Branding

A brand word in vintage letterpress metal type against a grunge steel sheet, representing evolving your brand.

The Difficulties of Evolving Your Brand

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A brand word in vintage letterpress metal type against a grunge steel sheet, representing evolving your brand.

What challenges have you faced evolving your brand?

Every brand needs to evolve at some point. Changing times call for new directions in order to stay relevant and find success. However, taking bold new steps is not as easy as it sounds. There will always be a couple of obstacles in your way. You have to think carefully about these difficulties and how to overcome them. With that in mind, here are a few challenges you may face while evolving your brand.

The Ever-Changing World of Digital Media

Working in the digital space can be tough. No matter how big or small your company is, advertising online is always changing. You may have methods put in place that are successful but fast-forward to a year from now and they may not be as effective. So, just as digital introduce the internet, social media, and the mobile apps, marketers have to evolve their efforts to account for what’s new.

Cross-Team Collaboration

Writers write, designers design, and developers code. And if you are like many other agencies, these teams work separately. For the most part, these teams work well independently. But that needs to change. One of the biggest challenges that you’ll face is getting them to work together. Instead of simply passing off the project from one team to the next, the leads need to give input to each other’s work. The results are beneficial to you content and campaign, but it takes a lot of effort.

Evolving Your Brand, Staying Consistent

Creating new methods to stay successful in the changing digital world is hard. However, while you are adapting to using new techniques and working more collaboratively, your work still has to flow like normal. You cannot let change set you back. Otherwise, you‘ll lose your customers and audience. As marketers, your brand has to operate just like it has in the past – efficient and engaging.

Now that you know what the biggest difficulties are when it comes to evolving your brand, are you up for the challenge.

A man's finger is moving a virtual arrow, which is going up due to his brand's good reputation.

Maintaining Your Brand’s Good Reputation

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A man's finger is moving a virtual arrow, which is going up due to his brand's good reputation.

What can you do to protect your brand’s good reputation?

Last week, I talked about the risks to your brand if your reputation suffers. You lose time and money, and more importantly, you fail to attract new customers and talent. We know that you cannot have your business in the state. So, now it’s time to find out how to protect your brand and maintain a good reputation.

Time to Start Being Social

Let’s be honest. If you are not advertising on a social media channel, then you are behind the curve. Part of maintaining a good reputation is to always be active on these channels. Your business is going to run into a few pitfalls, especially with customers online. How you and your employees interact with them determines your customers’ perceptions of your brand.

Get Your Customers to Spread the Word

Ratings are important. Most new customers know nothing about you except for what you tell them. Where do they go for an honest opinion about your service? They visit popular websites that rate your service.

Excellent reviews lead to a good reputation. However, they require some motivation on your part. You need to encourage your customers to leave reviews on these websites, especially when your known that they have enjoyed your service. A little push goes a long way.

Don’t Ruin Your Good Reputation Out of Spite

Trolls, pranksters, and downright unreasonable people seem to be a standard when it comes to the online world. The biggest mistake that any business owner or marketer can make is letting them get to you. Responding in any negative fashion will result in your customers thinking less of your brand.

They are not worth your efforts. You have a legion of loyal customers who like and buy your products or services. Remember be courteous and mature for the sake of your brand. You customers will respect your professionalism.

A logo for a brand, which plays a part in its reputation.

Protect Your Reputation or Risk Your Brand

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A logo for a brand, which plays a part in its reputation.

Are you going to let your brand’s reputation suffer?

Your brand defines you as a company. When people respect your brand’s reputation, they put their trust in you. However, the opposite of this statement is also true. If your brand’s reputation tanks, then you can be sure to expect some form of negative impact. As a business owner, you need to keep in mind the risks to your company when you don’t protect your brand’s reputation.

Losing Time and Money

A brand is like a baby. You nurture it, you feed it, and shape what it is going to be. That requires time and money. An investment that you stand to lose if you are not careful. Even worse, any negative impact on the perception of your brand will cost you more in the future. You are not going to give up on your brand, and it takes more effort to bring it back into a positive light then it does to give it life.

Your Company’s Sales

When your brand’s reputation suffers, how do you think your customers will react? If your brand gets into trouble, everyone starts to look at it differently. For your customers, some of them will start to distance themselves from you. They do this with their wallets. Customer spending on your products or services declines and the growth of your company is stunted.

Reputation Affects Expansion

Most businesses know that they can’t do it alone. They can build a company at the start, but along the way they are going to need help from competent and qualified employees. When people think ill of your company, they stay away. That includes qualified talent, who can help bring new ideas that may help expand your business. Unfortunately, public perception forces them to go elsewhere for work. After all, who would want to work for a company that no one respects?

Why Your Customers Want an Experience and Not Just a Product

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People have a lot of stuff, so customer loyalty is becoming more and more difficult than ever. If you don’t believe me, check your closets, garage, and storage unit. What people don’t have a lot of is interesting and positive experiences. How many of your fond memories revolve around a possession? It is a great experience that turns into a cherished memory, and people respond more strongly to that form of engagement.

It comes down to this: to sell your product, you need to create a good experience.

Why do experiences trump things? Consider the following reasons:

  • We get used to things. When you get a new toy (or article of clothing, or piece of technology, ), it becomes your favorite… for a little while. Once something has been around for a while, it is not as exciting. We become dissatisfied with things over time.
  • We live to share. Eating the best of meals is still ultimately forgettable if a person is alone. Having a great time out to dinner with friends can produce lifelong memories even the meal itself is just okay. It turns out that humans like sharing experiences with one another (just not dessert).
  • You are the sum of your experiences. The things that you have owned throughout your life do not define you, but experiences shape who you are.
  • You can’t keep up with the Joneses. You will never be the one person on the planet who has the most stuff, so having things ultimately leads to dissatisfaction when comparing ourselves to others. No one else will ever get to have the same unique experience as you, however, and that makes it more valuable.

Okay, that’s great. How do I create an experience for my customers, so I can get them to buy my stuff?

There are many ways, and you can create great experiences for your employees too (to increase productivity).

  • Sweepstakes – Winning something is a great experience.
  • Rewards Programs – Reaching a points goal and cashing it in for something you want is a satisfying experience.
  • Employee Events – A special outing for employees builds team morale and makes workers feel like the company cares.
  • Reward Employees – Have you ever met an unhappy Starbucks employee? Perks don’t always have to be a bag of coffee (although coffee may create a great experience). Vacation time is a great way to create experiences for your employees.

Experiences, ultimately, turn into revenue. When a person has a good time with your brand, you are building customer loyalty and loyal employees.

Ad Practices That Aggravate Your Audience

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The digital age has added many points of contact to engage consumers. Unfortunately, brands often misuse these opportunities and end up upsetting consumers rather than improving brand image. Here are some practices to avoid in your digital advertising strategies.

The Repetitive Ad Spot

I don’t know about you, but when I see the same ad during every commercial break while I’m trying to watch something on Hulu, I want to lose my mind. Yes, I’m talking to you Bush’s. There are rules here, and one of them is that I don’t want to see the same commercial from you 15 times tonight.

Pointless Content

Content that isn’t relevant is a waste of everybody’s time. It shows a lack of knowledge in regards to what your audience wants to see. If you don’t know your audience well enough to provide them interesting content, why should they trust you to provide a decent product?

Lying About Your Product

People are skeptical, and if they have any reason to doubt what you say they will most certainly ask Google about I to make sure. If it turns out that you are lying, misleading, leaving out facts, or just plain wrong, your credibility as a company is shot. Here’s a simple rule to remember: Honesty is the best policy.

Driving the Hard Sell

Do you like getting a hard sell when you walk into an auto dealer? Then why would a consumer want that when they are trying to surf the Internet, connect with friends on social media, or stream their favorite show? Produce content that tells a story and engages the consumer emotionally. Then they might forgive you for interrupting what they were doing before your ad came on.

Force-Feeding Your Story

This is where all of the above tips come together. If you are constantly hitting me over the head with a plot-driven ad that has nothing to do with my interests, I’ll be more likely to try and find something wrong with it, to view it as worthless, and to be aggravated with your brand for making me watch it. You have to tell a story, but it can’t just be any story, and you can’t cram it down the throats of your viewers. These are simply some common sense digital advertising strategies when it comes to ad development.

 

More Points of Contact Mean More Opportunities to Disappoint

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Back in the day, all you had to do was produce a quality product, and you had loyal customers for life. All you needed to do was to get someone to make one purchase. Usually, you found a consumer through a newspaper ad, a billboard, or a door-to-door salesperson.

Today, customer service and brand image have multiple points of contact with a consumer throughout the customer pipeline. For example:

  • Before a Sale – A consumer may follow your sbrand on social media. They may read reviews of your product online. They may hear about your product through a friend. They could see an ad on TV, on a social site, while streaming video, or on another website.
  • When Purchasing Your Product – The customer will either be interacting with the sales team at your store, your eCommerce site, a phone system, or a catalog.
  • After Becoming a Customer – Now the customer is concerned with billing and product support. You may also contact them for email marketing campaigns, to thank them for their patronage, or to offer further service and support.

Having so many points of contact may help keep a consumer engaged and bring them back to your brand over and over again. It may even result in acquiring brand advocates. There is one downside to having so many points of contact, however.

You now also have more opportunities to provide one disappointing experience that may trump selling a quality product.

Unfortunately, that’s how things go in a world where people have so many things that the items themselves are forgettable, and the experience is what truly matters. It only takes one rude person on a customer service call to transform an advocate into someone who tells others to run screaming from your business. A mistake in billing can lose you a customer forever. An offensive tweet can turn public opinion against your brand as a whole.

More than ever, brands have to be on their toes at all times to offer a great experience during every step of the customer lifecycle. That’s the only way to ensure that a customer will come back, regardless of how good your product is.

 

When Should You Upload Social Media Content?

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The short answer is: as often as you have something to post. Before you say, “I was expecting at least several days a week and even specific hours of the day,” hear me out.

The reason you are looking for information on this topic is because there are so many conflicting opinions out there. Some say you should post to your LinkedIn on Thursdays between noon and three local time. Others say to post to your Instagram at noon EST because Europeans are getting home from work right when those on the US West Coast are just getting to work.

Here is some even more helpful advice.

Rather than trying to post one thing at the most opportune time each week, be prolific in your content creation. Then if one post falls into obscurity due to the timing of the post, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, your brand may get a better reaction from your specific audience at a different time from most companies. Posting at all different times allows you to see when you get the best response from your fans and advocates.

Plus, having a set time when you post content once per week does not allow you to market in real-time or to produce content when you feel the most inspired. Of course, if you really need to post at a certain time, you can create when inspired and then set up a scheduled post.

In short, you should upload social content when you have something to upload.

If there is a formula beyond that, it is one that you have to find yourself by creating, uploading, and then observing the response. Perhaps, lunchtime on Tuesday will work out best for your fans to comment share or click. Maybe they prefer to read your posts during commercials while watching Monday Night Football. The only way to find out is to post your personal social media content often.

How to Take Your SMB to the Big Time Online

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Every small business owner has received spam mail offering the greatest SEO service for the lowest rates if you take advantage of their special offer today. Before you get sucked into dealing with some guy in his mom’s basement who is more likely to get your site penalized by Google than improve your ranking, check out these tips for marketing your own business online.

Rule the Local Listings

No, I’m not talking about the Yellow Pages. Everyone else throws that out just like you do. I mean local Internet listings like Google My Business and Yelp. Getting positive reviews on Google My Business may even boost your ranking in a local search. Google hasn’t specifically said this in any of their updates, but pay attention next time you search for a local business. It always seems that the ones with ratings are listed first. Plus, while Yelp may be at the center of some controversy, you can’t deny the fact that they get tens of millions of unique visitors per month.

Encourage Reviews

You can’t stop disgruntled customers from leaving bad reviews. Your best shot at a great online rating is to get your good clients to leave a review. While asking for positive reviews is discouraged by sites like Yelp, there’s nothing wrong with signage that reminds customers to leave a review. QR codes that go straight to the review site are also a great reminder.

Survive Mobilegeddon

The latest Google update weights mobile sites heavier than ever before, and that trend is only going to continue from here on out as mobile search continues to dominate the industry. You need a website, not just a Facebook page, and it has to be mobile-friendly.

Select a Social Platform

Don’t try to tackle every form of social media yourself. Find the one or two sites that are best suited to your business and use them successfully. Instagram is by far the fastest growing platform and is currently the strongest as far as customer engagement is concerned. Of course, your business has to lend itself to posting photos.

In Conclusion

Your business must have an online presence to survive in the modern business world. Just don’t go broke paying someone who doesn’t know what your company needs while there are so many other things you can be doing to get your brand out there. Marketing your own business online has never been easier, too.

 

Why Entrepreneurs Should Pay Top Dollar for Marketing

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People seem to have gotten the idea that businesses should pay for services based on the amount of income that the company has. When it comes to marketing, that is a ridiculous idea. Sure, a smalltime marketing firm may try to charge a bigger business more if they think they can get away with it, but in reality a new startup will require more work on the part of product branding strategies. Here are a few reasons why.

Your brand is still in its infancy. That means the message that your brand is trying to get out is still being tweaked. Startups often require a great deal of trial and error. That is on the part of the owner and not the marketing team. Everytime the boss decides to try something new with this startup, the marketing staff has to adjust campaigns on the fly to keep up.

Your brand is starting at the ground level. Branding takes time and effort. When you first start out, it takes a lot more time and effort than once a brand is established. When you watch a Coke commercial, you may often think, “They could [insert your idea here]. That would work great!” Now try to come up with great marketing material for a company no one knows, trusts, or has dealt with yet. That is an entirely different beast.

Your situation is more desperate. Whether you are starting off with your own money or you took out a loan, most people can’t afford to have their startup crash and burn.  That results in entrepreneurs putting a ton of pressure on their marketing agency, sometimes more than a corporate giant with tons of liquid assets would. If a marketing firm messes up a campaign for a Fortune 500 company, they lose one of their best accounts. If they mess up your advertising campaign, your business may go belly up.

All of this having been said, I love working with new businesses and helping them get their feet under them. Just remember not to complain about the bill. Know that your marketing campaign is often tougher and results in more stress than the ones we put together for our biggest clients. Ultimately, that is because we want you to succeed.

 

When to Check Marketing Vocab at the Door

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It is a well-known fact that marketers basically speak their own language. This has become even more noticeable with the advent of digital marketing. Sure, business persons are familiar with ROI and privacy policy. However, we often throw around terms like PPC campaign and RTM like everyone should know what we are talking about. It is fine in a marketing meeting, but what about when you are making a pitch to upper management? You cannot expect them to know every marketing term and acronym.

The fact of the matter is that the education level of your customer also matters. That is true of a pitch to a company and also when it comes to selling to a consumer. Your standard customer wants to be able to understand your privacy policy and they want to know what a brand is actually offering. It does not mean that we have to dumb down our language in an ad or a presentation, but it does call for being more explicit and trying to avoid potentially confusing marketing terms.

First of all, we need to recognize that most customers are no longer hearing about a company for the first time from an ad. The Internet and social media has made word-of-mouth recommendations a ubiquitous practice. Unfortunately, it also leads to bad publicity spreading like wildfire. Your company needs to provide consumers with the right information to be interesting and relevant enough for shares, retweets, likes, and other digital referral methods.

The other major factor is that customers want to be educated about products both before and after they buy them. You need to understand the journey that a consumer makes from discovering a product to finding out about the benefits of the product and then finally making a purchase decision. Plus, customers want to know how to use the product when they get home without having to download and read a 200 page manual. Product education now makes up a much larger slice of the customer life cycle and leads to long-term business relationships.

 

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