Is your brand image working for you?
Many logos were designed in the pre-digital age, with the simple aim of looking great in print. If your logo was created in the days of brochure-style flat websites, before the incarnation of social media, the chances are it could do with a refresh. Take a step back to see yourselves as others see you and make the changes you need to bring back the magic.
What are you trying to show your customers? Choose a style that reflects the tone and feel of your business – its personality. Look at content, colour, font, imagery and texture and check if there is anything similar already out there. Your need a brand that gets people interested and makes you stand out for all the right reasons.
Your branding needs to translate seamlessly across your traditional marketing, digital marketing and social media platforms. Getting the right mix of where, when and how to position your new branding is critical. The trick is to develop a multi-dimensional icon to give maximum impact and flexibility. Today’s rich media formats offer great new opportunities for animation and sound – so get creative.
Don’t just come up with ideas yourself. Ask others what they think and make sure you get honest, unbiased feedback. Start with your customers and staff but ensure you ask the opinion of those unfamiliar with your business too.
You need to be noticed so let your ideas run free. Create an image that will lift you above the sea of icons in digital marketing and on social media; that will also boost your message in print. There is a fine line between standing out and not dating your look so avoid anything too “now” that will very soon need refreshing.
Your customers are highly mobile, accessing their information on a range of devices in all kinds of locations so test every element of your new identity to make sure it works well across platforms.
Creating a list of everywhere your logo appears is a daunting task. Start gathering this sooner rather than later to make sure you don’t miss anything.
While you’d love a clean handover, be realistic and accept that as a small business, unless you are working with unlimited resources and are prepared to waste materials (which is unlikely), there will be the odd mismatch in your marketing materials during the phasing-in period. To keep costs and waste down, only print what you are likely to need in the run-up to the changeover.
A new look doesn’t have to tie with a particular event but if it does there is all the more opportunity to shout about it. Think about the time and place that is likely to create the most impact.
There are pros and cons of each and many small businesses simply don’t have the expertise in-house. Choose the best route for you but either way set a clear budget as developing a new brand can become a time-consuming, costly business.
Copyright © 2014 Sally Barrett Spring, head of creative at Moneypenny .
What factors help a customer to buy?
There are a wide variety of things that influence a purchase decision – budget, timing and personal psychology to name a few; but there is one fundamental factor that brings all these influences together – value.
Value is a subjective perception created through a blend of need, price and the belief that one product is better than another. Good value is seen as a high quality solution which meets all of a customer’s needs at a reasonable price.
Here’s how need, price and belief play into a perception of value:
I see a pair of hiking boots on offer and I recognise the brand; but the fact that I don’t go hiking means that I won’t value them highly.
Some marketing works to convince the consumer that they have a need. For example, if I’d read an article explaining how hiking boots improved posture, helped stimulate blood flow and were good for your feet, then by the time I saw the boots I may have developed a “need” for them.
Grooming potential customers this way is an excellent way of enhancing the perceived value for your product or service and can help you break into new markets.
Set your price point as high as you can; this helps to enhance the perceived value of your product.
A big mistake is to slash prices. This can work, particularly when it comes to more exclusive discounts, but offering a huge discount lowers the perceived value of the product. Who is going to pay “full price” for a sofa at DFS when most of the year they are offering 50% off?
The price point will often lead customers to believe one product is better than another. However, people will not be willing to pay a higher price if they do not believe in the product; the two factors work in tandem.
Belief is about your brand, your marketing and their knowledge of the product range. It is what 80% of your marketing budget helps to create. And it is the one area over which you have the most control.
So how do you go about creating this belief in your product or service?
There is no single method, but there is a core concept: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, involve me and I will understand.”
People may forget the specifics but they will be primed to receive your brand, and priming can be important in establishing credibility.
For example, you conduct a PR campaign where you write thought-provoking articles relating to your product or service. In the article you describe the problem (establish a need), drop some hints as to a solution (brand priming) and get it featured in an established trade magazine (credibility).
Visual memory is more powerful for most people than verbal memory, particularly when “show me” still involves some verbal explanation – “show and tell”. Exhibitions and trade shows are great for this.
“Involving” your prospect creates an experience that uses all three types of memory/learning: verbal, visual and kinesthetic (touching and using) to create an almost unbreakable belief in your product. If you are there to tell the prospect the benefits, you can create a need. At the same time you show how the product or service meets those needs visually. Then, the final step, you let the prospect try with the product, get them involved in using it and create an experience.
Creating a complete and immersive experience of your product or service increases recall, generates belief in the product and, in the end, turns prospective customers into brand ambassadors. You aren’t as likely to share the fact that you saw some new product, but you will want to tell people what you just tried out - experiences are made to be shared.
Copyright © 2014 Richard Edwards, director of event and customer experience specialist Quatreus.
Businesses spend a lot of time and money on marketing with the aim of attracting more clients and selling more products.
So why do so many of them make it so hard for people to buy? Are you guilty of ensuring a prospect won’t buy from you?
These are the three most common reasons a potential client won’t buy from you:
What business are you in, where is your expertise and why should I work with you? Are you offering tangential products or services that make you look unfocused or desperate for money?
When a potential client visits your website or reads your personal profile what does it say about you? Are you expert in one thing or do you appear a master of none?
How many times have you heard the sentence “I will get XYZ to call you back” or “I will get that in the post for you” and nothing happens?
These minor irritations really can damage your business. Not only do you annoy a customer that wants to do business with you, but you also create a story for the complainer to share with their friends (your potential future clients).
Annoy your potential customers and you are wasting their time and losing yourself a future client.
This is the biggest sin of all. They want to spend money with you – help them, don’t hinder them.
Do you have clear instructions on how to buy or how to pay? Do you have payment options like Paypal, WorldPay, Sage, send a cheque, make a bank transfer or any other appropriate options for your target client? Older clients often prefer to call a human and make a payment by phone. What about payment options such as staged payments for higher value goods or monthly direct debits?
Whatever business you are in, getting money from clients quickly and easily is crucial to the lifeblood of your business.
The solution is simple; read your website and marketing material as if you were a customer. How easy is it to understand, is it jargon free, consistent and clear? Once the client knows what you do, can they place an order or ask a question easily?
If not, you may find your competitors are helping themselves to money from your clients’ purses.
We are often asked how often businesses should post content online. It’s a tricky issue.
There is a fine line between appearing too spammy on the one hand and positioning yourself as a helpful expert in your field on the other. Each platform has its own “rules” when it comes to the frequency of posts. These have evolved and been developed by those who use the platforms regularly.
Here’s what we have found works best in terms of frequency of posting:
Post once a day from your personal account and company page as a maximum. Sharing interesting and relevant content will position you as an industry expert and give people a reason to connect with you. However, be careful about posting within groups; anything that’s too self-promotional will get moved or removed. Don’t be seen as a spammer and post too often. Not only is this highly annoying, but people will start to wonder what you do as a day job as you’ve clearly got too much time on your hands! Be selective about what you’re posting and ensure your messages are consistent.
Posting up to five tweets per day is quite acceptable – include retweets in this count. Don’t send inane tweets; if you have nothing to say then don’t force it, there’s nothing worse then someone who shares every aspect of their day with their Twitter following.
However, if you’re a content provider then you may have many more tweets to send out. If these are relevant and informative and if you’ve got the content, then tweet away to your heart’s content. You can also break your content down into different points, allowing you to share the same article with a slightly different angle. Post these at different times of the day and ensure you include the relevant link.
You could also consider the following:
Post once a day from your company Facebook page, otherwise people begin to switch off. Ensure you use images and links to make your posts more engaging – Facebook is a very visual platform. People see hundreds of bland posts on their home feed so make sure you offer a call to action to encourage people to interact.
We’re still unsure on Google+ as an engaging social platform. However, to drive traffic to your website and show up in Google searches you need to be sharing your content on here. Post once a day from your company Google+ page – any more and people start to switch off.
Copyright © 2014 Emma Pauw is social media writer at We Talk Social.
When I’m out and about speaking and running workshops on marketing I’m often faced with puzzled looks when I start talking about branding. But the fact is that your brand can become one of your strongest marketing assets — even if you are a micro-business.
It isn’t an easy area though: it’s as much as art as a science. Get it right and you will have loyal customers who come back again and again; get it wrong and customers could be indifferent towards your brand or even hostile.
So how can you build a brand that has the power to drive your ambitious business?
Here, in part one of a two-part blog, are four ways to maximise the power of your brand.
People become obsessed with the logo of a brand, mistakenly believing that this is the brand. But the most powerful brands mean something deeper to their customer base — and it’s that meaning that keeps people buying, even when it might be more rational to choose a cheaper option.
The first step is to accept that a brand is not entirely in your control. It is an impression that exists in your customers’ minds created by how you look, what you say, what you stand for and how you help them. But you can influence this impression by defining your brand identity and then ensuring that it runs through your entire business so that your customer has a complete end-to-end experience that lives up to their – and your – aspirations.
This is a contentious statement – especially for a brand expert like me. But the name of the business doesn’t have any significance until you give it meaning.
Think about all the made-up words that are brand names – Google, Hibu, Spotify, Moo. They all have very strong brand identities but before they defined what they wanted to stand for, those words meant nothing. So pick a name that you like and that’s available as a domain name, and then work on creating something that customers can identify with.
To create effective brands, the real work starts long before the creative people are let loose with their colouring pencils.
Start by deciding what makes you different within the market and being specific about what you deliver to your consumers. Next, define your values and ethics – this is about defining what you believe in, what would will always do and what you never do. Finally, think about the personality of your brand. Imagine a person and describe them.
Then you can work on the words, behaviours and images to portray this to your customers.
Now you can develop the visual part of branding, which includes the logo, colours, fonts and even tone of voice to bring your personality to life. This is the artistic bit – and much less about science – so it can be quite subjective
Write a detailed brief for a designer that outlines what you want to convey and to whom so that they can bring the brand to life in words and images.
If you create strong visual codes, your customers will know it is you even when you play with your codes – just as Google does with its daily doodles.
Copyright © 2014 Christina Richardson is a business marketing specialist, mentor and founder of The Nurture Network. She is also co-founder of the Brand Gathering community, helping young businesses to grow by working together.
Online sales this Christmas are likely to be worth about £13bn – up by around 14%. But small online retailers need to plan ahead if they want to take advantage of the seasonal spike in demand and get ahead of their competitors. Here’s how to make sure your online marketing strategy hits the mark.
Mobile ecommerce (m-commerce) has been growing significantly and it accounted for 34% of total web sales in Q1 2014 according to Capgemini and IMRG. So it’s essential that your website offers your customers a good mobile shopping experience and that your emails are mobile responsive.
Also, make sure your checkout process is as efficient as possible. Become the customer and try buying something from your website. What are the barriers to completing the purchase? Does the basket remember what you added when you drop out or shop later on a different device? Does your checkout scream “secure”? Are you upfront about delivery costs? Are you converting as many of your visitors into purchases as possible?
Planning ahead for pay-per-click campaigns (PPC) means you can react quickly during the busy Christmas period. Create dedicated campaigns well in advance as ads can take a couple of days to approve and make sure you have a backup form of payment so your ads never go offline.
Competition for online traffic is relentless and one of the most common problems is that work on Christmas SEO does not start early enough. It is time to identify your key products and ensure there is a clear and defined path in the navigation to them. Put special offers in to your meta descriptions to improve click through rates and add any new Christmas URLs in to your sitemap to ensure the search engines know you have new seasonal pages on your site.
Email marketing for Christmas also needs forward planning. You’re going to be competing for subscribers’ inboxes by October so start putting together a plan of ideas, including send times, content and subject lines. Try re-engaging with customers that have been inactive by offering them incentives to come back, and make sure you review any trigger emails such as Abandoned Basket or Welcome emails to make sure they have the festive touch.
In addition, analyse customer buying behaviour and don’t disregard customers that have not bought from you for over six months, as these customers may well just buy from you at Christmas, so target them with a different message to other regular customers.
Do you have an affiliate program? If so, make sure every incentive and placement is locked down by October. Premium ad placements on newsletters and key affiliate sites get booked up early so don’t leave it too late to book. Giving affiliates a significant amount of lead time ahead of promotions will help them match up your promotions with their onsite messaging, increasing the relevance for the consumer and thus improving the conversion rate.