Archive for November, 2008

Small Business branding Using the Internet

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Branding is just as important for small businesses as for large ones. The fundamental concept of branding is simple: it is the process of differentiating yourself (or your company) from your competitors and building customer loyalty to you and your product or service. Put simply and directly, it is probably apparent to you that branding isn’t just for big companies like Nike or Starbuck’s its’ for any business of any size. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

One vital tool to establishing your brand in a cost effective manner is the Internet, especially the World Wide Web. A web presence can enhance your business prospects in many ways. However, you must do it right. It’s not enough to merely have a web presence. Your web presence must be first rate and professional. Most importantly, it must reflect your brand image. Let’s say you direct music videos. Can you afford to have a dowdy, staid, old-fashioned-looking website? No, of course not. You need something cutting edge, very design-y, and high tech enough to highlight your ‘reel’ of video work.

If, on the other hand, you are a freelance accountant, the sleek, slick video-intensive website of the music video director is a train wreck on wheels—without the wheels. You need a website that conveys stability and reliability. Everyone uses the web these days to check references. When you get good word of mouth, and customers are passing on recommendations of your services to each other. It’s pretty much a lock that the person who receives the recommendation will check you out online.

Your website must reflect your brand, and your brand must reflect your message. Websites are inexpensive; get it right. It’s also a good idea to keep it current. Update the information on the website regularly, and overhaul the design of your website every two years, especially if you’re in a business where style matters.
You’ve probably noticed the proliferation of blogs online. Maybe you’ve got one already. Blogs are great and useful marketing tools, but they should never be your only marketing tool. You should have a blog, sure. But you should have a comprehensive plan to develop your brand and market your business, and put what you offer in front of your target customers.

This marketing plan can include a number of different inexpensive yet effective techniques. You can, for example, launch a direct mail campaign, an email campaign host a seminar or web-inar, sponsor a local event, set up a booth in a trade show or just attend and meet and greet, make cold calls, and any number of different techniques for getting your message out there. Try things. Don’t necessarily focus on the exotic, sometimes the mundane things that everyone does are widely practiced for good reason. Try them too.

People need to be exposed to a brand at least seven times before they buy. If you hit it and quit it, they’ll forget you and your effort is a waste. You have to hit them six more times, and implement a comprehensive, positive strategy