5 Tips for Online Brand Development 2015
5 Tips for Online Brand Development in 2015
Published on by: James H. Hobson
Business owners and managers too often view internet marketing as being all about an aggressive pursuit of making a sale. This marketing error can cost a company in lost sales. The long term solution to improving sales is building a loyal following through online brand development.
The true value of a well developed brand
When you have developed a positive brand image, customers will actively seek your business. This means you’re reaping the benefits of your investment in developing a relationship with customers. It’s not unlike doing what’s right to develop a friendship, and then enjoying something far more valuable and meaningful than an acquaintance.
The value in a good relationship multiplies if you meet or (hopefully) exceed customer expectations. As your branded image matures your customer’s loyalty increases, and usually they become disciples for your business. Whether it’s converting their friends to do business with you, or raising children who trust your business, you’re sure to increase sales.
Assuming your products and services pass the consumer test of meeting their expectations you’ve entered the fast lane of branding nirvana. If you’ve simply built infrastructure and added staff what do you think is going to make people choose your business? This is easily illustrated by the typical new law school graduate. They get their law degree, pass the bar exam and then march off to start their practice. They’ve developed an prideful arrogance that just because they have law degree people will line up to hire them. Wrong! They learn the hard way that you have to influence people to buy. This influence is based on building trust, proving value and delivering on that expectation.
In short, your brand is your reputation. Your reputation is the most common reason customers buy from you or reject you. How many sales are lost because people say, “I’ve never heard of them”? Building your brand should be a top marketing goal every day – forever.
How do you develop a great brand online?
The following 5 tips will get you well started on the path to building a brand online. It is a relatively tedious process however; it establishes a foundation upon which a great brand can be developed and managed.
Know your audience, both prospects and customers
The first order of business is to know the profiles for potential customers. If your products or services are used by different customer types you need to develop unique profiles for each demographic. Each of these demographics may require it’s own unique brand strategy to achieve success. Develop an understanding of their values, buying motives and where you can engage them online. You will quickly realize that developing a brand online can be complex and multi-faceted.
Develop an appropriate message that speaks to your target audience
Think of the differences between buyers of a Chevrolet Volt versus a Corvette. Sure, they are both Chevrolet customers, but they are quite different in their tastes, preferences and expectations. Your brand must appeal to what the customer wants or needs.
You need to be very strategic during the creative process for development of digital assets. Your graphics, text content, photos, infographics and such need to be tailored to your audience. Word choices, color theory and attitude matter. Some consumers want clean logical presentations, where others want whimsical, trendy or even risque content.
Keep in mind that even when you are catering to one particular target market, there is a risk that the content presented could offend another target market. This is where there has to be a certain amount of brand consistency. Don’t confuse your customers. An example of how to balance this is by developing a core identity with subsets of other characteristics. For example:
- CORE MESSAGE: XYZ cars are well built, reasonably priced and retain their value.
- SUBSET 1: The XYZ model “A” is also a sporty vehicle that will impress your friends.
- SUBSET 2: The XYZ model “B” is an economical vehicle that will impress your friends.
While the core message has universal appeal, the subset messages appeal to the target market for a particular vehicle. Neither subset presents a brand characteristic that should be offensive to another target market. A subset that said “THE XYZ model “A” is sporty and makes it easy to pick up girls”. While one group may find this appealing, another audience may find this to be offensive, thus damaging your brand.
Develop the assets and properties to reach your audience
When you develop digital assets you must keep in mind the phases of the buying cycle. Again, each deliverable should be appropriate for the particular online channel, platform or website hosting your content. Overall, your ads, videos, infographics and such should have consistency in message, purpose and direction. Remember that although you want a sale, the idea is to develop a certain perception and set of beliefs about your products or services.
Carefully plan your implementation strategy
Firstly, you need to identify the best channels and online mediums that provide you with an opportunity to engage your target audience. It’s worth noting that “best” can refer to traffic volume, cost for exposure, cost to produce appropriate assets or other criteria. To maximize your ROI, be very selective in where you spend your time and money.
Online mediums such as paid search marketing often allow for control of the days and times your content is shown. Some mediums have options for enhanced placement or positioning. You may find that the most effective times to engage customers varies from site to site, and certainly may vary among demographics.
Monitor results including interactions, reviews and feedback
The internet is an ocean that can float or sink any size ship. From social media comments and online reviews to raging posts on “gripe sites” such as RipoffReport.com. You can use free tools such as Google Alerts to be notified when your brand is mentioned online. You should be actively reviewing your local search business listings on Google Places and Bing Places, and on certain other sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List. A very proactive method, and solution to resolving problems, is to engage an agency that provides online reputation management. It’s important to know what customers have to say about your business, and influence or control the conversation as much s possible.
Whenever possible you should utilize some form of analytics tools to capture data used to evaluate effectiveness. We recommend Google Analytics in most situations. If you need help on how to put Google Analytics onto a website or in ads you can hire an internet marketing agency. An agency can also coach you on how to use this tool, the importance of various metrics and how to use data to refine your process. You will find that building an online brand reputation is a never ending process, but it’s worth every minute you invest.
Online brand management takes time and a sincere commitment of effort. If you are deliberate in your process the results from building an online brand are incredible. Most small to mid-sized companies find that they get optimal results from hiring a digital marketing agency versus doing the work in-house. For most organizations having a full time internet marketing person is a luxury, and it’s rare to be able to find a competent person who will work for the monthly rate you can hire a professional marketing company.
Still have doubts about the value of brand development?
Is it worth it? Think of the many brands to which you are loyal, and ask yourself, “wouldn’t it be great if my customers felt like this about my business?”. The answer should be obvious.