Of course you are. Now, if there was a potent 1-2-3-4 blend of elements with the power to grow your brand, attract potential customers, and move the needle in your business, I’m assuming you would want to learn the details. Well, here you go…
1. Always start with copy.
To frame this, I’ll describe a typical scenario: A client wants to design a new website. They have samples of other sites they like but they can’t clearly define the main goals of their own new site. They see no problem with using the copy from their current site, which is too wordy, pretty stale, and doesn’t really speak to their ideal customer. They also want to start writing blog articles but have not defined why this is a good idea.
They haven’t even worked on the core copy that clearly defines their brand. This is a mistake plenty of business owners make. I understand. They’re busy people and they are not marketers. But the main thing here is to learn to slow down, refocus and consider the importance of quality content.
Content—copy on your site pages, blog articles, brochures—is what I consider the foundation of your brand. I believe branding is your most important asset, but without great foundational content (read: good copy) much of the follow-up work is almost a waste of time.
It all starts with positioning your company with copy. Then leads to crafting copy, then moving to design.
About 99% of the time, most of my initial consultations reveal the fact that the client never worked on the core elements that clearly define their brand. If you’re looking to create a new brand or revamp what you have, and you’re focused on designing a fancy new website, take a step back and think about the core elements mentioned above—this is where you start to bring your brand to life.
Content still rules. Craft content that focuses on your audience. Study your current content—website pages, company brochures, white papers. Take out words like “we” and “our.” Write your story from the client’s perspective.
2. Learn how to tell your company’s story.
I would describe story as everything you do to market your company or organization; that page on your website, copy from your latest brochure, or your most recent blog post. Story is really what your potential customers see from you—on social, your blog, your web copy. And it’s what makes them decide to buy from you, or at least come back to see what you have to say.
You don’t have to win the Pulitzer of course, but quality storytelling is always effective. And today, it’s relatively easy to incorporate brand storytelling into your marketing strategy. Taking a company’s brand and crafting it into an ongoing narrative is a lot less painless than it used to be.
Take a look at the real world of business to business storytelling, then start to think how you can frame your own company narrative.
3. Work to build an audience, not only those who want to buy from you.
Your potential audience could be fairly large and you might be ignoring many potential customers—each at various stages in the process—if you don’t have a coordinated effort to reach them.
You need to think about everyone, not just customers ready to hire you. Here’s why…
There are people who are not aware of you, but they need your products and/or services; individuals thinking about doing business with you; those who are ready to hire you; and people who have already done business with you, loyal to your cause.
So you see… knowing your brand is about knowing your brand and your potential audience.
This makes it so much easier to come up with a clear plan…
4. Don’t dive into social media without a plan.
You certainly don’t need me to tell you that people are fixated on social media. But here’s the big question: As a business owner, is social media an effective tool to improve your bottom line?
Before you get into that, I think it’s important to first understand your own brand and your audience (your ideal customer).
In her book, “Spin Sucks” Gini Dietrich writes…
“The future of communications is to work with a team that has a deep understanding of your brand so they can represent you live.” She goes on to explain that future online media is about …
a. customer experience;
b. real-time marketing;
c. tangible results, and;
d. evolving content.
Gini mentions big brands like Oreo. They do social so well because they are open, attentive, and very active on the platform. The people at Oreo also focus on the social media platforms their customers are on. And the most important part is that they have created an internal culture with a deep understanding of the brand. Your internal culture could be carried out by a team of one, a group of ten, or freelancers who learn to understand your business.
Jay Baer writes about this stuff all the time and trust me, he knows what he’s talking about…
“The goals of social media are participation, then behavior.” And to create the right atmosphere on your social channels, you must have a deep understanding of your brand.” To do this, you need to be completely dialed-in to your brand and your audience.
To do this right, you need to first create content that truly defines your brand. And you must also realize that social media can’t live on its own. It’s just a helper medium. A lead-in pointing to your website. Social can become a great pipeline—another way for potential customers to find your company, but social needs the strategy and focus that begin with content done right (see #1 above.)
The copy on your website and/or blog posts equals True reach. (ie. an effective way to reach your ideal customer and truly speak to them.)
Your company’s social media accounts translate to Potential reach. To effectively use social media you should be in touch with your audience (and potential audience). Meaning you should be where they are and have extreme focus… You must also be ready for a marathon because this stuff takes time. Social can easily become a marketer’s chief distraction, if not done correctly.
In a nutshell…
Content is your site copy, brochures, and blogging, etc. But it is also the foundation of your brand. Always start with copy!
Story is how you frame an ongoing content machine. Learning how to do this right is one of the best ways to maintain brand momentum.
Your potential audience is probably bigger than you think. You need to think about everyone who might be interested in what you have to say, not just the people ready to hire you.
And Social media is about knowing your audience. It also requires focus, constant attention and a marathon-like approach. It can be an amazing helper medium but you must first understand how it fits into your marketing plan. And you need to make sure you’re speaking to the right people.
So, how do you make this mix work to move the needle in your business?
Truly understand your brand. Take a step back and think about how you’re positioning your business.
Focus on your audience. Take a look at all of your current content—brochures, mailers, site pages. Remove words like “we” and “our.” Work to rewrite your story from the customer’s perspective and use their language.
Craft content based on your brand and your audience…
Create a platform that “lives and breathes.” Provide value, entertain, inform, inspire. Create conversations. Keep it going.
Focus on the long-term, and think like a marathoner.
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