4 Easy Ways to Achieve Consistent Branding

4 Keys to effective branding and marketing for Reading PA, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, York, Harrisburg and beyond.Branding, or the art of achieving a positive and consistent brand image for your business, is more than just a nice idea.  In fact, branding is a key pillar of an effective marketing strategy, and applies as much to online and social media marketing as it does to traditional marketing and advertising such as print media, outdoor advertising, radio, and TV. It’s a pillar because great branding essentially multiplies your marketing and advertising efforts and dollars by providing a hook to make your message live on in the minds of your target audience.

Just getting your new business off the ground? Don’t be fooled into thinking that an integrated logo, business card and letterhead are sufficient to create a great brand image, even for a low-budget one-person operation.  There are many things to consider, all of which work together to reinforce your brand image and to remind potential customers of who you are and how you stand apart from the competition.

Here are four easy ways to achieve positive and consistent branding: 

#1. Use Taglines:  Make Them Short, Memorable, & Relevant

A good tagline is a memorable phrase or one-liner designed to remind customers of who you are, what you offer, and how you stand apart. Just as a picture can paint a thousand words, so a tagline can help customers recall your advertising campaigns, presentations, and value propositions in an instant.  Who can forget Nike’s “Just Do It”, Ford’s “Ford Tough”, or Wheaties’ “Breakfast of Champions”?  When you hear those lines you know immediately which company is represented, and experience an instant visualization of their products or logos. Strive to make your tagline short, memorable, and relevant to your core products, services, and mission.

#2. Create a Style Guide for Consistent Branding

Creating, a style guide is a fairly painless way to ensure that your basic branding efforts share a consistent look and feel. Your style guide, which should be created by a professional graphic designer, will define the colors, images and fonts to be used in your advertising materials and presentations, as well as logo placement, and details like the amount of white space to be included around your logo, as well as other guidelines. A thorough guide may even include examples of what is not acceptable in an effort to avoid common errors by your well-intended sales and marketing staff. Your guide is also valuable when outsourcing new advertising and promotional materials, and may help reduce the cost of such efforts while helping ensure consistent, high-quality branding.

Your style guide will make it easier for you to achieve visual consistency in anything and everything that represents your brand whether it’s a flyer or brochure, a blog or social media page, a TV commercial or PowerPoint presentation, a pen or mug, or virtually anything that can reflect or reinforce your brand image.

#3. Brand Your Social Media Experience

Branding includes creating a consistent visual experience wherever your brand is encountered, including on your social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any others your business may use.  Some social media platforms provide less graphical design flexibility than others. Nevertheless, those encountering your brand via social media should experience a strong sense of familiarity and consistency across all social media touch points.

#4. Create and Use Branded Templates

Take the grunt work out of branding by providing your sales force and others with professionally created templates that adhere to the branding guidelines in your style guide.  Your graphic designer can create effective templates for letterheads, PowerPoint presentations, signature lines within email messages, sales receipts, customer quote forms, and virtually every type of printed or electronically transmitted customer-facing communication. Using templates will save time and money while consistently reinforcing your brand image.

In Summary

A great brand can multiply the results of your marketing efforts while building brand recognition and loyalty. The more you get a clear and compelling brand image in front of others, and the more consistently you present it across your marketing and advertising channels, the quicker people will recognize it and become more likely to choose your brand over others. There are many aspects to effective branding beyond those mentioned here, but by following these 4 principles you will be well on your way to a more effective branding strategy.

If you would like additional help in forming an effective branding and marketing strategy for your business, then please contact us.

Successful Content Marketing Begins with Good Company Culture

Going Viral – A Social Media / Content Marketing Dream Come True

Two stories went viral on the Internet in late January 2013.

How to leverage content marketing to boost your social media marketing strategyAn anonymous woman taped a letter of encouragement in a women’s restroom at her university. Her intended readers were other girls who had written their stories of woe on the bathroom wall.  Within two days, the story had generated nearly 8,000 comments.  In another story, a father challenged his daughters to gather 1 million likes on their Facebook page and he would buy them a new puppy.  It took them only seven hours to accomplish their objective.

We believe there are two key online marketing lessons to be learned from these articles.

  1. Kindness – In a world of violence and cruelty, where many people believe human nature to be hopelessly self-centered, the public is hungry for extraordinary stories of kindness.
  2. Innocence – You can’t go wrong with a dynamic combination – children and puppies.  However, the real power in the story is innocence.  Who expects evil from children who want their faces licked by a cuddly animal with a wagging tail?

The Take Away: A New Social Media Strategy?

The take away for your business is to post on your website stories of kindness and pictures of puppies. Or not.

A company cannot overcome a poor customer service record by posting feel-good stories.  In fact, attempting to do so might even enrage customers who have been wronged or abused.  They may feel insulted, and view such stories as an attempt to placate them instead of doing the right thing and delivering better service.  Similarly, a company with a reputation for violating the law or hiring shady employees will fail to generate good will with feigned stories of honesty and integrity pushed out through their social media channels.

Great Content Makes for Great Social Media Marketing: Make it Real

The true lesson from these stories is that a business that demonstrates true kindness and honesty (innocence, if you will) has the potential to draw enthusiastic followers and loyal customers, and to generate content with the potential to go viral.  Such kindness and transparent honesty is in the culture of the organization, in other words, it’s real.  It is expressed in the mission statement.  It is demonstrated in how the business serves customers every day.  It is exemplified by how the business makes being a good neighbor in the community a primary objective of both management and employees.  It is epitomized by how the employees are themselves kind people.  It is embodied in the way the business acts in a law abiding manner and is consistently trustworthy in delivering on their promises.

Your Culture: a Goldmine for Content Marketing

If your business culture typifies these traits, you have a gold mine of content to leverage in your website, blog, and social media marketing assets – content that could go viral.  One of your employees just may do something incredibly noteworthy that thousands or even millions will want to share simply because they are truly enthusiastic about how your organization does business.

Developing the Right Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business

Stories like those above are just one of many facets of a strong content marketing strategy that attracts followers and drives increasing amounts of traffic to your website, blog, and social media assets. Finding and executing the right strategy for your company is key. Are you up for the challenge? We’re here if you need help with your content marketing efforts.

Web Design: 5 Marketing Decisions to Make Before Getting Started

Web designers are not magicians. Online marketing tips to for better web design results for small business owners near Reading, PA, Berks County, Lancaster, Allentown, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and beyond.Online Marketing and Web Design – Such Great Expectations, So Little Planning

Regardless of how the small business owner has positioned his or her business, the web designer is often tasked with achieving nearly magical web marketing results. The web design process is expected to acheive a beautiful and persuasive online presence, plus search engine optimization feats that will drive increased website traffic, and create new customers and revenue. But, how can a web designer create loyal customers for a business the community perceives as unfriendly or whose products or services as lackluster?

Helpful, but Not Magicians

Unfortunately, web designers are not magicians.  The true marketing magic begins with the key strategic and tactical decisions made by business owners and marketers. That said, a talented web designer with solid online marketing experience can refine and amplify your business and the reasons customers should select you over the competition. Your website design, social media pages, and search engine optimization efforts alone cannot overcome a poorly crafted business strategy, but they can supplement and amplify a good one.

Here are five issues to address before executing an online marketing strategy or web design project

  1. Identify your niche
    Lined up in a row with 9 white ducks, a black duck will capture everyone’s attention.  Your business needs something unique, an added value for the market that cannot be experienced with any other competitor.  What makes your business different from the competition?
  2. Resolve product and service quality issues
    There is no marketing that can overcome bad business.  On the contrary, good business practice requires less marketing because people talk about and recommend businesses which have provided a good customer experience.  What can you do to make your business deliver better quality?
  3. Find ways to be creative and innovative
    Traditional marketing techniques are often met with a yawn.  Thanks to continuous innovations in marketing and advertising, consumers expect marketing materials, web pages, and online advertising of all kinds to give them something to talk about.  GEICO understands this very well.  How can you change your online marketing strategy to create a buzz, surprise people, and drive referrals?
  4. Become a subject matter expert
    It does not matter what industry you are in – people react to and purchase expertise.  They expect you to be knowledgeable on whatever it is you do as a business.  How can you position the leaders of your business as experts customers come to rely on for advice?  Hint – think blogging and content marketing.
  5. Be in the event business
    Which of the following would be easier to accomplish: building a following of people day-after-day and month-after-month when nothing special is going on with your business OR building a following of people who want to be involved in a special event hosted by your business?  Instead of worrying about how to keep people coming back to your website, think about how to keep people coming back to events hosted by your business.  People talk to their friends about special events.  What events can your business host? What types of events can you host online vs. in your store or at your business?

Online marketing success begins with the decisions made by small business owners and marketers like you.  What magic can you create today that your web designer can communicate (and amplify) to your market? Think about that, and then contact your web designer.

Content Marketing: 10 Reasons People Don’t Comment on Blog Posts

Content marketing, online marketing, and blogging tips for Reading, PA, in Berks County0 Comments: Second to “read more”, you would be hard pressed to find a more frequent combination of characters on the Internet, or a more perplexing online marketing issue to overcome. If we could generate $1 for every article published online that people don’t comment on, we could eliminate the national debt overnight. OK, maybe not the U.S. national debt, but you get the point.

Why so Lonely?

Why are there so many lonely blog posts? The obvious and most simplistic answer is that people aren’t reading the articles. The websites that contain the articles aren’t generating traffic. Thousands of articles and books have been published to address this concern.

However, there are at least ten other reasons for the absence of comments that may not be so obvious. Those with a passion for content marketing may find some encouragement to refine their blogging and other online marketing efforts by carefully considering the 10 points below, and the recommendations that follow.

10 Reasons People Don’t Comment

1) Agreement
People agreed in entirety with what you wrote. If you said it all and said it well, you might leave virtually nothing meaningful for anyone to add. People submit comments to articles when they think they can add insight the author didn’t share.

2) Reluctiance
People are reluctant to share their opinion socially. The vast majority of people are not very confident when it comes to sharing their opinions publicly. They may fear their opinion may not be meaningful or may not be communicated eloquently.

3) Time
People are too busy. While it might take a minute or two to read an article, it might take someone 10-15 minutes to write a comment they think is good enough for others to read.

4) Attitude
People are cynical. They don’t believe their comments will make a difference. Things won’t be changed for the better regardless of what comments they share.

5) Emotion
Your post didn’t strike an emotional chord. One million people might read an article about how to change a light bulb without one person leaving a comment.

6) Reach
People with opinions to share want an audience. If your website doesn’t have millions of followers, those who are inclined to comment on websites may believe your website isn’t worth their time.

7) Repurcussions
People fear repercussions. “What if I say something that comes back to hurt me?” People who have friends, family, neighbors, and employers may believe it is safer not to express their opinions publicly.

8) Vulnerability
People are intimidated by nastiness. It is common knowledge that people often use the ability to comment on articles as an opportunity to belittle, criticize, and insult others who comment. Who wants that?

9) Failure to Ask
You didn’t ask for comments within the article itself. If you forget to ask for comments, then don’t be surprised if none appear.

10) Poor Follow Up
You didn’t ask for comments after the article was published. You didn’t ask family, friends, customers, and colleagues to share their comments on the article.

5 Tips for Better Participation

How can you increase the number of comments on your articles? In addition to addressing the above issues, here are some online marketing tips to consider when composing blog posts and other content:

  • Don’t share every last insight you can think of in the article
  • Publicly thank or reward those who do comment
  • Write in such a manner as to encourage the reader to take sides in an argument
  • Allow people to comment anonymously
  • Police your website and remove or block inappropriate comments that may intimidate potential contributors

 

Again, remember to ask for comments, both in the article and after the article was published.

What other reasons do you think people have for not commenting on articles? Please share your thoughts!

Online Marketing: 3 Ways to Use Photos to Drive Web Traffic

Who Has Time for Online Marketing?

Marketing consulting firm near Reading PA in Berks County. Online marketing and content marketing strategy services.Who has time for content marketing, social media marketing, or any other form of online marketing, you ask? In particular, who has time to write high-quality blog posts?

If you are like many small business owners and marketers, you work from early in the morning till late in the evening. You answer emails, make telephone calls, and attend meetings. You need to make sure your operations are producing and shipping quality products or delivering outstanding service. Each day is a new adventure of unexpected situations that require your complete attention.

Quality Content – Key to Online Marketing Success, But …

Quality content is essential to your online marketing success, and one key to better search engine optimization (ranking well on search engines). However, it may seem there is no time for planning, researching, writing, editing, and publishing articles on your website. In addition, you may not be able to hire a professional writer to perform these functions for you. As a result, your website contains the kiss of death: your pages are static and outdated, contributing to poor search engine performance and dissatisfied viewers and customers.

Here are 3 ways to use photography to achieve better online marketing results:

1. Turn your website into a photo blog.

It takes just a few moments to upload images if your website has a quality content management system. Images can convey messages quicker and more efficiently than words. It would require a carefully crafted paragraph or two of text to describe what a stop sign looks like to someone who has never seen one. However, with a photo of a stop sign, words are not necessary other than a brief caption. Continuously take and post photos of your products, your staff providing services, your building, and your satisfied customers.

2. Add appropriate keyword-savvy descriptions for each image on your website.

Add a keyword-focused description of the photo in the “title” and “alt” tags. When someone searches the Internet, they will find your photos thanks to those tags properly used. For example, visit Google and search for images for “caterpillar”. Interspersed with images of the insect will be images of trucks and heavy equipment manufactured by the Caterpillar company. The website team at Caterpillar has used title and ALT tags on images to help people discover their website when they use search engines. The Internet user can click on the image to visit the Caterpillar website.

3. Share the same photos on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Webshots, Snapfish, and Photobucket.

Uploading your images to these popular social media photo sharing channels increases the number of people who are likely to “stumble upon” your website. Search engines also search the photos indexed on these websites, increasing the effectiveness of your search engine optimization efforts when the photos and related text link back to your website or blog.

Your camera phone can be a powerful and easy-to-use tool to get this process moving. Use it along with the tips above to add more punch to your online marketing efforts!

Need Help with Your Social Media or Online Marketing Strategy?

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