Tag Archives: Branding

Do Your Content Marketing Efforts Compare with the Best?

8 May

Apple and Orange

Find out what the best B2B small business marketers are doing to succeed in content marketing, the major challenges facing them in their content marketing efforts and the tactics and platforms used to deliver content.

The Content Marketing Institute just released an original research report on small business content marketing, “B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America”.  It’s full of relevant data for the SMB marketing organization, providing an opportunity to compare your content marketing efforts vs. your peers as well as the enterprise business.

The report looks at several trends including the percentage of marketing budget spent today on content and the planned growth in spending over the next year.

You can sign up for your free copy of the research report at Content Marketing Institute.

B2C Lessons that Can Improve B2B Brand Experiences

15 May

I recently read The Experience Effect by Jim Joseph.  It’s about creating just that, an ‘experience effect’ that will drive consumers to a brand.  As I read Jim’s book, it seemed to me that many of his lessons on B2C branding translate to the B2B world. A strong brand offers many benefits to business.  It can make it more difficult to be displaced by a competitor, get you invited to the discussions by the customer, justify price premiums, even attract top talent.

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How to Create Your Brand Page on Facebook’s New Timeline

5 Mar

On March 30th, Facebook’s New Timeline will go live for all Brand pages, whether or not your company has updated its page.  Take this opportunity to create an engaging page for your brand over the weeks ahead. There are several changes you need to be aware of for your brand page. Below is a handy guide from hearsay social on what you need to know to create a brand page and links to blogs that cover the changes.  Make sure you review the blog by TechCrunch’s Josh Constine.  It’s thorough. For additional information and help go to the Facebook Help Center.

Here are a few key changes worth highlighting:

1.  Cover Photo – The cover photo takes up a large amount of space spanning the entire page.  Here you should choose a photo that supports your brand.  It is important to know that Facebook Covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook Like or sales promotions, pricing or website URLs.

2.  Left Side Navigation – The navigation for page apps has moved to the right and below the cover photo with thumbnail photos above the text link.  Four of these apps are above the fold and one is default for Photos.  So, three of these four you can choice your apps. Pick your most important three. Unfortunately, this limits visibility for custom apps; contests, promotions, coupons, games, etc. since the default landing page for all users will be the Timeline page.  Users will need to click through to find additional apps.

3.  Messages – Messages can now be sent privately by users vs. posting on the public wall for all to see.  This can be a benefit if you don’t want certain comments visible.  You’ll need to determine a process internally to actively and timely respond to the Messages.  For some businesses, this may create a burden.  Try testing it for a few weeks to monitor the number of messages sent and your organization’s ability to manage it.

4.  Timeline Bar – To the right of the cover photo is a new timeline bar that allows users to view a brand’s history over the years.  It’s a great opportunity to highlight your favorite posts by you and your fans.

5.  Pinning – This feature will allow you to pin an important feature story, promotion or event and post it at the top of the timeline for seven days.

6.  Star a Story – You can also star a post to grab attention and highlight a story on your timeline.  When you star a story, it will expand the full width of the page.

Cover of Facebook ebook by hearsay social

The New Facebook Pages Brand Timeline by hearsay social.

Resources:

Introducing New Facebook Pages, Facebook website
Learn About Facebook Pages, Facebook video
How to Use Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages: New Feature Details, Josh Constine, Technology Writer, TechCrunch
Timeline for Brands:  How to Prepare for Your Company’s New Facebook Page, Jim Belosic, CEO Short Stack on Mashable
Facebook Timeline for Brands, the Complete Guide,  Christine Erikson on Mashable

Sharing the Who, What and Why With Customers

28 Feb

Several months ago a start-up had asked for a review and recommendations for improving  their current website and Facebook page.  What stood out most for me was that their website lacked information about the organization, the Who, What and Why were all missing.  Who is a part of their organization? What is their organization about?  and Why does it matter that customers do business with them?

For a new business with a unique product, sharing this basic yet key company information with potential customers is even more critical to build trust and a relationship with customers.

While this may seem pretty obvious to most of us, sometimes smaller organizations and start-ups feel the need and want to be different starting with the website.  For this organization, they have a unique, creative and non-traditional approach to funding charities.  Their website design and content reflects those attributes.  But, the important point is not to get so caught up in being creative or non-traditional that you forget about why you have a website in the first place, to provide information and to connect with your customer.

On this organization’s website, there is no tab or section that tells the story of how or why the organization got started, who the founders are or what is the mission.  A Join button is located on the home page that immediately opens to a window requesting customer contact information to join. There is no landing page to tell the customer why do business with them or in this case ‘join’ their cause. And because this organization has a new model in charity giving, it is important for potential customers to clearly understand how the giving of donations works, what is expected of them and what if any are the costs should be explained on the site before the call to action to join.

Understanding where customers are in the sales process and providing the right content for each stage in the sales cycle is also critical.  If you don’t provide the appropriate information, customers that are not yet ready to buy will leave.  Don’t ask for the sale too soon.  You’ve got to build trust first.

Start with the website. For the majority, it is still the first place they go to learn about a company.  Be creative in design and marketing on your website but, also include the information that customers need and want to know, who you are, what you are about and why they should do business with you.

How to Rise Above the Noise and Be Heard

21 Feb

In today’s marketplace, there is more ‘noise’ than ever before. The number of companies (all sizes and levels of resources) and volume of content competing for customers’ time is staggering thanks in large part to social media, the Internet and mobile technologies. How can your company rise above it all and be heard? Tell Your Story.


People remember a good story.  Every business has one. If you think you don’t, take some time to remember why you started your business. What is your vision? What does your business stand for? What are your core values?  What do you want to be known for?  What are your customer successes?

By creating your story and consistently telling it again and again, your business develops a persona that customers identify. Story telling isn’t new.  In this day of sound bites, tag lines, and elevator pitches, telling a story may seem a bit long winded.  But, an effective narrative can tell a memorable story that has impact and matters more to your customers than advertising jargon.  Be truthful and authentic in your story and customers will develop trust in you and belief that you will deliver on your promise.

For the B2B Company:  A Great Story Can Rise Above the Noise

For B2B companies, customer successes are a great way to tell a story. How did your company help solve a problem for your customer or your industry? What did you do that sets you apart from the rest?  An employee success story can confirm your core values with customers and serve as a guide to employees in their decision making and interactions with customers to ensure consistent customer experiences.

Best Media to Tell Your Story

The best media to use when telling your story is always the one that most effectively reaches your customers and best fits your story.  Video is an important part of Cisco’s product offering so, it isn’t surprising that Cisco uses video for its story-telling and launched the Cisco YouTube channel in September 2011. Video is a powerful way for companies of any size, not only the largest, to reach and engage with customers as an alternative to standard text.

Businesses don’t make buying decisions.  People inside businesses make decisions.  Make the connection with them through your story.

Resources:

Name that Brand Story… by Rob Marsh, http://www.brandstoryonline.com
The Power of a Good Brand Story, Mark Thomson, the BrandChannel
The Importance of Story-Telling in Lead Nurturing,  Jeff Ogdon, Fearless Competitor
Are You Telling Your Brand Story, Steve Woodruff , Small Business Branding
Strategy:  Story’s More Powerful than the Brand, Tom Peters, You Tube

Identify Your Unique Value Proposition and Grow Your Business

9 Jan

Do you know the unique value you bring to your customers?  The need to define a unique value proposition is key to success whether you are a B2B, B2C, for profit, or non-profit.  Being able to fulfill a customer ‘want’ that no other company can and clearly articulating that value to your customers will grow your business.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition is much more than the benefits that your company or product delivers.  It defines why a customer should do business with you and not anyone else who provides the same product.  It is the unique value that a customer cannot find anywhere else.  Your product must have at least one  differentiator that sets it apart from the rest to be successful.

Believe it or not,  a value proposition shouldn’t be more than ten words to effectively communicate what is distinctive about your product. Be specific, clear and concise.  This isn’t easy to do and requires time to refine but essential to the success of your product.  You and your team may consider an off-site away from the distractions of the office to get this done.

Finding Your DifferentiatorA value proposition is brand defining

Unique value is a key element in brand strategy. How you uniquely fulfill the needs and the wants of your target customers defines your brand.  Find out What makes your customers happy and what keeps them up at night.   When your unique value provides an emotional benefit to your customers, you create brand loyalty and your customers will buy from you.  Define your value proposition and you define your brand.

Steps to identifying your unique value proposition:

1.  Take an inventory of your skills, what are you good at?

2.  Clearly define your target customer and their needs and wants.  If your product is segmented by vertical markets such as education or healthcare, each of these segments has its own set of needs and wants and most likely different competitive solutions.  You will want to define a unique value proposition for each segment.

3.  What gaps need to be filled in the market?

4.  Complete a competitive analysis.  What sets you apart from your competition?  What is distinctive about your product?

5.  Test.  This is a key step. Questionnaires, interviews and focus groups are good ways to see if the value proposition resonates with your customers.

6.  Once your value proposition is defined and you are able to clearly articulate it, communicate it throughout your marketing efforts, website, collateral, and social media activities.  Keep the message consistent but, you can customize it to fit the media.

Resources:

Powerful Value Propositions, How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and lift your results. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MECLABS group (webinar)
Make Customers Feel the Love and Keep Coming Back, Jim Joseph, (Vocus webinar)
Your Brand as Your Value Proposition, Chris Hughes, Vistage, (You Tube Video)
Defining Your Unique Value Proposition, ASAE & the center for association leadership

5 Good Reasons to Include Podcasts in Your 2012 Marketing Plan

20 Dec

Podcasts can add a new element of excitement to your marketing and social media efforts.  It’s another medium to reach your audience and share updates on your company or products, the industry, trends or insights.  The latest technology and new tools and services make podcasting easy to use and at a relatively low-cost to deliver.  Today, most podcasts are delivered on-demand and can be accessed from your website as either a video or audio file.  Any computer that can play media files can play a podcast.

Here are five good reasons to include podcasting in your 2012 marketing plan:

1. Creates Interest:  A new medium to deliver your marketing message can create new interest in and bring new life to your existing marketing content. Using audio and video to deliver content enhances the audience experience beyond printed text.

2.  Positions You as an Expert:  Consider delivering a series of podcasts that informs and teaches your audience on a topic that is relevant and of interest to them.  Providing helpful and useful content to your target audience furthers your relationship with them and your position as an expert in your field.

Businessman watching podcast3.  Reinforces Your Brand:  A human voice has the capacity to add inflection and an emotional element to your content vs. print. Using an appropriate voice that fits your brand further reinforces your brand strategy and messaging.

4.  Increases Reach:  Podcasts are accessible on-line at the demand of your audience.  This increases the reach of your marketing efforts beyond time-zones, work-styles and geographies.

5.  Builds Relationships and Trust:   People don’t have relationships with a company.  They have relationships with other people.  By giving a voice to your company, you humanize the experience between your target audience and your company.  They’ll be more likely to do business with you if they know and trust you.  Podcasting can further develop that trust.

As you look at including podcasting in your marketing and social media plans consider the following;  Podcasting should support your overall marketing strategy and plan and enhance your current marketing efforts with your target audience. Confirm that podcasting is an effective medium to reach them. Make sure you have the resources to update content and provide podcasts on a regular basis.

Resources:

How to Create Your Own Podcast, by Corey Deitz, About.com Guide
How to Podcast, by Jason VanOrden
12 Ways to Promote Your Podcast, by Jake Ludington
How to Grow Your Podcast Audience, by Marcelo Lewin

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