Growing Your Digital Brand As A Small Business

The internet offers huge potential for small business owners to compete with the bigger market players in terms of brand awareness. Guest writer Sam Wheeler provides an excellent analysis of how you can grow your digital brand.

Is one of your 2017 business resolutions to improve your online visibility and increase your customer acquisition? It’s no secret to those trying to market a company that Google favors big brands. However, it is possible to compete with the giant companies in your space and, with a little focused effort, even come out ahead. This article will offer recommendations and real-life examples that SMBs can implement to prepare themselves for a rock solid 2017.

Understand Brand Positioning

Positioning, also known as the basic ideas and principal your company stands for, is an integral part of getting your brand noticed.

It is important for your team to create a sense of personality about your brand that your consumers come to think of when interacting with your company. One of the best exercises a team can start with is looking at the core values of the company and ensuring that the logo, marketing materials, and any consumer-facing personnel embody these values. Think TOMS’ commitment to corporate responsibility or Colorescience’s quest to educate on the dangers of skin cancer.

Once your team fully understands the style, values, and feeling that should come with your brand, it is time to build out your digital presence and implement specific marketing promotions.

Streamline Marketing Materials

Do your physical and digital materials match? Does your older material reflect the new direction of your company? Especially when increasing your digital presence, it is important that any physical materials match your new online look. Getting a mailer, business card, or other item that looks nothing like a company’s website is confusing, especially for new customers, and indicates a lack of cohesiveness that can result in the loss of new leads.

A great example of this can be found in the way that Starbucks and the Starbucks Blog share materials, styles, and themes, despite being two separate websites.

Research Your Market’s Digital Footprint

In addition to market research, it is important to take a close look at the way your potential customers use the internet. Where do they receive news from? What social networks do they use? How do they connect with the brands they purchase from? By understanding not just the consumers in your space, but also how they consume information, you can create content that engages and inspires.

Don’t be afraid to make separate pages on your website that targets different types of consumers. A great example of this is the credit giant TransUnion. Their SmartMove brand has separate pages for both landlords and renters, as their product can benefit both parties in the real estate space.

Build Content across Multiple Channels

After learning about the way your market uses the internet, it is important to build out articles or blog posts on both your own website and other publications in your industry. Besides your own website, the most common place for small businesses to project their brand is on social media.

However, there are several other tactics companies can use to create content for the web. These include:

  • Guest posting on industry organizations and other websites
  • Partnering with local companies for community projects or joint marketing activities
  • Radio shows and online podcasts
  • Lectures and industry events

A great example of this comes from an organization called the American Marketing Association. They have chapters all across the country and industry leaders often provide advice and guidance. For example, the San Diego chapter of the AMA has a great podcast covering everything from niche marketing to recruiting.

Furthermore, organizations that are not directly related to your industry, but still share the same consumers, are also a great fit for this type of engagement.

Don’t be afraid to cultivate long-form content on your own website that educates the consumer. Not only is this a great opportunity to showcase your expertise within your industry, but often times this content caters towards customers towards the top of the acquisition funnel, increasing your chances of capturing their business.

For an example of well-done long-form content, he’s an in-depth and informative piece on FAA drone policies and an extensive guide on diagnosing acne. Even if the consumer doesn’t purchase after reading, you’ve still done them a service by educating them on a topic they care about or helped answer a question of theirs – both of which will resonate nicely with your target audience.

Paid Search and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Many small business owners often get these two strategies confused as they attempt to grow their brand through content creation.

AdWords has a very clear ROI as each click costs a certain amount and a percentage of them will convert into sales. Looking for paid search assistance? Check out this post with 21 free AdWords tutorials.

SEO, on the other hand, is more of a long-term strategy that comes with the creation of website content based on keyword research. SEO content often takes more of fine-tuned approach as Google is always updating and changing their search algorithms.

The key takeaways to remember are:

  • Build pages based on keyword research. There are great keyword planner tools out there from Ahrefs and Moz. Google AdWords also has a keyword planner for active accounts.
  • Include the keywords in the URL, title tag, and H1. While Google’s RankBrain is getting better at semantic keyword relationships, it still doesn’t hurt to be explicitly clear as to what your page is about.
  • Content is king. Build pages that are useful to the consumers. Google expects pages to answer the search query and takes things like bounce rate into consideration as part of its algorithm.

Project Your Brand’s Personality

Allowing your clients to see your company’s unique personalities is one of the most effective ways to make sure your clients remember and recommend you. People enjoy feeling like they are connected to a company that has a familiarity about it. Knowing there are real people behind your products and services is something that customers will quickly connect with. One company that does this exceptionally well is Zappos; they are highly touted for their human approach to customer service.

3 Ways to Get Personal from Hinge Marketing:

  1. Ask for — and use —testimonials that speak to how you work, rather than what you accomplished.
  2. Avoid technical jargon (except where absolutely needed) in your website and collateral copy. Keep the tone of voice friendly and informal. It’s an easy way to differentiate yourself.
  3. Avoid stock photos of conference rooms, handshakes, and smiling executives. If possible, hire a pro to shoot real employees in real situations. Prospects will recognize the difference right away.

Another great example of a personal approach can be found on Upwork’s homepage. The company does a fantastic job of including inviting language, personable call-to-actions, and has testimonials close to the top of the page.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to growing your digital brand, the process can seem daunting. However, if you sit down with a clear list of brand goals, you will soon find yourself on the right path. From leveraging your small business data, to creating new branding materials a structured, focused outward appearance is extremely important.

Making sure your brand is focused on your targeted market, representing your business philosophy, and projecting a unique and identifiable style will boost your overall digital footprint and help your company flourish!

Author Bio:

Sam Wheeler is a digital business consultant with 365 Business, a new website designed to provide actionable tips in five minutes or less. When he is not analyzing digital marketing data, he is bobbing around in the ocean, surfing the evening swell.

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