Article | March 13, 2021
A lot of our clients want to create a “strong brand” – a very vague term that gets tossed around a lot.
What is a brand anyway?
I like Seth Godin’s definition:
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.
I also like my definition:
Your company’s brand is what people say about it when you’re not there.
If a majority of your company’s clients come from word of mouth, I guarantee you have a strong brand.
So, what does it take to create a strong brand?
Time (and effort)
You cannot create a strong brand overnight – even if you’re a Kardashian. It takes time and effort to build awareness and a reputation.
When I first launched my company, I networked constantly. I met some of my best clients that way, but my god, I had to endure a lot of ridiculousness. I was once cornered by two government contractors who decided to play “define that acronym” – their idea of a fun game. I went to countless one-on-one meetings at Starbucks that turned into sales pitches and sat in rush hour traffic (there’s a reason I work from home).
After a couple of years, the word-of-mouth referrals started rolling in. And I stopped going to networking events.
An interesting personality
As the business owner, you are the face – and personality – of the brand. This is not the time to be timid. Own who you are and let your freak flag fly. People will remember you – and that’s a critical element of a strong brand.
Worried you’ll scare people away? Don’t be. If people like you, they will work with you. If they don’t, you don’t want to work with them anyway.
People remember me because I tell it like it is while making them laugh at the same time. What do people remember you for? (Go ahead and ask your favorite people if you don’t know.)
A community (preferably in person)
In our digital world, it is hard to build a community – but it is doable. The trick? Make it easy for people to participate.
Ask them questions and allow them to share their ideas. If you use Facebook for marketing, host Facebook Live chats or create a Facebook Group.
But my favorite way to create community? Host regular meetups with hand-selected people once it’s safely to meet in person again. There is NO substitute for interacting face to face.
(Yes, I know I just finished telling you how much I hate networking. This is different, as it’s much more selective; you more or less control who’s there. Invite the people you like and ask them to invite the people they like.)
A phenomenal experience
A great experience doesn’t mean showering your clients (or customers) with confetti and handing out free Champagne. It means making every interaction with you, your team and your products/services a delight.
It means people love you so much that they will talk about you every chance they get.
It also means you …
Do what you say you’re going to do
How many times have you been disappointed by a company’s product/service or your interaction with them? From useless customer service reps, to dirty bathrooms, to products that don’t work as advertised, we tend to have really low expectations.
When you keep promises, you will stand out as a hero. All you have to do is keep communication open, stick to the budget, meet deadlines and actually deliver what say you will.
Stick to your message
When people ask, “So, what does your company do?”, how do you respond? Do you have the same answer every time? Is it clear and concise?
Sticking to one message – generally, your value proposition – makes it easy for people to talk about you. Repeat it enough, and they’ll learn your message and be able to recite it. Maybe not word-for-word, but close to it.
Consistency is so important for a strong brand: consistent quality, consistent experiences, consistent customer service, consistent marketing. Consistency means you are dependable and trustworthy. It means people are confident you will do what you say you will.
Imagine getting an email from a new-to-you-brand. You like what you see in the email, so you click over to their website – and you have no idea where you are. The look and feel are completely different.
You start doubting this company. Are they also inconsistent in the quality of their work? Do they even know what they’re doing?
If you are inconsistent, you will sow doubt in the minds of your potential customers and tarnish your reputation. Don’t take the chance!
Here’s some homework for you: Think about your favorite brands. What do you like most about them? How can your brand emulate them? Creating a strong brand is work – but the payoff is worth it.
Article | March 13, 2021
Marketing is all about experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. This can be frustrating for someone (ahem, me) who wants quick results. Unfortunately, you don’t know until you try.
Like a good marketer, I’ve different marketing campaigns and tactics over the years. Five completely failed: Doing live video (trolls suck), answering queries on HARO (zero results), offering free audits (note to self: people run from the word “audit”), advertising on LinkedIn (no need if you’re active on the platform) and using a social media dashboard (total time-suck).
Could those tactics work for you? Sure. But they didn’t work for me.
Marketing campaigns that have been successful
Marketing is a short-term expense and a long-term investment. You’ll know if a marketing campaign is working if you see a steady increase in results over six months. If you get to the six-month mark with nothing to show for your efforts, it’s OK to pull the plug and try something new.
On the other hand, something could work great for months or years – and then fall off a cliff (looking at you, Twitter chats). It’s so disappointing when that happens, but it happens – to all of us.
Around five years ago, my friend Nicole Krug floated the idea of creating videos together. We worked together all the time, got along famously and were (are) comfortable in front of the camera. “Why not?” I thought. “This could be fun.”
It still is, which you can clearly see when you watch any of our videos.
Five Business Rules is still a rather small YouTube channel, but man, the people who watch the videos LOVE them. And yes, it has brought us clients. (This proves that you don’t need to have a huge audience on social media. You only need to have an engaged audience.)
Actively using LinkedIn
My marketing agency is B2B, which makes LinkedIn the best social media channel for me. It’s where my current and potential clients hang out and, importantly, want to learn more about business-related topics.
Are they on Facebook and Instagram, too? Probably. But they don’t want to hear my thoughts on, say, how to measure your blog’s success when they’d rather watch a video of their cousin’s new baby or gape at over-styled charcuterie boards.
The key to LinkedIn marketing success is being social. At least once a week, I scroll through my feed. I react to or comment on what people are posting. I usually read other comments, and I might respond to what someone else posted.
If I really like what I read, I share it with my network.
When someone comments on my latest article or post, I thank them. I get a fair number of direct messages, and I always respond – even if the opportunity is not right for me. It’s just the polite thing to do, and it only takes five seconds.
I also use LinkedIn to grow my network. Whenever I reach out to someone, I include a note reminding them how we met or explaining why I’d like to connect.
And yes, it’s a great lead generation tool for me.
Sending a monthly email newsletter
A relevant, interesting and short email newsletter remains one of the best ways to stay in front of your audience. Even if someone doesn’t have time to read it this month, they’ll see your email and be reminded that you exist.
Since I’ve been emailing a newsletter for years, I have the process down. At the beginning of every month, I put together a newsletter that includes four things:
Two recent blog posts (title and short introduction only)
A recent Five Business Rules video (see above)
A funny meme (it usually involves wine)
The blog posts and video include links so if you’re interested, you can read the full post or watch the video.
My open and click rates average 30% and 4.3%, respectively, which is head and shoulders above the industry average (13.3% for opens and 1.7% for clicks). I attribute this success to three factors:
1. A/B testing subject lines
2. Writing eye-catching subject lines (last month, it was “Yes, alcohol can make you a better writer”)
3. Consistently delivering interesting, and oftentimes, entertaining content
Creating downloadable content
One of the best ways to generate leads is with a free giveaway. Your target market gives you their name and email in exchange for something valuable. For me, that’s in the form of downloadable guides: two ebooks, one checklist and two one-pagers of tips.
When someone opts-in to receive one of these free resources, an automated email campaign is triggered. The emails are short and customized and each one offers something new of value. Once they complete the campaign, we add them to our main newsletter list.
I don’t believe I’ve gotten a client directly from one of these resources, but they have definitely helped me grow my email list. Marketing is a long-term game, and I’m good with that.
Your turn: What marketing campaigns have been most successful for your business?
Article | July 10, 2020
Creating video content may be more time consuming than static imagery, but when it comes to your social media advertising, the benefits are worth it. After all, wouldn’t we all want to boost awareness, engagement, traffic, and conversions as a result? Video content creates faster and stronger connections between brands and their target audiences as they leave less to the imagination, better tell your story, share your message, and captivate users across various platforms in comparison to static images—if executed well.
Article | February 17, 2020
Developing a website is not enough for any business, active participation is also essential to attract potential buyers. Social media is a platform for the users to interact, create or share their ideas and participate in social networking. A company’s online reputation depends on social media influence. This means that the more influential you are on social media, the better your reputation is. So, associate with a provider offering social media marketing in Long Island to effectively utilize social networking platforms to gain traffic and attract the targeted audience. Social media marketing allows you to increase brand awareness, create brand advocates and increase page rank. Social media can also improve SEO traffic. It has gained a lot of prominence over the years, and social media trends keep changing each year.