Internet marketers often forgo branding because they think their measly website will never take down Amazon and Walmart. It’s a common misconception that branding is only helpful for the conglomerates that have millions of dollars to spend on advertising. Twenty years ago, this was the case. Today, internet marketing has leveled the playing field and the web has opened up an avenue for small businesses to make their mark by branding to the millions of people who access the internet on a daily basis.
Will branding cost you some time, money and effort? Of course…but on an astronomically smaller scale than the big brands.
Many small businesses do not understand the benefits of branding online. They focus their marketing strategies on selling products and services rather than establishing a name and a reputation. What they do not understand is that branding helps sales and increases customer loyalty which in essence sells itself.
Consider this example: You are a web designer and you have a website. You can either focus all of your time on sourcing clients, leads and looking for opportunities, or you can devote 10-20% of that time on branding.
Here’s what your branding strategy could entail:
Website – Your website would display your brand message and include colors, designs and a logo that professionally describes your business and the value you provide. The more professional your website, the easier it will be to build your brand.
Social – Your Facebook and Twitter profile should include the same design elements and messaging as your website. By interacting with your audience on social media sites you build your brand reputation by getting your services in front of more people and building rapport so that others can easily share your information. Over time, your potential clients will respond to you because they will trust the person behind the brand.
Blogging – Blogging allows brands to share valuable content which builds trust as well. When your customers trust you and value your services, your brand awareness expands not only because of word of mouth advertising, but also because you are building your status as a leader in your industry. People follow the leader, plain and simple.
News Content – Press releases can be keyword optimized and blasted to online news directories to announce a new website or any newsworthy business activity.
Networking – Start networking with professionals in your industry and take advantage of activities like LinkedIn groups, guest blog posting and banner advertising. Get involved with industry-related forums and offer advice to build your reputation as an expert in your field.
SEO – The big guys spend thousands of dollars going after the “money” keywords. You can’t really spend all of your time and money going after the term “web design”. It just won’t work for you especially if you are on a limited budget. By targeting less competitive keywords, you can attack a more specialized market and appeal to a specific demographic. Think about targeting local keywords and including your city or state into your SEO keyword strategies.
When branding online for small businesses, remember that you are not selling just products; you are selling yourself. That is why online branding is crucial for small businesses. Web users are skeptical because they can’t see or feel your products and services behind the computer screen.
Branding will help you tear down the wall of skepticism that exists between you and your next sale.
If you want to be a real success online you must showcase to the world who you are and what you offer. Branding online will help you get you there.