Small Business Branding

What Everyone Needs to Know About Small Business Branding

“I’m not sure what a brand is, but I don’t really need one.” I hear that sentence all the time. If you’ve ever said or thought that, you need to understand what a brand is and then decide if you need one. In this post, I’ll describe the concept of small business branding in a different way than you’ve seen in the past. I’ll explain why you need a brand, and then you can make your own decision.

How Can You Recognize a Brand?

Small Business BrandingRaise your hand if you recognize the car in the photo.

If you didn’t raise your hand, all you know is that it’s a sporty-looking car.   Just looking at the car, for all you know, it could be a hybrid with a top speed of 60 miles an hour. That could be your perception just from looking at the photo.

If you did raise your hand, you know that you’re looking at an Aston Martin. And, now that the rest of you know it’s an Aston Martin, you probably have quite a different perception of the vehicle.

What do you know about Aston Martins? If you’re a car buff at all, you know that James Bond was fond of Aston Martins. So, does that fact make you feel differently about the car now that you know it isn’t a hybrid?  Indeed. Why?

Because you now perceive the car to be a hot sports car, capable of making beautiful women swoon, achieving high rates of speed, completing very sharp turns, and in the hands of “Q”, launching rockets.

And, that perception is reinforced by other things you may know if you are a car buff. For example, here is a short list of famous folks who drive Aston Martins: David Beckham, Elle Macpherson, Ben Affleck, and Pierce Brosnan.

So, even if you’ve never driven an Aston Martin yourself, every perception you have of the car is consistent. It’s a hot car that anyone would love to own.

So, That’s It. That’s the Brand.

Now, look at the photo again, and point to the brand. You can’t, can you? Why? Because the brand is a perception that the company worked hard to implant in the public’s mind.

The brand is your perception of what the Aston Martin is all about. You developed that perception because everything you were exposed to concerning that car reinforced its brand.

When people ask me what the result of branding is, it can be difficult to explain. There isn’t something you can see, feel or taste. It’s not like a website or a marketing brochure. And, that is a big part of the reason why branding is often misunderstood.

When we do branding, the product is a market positioning statement and a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Just words on a page. But, the point is that you can take those words and use them to start implanting a perception in the minds of the people in your market area. You can use variations of those words everywhere: on your website, brochures, blog posts, and in an effective “elevator speech.”

The branding process gives you the opportunity to clearly identify:

  • your target market
  • your target market’s needs and pain points
  • how you satisfy those needs in a way that is different from your competitors

Without a Brand, You’re Just Another Face in the Crowd

Until you know what the Aston Martin’s brand is, it’s just a car.

Until you have a brand, you’re just one of many competitors trying to grab your prospects’ attention.

And, that’s why you need to do small business branding.

Supercharge your marketing and sales with an effective brand. Contact me for more information.

 

Digital Marketing Blog

How Digital Marketing Works

Most small businesses need to use the internet well to promote their business and attract prospects. Here’s how digital (internet) marketing works.

Digital Marketing Blog

 

1. Capture Interest

After you define what you’re selling, the first step in digital marketing is to capture the interest of individuals who may be interested in what you have to offer. This step is critical today because prospects are much more active in controlling the buying process.

In fact, prospects do a lot of their research before they even talk to a sales person. Every expert seems to have a different statistic on that topic, as you’ll see in this CustomerThink article:

  • Forrester Research says that 74 percent of B2B buyers do at least half of their research online before buying.
  • SiriusDecisions reports that 70 percent of the buyer’s journey is over before a prospect contacts sales for more detailed information.
  • The Corporate Executive Board states that 57 percent of executives have already made a purchase decision before they contact sales.

Even though those statistics are different, the take away is that prospects aren’t dependent on you or your sales team to get close to making a purchase decision. You may not hear from a prospect until they have a short list of vendors to choose from based on internet research.

Therefore, you need to be aggressive in using digital marketing tools to make sure prospects find you when they’re surfing the ‘net searching for information about your type of solution. Those tools can include things such as SEO, Pay Per Click advertising, blog posts, being active on social media, and more.

Digital Marketing Blog2. Convert to Lead

Once you have a prospect’s attention, the real work begins. First, you need to convert that prospect to a lead. A lead is a person who is interested enough in what you offer to give you some type of contact information. It could be an email address, or if you’re lucky, an email and telephone number.

With contact information, you can communicate with the prospect to determine if they’re qualified to be a lead. If they are, you can continue the education process to answer the lead’s questions as they move through the buyer journey.

Tools to convert prospects to leads encompass things such as landing pages, online appointment setting, and calls to action on your website that include forms you motivate your prospects to complete.

3. Convert to Customer

Now that you have real leads, they’ll ask themselves more in-depth questions. You’ll need to respond with things such as eBooks, case studies, newsletters, webinars, and demonstrations.

4. Convert to Cheerleader

As you know, your job isn’t over when you generate a new customer. You’ll need to continue to provide exceptional products and services. Your customer service also needs to be outstanding. You’ll need to stay in touch with existing customers, just as you do with leads.

If you do all those things right, you’ll convert some of your customers to cheerleaders. A cheerleader is someone who leaves you powerful reviews and refers you to others. Word of mouth marketing is some of the most effective, so make sure you work hard to make it easy for people to recommend you to friends and associates.

How to Write SEO Content

How to Write SEO Content in 2019 and Beyond

Website owners want to rank on Google more than any other search engine. But, Google doesn’t often give solid clues about how to write SEO content. Recently they published an article about how they evaluate content.

When your content has good ranking on Google, you’ll have a better chance of getting more traffic. Besides that, since content is such a big part of the overall ranking algorithm, that type of information is gold if you want to improve your ranking on Google.

The last time Google published guidelines for content, it was 2011. You may have lost track of that information, or never saw it in the first place. The information they published in August of 2019 seems to refine the earlier advice and gives you more ways to evaluate your content.

How to Write SEO Content for Google

Everyone knows that Google wants authors to make their first priority satisfying readers. Any tricks you might use that will over-optimize your content will certainly backfire. But, the question many of us have is how Google defines good content.

In their latest article, they focus on the questions you should ask yourself when you review your content before you publish it. They identified four areas where you need to focus your attention.

1. Does Your Content Have Substance and Quality?

How to write SEO ContentMake sure your content:

  • is original information, reporting, research or analysis: You may not have the ability to do your own research, but you can include your own perspective and include things you’ve learned from your own experience.
  • is a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic: If you dash off a blog post that addresses only part of a topic, you’re not helping the visitor or yourself; make sure that your title doesn’t promise more than the content delivers.
  • provides insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious: You’ll be using other resources to gather information, but make sure you draw your own conclusions on how that information applies to your target market.
  • avoids simply copying or rewriting content from other sources and provides substantial additional value and originality: Some authors think that if they copy content from an authoritative source and link to it, their job is done. Use resources to reinforce what you’re saying, provide additional detail, or prove statistics. Don’t use resource content to replace your own perspective.
  • has a descriptive headline and/or page title that gives a helpful summary of the content: Google wants to provide the best answer to a searcher’s question. Write a title that explains what your content will cover.
  • has a headline and/or page title that avoids being exaggerating or shocking in nature: Some “experts” will tell you to write crazy titles to attract clicks. But, if your visitors click right back to the search results because the content doesn’t match the title, Google won’t be impressed.
  • is something you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend: Write clearly and concisely, and make your content truly useful to your visitors.
  • is something you’d expect to see in, or referenced by, a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book: If you wouldn’t be proud to have everyone you know to see your content, it’s just not good enough.

2. Are You Writing in Your Area of Expertise?

Make sure your content:

  • Write SEO Content based on expertise

    presents information in a way that establishes trust, including clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page: Google likes outbound links to authority sources. Don’t hesitate to give credit to places where you’ve found statistics or information that supports your content. If you’re using WordPress, adding an author bio is simple with plugins like Simple Author Box. See an example at the end of this post.

  • is published on a website that gives the impression of being trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic: For your own name and website, becoming an authority takes time. Displaying links to your online profiles can help readers learn more about you.
  • displays enthusiasm and an in-depth knowledge of the topic: Write about topics that relate to your core expertise. If you want to provide other related types of information, look for a real expert to write a guest post.
  • is free from easily-verified factual errors: Don’t wing it. Confirm your facts and link to authority websites to provide a proof source.
  • generates trust for issues relating to your money or your life: Would you follow your own advice if it would impact your money or your life?

3. Is Your Content Produced and Presented Professionally?

Content should be presented wellMake sure your content:

  • is free from spelling or stylistic issues: There’s no excuse for these issues in your writing, given all of the tools that are available to avoid them. Stylistic issues include things like using a lot of passive voice in your writing, writing very long sentences, or using inappropriate slang or jargon.
  • is produced well and doesn’t appear sloppy: Have you ever tried to read content that consists of very long paragraphs with no headlines to break it up? Use short paragraphs and headlines to make your content easy to read.
  • isn’t mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites: Services that provide the same content to all of their customers don’t impress Google. It might seem like you can produce content without actually doing anything, but it’s not helping your rankings or your readers.
  • isn’t displayed along with an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content: You may want to use ads to monetize your blog, but if the ads become a distraction, Google will know.
  • displays well on mobile devices: Making your website completely mobile-friendly will eliminate any concerns about serving your readers using a mobile device. Use the Google test to make sure your site qualifies.

4. Is Your Content Better than Other Content Ranking on the Web?

How to write SEO contentMake sure your content:

  • provides substantial value when compared to other pages in search results: Do a search for the keyword phrase your content targets. Make sure your content is competitive or better than the other pages in the search results.
  • serves the genuine interests of visitors to the site: Authors who write to rank well in search engines won’t fool Google. Make sure you cover topics that your readers want to know more about.

How to Write SEO Content: Next Steps

If you want to know how to write SEO content, listening to Google’s latest guidelines is an excellent place to start. In addition, you need to pay attention to optimizing your content. Do the keyword research that will tell you what phrases people are actually searching for. Ranking for a search term that no one uses isn’t worth your time.

You also need to follow good SEO techniques, such as using the target keyword in your page title and content to help the search engines spot the topic you’re covering. If you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Yoast SEO will give you the information you need to optimize your content effectively.

For many, creating the right content for a website isn’t a good use of their time. You may find it takes too much time, or you don’t have the interest or skills to do it well. If that happens to you, contact me for professional assistance.

Digital Marketing Blog

How to Make Your Brand Come Alive!

Make Your Brand Come Alive!

So, you’ve created a brand. Let’s assume it’s a real estate brand.  You put in on your website, your yard signs, and your personal brochure.  Now, you need to make your brand come alive!

If you’ve developed a brand that truly represents who you are and how you conduct your business, you should easily be able to incorporate your brand into your everyday life.  A good place to start is to develop a brief introduction of your brand that can be used even in casual conversations.

Let’s say you meet an acquaintance you haven’t seen for a while in the grocery store.  Your friend asks you what you’re doing for a living.  Your knee-jerk reaction might be to say “I’m selling houses” or “I’m a real estate agent.”  Needless to say, neither of those responses does a very good job of explaining what you really do.

But, let’s say that your brand name is Sound Real Estate Solutions, and your key competitive strengths are using your expertise to find money-making investment properties for investors, and helping families make the most of their real estate investment.

Make your brand come aliveWith that in mind, your conversation with your friend might go something like this:

Friend: So, what are you up to these days?

You:   I’m helping folks find sound real estate solutions.

Friend:  (laughing) You’re doing what??

You: I’ve established a real estate practice that focuses on making sure that families find a house they really like, but also one that will be a good investment for them when they want to sell.  I also do quite a bit of work with investors.

Friend: Really….. how do you know if a home is going to be a good investment?

And, the conversation can go on from there, with you explaining more about your area of expertise.

Sound doable?  Maybe not right away.  Some people feel silly.  You need to practice your introduction until you have it down so well you could say it in your sleep.  Then, practice with friends and relatives.

Most people only feel silly until they try it the first time and it works!  Rather than your “audience” running in the other direction because they’re afraid you’re going to ask them which of their friends is thinking about selling their home, you’ll have the opportunity to start a real conversation.

Don’t treat your brand like a symbol  — make your brand come alive!

 

Introducing the GIWI Small Business Marketing Blog

Hello, and Welcome
to the New Getting It Write Small Business Marketing Blog!

 

Small businesses need to have a good story to tell, and they need to know who to tell it to and how. This small business marketing blog will address all of those issues.

Before You Start Developing Your Marketing Strategy

You can’t sell something if you can’t describe it! So, whether you are marketing a product or service, you need to have a story to tell. And, you need to know who you’re telling it to. The minimum requirements for a marketing strategy include:

  • A clear definition of your brand. Figure out how to describe what you’re selling and why someone should buy from you as opposed to one of your competitors.
  • Buyer Personas. Sure, you know who you’re selling to, but you need to take the time to write down descriptions of the different types of buyers you want to attract. Once you have that in writing, determining how to communicate most effectively with your prospects will be easy.
  • Buyer Journey. There’s an easy way to define a buyer journey. This will create a roadmap you can follow to plan communications for each step in the process.

Once you have your marketing message and have identified your buyers, you’re ready to plan which marketing tools you’re going to use. This blog will address both of those issues!