goal is often a sale, but there are some detours along the way for building a list of prospects and so forth. For many small businesses struggling with building their brand online, this journey can seem like going from here to eternity.
Are we there yet?
Who isn’t looking for a shortcut to fame online? That’s why you will find a deluge of information about how to get to the top of page 1 on Google and other top sites. However, the landscape is constantly changing and many small businesses get lost along the way, losing time, money and market share to the competition, and often doing harm to their brand in the process. Many of these companies feel lost because they believe they simply don’t know how to play the game when in reality they never start with the basics … a plan.
It’s hard to travel from Point A to Point Wherever when you don’t have a plan. Plus, how do you track how successful you are at getting there? All good online marketing starts with a plan. And then update the plan along the way based upon reliable, objective information. Your final destination (aka your goals) can remain relatively the same, but how you get there can change along the way based upon how your market reacts to your online marketing content.
What’s included with making your business’s mark online?
There are several aspects that are included in an online brand:
Branding site – your primary website where your market learns more about your business and engages you in some fashion
Landing pages – sales pages for generating revenue and opt-in pages for building a list
Blogs – and other online forums
Social media profiles – Facebook, to Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and more
Social media bookmarking – Digg, StubmleUpon, Reddit, and more
Digital content – photos, infographics, videos, ebooks, webinars, and more
Paid advertising – PPC ads, banners, and more
This isn’t an all-inclusive list. An online brand consists of everything you create and post online. Period. If people can come into contact with it, they will have some experience with your brand that is further defining their perception about your business.
What does your online brand say to them?
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, Co-Founder, Inuit
Yes, the consumers will choose how they perceive your brand. However, you can influence their perceptions based upon the marketing content you supply to them online and how you engage them on your site and on other social media platforms. This is where the plan becomes critical. Without a plan, most small businesses wander through creating a mishmash of online marketing content and social media engagement trying to figure it out as they go along. While all marketing requires a certain amount of test, review, and reshaping, retesting … it should be in support of specific goals other then “get more fans and more business”.
Here are some basics to remember …
1. It’s not about you, it’s about the customer.
2. Research is critical. Find out how your target audience discovers content and information online. Is it via search engines like Google or social media, like Facebook? What keywords are they using? What type of media and marketing content are they interacting with the most? What are their values and pain points? Are there any credibility factors they want to see to trust a brand? Who/what are their influencers for paying attention and taking action?
If you find that you’re wandering with your online marketing trying to create a cohesive, well-defined brand, contact me at SmallBizMedia.tv for help with market research, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing.
All the Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide