Nowadays, if you’re creating your own product, you know that branding can be a key aspect of getting your name out there, and keeping it there. The reality is that people who don’t brand simply fade into nothingness sooner than later. The reason is that the web is so full of content, with billions upon billions of pages, and it’s constantly shifting, and constantly changing, to the point where keeping people’s interest and attention is harder than ever. However, because of this supposed difficulty, keeping people’s attention, is also more profitable than it’s ever been.
Part 1: Building Relationships With Your Readers
In this article series, we’ll go over some ways in which you can make more money, and build strong relationships with people through branding.
Technique #1: Be Like Glass…
If you’re branding, and especially if you’re branding yourself, you want to be like glass. What do I mean by this? I mean that you should be completely transparent. Show people your image, talk to them about how you are, what you’re about, what your philosophies are (your personal philosophies, if you’re branding yourself, and company philosophies, if you’re branding a company) what you believe in, etc. If people are going to follow you, they’re going to want to get to know you. This doesn’t mean that you have to give your entire life-story with all the nitty-gritty details, it just means that you share as much about yourself as you’re willing to be made public.
When you do this, something interesting happens. Whereas before, many people were mostly neutral to you, after you take this step, you’ll find that more and more people either really like you, or really dislike you. They love you, or they hate you… And either one is fine.
It’s more valuable to have a whole bunch of die-hard fans who love you, and a bunch of people who despise you, than it is to have everyone be completely neutral towards you. When you have a die-hard fan base, you have people that are willing to follow your advice, and to buy from you, or buy products you recommend. If people hate on you, let them, that’s their problem. So, put yourself out there, and then let the chips fall where they may.
Technique #2: Stay In Touch With Your Fan Base…
Nowadays, with the internet being where it is… there’s virtually no shortage of ways in which you can stay in touch with your fan base. You can host webinars (just by yourself, or with guest speakers), you can participate in forums (or run your own), you can keep a mastermind group, you can participate in various social networking groups, such as on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Yahoo Groups. You can also meet people in person at various live events, or even coordinate these events yourself. The options are endless… the difficulty of course, is finding the time, but, if you’re really passionate about what you do, and you’re serious about building a brand, then doubtless, you can find the time. If you don’t, then your fan base will slowly erode, and will be gone before you know it, so keep in touch with them.
Technique #3: Give The People What They Want…
There’s something that everyone wants… there’s a reason they decided to sign up to join you in whatever avenue they chose to do so (whether they’re on your list, following you on Twitter, etc). There’s some information that they find valuable, for example. Figure out what it is, and give it to them, for free, and on a consistent basis. This sort of goes hand and hand with Technique #2… as in, you shouldn’t just be keeping in touch with your fans to tell them what you had for breakfast, or when you plan on walking your dog, but instead, give them consistent value. This doesn’t have to be informational, as there are other forms of value. You can offer them entertainment value, for example. Why not create a funny video, and show it to your fans?
On top of that, you can also give your fans some brief surveys, or questionnaires, or simply ask them for their opinions within the social networks. This will help you to figure out exactly what they’re looking for, and once you know what it is, then and only then, can you give it to them. If you keep your ear to the ground on what your fans want, and then consistently give it to them, you’ll find that your fan base grows and grows, you’ll create more brand loyalty, and make more money to boot. Not a bad deal. Give the people what they want, and then they’ll give you what you want.
Part 2: Maintaining Fan Base
In the last article, we went over being transparent with your audience, keeping in touch with them, and giving them exactly what they want (and figuring out exactly what that is) now, we’ll go over a few more strategies that will ensure your brand sticks, and steadily maintains a loyal fan base
Technique #4: You Are NOT Your Product (or Service)…
The main focus of your business is of course, making money. That’s the reality of any for-profit business. Businesses are for-profit for a reason. You do this by either offering some sort of product or service, or perhaps by recommending other people’s products and acting as an affiliate, one way or another, you should probably have at least a few of your own things to offer. Let’s say you do have a few products of your own though, should this be the primary focus of your brand? No way. You need to be something more than just a product.
Your brand is a collection of things. It’s your ideas, your philosophies, what you represent, and so on. So make THIS what your brand is all about, and not just about saying “buy my product, buy my product” over and over, until the idea of your product makes people’s stomachs turn. You have to actually represent something BESIDES just what you have to offer. For example, let’s look at Google, yes it’s the best search engine in the world, but, is that what the Google brand is really all about? No way. It’s about innovation, and keeping things fresh, and unique, while still having fun.
The Google headquarters are known for all sorts of fun activities, candy, and creating an exciting, innovative atmosphere, which employees can actually enjoy, and that’s really what Google stands for. It’s gone far beyond just being a search engine.
Technique #5: In Regards To A Logo…
Don’t get me wrong, there are some good, solid logo-creators on sites like Fiverr can make you a pretty decent logo, but, your logo represents your brand, it’s the first thing people see when they think of your brand, so, it should be good-looking, “catchy-looking” if you will. Now, if you don’t have much startup capital, and you can’t afford a vey expensive logo, then no problem, you can always change your logo later (many big brands have done this several times over) but, if you can afford it, why not pay a little extra to make it grand?
One great way to find the perfect logo is to use a crowdsourcing site, like crowdspring, or 99designs. The way these sites work is, you offer a reward to whomever creates the logo you ultimately decide to use, and, you choose what the reward is (typically it’s at least $300 with 99designs). People submit logos, you get to rate them all, and people will see all of these ratings, which will give them the feedback they need to create exactly what you want.
If you have the money, you can get a stunning logo off one of these sites, so it’s highly recommended. Again, a nice-looking logo isn’t massively important in the early stages of your business, so don’t break your bank on this, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Technique #6: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition…
Once you have your logo, your company motto, or whatever it is, now it’s time for repetition. You see this with ALL the major brands. McDonald’s, Pepsi, Ford, whatever it is, you see it over and over again. Basically as often as a company can show their logo, they show it. They want to sear it into your brain.
You should do the same thing within your own marketing. For example, if you’re writing a free report, why not have your logo on the corner of every page, or watermarked in the background of every single page? Doing a webinar? Why not have your logo on every single slide. Doing some banner ads, or Facebook advertisements, why not put your logo right there? And of course, make sure to have it on every page of your website as well. The more you can show people your logo the better… this way, the moment they think of your company, that big logo pops into their head right away. This is the main reason why it pays to have a nice logo.
Part 3: Stay In Touch
Not only is it good for you to interact with your fan base, and keep in touch with everyone, but, it’s also important that your fan base be interacting with one another. Ask some enticing questions on your blog, forums, or via social media. Stir the pot. Because let’s face it, you can’t always be the one to interact with every single person in your network individually, so, it’s important that they interact with each other, so they stay engaged, without you having to be there for it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Technique #7: Keep Them Talking..
Don’t be too controversial and start serious arguments about big political issues, but at the same time, you don’t want to be too boring either. Have fun with this
Technique #8: Don’t Hide Behind Your Workers…
It’s important that you make it a point to interface with your fan base directly. Sure, sometimes it’s nice to have virtual assistants do this for you, but in reality, this is something you want to do yourself, especially if it’s a personal brand that you’re building. Why? People want to know you. They want to feel like they have some access to you, rather than having you hide behind a curtain all the time. So talk to them directly as often as you can, and you’ll find their loyalty is sent back ten-fold. Having this close relationship with your fan base is important, and when they want advice on what to buy, they’ll go to you, because you’re their friend. Obviously it might not be possible to write personal replies to every e-mail, but do your best here.
Technique #9: Brand Through Blogging…
Blogs are a great way for you to keep giving consistent content to your fan base. The blog can be used to talk about yourself, offer genuine value, or explain what your brand is all about. Many companies have a blog now, and there’s a reason for it… it gives something your fans can keep checking into to see what’s going on, and to get free value related to your subject.
It goes without saying that you should offer people genuine content on this blog, and don’t just make it all about what you’re offering, your accomplishments, and news about your company, but something that people might actually find valuable and/or entertaining. So create a blog, and keep it updated with content, at least twice a week or so. You also don’t want to go on long periods with no content, because you can lose your audience very quickly that way, since at some point, they’ll stop checking back.
Technique #10: Have A Consistent Identity…
In some ways, a brand is like a person. That being the case, you don’t want to give it a “multiple personality disorder”, where it has a constantly shifting identity. Your brand’s identity should be consistent, and it should always remain so. The reason being, if you’re constantly changing your brands identity, then people don’t have anything solid that they can “hang onto” and quite frankly, people often find this to be downright confusing as well. What I mean by this is, don’t have different people interacting with people on Facebook and Twitter while giving all sorts of different opinions on so many different subjects. This is a good reason why, if you’re large enough, it makes sense to have a “community manager” so that you can educate just one singular person about your brand, and then they can be the one to maintain that brand identity consistently with your fan base.
The idea of an identity is kind of subjective and hard to define, but in essence, it’s similar to the identity of a person. Do you want to be funny, and create entertaining videos for people? Do you want to tell jokes? Do you want to be serious, and “business professional” all the time? Do you want to focus more on just offering solid content? It’s up to you really, but I will say this… brands that are more open, fun, and friendly with their audience, tend to get more loyal fans, than the ones who are “closed off”, and feel they need to be “businessy” and 100% professional all the time for fear that they might offend someone.
If you offend someone, so what? You can always apologize after (or don’t) but like I mentioned before it’s better to have a few loyal fans, and alienate a few people, than to just have everyone not caring about you one way or the other.
Part 4: Branding
So far we’ve covered quite a bit about branding, and this is the fourth, and final section of this series, we’ll go over the last key aspects of branding that will make you a household name online in no time. Try to put into practice as many of these tips as humanly possible. In the end, there’s nothing on Earth more profitable and stable than having yourself a truly recognizable brand name.
Technique #11: Create Your Customer Identity
In order to be specific with your audience, and give them exactly what they want, (technique #3) you should know exactly who you’re talking to. In order to do this, you should look at all the demographic, psychographic, and really any other information on your audience that you can get your hands on (their likes, wants, interests, needs, etc) and from that information, build your “customer identity”, which is basically a list of common denominators that match your entire fan base as closely as possible, and then, market to THAT person.
Doing this, will help you to focus all of your marketing campaigns, and get the more conversions, while also providing more value to your audience, so it’s a win-win. It employs the power of focus, which is very valuable to any marketing strategy, and a key aspect of branding as well.
Technique #12: Have a Catchy Slogan That Tells People What You’re About In Just A Few Words…
There’s a reason we remember some slogans… they just stick, and it really sums up what your brand is about in just a few words. When you think of Nike, what do you think of? Just do it. What’s that brand about? It’s about action, it’s about moving forward, and taking your goals head-on (at least that’s my interpretation).
One of the best slogans isn’t even for a company, it’s for a city: Sin City. You know exactly what I’m talking about: What happens in Vegas… This is not only catchy, but it tells people what Vegas is all about: letting go, being free, letting go of all inhibitions for a little while, and just having a good time, away from all the pressures of the world. I can’t even think of a better slogan than that, because it so accurately describes what the city’s all about for tourists, AND gets stuck in everyone’s mind. Brilliant.
So come up with your own slogan. Think, what’s the one thing about you that stands out the most? What’s the one thing about your brand which you want people to know more than anything else? And now, how can you make that catchy and fun? How can you make it mean something to people? You can come up with countless great slogans, but, you can only pick one, so choose wisely, and once you have the right one, stick to it.
Well, that does it. Twelve valuable techniques which you can use to get massive exposure for your brand, and make it “stick”. As I mentioned earlier, there’s nothing more profitable than being a brand name… it’s what’s necessary to really succeed in business. If you’re not a brand, then you’re just another company, competing for attention with a horde of other businesses just like yourself. A brand makes you stand out. It makes you who you are.