Where to Focus Your Small-Business Branding Efforts

Where to Focus Your Small-Business Branding Efforts

Why should small businesses identify the most relevant branding touchpoints and focus their attention on them.

Where to Focus Your Small-Business Branding Efforts

How to determine what matters and what’s just clutter

 

You are running a small business, which means you have no shortage of things to worry about: Sales, advertising, keeping happy customers, appeasing angry customers, gaining new customers, tracking inventory, making payroll, understanding legal mumbo jumbo. Sometimes it feels like you could work 24-hours a day and never get it all done.

So when your morning email box is full of headlines like, “The Biggest Branding Mistakes You’re Making Right Now,” it can be enough to make an already busy day feel like a frustrating one.

If the secret to marketing were as simple as creating a website and launching a few ads on Google and Facebook, promoting your small business would be easy.

Verve Concepts is a small business too, so we know what it’s like trying to manage everything required of small-business owners–and how overwhelming it can feel. The great thing about our work, however, is that we have an insider’s view of all the smart things small businesses are doing when it comes to branding.

 

The key: Identify your most relevant branding touchpoints and focus your attention there.

 

Here’s how.

 

One: Be online where it matters and when it matters

You already know there are hundreds of platforms in which businesses can choose to participate online. Let’s start with the obvious examples – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr … are you exhausted yet? You should be. There’s no way the average small business can or should maintain a presence on every outlet available to them.

 

Do this:

  • Identify two to four platforms that are relevant to your brand
  • Ditch the rest

 

How:

  • Know your audience
  • Show up where they are

 

Example:

We had a client who ran a successful urology practice. He told us he wanted to get active on Snapchat. When we asked why, he said, “Because everyone seems to be on there!” Maybe… but we explained that his target audience – primarily men over the age of 50 – mostly use Facebook. Snapchat has a much younger demographic. His investment was much better spent where his target audience would see his posts. So it’s about knowing the audience as well & also looking at data.

 

Do this:

  • Use your two to four platforms for cross-channel marketing

 

How:

  • Take a “balanced portfolio” approach to your online presence

 

Example:

Cross-channel marketing matters more than ever, and we recommend that our clients look at their online presence similar to the way in which they manage their financial investments – as a balanced portfolio. A balanced portfolio may look something like this: Get the attention of new customers through social media posts, discuss current trends on a company blog, post video on YouTube (the world’s second-largest search engine) and put some money into paid traffic (PPC). One approach alone is likely to bring limited success, but together they will complement each other for maximum impact.

Note: be sure to keep your branding – the tone of your message and the look of your visuals – consistent across platforms, so customers recognize your brand no matter where it appears.

 

Do this:

  • Prioritize quality over quantity

 

How:

  • Exposure is not purely about numbers, but about being compelling to the correct audience
  • Focus on getting real, meaningful customer testimonials

 

Example:

Studies show that it’s better to get five social shares from a trustworthy source than 50 shares from fake accounts or bots. While the rise of social media and online advertising has exposed consumers to a whole new world of research and shopping, it’s also made us increasingly skeptical buyers. Focus on getting meaningful testimonials. Recommendations from 10 real customers outweigh the impact of 50 “customers” whose only role is to promote that business.

 

Do this:

  • Shift from “content is king” thinking to “customer is king” thinking

 

How:

  • Ensure all aspects of your online content, user interface, and key messages focus on your customers’ needs.

 

Example:

No one would argue that Google is the powerhouse of the online realm. But keep in mind that the only reason people keep coming back to Google is the search engine gives them relevant results. It gives them what they’re looking for. Invest time evaluating your customers’ user experiences with your brand to ensure you get found on Google. Hire a partner to analyze what draws them to your online presence and where they engage. Then, build on that momentum by doing more of what works and ditching the rest. Become a brand that your audience can relate to and rely on.

 

Two: Build the momentum of your website (and if you don’t have a website, get one)

 

According to a 2016 survey, nearly half of businesses do not have a website. Word-of-mouth remains the most common source of sales referrals for businesses, but consumers rely on a company’s online presence for everything from a description of services to operating hours to customer testimonials.

If your business currently has a website, you’re ahead of more than half of the other companies in existence today, and that helps you stack up against your competition.

 

Here’s how to build on the momentum of your website.

 

Do this:

  • Ensure cross-platform compatibility

 

How:

  • Optimize your site for desktop computers, laptops and especially tablets, smartphones, & smartwatches – or hire an expert to do it for you.

 

Example:

Over half of global web traffic & online searches are on handheld devices, and the trend is growing fast. In fact, consumers in many emerging markets are skipping the desktop and laptop phase entirely and accessing the internet only from their mobile devices. Additionally, some businesses whose target audience is highly distributed or primarily in the field may wish to prioritize mobile optimization.

 

Do this:

  • Test for ease of navigation and an excellent user experience

 

How:

  • Do visitors find the content they are looking for?
  • How long do visitors stay on your site?
  • Which pages have the highest and lowest bounce rates?

 

Example:

There are a number of DIY tools that can help you test your website, but you may find it best to hire a partner to not only make recommendations for improvements but to handle other critical fixes at the same time.

 

Do this:

  • Put the best content on your site you can

 

How:

  • Make sure it’s professionally written, clear, and free of grammatical issues.
  • Ensure you have a clear “call to action” throughout the site.

 

Example:

Offering free but valuable information (a blog, whitepaper, or information on trends) can be a great online asset for small-business branding. It demonstrates your company’s expertise and establishes goodwill between you and potential customers.

 

We know this is a lot to consider – and it’s not even the end of our list of ways small businesses can build brand momentum. But these are important places to start.

 

The bottom line: Focus on what matters to your business. If you’re not sure what those areas are, hire a branding partner to help you identify them. In the long run, you’ll churn less time and see a better return on your marketing dollars.