By William Morrow On August 24, 2016
Marketing and branding are not always cheap for small businesses. While it is very essential given the very early stage of a business, branding and marketing a new business is an effort that has to compete with several other efforts in the startup. Nonetheless, there's no other way around running an effective marketing strategy for your business.
Whatever says a new business cannot take advantage of the exceptional possibilities that effective branding and marketing can attract to business? While you do not have to go overboard with your spending like an already established business would, there are strategies that you can implement with effective results.
Let's look at the top branding and marketing strategies you can use to stimulate the growth of your new business.
Design with Your Audience in Mind
Your first step in branding, and indeed marketing your business is to create a logo. This is where you have the first opportunity to captivate the minds of your audience and quickly win your way into their hearts. A good looking logo that is able to captivate your audience will earn the trust of your customers better.
While larger companies with bigger branding budgets can afford to create different reiterations of their logo and not worry about the cost, for a small business it's very important that you get it right on the very first attempt.
A good way to make this happen without having to break the bank is to partner with a designer who has great work portfolio. Another alternative is to use cheap freelance service like Fiverr to outsource your design tasks to highly talented graphic designers who are ready to work on the cheap.
To highlight the methods that will be most effective in helping you get a well-branded company logo that won't cost you a fortune, try the following:
• Partner with a designer: the idea is to offer them your services in exchange for theirs. And if the deal is huge such that it involves the total branding of your business, including your website design -- then offering them part of your business in exchange might be considered.
• Run a Contest: Running a contest is still one of the most effective ways to attract high-quality talents without having to spend so much.
Win on Social Media
The ultimate aim of branding and marketing your business is to attract customers. With social media expanding every day and users increasingly interacting with businesses and brands via various social media channels, there's never a better time to take advantage of this huge opportunity than now.
An effective social media strategy can help to optimize almost every other aspects of your marketing efforts. According to Jeff King, founder of a digital marketing company, having an effective social media strategy will bridge the successful customer acquisition barrier that many small businesses face. "Not only does the inclusiveness that social media cultivates encourage small business growth, it's also very cost effective to acquire customers," he says.
While social media may be cost effective, it may require some form of expertise which you can achieve through study and practice.
Own Your Online Presence
The power of using the internet to reach new customers cannot be overlooked.
Many business owners only consider an internet marketing strategy as an afterthought and do not put much consideration into developing their marketing skills. This is why so many small businesses begin and end their internet marketing strategy with owning a website.
The following strategies should be considered in owning your online presence:
• Get on Google places: Google places and local listings makes it easy for your business to be found on the internet through local listings. This is free advertisement for small business owners.
• Get a blog: Business blogging is now an effective customer retention and acquisition strategy. Does your new business have a blog? If not, you should reconsider your strategy.
• Search Engine Optimization: Ranking high on the top pages of Google for your best selling keywords can help you attract ready-to-buy customers for almost free. All that may be required is your effort. There are many ways to fail with a SEO campaign but with a consistent approach, your business can be wildly successful.
Keeping your marketing strategy fresh and up to date is vital, especially as new trends or technologies emerge. But making a big change to your current strategy requires some due diligence. The state of your business, your existing marketing strategies, your goals and the potential costs associated with an overhaul are all factors to consider.
Below, nine Forbes Agency Council members outline the No.1 question that business owners should ask themselves before planning a new marketing strategy.
Clockwise from left: Trevor Sumner, John Gumas, Robby Berthume, Stormie Andrews, Leila Lewis, Bernadette Coleman, Michael Mogill, Sarah Mannone, Karen Leland. All photos courtesy of individual members.
1. Is The Effort Better Served On An Existing Marketing Channel?
The most common mistake in marketing is businesses that spread too thinly and don’t get real value out of most of their channels; 80% of the results come from that last 20% of the effort. Setting up a Facebook FB +0.75% page without regular posting gets you nothing. Blogging three to four times per week delivers three and a half as much value as one post per week. Put your effort where it drives results, instead of just checking a box. - Trevor Sumner, LocalVox
2. What’s In It For Our Business Prospects?
Many times business owners believe prospects will listen to everything they have to say. Nothing can be further from the truth. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Prospects need to know what’s in it for them before they will purchase. We tell business owners to discover this critical information first, then build your marketing strategy around this promise. - John Gumas, Gumas Advertising
3. Am I Getting Ahead Of Myself?
Before working on a new marketing strategy, sometimes it’s wise to step back and take a close look at your product or service to determine if marketing is where you should be investing. A new marketing strategy can’t sustain a product that’s losing its innovative edge. Marketing starts with the product. Don’t get ahead of yourself. - Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard
4. What Does Our Ideal Client Look Like?
Businesses often launch new marketing campaigns with the intention of appealing to everyone. Unfortunately, this approach leads to unsuccessful campaigns because it appeals to no one. I recommend creating a fictional representation and empathy map of who you want to attract. Identify what struggles and pain points they would be experiencing as it pertains to your goods, services and solutions. - Stormie Andrews, Yokel Local
5. Is It Worth It?
Some marketing strategies can seem so creative and unique, but at the same time can be time-consuming and expensive to execute. Marketing trends go by quickly, so when you think of an idea, you need to get on it without hesitation. But if you’re limited by finances and time, it’s best to just ask if it’s worth it. If it’s not, move on. - Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
6. Where Do Our Customers Consume Their Content?
Many panicked business owners fear they are missing out on the latest and greatest social media platform, or “it” marketing strategy. The first question to answer is where do our customers hang out? How do they consume their content? These answers are what should drive strategy. Don’t be afraid to not participate in something. Popularity doesn’t mean it’s right for you. - Karen Leland, Sterling Marketing Group
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
7. What’s My Data Telling Me?
Listen to your data. What is it telling you? Are you generating leads but failing to convert? What channels and tactics of engagement are proving most valuable? Are you spending most of your efforts on these? Starting with data ensures that you properly identify the problem that needs solving in your new strategy and gives you benchmarks against which you can measure your future success. - Sarah Mannone, TREKK
8. What Is The End Goal?
What do you hope to achieve? You have to begin with the end in mind. Then, you can come up with the right strategy based on the goals you have. If you don’t have clearly defined goals, you will not have clarity over the result that you hope to achieve. - Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group
9. What Is The Sense Of Urgency?
That’s the No. 1 question in planning a new marketing strategy. Everyone wants leads now, but what is the true sense of urgency? How quickly do you need leads and sales? How long can you sustain a budgeted marketing plan? Truly understanding the sense of urgency lets us plan accordingly. We know how aggressively to push each area being measured. - Bernadette Coleman, Advice Local
By FELIX TARCOMNICU On AUGUST 22, 2016
Online marketing is an efficient way of promoting your business, but there are still channels that are not exploited to their full potential. There are many tools, techniques and social networks you can use to increase the scope and reach of your product or services online. Unlike traditional marketing, content for online marketing is sustainable. If you want to take your online campaign to another level, you should think outside of the box and integrate cross-promotion into your online marketing strategies.
Cross-promotion is a technique whereby you utilize another medium or channel to promote or distribute your services and products to new markets. It is a powerful and inexpensive approach to generate more sales and expand your marketing efforts. In simple words, you find a partner that sells a complementary product for your company, and you cross-promote each other.
By doing cross-promotion with a partner, you can tap into an already established community and potentially get more qualified leads. Done properly, it can build your brand by creating a strategic partnership or alliance with another business.
Popular businesses use cross-promotion all over the world. The most famous example of cross-promotion is the partnership between Google’s Android and KitKat. Over 50 million KitKat chocolate bars were created with Android’s branding, and the buyers had a chance to win a Nexus Tablet or Google Play gift cards.
Below you can find five ways to do cross-promotion for your business
1. Partner with a non-competing brand.Collaborating with a non-competing brand is a great way of expanding your business to new markets. Among the ideal partners to look for are:
Before crafting your posts, you and your partner should discuss the nature of the content -- its tone and description so that it would be relevant to the respective market. As a non-competing business, you should always establish relevance for the market to consider your product or service.
An example worth mentioning is the cross-promotional partnership arrangement between Macy’s and Special Books by Special Kids, a non-profit organization.
Macy’s mentioned Special Books by Special Kids on their Facebook page which was then cross shared on their partner’s Facebook page.
Instead of creating a new post, the non-profit organization merely shared Macy’s FB post to stay consistent with their online marketing campaign.
It introduced their group to Macy’s followers and created a strong brand affiliation.
2. Online businesses that want to cross-promote via newsletter.Cross-promotion is popular among mobile applications. Various tools can automate the promotion process, but if you work in a SaaS or own a general online business, you don’t have to give up on this technique. The opportunities are even greater if you are in the business to business market.
To find partners that are willing to cross-promote their services and products, you have two options:
Cross-promoting your social media can further enhance your online marketing efforts:
5. Pinterest cross-promotion.Pinterest is not as big as Facebook or Google Plus, but it is great as a cross-promotional tool for online marketing content.
By Suzanne Vallance, August 22, 2016
Allowing your business's message to be both concise yet eye catching, infographics can be incredibly effective when used correctly
We’ve been communicating using art for thousands of years, dating our ability to tell complex stories in simple visual form all the way back to ancient cave paintings, through to hieroglyphics and finally the invention of brand logos and the industrial revolution.
Of course today thanks to the rise of technology we are now using art in a much more advanced way but the premise is still the same. Stunning visuals used to communicate a message with the audience. The most recent wave of art being used in this way are infographics, a sharable tool that can help improve your company’s content marketing efforts.
What is an infographic?An infographic is the visual representation of information. Its purpose is to be easily digested by those who are engaging with it. One of the things that make infographics so popular today is their easy-to-read nature. Today it seems we’re all working more hours than ever before so consumers crave content that they can understand in an instant. To make an infographic successful it should always:
Why do consumers love infographics?Gone are the days of cave paintings and hieroglyphics, but our minds still work in much the same way. Humans love visual imagery, which is why this way of communication, has remained unchanged for so long.
Did you know it takes nearly one minute to read 250 words, but only one tenth of a second to process a picture? This is amazing information to be armed with when wanting to create eye-catching content for your customers to engage with. Infographic creator Create An Infographic sum their popularity up;
“Infographics and charts are growing in popularity as they enable the summary of complex data into a compact and engaging design that holds the attention of your audience.”
Why should my business use Infographics?Increase brand presence
Infographics are a great way to increase your brand’s presence online. Each infographic you create should be emblazoned with your company’s logo, website and contact information. This means that each time the infographic is viewed; you’re cementing your company name with the audience and using it not only as a device to inform your readers, but as a lead generation tool also!
Infographics and social media
Did you know that visual content receive up to 94% more views than content without any visuals? This is because visuals are so attractive to us humans, we are like magpies; we see something pretty and want to engage with it, and show it off! When a stunning infographic is used we’re compelled to share it via social media to others can witness it too.
With all of these opportunities to have your information shared and gain exposure online, it’s important your content is optimised to be shared. Ditch the plain text and focus on sharable visuals.
Gain new customers
Every day updates in written text are nothing new, but visual create more likes and shares. Using infographics is a great way to encourage activity on your social media channels, driving new friends, followers and ultimately customers. You will increase engagement with your audience and enjoy greater reach each time the infographic is shared. Infographics are more attractive than written text, making them more likely to be shared online.
Boost your SEO
A well-designed infographic will boost your SEO because they are sharable and linkable. Infographics offer permanent linkable assets that won’t go out of fashion, like a written text news story. What’s more, the information from your infographic can be taken and used in a white paper or press release for your company which gives the content longevity.
Inform your Customers
Infographics are highly educational thanks to their easy-to-digest nature. Teach your audience about your passion through curated infographics with an accompanying blog post. Why not answer some frequently asked questions using an infographic as a way to resolve customer’s problems in a unique way?
How to create the perfect infographicAccording to Hubspot, infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than other any other type of content. They state that 60% of marketers predict the use of infographics will increase in 2016 compared to 2015. So, armed with this knowledge what exactly goes in to making a sharable infographic?
Choose a short and memorable title, 70 characters is the perfect length. You want to entice your reader to read more. Try phrases like “How to…” as consumers love to have questions answered.
As we’re so affected by visuals, it’s only natural we are affected by colour too. Your infographic must reflect your brand’s identity, choose colours that match the message you’re portraying. Green evokes peace, yellow connotes optimism and red makes users jump to action
Infographics main purpose is to portray information in a clear way, only use up to date facts and figures or your infographic will seem untrustworthy, as will you brand.
Add your logo
Add your logo name to the bottom of your infographic, this will act as an ownership stamp and let all those who view it who created it, driving traffic to your site.
Do I need a professional infographic designer?There are online tools you can use to create your own infographics, but investing a small amount in designers who are trained in visual communications is a sure way to know your infographic will gain the most amount of exposure. Professional designers are systematic in their approach and have a plethora of knowledge to create effective designs of your information.
The future of content marketingYou have probably heard the phrase “content is king” and this is true, your online efforts are controlled by the content you share, but who is reigning supreme in the content contest? Without a doubt it’s visual information, with infographics proving the ideal way to share information with your audience.
Infographics are aesthetically pleasing, but they also serve a purpose; to inform your audience and drive engagement with your brand. Companies who fail to invest in visual content may miss out on vital social media sharing opportunities. Add infographics to your content marketing strategy and improve the chances of your carefully curated wisdom being shared and enjoyed.
Digital marketing is vital to the success of many modern businesses. In addition to being a core communications channel, it is particularly beneficial to small businesses since it is largely free to use and cost-effective to leverage with marketing campaigns. An increasing number of customers also engage daily with social media channels that include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. As a result, smart businesses are looking for ways in which to build their brand and customer engagement online.
So if you are developing your own digital marketing strategy, what five things should you prioritise? The Federation of Small Businesses has explored the behaviour of successful members and has found that the following are key to success:
1. Pick one or two channels and 'own' themSome businesses fall into the trap of setting up social media profiles across multiple platforms. New social media platforms seem to emerge every day, and there's no guarantee that today's fad will still be in use tomorrow (anyone remember MySpace?). Rather than worry about trying to keep up with the ever-changing digital world, focus on one or two social media platforms that work for you. Business to business marketing tends to benefit from LinkedIn and Twitter. Business to consumer can find that Facebook and Instagram work well, especially where products are visual and where an engaged community of buyers is likely to return for more. Spend time focusing on your chosen channel/s and really develop them.
2. Share informationOnce you have your channels in place, invest in their development. Consider your messaging and marketing strategies and share information with your followers and prospective customers. Talk about your products and get happy customers to do the same. Avoid heavy selling which puts people off in the social space, but gently position what you do in a broader context of sharing interesting and useful information. Added value content is key to online success.
3. Know who you are talking toThe online world is odd in its anonymity, but marketeers need to know with whom they are talking. Find opportunities to bounce your social media followers onto your website where you can carry out more detailed data capture and identify potential customers. Try running competitions to grow sign-ups.
4. Listen and learnThere are plenty of digital consultants who will charge a small fortune to create complex social media strategies for your business. But many small firms manage perfectly well by starting small, being consistent and learning as they go. An authentic voice is key, as is the sense that the brand is peopled by real personalities rather than a faceless corporation. Watch and learn from what is happening around you and don't be afraid of making mistakes. Stay open, honest and humble, demonstrating the values that you and your business embody offline - and your customers will respond.
5. Blog about your passionsBlogs are a great way to build an online following, but again, content is key. Don't simply create blogs to stuff SEO-friendly keywords into the content. Talk about things you care about, are excited about, and that you know about. These will naturally be aligned with your business offer and allow you to demonstrate true value to your followers. Over time, this is increasingly likely to enhance sales and customer retention.
Looking professional is important for every business - after all we all need to impress our clients. So, here are some great tips on how to look professional and impress.
1. Have a responsive Web Design.
Your business website’s appearance and usability will say a lot about your business. We can compare a poorly designed and static website to an old, run-down building having a broken sign or outdated stock in the window that will put off shoppers
Having a poorly designed website is like telling your customer that you don't care enough about them and that they should go somewhere else if they want the best experience and business in good shape.
Apart from deterring your customers, Google now penalizes those sites which are non-responsive. This can, therefore, bury you below your competition in terms of mobile friendly websites meaning you will rank lower in search engine results.
2. Take Advantage of Blogging/Social media
According to a report by Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation, companies that blog receive 97 percent more inbound links compared to those that do not. B2B marketers who have active blogs get 67 percent more leads compared to their counterparts who have none.
If you are a small business owner looking for recognition as an authority in your field, start a business blog. It is a very cost effective method of inbound marketing that can help generate leads and improve your search results. This is what makes it the best vehicle to be the industry leader.
For blog posts to get more traction, incorporate social media into your inbound marketing strategy. Social media can help you build relationships, expand your reach, and boost your online visibility. Post on a regular basis and share your blog posts across all your social media channels.
Set up a Google for Business account and start posting using your Google+ business page. Even though Facebook page and many other posts do not appear in Google search engine results, your Google+ posts will appear.
3. Use consistent Branding.
With all the things you have to do, it can become easy to have a disjointed, on-the-fly approach to creating marketing campaigns and materials. This could end up hurting your brand since it will confuse customers and give potential customers a wrong impression about your business.
A consistent branding approach includes the colors, logo, tagline and font. They should be incorporated throughout all of your marketing channels.
This will give your business a more professional look and also make you stand out from your competitors, build the trust of potential and existing customers and strengthen your identity.
4. Keep on top of customer feedback.
It is unacceptable to take more than a few days to respond to your customer's emails. Communication is very important whether you are a small team or an individual. This is the key part of your customer service and it shows the customers that you care about them and that their feedback is highly valued.
If you invest in customer service, you will build a good reputation which is very important in making your business look professional.
5. Get Media Coverage.
It is a good idea to reach out to bloggers and journalists and let them know what your business is all about and how you can be a resource to them.
One way to reach them is by sending a well-drafted email which could help you gain press and attract attention to your business. However, you have to avoid spamming them with irrelevant information and instead come up with a tactful approach.
An example is spam is trying to pitch a food writer when you are a tech company. If you are an expert in a particular industry e.g. marketing, provide thought leaderships and insights instead of asking for coverage.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy, especially on the monetary part. If you are an entrepreneur and bootstrapping your startup then you know the importance of every buck you spend. Luckily, there are many free digital marketing tools that can enormously affect your business.
On the off chance that you don't have the monetary allowance to hire/outsource a top-level marketing team, you'll require some great tools to take your showcasing to the next level. To help you achieve your advertising objectives this year, I've assembled a rundown of 10 must-have tools to kick you off.
A web-based social media management tool is an incredible spot to begin. It has an easy to use interface and the essential arrangement, which has genuinely powerful elements and is free. Not like other social media management frameworks, HootSuite accessed through your web browser rather than a desktop client.
More than 2 million individuals trust Canva to help with making images for social media, blog posts, and for all intents and purposes one can think of.
The streamlined sizes and implicit formats make it quick and simple to make tall pictures for Pinterest, rectangular ones for Twitter, square forFacebook or Instagram, and any size in the middle.
On the off chance that you compose content that is inclined to producing immediate feedback, Chartbeat is a helpful device for distinguishing the immediate sources of web traffic. When I compose content for my site, it is regularly vital to jump into a discussion as it is going on.
If you don't have something like Chartbeat accessible, you wind up waiting for a long time before Google Analytics lets you know what happened yesterday.
Moz is an incredible free tool for checking your domain and page authority to check what number of links you're getting and from which source. You can likewise check your competitors. Be that as it may, the free form just gives you 3 reports for every day. You can also use SEO book for the purpose.
Keyword research is an essential for all small business' SEO campaigns. With this convenient tool, you can get keyword ideas from Google to Fiverr to help you comprehend which keywords to target and/or points to make content around. On the off chance that you do have a couple additional bucks to spend, Moz Pro has done incredible work with their keyword tool.
Many CRM tools (Customer Relationship Management) help you stay side by side of your present and future customers. Think about a modern address book. The best ones are stacked with components and information. Charlie is somewhat of a snappy and-simple hack to become acquainted with a man truly well.
Planned as a tool to help you prepare for meeting new individuals, Charlie gives you a full summary of a person—social media profiles, account, interests, and so on. By taking a gander at your up and coming schedule or running an email address.
What do tools like your help desk, email-marketing software and CRM have in like manner? They all hold your client's information. On the off chance that you need to bring the majority of that information together to make a full profile and timeline of every client and their exercises, use Tropical.
With regards to seeing how individuals are using your website—A/B testing, user testing, that kind of thing—there are some truly fabulous paid choices that can give you heaps of bits of knowledge. There's likewise Peek, a free instrument from User Testing that gives you a chance to see and hear a five-minute video of a genuine person using your website. The tests take about 2-3 days to complete, and you can run three Peek tests every month.
Portents Title Generator
With the basic press of a button, this free device gives you title ideas that reach from genuine to out and out funny. Have some fun with it, and regardless of the possibility that you can't locate the ideal title, will undoubtedly get the innovative juices streaming. BTW I frequently use this tool to add a pinch of humour in my headlines.
Make your email work harder for you by installing Rapportive, a Chrome extension that helps you get to know your contacts better by showing their details like company, LinkedIn profile and recent tweets.
Increasing numbers of them see mobile as the primary part of their strategy.
GreenPal CEO Bryan Clayton came to realize he had to scrap his company’s $90,000 website.
The business aims to link homeowners with lawn care companies, but its software wasn’t equipped to easily handle requests from mobile users, and 85 percent of visitors using those devices left without a transaction.
“We knew we had to completely gut the entire experience and build it from a mobile-first perspective,” Clayton says.
More small business owners are recognizing that however they’ve reached customers in the past, mobile not only needs to be part of their strategy but may need to be the primary focus of their marketing. Research showing phones and tablets edging out other means is helping persuade them. And some are operating only with apps on mobile devices, forgoing websites.
When GreenPal was launched in 2012, the site was set up for traditional computers. “It was almost a different world,” Clayton says. A year later, GreenPal realized it had to change. Now, 95 percent of customer interactions come from mobile devices. Customers get bids from lawn care providers, make appointments and can pay using GreenPal’s mobile site or app.
“You don’t walk into the other room and sit down at your computer. You just do it on your smartphone,” says Clayton, whose company operates in metropolitan areas including Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia; St. Louis; Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida.
More than half of Google searches, which number in the trillions, take place on smartphones and tablets, and more than half the visits to websites that use Google analytic services come from mobile devices. What’s known as responsive design has made it easier for companies to fashion sites that work for smartphones, tablets and traditional computers, taking pictures, text and links and reconfiguring them for the particular type of screen.
As consumers rely more heavily on mobile, especially younger people whose phones are never far away, experts say that strategy needs to be the priority.
“Investment in growth really should be focused on the mobile market,” says Gene Alvarez, an analyst with technology research company Gartner.
Giftagram, which allows shoppers to buy and send gifts, can only be accessed through its app. People who visit the company’s website from a computer can download the app to their phone or tablet, which is the only way to browse or order.
As a startup with limited resources, Giftagram decided to put its money where the growth was, says Jason Reid, CEO of the Toronto-based company. Another reason: An app makes it easy to choose a gift and have a notification sent to a recipient via email or text.
“The simplicity of what we’re able to do in mobile can’t be replicated in a desktop,” Reid says.
A mobile-first strategy also makes it easier for companies to cater to specific groups. At GreekGear, which sells clothing, tote bags and other items with fraternity and sorority logos, half the online visitors use mobile devices, CEO Joe Tantillo says.
Many of them are college students who don’t want to spend time browsing all the merchandise, he said, and the items featured on smartphones or tablets are the top sellers. “They can just pick a size and go,” Tantillo says.
GreekGear, founded in 1999, began its mobile-first strategy about four years ago because of the increasing number of visits to its website from mobile devices.
“Because they’re coming to us this way, it needs to be a priority,” he says.
Bear Mattress has seen sales from mobile devices increase since it was launched last year. About half now come from phones and tablets and CEO Scott Paladini expects that to grow because 85 percent of company’s online visitors are using mobile devices.
“It’s the best device to contact and be in touch with our customers,” Paladini says.
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