Tag Archive : youtube

What is branding? To some, it is the visual identity a company presents to the public, to others it is a business’ overall reputation. More often than not though, branding is a misunderstood field, often generalized and simplified by many. Because of its ever-changing nature, and our inability to concretely measure its success like we do with sales, market share, stock price, etc., branding is often viewed as an insubstantial add-on. Truthfully though, neglecting a brand is not only naïve but also shortsighted for any company, big or small.

When managed properly, a company’s brand can be their most valuable asset. Of all the things a business owns, its brand is one of the few items that will never depreciate. Rarely do companies intentionally manage their brands as the valuable resource that they are. Effective branding improves the visibility of and respect for a product, service, or company. It draws attention and can drive sales. It can also enhance margins, as customers are far more willing to pay more for a product or service from a company that they know and trust.

It is also important to remember that anything done or not done within an organization effects how the brand is perceived.  Company leaders who ignore this are doomed to fail. A company’s brand is not just their logo or mission statement. Branding includes everything from how a PR department deals with customer complaints to how a company is being represented on social media. A business’ brand needs to stand for something and give the customers something to believe in.  It must be presented with clarity, consistency and continuity. With the explosion in digital technology, mobile and social media companies now have the opportunity for a closer, more intimate relationship with consumers.  This increased connection between businesses and their consumers demands a stronger more consistent brand identify.

Here are 5 quick tips for how to better your brand:

1.     First off, build a brand you’re passionate about. Your enthusiasm will shine through all of your branding efforts and will get your customers excited about your product.

2.     Define your brand, and become an expert. Take the time to determine exactly what your company is and what makes it unique. Whether you are looking to gain media attention, attract new clients or build your business, you should focus your efforts on becoming an expert in your field.  Keep it relevant to the goals you want to achieve.

3.     Incorporate a philanthropic component. People are drawn to companies that have a strong sense of corporate responsibility. Building a reputation and status with the community will help establish your company as a trustworthy and compassionate business.

4.     Establish an online presence. Social media, online networking opportunities, and web-based marketing are vital when it comes to establishing your brand. Like previously stated, the increasing importance of digital technology, mobile, and social media give companies the opportunity to establish real and personal relationships with consumers. Businesses not using online resources to engage with its customers are throwing away a valuable opportunity to further establish their brand.

5.     Remember the 3 Cs of branding. Clarity, consistency, constancy. You need to establish a solid foundation for your brand that is easy to understand, consistent with your goals, and use it whenever possible. By doing this your customers will develop a sense of understanding and trust for your brand.

Inbound marketing is growing in popularity and effectiveness with each passing year. Not only are there more tools at our disposal, but people are taking a much more active interest in the content businesses are producing. So to answer the question “do I need it?”, I would have to say absolutely! Now, I am not saying switch to Inbound marketing exclusively, because realistically using a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing (360 marketing) is your best best.

So what exactly is inbound marketing? Inbound Marketing is marketing that is focused on getting found by customers. In traditional marketing (outbound marketing), companies focus on finding customers. They use techniques that are poorly targeted and that interrupt people. They use cold-calling, print advertising, T.V. advertising, junk mail, spam, and trade shows.

Inbound Marketers flip outbound marketing on its head. Instead of interrupting people with television ads, they create videos that potential customers actually want to see. Instead of buying display ads in print publications, they create their own business blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. Instead of cold calling, they create useful content and tools so that prospects contact them looking for more information. Instead of constantly driving their message into a crowd over and over again like a sledgehammer, they attract highly qualified customers to their business like a magnet. Here is an infographic that gives a straight forward comparison between outbound and inbound marketing (by Rick Burnes):

inbound marketing

Many Experts recommend marketers “earn their way in” (via publishing helpful information on a blog etc.) in contrast to outbound marketing where they “buy, beg, or bug their way in” (via paid advertisements, issuing press releases, or paying commissioned sales people, respectively). The term is synonymous with the concept of permission marketing According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is especially effective for small businesses that deal with high dollar values, long research cycles and  knowledge-based products. In these areas prospects are more likely to get informed and hire someone who demonstrates expertise.

“Customers want to know a brand is trustworthy,” says Kristy Totin, content marketing manager at Teknicks, a leading online marketing agency based in New Jersey. “They gravitate to brands that make their lives easier and have little to no tolerance for bad user experiences.”

An estimated 60% of businesses now employ inbound as part of their overall marketing strategies and that trend is expected to dominate the SEO world throughout 2014.  So, if you’re still focused on the “hard sell,” it’s time you ditched your current marketing plan and consider inbound marketing.

Still need more convincing? Well, consider this: It’s estimated that on the whole, inbound marketing brings in 54% more leads than outbound or traditional marketing.

Nevertheless, before you jump on the inbound marketing bandwagon, here are some ideas you should consider to help get you moving in the right direction:

Start with strategic planning

“Analyze your current marketing strategy and develop a well-thought-out road map as the foundation for your inbound marketing strategy,” says Totin. “Know your customers inside and out and assemble a plan to attract prospects with quality content.”

Plan your content strategy

“Think about how you will get new content in front of people and determine the best use of your time whether that’s writing articles, creating E-books or white papers or creating podcasts interviews,” says Emerson.

“Determine who are your customers and how you want your customers to be communicated to,” she said.  “It’s about listening to where your best target customers are spending time online. You want to position yourself as a source of quality content.”

Create an editorial calendar

“Think through what benefits your company could offer to meet the needs of your target market,” Totin said.

Set a budget for content creation

Determine which online outlets are best for promoting your products – including free and fee-based online marketing platforms – and make sure these outlets can be used without breaking the bank.

A final piece of advice: Start small.

“You don’t need to take on a huge project straight from the get-go, but you can instead wade in and grow your inbound efforts when the results show it’s worth it,” said Totin.

While using social media is a no-brainer for most people looking to promote their small businesses, few understand how to use it correctly.  There is an art to posting, tweeting, and pinning that will attract new customers while ensuring loyalty to old ones.

#1  First and foremost, social media is not a blank billboard for your business to advertise on!  If you follow a business of any kind on social media, you can attest to the irritation you feel when ads start filling the news feed. Use this platform as a way to send out information about your business or promote special deals and events.  Loyal customers will be drawn to well-timed, thoughtful posts and will share it with friends.  New customers will be drawn to the special offers and ideally become regular followers.

#2  Secondly, use social media tools to let your expertise shine.  Let people see what makes your business special!  Use the visual side of social media to display new products, videos, and testimonials. If you own a hair salon, post hair style demonstration videos on YouTube and Facebook.  If you own a bakery looking for more wedding business, pin pictures of your recent creations along with special promotions for wedding cakes and desserts.  Social media really is simple if you analyze a goal and the best way to reach it.

#3  Lastly, social media is a two-way street.  Don’t let the opportunity to interact with customers pass you by!  The beautiful thing about these sites is the ability for users to leave comments and feedback.  It’s a wonderful chance for you to improve your business.  They will let you know what they like and don’t like (so be prepared for criticism).  They will tell you what deals you should repeat and which products you should order more of.  Make sure you are responding to posts and comments so customers feel they’ve been heard.  Your business will appear more personal, and that’s how you build relationships with your customers!

Using social media effectively will do wonders for your small business.  It’s a cost effective way to promote and reach new customers.  Loyal customers will appreciate updates from your company and the chance to interact with you too.  Remember, don’t try to do everything.  Be an expert in your field.  Keep it small, and use the tools to your advantage!

BY MAGGIE OVERFELT, CNN Money

Facebook 

small business social facebook

What it is: The world’s largest social network, Facebook (FBFortune 500) allows users to share content and conversations, create events and deploy targeted ads.

Best business uses: Generating and fostering relationships with potential clients; advertising.

Who should use it: Everyone

How to maximize your reach: When posting to your Facebook page, include value to the user, said Joe Dinardo of Blue Fountain Media in New York City. Add a few brief business insights when linking to industry news or ask users for feedback when posting pictures. Sharing real-world tales of how your company overcame challenges can connect with users on a personal level, which makes it more likely they’ll become clients.

How not to use it: Don’t advertise directly on your page — that turns fans off. And while Facebook is a great place to address customer complaints, don’t get involved in lengthy back-and-forths. “Try to bring a complainer into your world by being more personal about it, but only respond once,” said Don Sorensen, founder of Big Blue Robot, which helps firms improve their online reputation. “If the discussion turns negative, then it’s open to the rest of the room and can affect the whole party.”

Twitter

small business social twitter

What it is: A site that lets users post messages — “tweets” — of 140 characters or less.

Best business uses: Promoting events, news and specials; building your customer base by fostering conversations where you can show your expertise.

Who should use it: Owners with a few hours per week to read, send and search messages.

How to maximize your reach: Use the hashtag symbol (#) or the advanced search option to find questions that relate to your business and provide answers, said Dinardo. Doing so helps increase engagement with your audience and “plant[s] a seed for a relationship that can turn into a customer,” he said. If readers trust your expertise, they’re more likely to visit your website. And while Twitter is a great place to announce special deals and offers, phrase promotional Tweets conversationally: Your followers don’t want to get slammed with ads.

How not to use it: Don’t blindly retweet or set up automatic tweets. Carefully read articles before you retweet to be sure you’re comfortable with the ideas your company will be conveying. Also, beware of the time sink factor: It’s easy to lose hours going back and forth on Twitter.

LinkedIn

small business social linkedin

What it is: The world’s largest resume pool; a place to read career-oriented blogs and news articles.

Best business uses: Hiring; networking to reach potential clients.

Who should use it: Everyone, especially B2B companies looking for new customers.

How to maximize your reach:Establish relationships with high-quality potential hires before you’re actually hiring, said Dinardo. Join a few LinkedIn (LNKD) groups that relate to your company or market. Once you’ve established yourself in a group, work to answer questions and foster conversations, which will boost your reputation as an expert and help others get to know your company.

How not to use it: Don’t spend too much time pitching your products or services.

YouTube

small business social youtube

What it is: Google’s video-sharing site, which has more than 1 billion unique visitors each month.

Best business use: Building credibility by showcasing your knowledge and skills.

Who should use it: Everyone. Financial advisers, lawyers, and marketing professionals can record themselves offering valuable tips; advertising firms can display their creativity.

How to maximize your reach: Make a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions in your industry and film yourself answering them. Think of “the same kind of queries that people sit down to Google,” said Liz Jostes, co-owner of Eli Rose Social Media. And because YouTube videos show up in Google (GOOGFortune 500) search results, make sure to optimize the videos with as many keywords as possible.

How not to use it: Don’t post long videos — keep them under a minute and a half, said Jostes. Focus on one question or issue per video to keep your message on track. And don’t leave anything blank: “Add your company URL and links to all your other social media accounts to your YouTube Channel,” said Jostes.

Pinterest

small business social pinterest

What it is: A place to create and share links centered around visual themes.

Best business use: Promoting your brand to a female-skewed audience.

Who should use it: Retailers, manufacturers and travel sites whose brands lend themselves to images.

How to maximize your reach: Use good SEO practices when titling your boards and filling out pins and descriptions. “Social media sites are search engines — people go to the search boxes and type things in,” said Heather Lutze, author of Thumbonomics: The Essential Business Roadmap to Social Media & Mobile Marketing. “It’s important to name your boards with phrases people will search for.”

Lutze also recommends regularly checking Google Trends: If people are searching for something related to your business or industry, create a board or pins around the topic.

How not to use it: Keep personal pins highlighting your favorite books, fashion, and travel photos separate from those linking to your company’s URL, said Lutze, although it’s OK for both business and personal boards to reside in the same profile. Never use copyrighted pictures to create pins.

Instagram

small business social instagram

What it is: Photo app that allows you to apply artsy effects to your shots.

Best business use: Promoting your brand via stylized images to a largely twenty-something audience.

Who should use it: Hotels, restaurants, consumer products companies and other firms with lots of photos of properties and goods.

How to maximize your reach: The revenue generated by an Instagram follower is 10 times greater than that generated by a Twitter follower, according to data analytics firm SumAll, so you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck if you take take the time to post interesting shots of your products.

“Take pictures of what makes your business unique, whether it’s an office perk (like the organic fruit we receive from The Fruit Guys), a conference you’re attending, or pictures of your team and/or products and customers,” said Rhea Drysdale, CEO of Outspoken Media.

Instagram doesn’t let you link pictures to your website, so connect your account to Facebook or Twitter so the photos are cross-posted there. Eli Rose’s Jostes recommends using the hashtag to search for photos of your products and share those on your other social media pages.

How not to use it: Don’t let your account go dormant, said Jostes. Update it with new pictures at least every other week.

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