There are literally thousands of new websites going online every day, many of which may offer the same type of product or service that you do! Before announcing your site to the world, establish how your business, product or service is going to be unique from all the others. You must choose an area of expertise, or niche, which allows you to stand out from the crowd.
Branding is how you market your business and how it is presented to the world – and it should be memorable. TV commercials are good examples. When you see a team of Clydesdales, you automatically think of Budweiser; a little green gecko has become synonymous with Geico insurance; and the happy face symbol will forever be equated with Wal-Mart. With the many opportunities available via the Internet, you don’t have to have a big budget, but you do have to use it effectively. It is all about how potential customers perceive your business. Your business has to stand out with your target market so they will choose you instead of someone else.
Many people overlook the importance of branding, assuming it is something only multi-million dollar companies need to worry about. Branding tells the world who you are, what you do and establishes your reputation as a reputable business. The ultimate goal is when someone hears or sees your company name; they will immediately know you are a business with which they want to do business.
Once you have identified what your business offers that’s bigger, better, more effective or easier to use, you need to decide how you’re going to present it to the online community. Whatever you choose should be consistent in the way it looks and the message it conveys. That includes on your website, your marketing campaigns, even your business cards. Words of caution…do not expect overnight success. Building a brand takes time.
I would suggest starting with your website. Your website should make a personal statement. That can be accomplished by including an “About” page with your photo, information about your business or a short bio about yourself. It tells people who you are and gives them a feel for your business. The online marketplace is all about connections and this is a great way to “introduce” yourself to someone.
I also highly recommend a professional blog that is updated at least once a week. Talk about your product or business, its advantages and any other topic that displays your business in a favorable manner. New content will help get your website noticed by search engines. It is also useful for creating backlinks which will give your website more search engine exposure as well.
Social networking sites provide an excellent cost effective means of promoting your business. They are free to use and provide the equivalent of word of mouth advertising. I recommend what I term the big “four”, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Facebook is a friend to friend type of environment. Twitter is a great “short” message system that has created a ton of business for those that know how to use it. LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform that showcases people, their business and accomplishments in over 200 countries. Your profile there can be an introduction to your business. YouTube is a video sharing site and the 4th most trafficked website on the Internet today!
You can use your social media accounts to build relationships, announce your company promotions, deals or discounts. It is also imperative to join in conversation within these forums. To brand successfully, you have to place your business or product in front of potential customers as often as possible.
Establishing your brand takes time, but it is well worth the effort and will pay dividends in the future. Remaining consistent in the way you present your business tells potential customers that it's stable, reliable and reputable.