Top Tips for Creating Your Own Brand & Getting It to Grow

More people are realizing the benefits of entrepreneurship. As a result, many people are building their own brands to achieve professional dreams. If you’d like to do the same, understand that it’s a process. There are a few things you’ll want to practice and implement in order to achieve success. To lay the foundation, start with these four tips.

Create a Website, a Business Bank Account and Business Cards

If you put the necessary systems in place, you won’t have to scramble later on to get things done. Start by purchasing a domain name. Create a simple website. Even if you don’t have technical skills, you can easily use a template and create a professional-looking site. Register your business as an LLC. Get a tax ID number and a business bank account. When you’re operating with money, you don’t want to mix up personal finances with business finances. Also, once you’ve solidified your contact details, you can put all of the information on your business cards. Details like your website, email address and telephone number should be on the business card.

Create Offline and Online Marketing Strategies

Don’t make the mistake of solely focusing on online marketing strategies. Create a mix of offline and online strategies so that you can build through multiple portals. If you’re selling an incredible hair product, reserve tables at hair shows. Do your best to promote your product at different events and allow your presence to serve as an offline marketing strategy. Some online strategies include building a social media presence, developing an email list and maintaining a consistent blog.

Be a Walking Billboard for Your Brand

If your company is a clothing retailer like Capsule Corp Clothing, for example, make sure that you wear the clothes that you sell. If your latest line includes fabulous Dragon Ball tank tops, wear new pieces from the line every day. You should serve as a walking billboard for your brand. When people look at you, they should know that you are proud of your business and that you represent your business. The same goes for your employees. If you represent it well, more people are likely to buy into whatever you’re selling.

Develop Habits of Professionalism

Always be professional, timely and considerate. Be responsive to various inquiries that people have. Be reliable and operate within integrity. When people see that they can trust you, they’ll do business with you. Make sure you do this with every single interaction because each interaction speaks volumes.

Look at entrepreneurship as a marathon. Most people operate as though entrepreneurship and brand-building are sprint races. When you develop a mindset that understands that you want to build a brand that lasts more than 20 years, you’ll be able to pace yourself and create a sustainable business.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

Online Branding Is Critical for The Success Of Every Business

The Importance of Branding

You may already realize online branding is one of the most critical aspects for your business. It makes no difference if your business is B2B, retail, big or small. When you use an effective branding strategy, you achieve a significant edge in a highly competitive market. The best way to define the term branding is as the promise you have made to your customers. Online branding informs your customers as to what they will receive from your services and products while differentiating you from your competitors. Your brand is a reflection of who you are, who you want to be and the perceptions of your target audience.

The Innovation of Branding

The innovation of your brand is the defining factor in how you are perceived online. This can be as reliable, experienced, knowledgeable, etc. Your product perception will be low or high cost, low or high quality and low or high value. It is impossible to be everything for everyone. Your brand must reflect the desires of your target customers and your perceptions of what your brand represents. It is critical to understand your brand is responsible for the success and growth of your company regardless of what you are selling. Your customers need to understand your brand and your mission. This is a lot more than simply the colors you have chosen for your brand. The process of brand development begins with conducting research. Your brand values must be strategically developed and communicated to your target audience to be effective. A brand can be associated with the latest fashions or how to reduce car insurance. There are four critical components to effective branding.

The Competitive Advantage of the Brand

You will be competing for your resources, the attention of your audience, talent and funding whether you are for or non-profit. To be successful in your category you have to have a good strategy to implement and an organizational plan. Your goals require a detailed plan for outlining specific measures and actions. You can outmaneuver your competition by reaching these goals. When this is accomplished correctly, your brand will properly represent your company. This will promote initiatives and strategic areas to improve your company, aid in growth and set you on a path for the future.

Brands are a Stable Asset

Companies will always succeed and fail; some products will not achieve success and every day technology changes. Despite this, a strong brand has the ability to continue moving forward through all the inevitable changes. Your brand should be the most sustainable asset of your company. When your brand is combined with your overall strategy, it becomes the principle for decision making and organization. There are numerous brands that have been in existence for more than 100 years, are immediately recognized by consumers and have an astronomically high value. These facts become even more impressive when you consider the life of the typical corporation is only 25 years. Your brand is your company’s most stable asset.

The Economic Value of the Brand

Every business is segregated into tangible and intangible assets. Your brand is an intangible asset. A study revealed the brand of the company is responsible for over a third of the shareholder value. The greatest values of most companies are intangible. The most prominent asset is the brand. The brand for Coca-Cola is responsible for in excess of 54 percent of the stock market value for the company. Just the brand name is valued at $67 million. The value of a brand is a critical asset. The brand of the Red Cross enables the organization to attract both volunteers and donations. Your brand is exceptionally important for your company because of the unique impact on the consumers. Your online brand is the key to your business because it attracts and influences partners, employees and your target audience. Your brand can create awareness for organizations and consumers, cut through the clutter of the marketplace, attract and develop relationships mutually beneficial for the public, suppliers and customers to help everyone reach their individual goals.

The Expectations of the Brand

The basis for the world you live in is promises. The promise of the airline mechanic is to be thorough, check the aircraft numerous times and ensure the safety of the passengers. Restaurants promise to provide a clean environment and prepare fresh food. The consumer believes their children will be protected and educated during the course of the school day. These promises are not usually bound by legal repercussions. They are a vow based on the ethical and moral code of the business owner. When you opened your business, you assured your customers you would do exactly what you promised. This is an agreement encompassing your services, products and company. Your branding is based on any promises you made to your target audience. The promise of your brand tells your audience what you believe in, who you are and why your product is valuable and unique. When you make the effort to fulfill your promises throughout the relationship, you are helping your business grow and succeed. When these promises are not kept, the reputation of you company is in jeopardy. This often results in failure because your brand has suffered. Keeping the promise of your brand results in the affection and loyalty of your customers

The Bottom Line

People see the promises made by brands every day. Even purchasing a soda from a vending machine engages the promise of the brand. Despite the numerous options available, the consumer will choose their drink based on their past experiences with the brand. The selection has the expectation of receiving exactly what the consumer was prepared to receive. This involves the process of awareness, desire, interest and satisfaction. Many of the greatest influencers are not directly related to the service or product. The influencers are the association the person has with the specific brand. This makes your online brand identity, promises and advertising crucial for the success of your business.

Should You Ever Change Yourself To Get The Job You Really Want?

Nowadays, the ever-changing workplace is making it more difficult to find a career that we truly love. It seems that once we’ve got our heart set on something, the goalposts move. This can be very frustrating, and so, it begs the question, do we have something wrong with ourselves, or if it’s actually the job role? When we are looking for the job that we really want in life, we feel like we have to bend over backwards to get it, but in making the necessary changes, should you ever actually alter yourself intrinsically to suit the job that you really want?

Think About Who You Really Are First

You need to figure out who you are before embarking on any career trajectory. We can spend a lot of time thinking that we need to alter our personality to suit a role, but is this really the correct approach? It’s far better for you, especially in the job interview stage, to let your natural personality shine through. The big problem is, if you end up being rejected for this job, you can take it personally, and think that the next time you need to change something about yourself. But it’s far better for you to invest in yourself rather than to make yourself fit a specific box-ticking exercise.

When You Have A Questionable Background

Sometimes we can feel like the perfect fit for the role, but there are issues on paper. Sometimes this can be a very concerning problem, especially if you have prior convictions. But it can be possible to go to an expungement attorney to have the criminal charge “erased” depending on what the charge is. When you have a questionable background, but you have made the journey beyond that point and have learnt your lesson in life, the employer will see this. Everybody deserves a second chance when they are truly sorry for what they have done. And if you feel that there is something on your record holding you back, it’s far better for you to be honest about it if you can’t get it stricken from your record.

What Happens If You Don’t Get On With The Role?

And sometimes we work so hard in getting the necessary qualifications, going through a draining interview process, and we finally get the job, but something isn’t sitting quite right. You could feel like it’s a waste of years if you get to this point, but rather than feel depressed at the thought, consider it to be a life lesson. A lot of people feel that they have to fit a certain role in order to be accepted for a specific job, and this can restrict us in a personal and emotional sense. As we go through life and try to find the roles we were meant to fulfill we can lose a sense of who we are. And when it comes to finding the perfect job, it’s more about trusting your instincts and what you really want out of life, not what you think is the most lucrative prospect.

 

 

7 Reasons Why Branding Matters

Despite what you might think, branding isn’t reserved just for Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and and it’s not just your logo or mission statement. Branding is important for your company. It defines who you are and what do you do; how you see yourself and how do you want to be seen; where do you want to be and how will you get there; and what makes your business unique out of all the others. Branding requires your attention since it can also increase the value of your company, help you grow, make it easier to connect with customers and determine your success. If you’re still unconvinced, here are seven reasons why branding matters in business.

1. Makes Companies Relatable

When people first heard Apple’s “Think Different” ads they were immediately able to identify themselves with the brand because they shared that vision. Even if most people at the time didn’t own an iMac, or didn’t want one for that matter, they could still relate to the brand message. Since a company is something artificial and distant, branding brings it closer to people, shapes their opinion and how they perceive it.

2. Delivers a United Message

Branding connects all aspects of a company. For example, a creative professionals from Studio X achieve this by developing brand strategies that combine physical features (interior and graphic design) with virtual architecture (web design and development). This consistent presence delivers a united message across all channels of communication. Everyone involved with your company, from clients to partners, will have a clear understanding of what your business represents.

3. Supports Marketing Efforts

Marketing plays an important role in building your brand. It allows you to gain visibility with key demographics and creates brand awareness. As your brand awareness grows, marketing can rely on that recognition to support its own efforts. This mutual dependency between branding and marketing will allow your business to grow. Once you start dominating one specific market, the reputation of your brand will make it easier to market yourself to target a completely different audience.

4. Drives a Premium Price Point

Brand awareness can increase the value of the products or services you sell. As people start associating your brand with quality and it starts trending, what you sell becomes more desirable to your audience. This allows you to increase the price of your products. Quality brands are able to put a price on their brand name because people are willing to pay extra to be associated with it. That’s one of the main reasons why Starbucks coffee is more expensive than regular java at your local coffee shop.

5. Encourages Employee Endorsement

A company can improve the extent of its reach if it encourages employee endorsement. Branding helps with this since employees will tend to be more productive and promote the company when speaking to others. By feeling the value of your brand, they associate themselves with its message. This makes them more likely to endorse a positive experience about your brand, and can even turn employees into brand ambassadors that regularly share the company message at their own free will.

6. Creates Trust Among Customers

A strong brand is centered around its customers. When you have your customers (and their desires) in mind first, and profit second, it creates trust among them and marks you as a professional. As customers perceive a company’s intentions as sincere, authentic and transparent, they will transfer those feelings to the products or services you offer. They will believe that what you offer has enough power to improve their lives, and that justifies their decision to buy from you, instead of the competition.

7. Builds a Loyal Customer Base

Branding can inspire loyalty among your customers. After they convert from prospects, customers will ultimately shape their future feeling towards your brand through their experience. If you do introduce the feelings of trust, they are far more likely to make a purchase again.

Not only that, but great branding values customer loyalty and will look to reward it. In turn, your loyal customers will want to repay for your care by promoting your brand. They will become brand ambassadors and will spread a good word about your company, even remaining loyal during bad times.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

The Evolution of Content Marketing: What We Can Learn From the Past?

Content marketing is one of the most popular long-term marketing strategies that, if done right, can significantly increase brand awareness and brand loyalty. It’s a highly effective tactic. It costs 62% less than traditional marketing, while at the same time creating 3 times more leads. Content marketing comes down to offering people relevant info related to your industry on a regular basis. You do promote your brand through content, but the emphasis is not on advertising, but instead on providing value for those who consume the content. The ultimate goal then is to slowly and spontaneously turn your audience into your customers.

This strategy has been around for a long time, although it’s gained real significance on a global scale just a decade or two ago. Let’s have a brief look at the history of content marketing and then we’ll try to point out to a few valuable lessons it can teach us.

Pre-internet era

It’s possible to trace the roots of content marketing to as early as 19th century. It was far from being as widespread as today, but a few standalone examples have showed the way to the marketers of the future and basically relied on the same principles as content marketing nowadays.

In 1895, Deere & Company started publishing The Furrow Magazine, which provided farmers with valuable pieces of advice and information on topics related to agriculture. And by 1912, it had more than 4 million readers. This was a great marketing move for a company that produces agricultural tools, machinery and equipment, and has done wonders for the image of the brand.

Other early examples of this kind include Michelin’s Guide from 1900, Jell-O’s booklets of recipes from 1904, as well as Procter & Gamble’s radio drama soap campaign from 1930s. All these were a huge success, but these content marketing attempts were still just isolated examples rather than a trend. This has all changed with the emergence of the internet.

Online opportunities: 1990s-2010

The trouble with content marketing was the lack of channels for such a long-term marketing effort. Anything more than a few inches of a printed page or a 30-second TV ad was simply too expensive for most companies. And for content marketing to be done right, you need your own channel where you can regularly publish new content that normally has to be long enough in order to be really relevant and informative.

With the emergence of internet, the circumstances have changed radically. People started using the power of blogs and social media – channels that are basically free and that you can use to publish an unlimited amount of content. This event is often referred to as “democratization” of content marketing. It has opened the door for the real expansion of this marketing strategy in the last decade.

The golden age: 2010 – ?

The explosion of online channels and opportunities has resulted in the explosion of content marketing as well, since 88% of B2B companies reportedly used it in their marketing efforts in 2015. Today, more than 2 million blog posts are published every day and this has resulted in a lot of noise and poor-quality content.

Thus, in order to stand out, it has become extremely important to deliver first-rate content, and both brands and top content marketing companies have recognized this. Moreover, Google’s algorithm updates guarantee low rankings for low-quality and short-form content, which has put additional emphasis on creating top-class, long-form articles that provide real value.

Another novelty that 2010s have brought is the way content is promoted. Companies have realized how useful influencer marketing and paid ads are. Furthermore, the amount of content produced every day is such that you have to invest in promotion in order to be noticed, no matter how good your content is. This has been reflected in the fact that companies today spend a lot more money on promoting the content than on creating it.

Lessons to be learned

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Source: burst.shopifycdn.com

When we look at the history of content marketing, one constant becomes obvious immediately. The most important condition for this type of marketing to be successful is simply providing purposeful and interesting content that answers your audience’s questions. This is becoming more essential as the amount of available content grows.

Another constant is the necessity of careful targeting and narrowing your niche. You can’t and shouldn’t let the topics become too dispersed or completely irrelevant for your products and your industry. Stick to what you do and know best and tell stories that will not only benefit your audience right away, but that will also do good things for your business on the long run.

Furthermore, you ought to take advantage of the fact that content marketing has been “democratized”. It has apparently always been effective, but it was too expensive to be done properly. Today, you have all the necessary tools at your disposal basically for free and a multitude of channels ready to be utilized. And with careful targeting and distribution of the content, the resources you’ll have to invest in promotion can also be minimized.

At the end of the day, the ultimate message is to not be afraid to employ new strategies and put innovative ideas to work. Stay in touch with the latest trends and take chances. Some particular rules and practices applied in content marketing are going to change constantly and you have to be familiar with them and put them to use. Currently, these trends include the use of videos, strong links with journalism, as well as employing latest technological tools to analyze your content and feedback. So do your homework, see what works for you and include it in your strategy starting from today.

Guest author Meaghan is a web designer who is also quite passionate about digital marketing. These days she is all about researching various IT related topics and collaborating with other bloggers. When she is not working she enjoys dancing classical ballet.

How to Keep Your Company On-Brand at all Times

Working toward brand excellence is so important as a small business owner, and this is something that you should be striving for every day when running a business. There are some excellent ways of enhancing and boosting your brand, and there are plenty of things you can do to help you make the company a little more on-brand as much as possible.

The best way of impressing your customers and taking your business further is to make sure you are always on-brand. Your company will have an ethos, and a way of doing things, and your daily activities must exude this at all times. So, these are some of the best ideas you can use that will help keep the company on-brand at all times!

  • Never Compromise

You must never compromise from what makes your business and brand what it is. You will have plenty of business ideals that you want to make sure are important parts of the business every day. Never compromise on your beliefs, your plans for the company, or how you want the business to come across. It is important that you stick to your beliefs and ideals, and always make sure they are a focal point of the business, as this is one of the great ways of staying on-brand.

  • Keep Your Marketing Consistent

Another way of ensuring that you keep the company on-brand at all times is to make sure your marketing is as consistent as possible. The best way to keep the business branding on the right track is to make sure you improve your customer service, and that the marketing has the right focus. Too many companies seem to have a disjointed marketing strategy, and this can be detrimental to the company.

  • Cohesive Content

One of the most important things when it comes to staying on-brand is making sure you have cohesive content. So much of the time, your content can feel disjointed and not representative of the way you want your brand to come across. This is the sort of situation in which you need to use sites like https://www.templafy.com to get the correct sort of document and content management. This is so important in ensuring you are able to keep things cohesive and on-brand.

  • It’s Easy to Describe Your Brand

You know when you have kept everything on-brand when it is easy to summarize your brand in just a few short words. This is the most important thing to remember, and you need to put yourself in the place of your customers. Can your brand be summed up in just a few words? If the answer is no, then you need to make sure you work on improving your brand identity and make sure you better understand how to get back on-brand.

This is such an important thing for your business, and you have to do what you can to ensure your company is going to improve and thrive as a result. There are so many things to consider when trying to keep your business on-brand as much as possible.

Five of the Best Marketing Automation Tools for Small Businesses

The day in the life of a small business owner is likely full of endless emails, conference calls, meetings, strategy sessions, and the occasional lunch break if they are lucky. Before they know it, the day gets away. This is why business owners depend on marketing automation. A robust marketing software prevents marketers from having to spend their time taking care of repetitive tasks such as creating email campaigns, audience segmentation, gathering web analytics reports, CRM management, and social media management.

While the initial set-up of these features is essential and involves careful strategy, once they are ready to go, automation can make all the difference. According to a study conducted by Venture Beat, 80 percent of marketing automation users saw their numbers of leads increase, and 77 percent saw a lift in the number of conversions. So, what are the best tools to get started? Read on for the best-rated marketing automation tools according to the leading business technology review site, TrustRadius.

HubSpot

HubSpot, one of the largest and most popular inbound marketing automation tools, is said to be used by over 18,000 customers in more than 90 countries. Marketers can set up email marketing campaigns, create landing pages, handle SEO and social media management as well as a host of other tasks. Reviewers of HubSpot on TrustRadius praise the product’s easy-to-use interface, practical training sessions, and ease of uploading content and creating landing pages. However, the integrations are still lacking, and users did find it difficult to get the level of reporting and analytics they truly needed for social media campaigns.

Marketo

Mid-sized companies enjoy the multiple uses of Marketo. In addition to the typical marketing automation tools, Marketo also allows marketers to personalize websites and optimize mobile engagement. Where Hubspot is still working on expanding their integrations, TrustRadius reviewers are impressed with the number of software tools Marketo can connect to for automation functions. Creating and scheduling email automation is also quick and convenient to handle according to TrustRadius reviewers. On the negative side, many cited that the complicated user interface and overall slowness in data reporting can bring a bit of frustration to marketers who are always on the go.

Hatchbuck

If you are looking for some help in managing workflows, automated sales alerts, and numerous helpful integrations with a smaller but just as strong system, Hatchbuck may be the best option. Small businesses are known to favor this system in comparison to mid-sized and larger enterprises. Reviews by TrustRadius users conveyed enjoyment with the drag and drop email creator, fast customer service, and quick email automation services. TrustRadius reviewers are not too fond of the challenge in creating custom reports and feel the campaign creation process could be a bit less clunky and more straightforward.

LeadSquared

For those who do not have the resources or time to invest in a system like Hubspot or Marketo heavily but still want solid automation results, LeadSquared may be the answer. In addition to the general inbound marketing features, LeadSquared can also help with event and webinar marketing as well as social profile integration. TrustRadius reviewers liked the system’s value when compared to other products, the number of APIs available, and very knowledgeable support staff. On the other hand, users need to watch out for a less than satisfactory user interface, and the difficulty in setting up drip marketing actions.

The Wrap Up

Regardless of a marketer’s comfort with automation, the budget they are working with, and the level of help their team needs to implement marketing strategy; there is a viable option out there for everyone. Marketers just need to be sure they know the most important features they need to take care of repetitive marketing tasks and increase the overall marketing ROI.

Chanell Alexander currently resides in Atlanta, GA. When she’s not traveling and trying new restaurants in the Metro Atlanta area, she writes about the latest technology and tools for TrustRadius,