The word ‘branding’ once referred to corporate logos, packaging and commercial jingles. In the online world that has come to be known as Web 2.0, things have changed, however. Today, effective branding is less about ‘selling’ to customers and more about ‘telling’ them:
- Who you are – the background and experience that make you qualified to solve the needs of your prospective customer better than your competitor
- What you do – the benefits that your company brings to its clients. For example, a security camera installation firm might say that it sells “a safe workplace.”
- How you do it – the methods you use to deliver the benefits you promise so that the satisfaction of the customer is guaranteed
How to Use the Internet
The Internet offers a gold mine of opportunity for establishing credibility and creating an audience of enthusiastic fans and followers. Even the most basic web site is an effective brand-building device. That’s because a web site does a much better job of building relationships than any other form of marketing communication with your customers.
Traditional marketing communications are monologues; they only go one way from seller to prospective buyer. Online, however, you can establish a dialogue. A website includes mechanisms such as ‘Contact Us’ forms, message boards, forums, and most recently blogs that invite existing and potential clients to get to know you…communicate with you…and tell you what they need so you can provide the solution. That’s good for them and for your business.
An Humanizing About Us Page
In a business world where the focus is on transactions and the bottom line, an important element can get lost…the human element. Whether for business or pleasure, humans want to connect with other humans. A company’s ‘About Us’ page puts a human face on an otherwise technical, dry, and impersonal web site and helps cement a relationship with prospective clients.
Many web sites hide their identity, putting a wall between themselves and their visitors. This is a mistake. While it’s true that not every customer wants to know more about you, still, you shouldn’t disappoint those who do. A powerful ‘About Us’ page could yield higher conversion from those who encounter it.
Social Network Profiles
Why does a person shop at one business rather than another or buy one product instead of another? While price is one factor, today’s customers are interested in the culture of the businesses they buy from, They are also heavily influenced by the opinions of peers and ‘people like me.’ This is the reason that social media marketing – should be on every company’s ‘Things to Do’ list.
New stats from Nielsen Online show that social networking had overtaken email in terms of worldwide reach. According to the study, 66.8% of Internet users across the globe accessed social communities (also called member networks) last year, as opposed to the 65.1% who used email.
Because they allow you to share pertinent information for the rest of the world to see, social sites are the #1 way to get your message out to a global audience at practically no cost. The virtually ‘free’ delivery system provided by the Internet means companies can invest their resources in the services of a social media expert with the skills and knowledge to deliver results.
At sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, if what you post on your profile page is truly valuable, you instantly become a ‘trusted resource’ and your audience will do your marketing for you. Your message or video – along with your brand identity — can easily go viral and reach a cascading number of people as your interested visitors and fans send your link to millions of their friends and they pass the word on to their friends and so on.
Google does it. Microsoft does it. And some of the most influential CEOs in the world
doit for their companies because they know how powerful it is. What is ‘it’? It’s blogging.
A business blog can be written in one of numerous styles, or a combination of these. One huge benefit is the ability to inform your customers of any changes, new products, latest offers and much more. This, in turn, can lead to direct sales.
Depending on your company or business model, corporate blogging, like an About Us page, makes a company feel more human to the world.
Additionally, a company blog is a way for your company to become engaged with and by the online community. A well-written blog can gain popularity which can lead to thousands of people subscribing to your feeds…and being exposed to your advertising and marketing messages.
People love to frequent blogs and pass their time reading the same ones on a regular basis. Captivate your audience with compelling content and you’ll receive a growing list of market leads. Remember that individual blog readers generally prefer a personable style but if your operation is a business-to-business one then you’ll need to vary your style accordingly.
A blog is simple to set up. Often the only thing required is to install a software application on your Web site and tinker with a few settings. Furthermore, the cost of integrating a blog onto your web site is extremely modest…especially if you have an IT pro on staff.
But even outsourcing the task is a modest expense, given the ROI. A blog could become one of the most powerful marketing weapons you have in your arsenal and the money you spend might just pay a salesperson for one day’s work.
Twitter – The New Frontier
Twitter, the most famous micro-blogging site, allows its members to communicate in abbreviated, high-impact messages of 140 characters. Today, Twitter has roughly 6 million users and is projected to grow to 18.1 millions users in 2010. It is the ‘next wave’ in social media marketing. To succeed, you should have a marketing plan in place to acquire new followers.
One thing to do is include your Twitter handle wherever you would place your website URL and contact information. If you have a company newsletter, you can write about on Twitter and link to your profile or put it at the bottom of your template, so that each email has a link to your account. You should also include your Twitter information on the last slide of any business presentation and tell people that they can follow you on Twitter
Article was published as: “Online branding offers credibility”