Everyone wants to leave a mark in this world and be remembered once they leave it.
And we receive countless possibilities to achieve this goal, sometimes in our own micro-world, sometimes on a much larger scale. On a business level this mark is called our brand. A long time ago, farmers started marking their cattle with a hot rod to demonstrate ownership. With the growing opportunities people were introduced to written advertisements, then TV spots, then billboards, then neon signs…at one point you could use literally any tool to show the others who you are and what you can offer. Skipping ahead, the Internet was introduced and that created a whole new area to gain attention. As people flooded the web, a successful online brand turned from a luxury to a necessity. Nowadays, starting such a venture, you already have enough examples of success and failure to learn from, so you better use them wisely.
Who are you? What defines you? What is the message that you want to send? I personally believe that every human being is unique, even though some seem to put extra efforts in hiding that. You have to entangle that uniqueness deeply into your brand. Let’s face it – many of the online niches are already saturated, so in order to be the brightest shining star you have to be different. Different is memorable. Memorability creates curiosity. Curiosity grows into interest, which in term can result in desire and sales. A simple-looking cycle, yet so hard to achieve. So take your time and carefully come up with a brand name, logo, product names, services and policies that are both one-of-a-kind and have clear value to your target audience. Any marketer can do wonders with such a brand.
Naturally, you would want to be present in places where your prospects hang out. Regardless of your scope of business, social networks are one such place. I doubt that there are many of you left who can passionately deny the importance of social media. You are not just showcasing your company there, you are talking with people, building relationships (that can turn into partnerships), discussing industry problems. If you are knowledgeable and love what you do, this is easily felt through such a direct communication. Beware of traps though, such a connection is a double-edged blade. As swiftly as you can gain authority, its just as easy to lose it with a single inappropriate statement.
Long gone are the times when you can simply hide behind your brand name – now all the people behind this name matter. Consumers are no longer satisfied to just support a brand, they feel more comfortable when they know the individuals behind it. This builds trust as it adds a human factor to the name. This is why all of your employees are also representatives to your brand and they have to act and talk as if it is their company. A single slip-up, even from their personal profiles, can lead to devastating consequences and diminish all the efforts you have put in building your authority. An employee for a famous airline had a rude comment towards a passenger and that passenger expressed their dismayal and anger on several social networks, resulting in an almost 20% decrease of clients for that company. Even people that were not rudely serviced themselves supported the frustration of that ill behavior! So make sure to demand perfection as if each and every staff member is the CEO of your business.
Talking about slip-ups, are you aware how easy it is to ruin a reputation online? Much easier than it is building it! Never leave your business to chance and always keep an eye of any information that is posted about it. When you encounter something negative you should always look for the root of the problem and come up with a solution for it. Your brand will suffer if you are indifferent. And surprisingly many people online can relate to arguments, if they are defended well. Even if you cannot convince a frustrated user that posted a negative review in your sincerity and good intentions, at least the average bystander will. Company owners can receive appreciation, even respect, when they take time and come off their high horse to address an issue that might seem minor to most.
Be intriguing! Share information but always keep the most interesting part for yourself. Show that you are knowledgeable enough in what you do, but always have them curious at the end. Curiosity may have “killed the cat” but it does quite the opposite in business.
Your brand should be treated like a firstborn. Give it love and nurturing care, invest in it, let it grow and one day your efforts would repay and you will see that it was well worth it. How about you? What wonders have you done with your brand to send it to the high ranks of your niche? Share your stories in the comments below.