5 Areas of Your Website Ideal for Branding

When companies think about their branding, they tend to think about where they have mentions online like review sites, social media, and other third party websites.

Not many take the time to think things through logically. If you want your brand name to stand out in organic search and when users use your website, there are five areas that you’ll want to be incorporating your brand name into.

The five areas that enables users to see you’ve stamped your brand…

1. In your schema mark up

Schema mark-up can seem complex if you’re trying to implement it D.I.Y style without the use of third party applications. The only third party required is Google. All the information is right here.

For those who don’t know about Schema, it is a collaborative project between all three major search engines to provide a method for all webmasters to tell their web crawlers exactly what the website is about. It’s not just Google friendly. It’s all three of the big players. Google, Bing and Yahoo use Schema mark-up.

Your brand name should definitely be located on your site with your mark-up telling the search engines that your company is a business and the type of business it is too.

2. In your titles, preferably closer to the start

For on-page optimisation, ideally your brand name should be in the title of your home, wrapped in the only H1 tag on your page.

3. In your privacy policy and terms of service pages

The boring pages that nearly nobody reads, you do need to have them. The other page that’s worth adding is a cookie policy explanation page, letting users know about the EU cookie consent law and an external link pointing to the “about cookies” websites for more information.

Google requires all of their publishers on the AdSense revenue share platform to have a valid privacy policy on their sites as part of their terms of service so if you take that as a signal, they must think it’s important for users to know. Now on that page, no matter where you get your privacy policy from, there are plenty of areas to stamp your brand name all over it. The same with your cookie policy page and your terms of service page, or terms of use page.

4. On your business listing

Do this for both Bing and Google. Claim your listing. If you’re a local business, you’ll want to pay attention to the way you brand your site online. Use the NAP acronym as a reference to remind you how to format your business details to keep them consistent.

NAP stands for
• Name
• Address
• Phone number

You want the format listed as that as often as possible and ensure it matches what the schema mark-up on your site is telling search engines.

For local business, citations matter more than backlinks. Provided they’re consistently formatted using NAP.

5. On the google map you use to display on your website if applicable

On your contact page, it’s as easy as pasting some code that Google gives you to display your local map. You can have the address show on the map, or once you’ve claimed your business listing, you can have the embedded Google map display your business name with a pin to mark your location on the map.

All five are ideal places to stamp your brand name, ensuring that search engines identify you as a business, and list you as such, and when users land on your site, it’s perfectly clear to them what your brand name is, which will give you a better chance of being remembered and increasing your return visitors.

What Avon And Gillette Can Teach Us About Branding

Big brands have market share. Sometimes huge. Gillette; a global dominator and Avon a Top Global Direct Sales Company. Gillette’s market share hasn’t a close threat in sight (other than online sales where they only get a fifth of the market) but Avon, well, they lost 3.08% in 2014 and surrendered the title of top global-direct-sales-company to Amway. In response to that loss, they’ve come back with a phenomenal ad campaign, which will no doubt get them some favourable results.

Is it evil to watch the battle of the brands? One loses out and fights back with creative ad campaigns to claim their leading spots back?

It is fascinating, but when you delve deeper into the makings of big brands, there are a few things we can all learn about how they go about claiming market share in the first place.

How Brands Become Established

They say that a brand is everything a business needs to succeed. It’s not. Your brand needs an audience to succeed. You can only define your brand but your audience are the people who gain momentum for it to grow.

To make that happen, you need to make powerful impacts in your marketing. Branded content will only go so far at spreading your company name and at that, you’re only advertising a name with no real purpose.

If you’re spending big on a marketing budget, there’s a high chance you need to get around a white board, do some creative brainstorming and define your business.

There are brands big, small, personal, and some downright favourable. At the very least of a goal, yours should be to be favourable. There’s always going to be competition and you never know when a competitor is going to move into your patch. That area you thought a few years ago was a perfect haven with a gap in the market for you to move into will never be safe. Even if you’re business is online and “not on the high street” – a phrase that’s turned into a brand.

Problem is, if you can do it, so can someone else, or a bigger outfit with a bigger purse to splash out and take over your terrain. Do you have the capital to compete with a franchise and…

Did capital make you think money?

Capital isn’t just cashflow. Money will only get your business so far until the funds run dry. What can never run dry are your brand ambassadors.

Take Wikipedia – Supposedly the most trusted source on the internet. Some people cite them; others loathe them stating flat out they are not a credible source because the material is self-authored.

Opinions aside, it is a brand. They have a mission statement, a vision and most importantly – the brand has values, in which they state “Our community is our biggest asset”.

Love or loathe them, they know they can improve. What they define is never set in stone and some sources, not even their own editors trust and make that abundantly clear when you arrive on an information source.

Like this one:

Brand Ambassador

“Brand ambassador is marketing jargon for celebrity endorser or spokesmodel, a person employed by an organization or company to promote its products or services. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand_ambassador

There’s so many things wrong with that. Your brand ambassadors are not employed by your company to endorse your product. Every celebrity endorsed interruption ad on any TV channel… it’s blatantly obvious that those people are paid to say and do what the company puts in their script. They’re rarely trusted and when they are, it’s idiotic.

Unless it has something to make it credible – so Avon gets an exemption on their recent ad campaign. Right at the start of the commercial, it sounds the same as the rest until they said they sent their products to beauty bloggers. When viewers heard that, it prompts the response of “they did what”. What happened? Bloggers, Social Media, TV – What’s going on? Genius marketing and branding.

Image Source: http://www.avon.uk.com/PRSuite/blogger_TV_advert.page

Near the end of Helen Anderson’s unboxing video (featured in the TV ad) on YouTube showed what a brand is. On her video, you could see her remember her Avon Lady who was her school nurse, and when she says she “remembered the scratchy pages“…it was clear there were memorable moments there.

Why didn’t they put that in the ad?

It invoked memories of a brand she’d completely forgotten about and that was from when she was just a kid. They’re still going and still do business in the same way. Just using multimedia channels to reach more people. There’s likely a ton of people who just forgot because for one reason or another, the Avon Lady fell out of touch.

The point of that story is they are clearly memorable. They have a brand, they have representatives, and to be where are today, they must have core values somewhere to give their company and representatives a guide.

Quick check and yes they do indeed.

http://www.avoncompany.com/aboutavon/history/values.html

1. Belief
2. Integrity
3. Respect
4. Trust
5. Humility

That last one is not something you see often and they clearly state they are not always right. And they aren’t right on that page either because they finish off by stating
“We’re no less human than the people who work for us” – No!

Anyone at the Avon HQ reading this – We’re no less human than the people who work with us.

Change for to with and it reads a lot differently.

Independent Representatives work for themselves and partner with others. They don’t work for others. They work with them. That just denounced the third core value of respect.

Take that as a lesson in writing. It only takes one word out of place on your copy and it’ll devalue the message you’re trying to send out.

A brand needs core values.

It’s something that no page on Wikipedia will ever be able to define because it’s unique to your business.

You have a vision, a dream even. However, you’re smart enough to know that you need a path to reach your goals. You can’t go about your business with your head in the clouds. You need to come back down from dreaming to deal with the realities of keeping growth on track and you need a clear path to do that.

That path starts with your brand identity. The core values that your business sets out to uphold in everything you and your partners do. As for partners, take a lesson from Starbucks #tobeapartner where employees are partners.

Core values are not a one off exercise either. When you’re small, your core values will be focusing on the independence and personalising the experience to create memorable moments. As your company grows, there may be wording that needs changing in your core values, more added, and some altered. Perhaps even a re-branding campaign to redefine your business.

The core values of a brand represent a navigation tool

Nothing too complex and simple enough to be understood.

Do you need to set core values to define your brand?

No, but you definitely should. If you’re not convinced, think of any industry and see what the market leaders have in place.

Let’s take the shaving industry as an example. It’s no surprise that Gillette dominates. It has over 70% market share in the UK, and even higher worldwide with 81% market share. Not even a close second Schick (we know as Wilkinson Sword) which has 17% market share.

Take a look at both brands and you figure if you need to core values or not.

Gillette has a mission

Image Source: http://gillette.co.uk/en-gb/about-gillette

Wilkinson Sword has a timeline.

Image Source: http://www.wilkinsonsword.co.uk/our-heritage

See the difference? Market leaders lead, they innovate, they connect with people. Gillette makes the promise in one statement that implies every new razor launch will be better than the last.

What’s implied by Wilkinson Sword? Something along the lines of the brand your Great Grandpa trusted for his weaponry during the Battle of Omdurman?

Both brands are successful and have their own loyal customers. One focuses on innovation, whereas the other focuses on heritage. It’s still core values.

A brand is much more than a business…

• It defines your core values
• It defines your vision
• It defines your growth

The most important part of a brand is the connection. Or as the Wikimedia Foundation call their biggest asset – Our Community!

Define your brand and connect with your audience using your message. Audiences build brands. Core values, mission statements, and visions are all defining what your business stands for. Others will connect with your message and that’s what builds your community and your community builds your brand.

You just have to tell people what you stand for.

• Gillette do it
• Avon do it
• Starbucks do it

It’s hardly worth mentioning Coca Cola but there you go.

Make your mission statement a promise to be delivered and then tell the world what your brand is setting out to do. Connect with others, build a community and those are the people who will promote your brand name.

Is Your Brand Reputable?

brand reputation image

Every small business owner without the funds to invest in a huge marketing campaign is at risk of miscommunication. They expect that if they’re going to achieve a decent R.O.I, they need a creative marketing strategy.

That’s where the communication mishaps come into the equation and it could be what’s holding you back and getting you a lower R.O.I than you expected from your advertising.
Every company has something unique to offer. If you didn’t have a decent USP, the bank or any other investors would not have contributed to your start up costs.

The USP of your business is not only important for funding, because it’s something that will continue to contribute to the amount of customers who decide to do business with you.

People will only hand their money over to people that they trust and that’s what your communication efforts need to do; establish trust right from the get go.

Problems occur for start-ups when they focus they’re material towards attracting investors rather than customers. You need to reverse that mentality and attract the customers first. The words you use in your marketing material are what promote your business in a way that attracts new customers. You simply cannot use the same language to communicate with both customers and investors.

If you need to raise capital to expand your business, it can be tempting to alter your materials, such as your web content to appeal to an investors’ interest. That will do you no good in the long run, because investors are only interested in what people are paying for.

That’s why there is a number one rule in every business to always focus on the customer first. If you can attract the customer and retain their business, the investors will sit up and take notice. If you’ve started your business in the last five years, you’re still considered a start-up business.

Most businesses fail within that time frame, so to ensure yours thrives beyond that and grows to a success, you need to attract the customers.

The first impression does that

For effectively controlling your marketing message in a way that does your business justice, you need to think beyond the first impressions you control internally. The way your staff answer the telephone, how your invoices are branded with your company logo and any other marketing material that inform people about your business, be it a service or a product-based business.

The first impression people have of you are not always with you. In fact, the most powerful first impression people have about your business – you have absolutely no knowledge of it. It’s when you have one customer and they speak to someone else about your company.

That’s a first impression and if that is poor, you won’t have the chance to put things right. You only get one chance with first impressions, and if that one is through an existing customer, you have absolutely no say in what is said and how. You can however control the conversation partly by always delivering excellence in customer care.

You need to acknowledge that every customer interaction is part of increasing awareness about your business. The more people do business with you, the more people are exposed to your company name. That’s why a strong and memorable company name is essential to get your company off the ground.

Your brand is not your logo and company name

There’s a misconception over branding that it’s all about stamping your brand logo in all your material. That is not your brand. That is only the face of things. Your brand is the customer interactions with your company. How people perceive your business is your business brand. That’s what you promote.

That is why customer reviews are one of the most powerful marketing tools that any company can leverage. They are independent user reviews verifying the legitimacy of your brand. Remember that your brand is your reputation. If you want to promote your brand name, you promote your reputation.

For every customer who leaves you a review and permits you to use it on your website or other marketing material, fire up your newsletter and announce it to your prospects.

So much emphasis is put on the graphics of brand promotion, when that is only a fraction of the battle. The real heart of effective marketing is controlling your first impressions with your company both with you and from your previous/existing customers.

Leverage what you already have for maximum effectiveness by giving each of your customers an excellent level of service and that will allow your business to control the first impressions both with and about you.

The more people hear about you from others, the more effective your promotional efforts will be.

Whenever you run a marketing campaign in the local paper, or radio, you want people to have at least heard of your company because they will already have a first impression and based on that, they will make a decision to contact you, or dismiss your business.

Pay close attention to controlling your reputation and you’ll have a far easier job marketing your brand name effectively, without being overly promotional.

All you need is your first customer and from that first experience, your business can grow, or fall flat with negative feedback circulating about your business. Take care of your reputation and your brand will become stronger consistently.

Please feel free to contact us today. We’d be happy to discuss your brand promotion and marketing requirements.

What’s In A Brand Identity?

A brand is not just a name. A brand says everything that you want to about you and your business. Your ideas, standards, and what you can give to your client.

Think about the top brands in the world, the likes of:

  • Apple
  • Coca-Cola
  • Google
  • McDonalds

All of them are so much more than just a name. Just saying each one conjures up a whole host of images and perceptions about those companies. The two most important aspects of your brand are undoubtedly your name and your logo.

But, once you have these down, how then do you make your public aware of you? How do you create the sort of associations with your business name and logo that you want people to have? In short, how do you create your reputation?

First things first, you must decide how you want to be seen. Write down a brief overview of what you feel your core values are. What do you want to be known for, and how can you help your potential clients?

What makes you stand out from your competitors, what will make people come to you and not them? Once you have that list stick to it like glue; every piece of marketing and advertising that you do, make sure that you can relate it back to your core values.

Now you have completed this exercise, you are ready to move on and build your brand and following. You can do this by:

  1. Being consistent – Never stray from your core values. Certainly don’t change them half way through. Stay on message at all times. There is nothing more confusing to clients than a business that is constantly changing its point of view or focus.
  2. Service – Where you are a sole trader, or a small business employing a few staff, remember that service is everything. Harry G Selfridge, American founder of Selfridges & Co, understood this from the outset. ‘The customer is always right’, and ‘Give the lady what she wants’ are two or his more well-known quotes. Understand your customer, and then give them what they want every time. It will keep them coming back, and will be the difference between them recommending you or not. If you employ staff, then make sure that they understand your company’s core values. They represent you, so make sure they do it well.
  3. Network – Your clients won’t come to you, you need to go and find them. Depending on your business, this may be online, or in the real world. Either way, you need to engage them. They need to know that you understand their problems and can solve them. If you need to print business cards, or other marketing gadgets, then do so professionally. Home-made business cards may save you money, but at the end of the day, they look home-made and don’t give the right impression.
  4. Slogan – Decide on a slogan, something that is short, catchy and sums up your business.

Think of some of the more famous slogans:

  • When it absolutely, positively, has to be there.
  • At work, rest or play.
  • Soft, strong and very long.

Did you get them all? This is what you want from your slogan, that instant recognition of your business.

Elevator pitch – Your elevator pitch is so important. Once you are in front of potential clients you need to be able to answer the one question they will have, ‘What do you do’? Do you stumble over your words at this stage, with a confusing, impromptu summary of your business, or do you have an eloquent, clear, concise story to tell them?

Of course it takes time to build your brand and reputation. It takes time for people to know who you are and what you do. But, if you get your branding right at the start, then you will have a strong foundation on which to work.

Good luck.

 

Employer To Employee Perspective Of Brand Name Marketing

Brand Name Marketing PhotoWith the recession over, the job market is surging. Employees are no longer sitting in dead-end jobs comfortable to be taking a salary home at the end of the month.

Comfortable is gone, and that jobs spike is around an 80% growth across the UK jobs market, and employees are becoming choosey about who to work with and rightly so.

The most successful businesses are connected. They have a strong brand across the digital media and in offline communities too.

Staff incentives are used to attract candidates and lower recruitment fees, but does your business have the right balance for an employer brand proposition?

That’s a question you may want to give some thought to.

While it is possible to have a strong brand name in the eyes of your customers, it’s also possible to have a weak brand in the eyes of potential recruits.

If you can’t stand up to a strong brand, employees are likely to go with one of your competitors. That will likely be a company with a unique approach to recruitment.

The 5 components that attract the best candidates for your business

1. True to the brand

A unified voice needs to be heard amidst your employees. While you might feel that you’ve a great incentive program implemented to help you retain staff, it’s worthless if your employees think their goals are unattainable.

If rewards are offered, your current employees are the place to start. Ask if they value the incentives, or any other programs you offer in your business and that will let you know if your plans ring true with your current staff.

If they don’t, there are no referral programs in the world going to work until a real unified recruitment package is established and verified with your staff.

2. Relevant to both staff and business goals

If you’re running a call centre paying telesales reps above industry salaries, then it’s unlikely they’ll be complaining. However, if you pay minimum wage with above average performance bonuses, then it’s relevant to your business interests and your employees.

Salaries are only part of the package though as the best talent is recruited based on the potential for career progression.

Therefore, for your business to grow, it’s highly advantageous to allow your team to grow with your business.

3. Credible to recruits

Credibility starts from your current team, regardless if it’s small. It only takes one member of your staff to have your brand name linked with their social media profiles and when they praise your brand, they do your marketing for you.

The opposite can happen though as if you’re advertising as the best in the business and your current team members are destroying your brand credibility, then you will lose out big time.

When it comes to attracting real talent to your business, you need a strong brand, and that’s built through solid foundations of brand name marketing, creating positivity associated with your business.

4. Distinctive amidst competitors

There are a couple of things employees look for in new jobs. One of those is security, and that’s associated with a strong brand name. The other is the potential for career progression, and you may be surprised to find that to get that potential, provided it is backed by the credibility factor, that a lower salary package can still be a powerful attractor because the potential is there.

5. Ambition to strive for more

If you really want top talented staff in your business, you need to demonstrate the same level of ambition, if not more.

Why ask candidates to be ambitious if the business plan doesn’t involve growing into more competitive markets, and consistently striving to become the best in your field.

Ambition is a two way street, and the stronger brand name you have, the more likely it is you’ll attract the staff you need to help you reach your business goals.

Every business is only as strong as the people behind the scenes.

Bring your brand unity together

Think of the biggest brands you can and think of them from two sides:

  • Inside the brand are the people of the business
  • Outside of the brand is how the business is perceived

When you promote your brand name, promote from the inside to resonate with the outside and bring the two together in unison.

With time, and persistence, using all the mediums the digital era has to offer, any size of business can create a powerful brand presence both online and offline.

What Are The Best Ways Of Promoting A Website In 2014?

With 2014 fast approaching we are starting to be asked about how one should be promoting their website moving forward into the coming year.

When it comes to your online business reputation and to ensure a continued high visibility in organic search, you have marginal room for error in your SEO campaign.

Competition can be rife and to be best you have to beat the rest. To do that is going to take effort and you are unlikely to be able to do it alone.

That’s why our team of experts are on hand to help you to promote your brand name, which will maximise your visibility online.

We know what it takes to run an SEO campaign smoothly, generating results via a number of methods. Those methods require a hands on approach both on your website itself, and on the offsite optimisation too.

Since the rollout of the Google Panda Update, followed by the Penguin update, there has been a ripple effect across the SEO landscape.

With the Panda update hitting subpar content on the website itself, and the Penguin update brutally assaulting backlink patterns, they have changed the entire way SEO and link building needs to be conducted.

The modern SEO is to promote a brand name via a multitude of marketing methods. But only after the website in question has been carefully analysed, or custom created, to ensure optimal performance.

Let’s go into the factors that equate to an excellent website ready for ranking:

1) Responsive Web Design

The days where your customers only find you on a laptop or desktop PC are long gone. Smartphones and tablets are the new way people are searching the web, and the only way to ensure the best user experience, is to have a responsive web design in place.

This allows your website to adapt to the device a user is using to access your content. If you are on a static domain with fixed pixels, users have to scroll left to right, and up and down. Not good and it will drastically affect the amount of people that drop off from your site, due to poor usability.

Have your website responsive to all platforms, and you’ll increase usability, increasing your time on site.

2) Fast page load times

This one is crucial and your analytics metrics will tell you your website load time and for good reason too.

No search engine wants the top recommended site returned to their user, resulting in a fifteen-second page load time, to find out if it matches their search query.

Your site needs to load as fast as possible, saving your visitors the headache of frustration when your site hangs on load.

Using a multitude of scripts will slow down your load time. The less scripts that are running the better, and will lead to a faster page load time.

3) High quality content

You can have the best responsive web design, and fast page load time on your site, but it’s going to make no difference if you don’t have high quality content for your readers to absorb.

That content needs to be presented in an easy to understand manner, with plenty of whitespace that enables your visitors to scan quickly through your page. The faster they can absorb your quality content, the more satisfied an experience they’ll have.

Your content is what yields the best returns from all of your site visitors. Without it, you’re dead in the water, both in visitor satisfaction, and in terms of your SEO campaign.

4) Social media signals

This is by far the fastest way to get your content spread across the net. When you think of the set up of social media, the connections are key to getting your content found, shared, and increasing visibility online.

It’s the friends, friends of friends, and recommendations that signal your site is of quality and worth sharing.

Facebook is the dominator on social signals, but there’s also Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest that can make an impact on increasing your referral traffic.

When you have referral traffic from social media sites, it’s a good indicator that the site you have is one that’s trusted as it is being recommended.

Trust is an important factor and is weighed by search engines, to ensure the results they return to their searchers are a trusted source, as they are being recommended by others.

5) Optimisation

The site itself needs to be optimised, but the mistake most will make is optimising for search engine purposes only.

That is not the approach you should take to your onsite optimisation. It should be optimised for the best user experience.

A good example of that is by having an FAQ page on your site. At the mention of anything that a new visitor may not understand, instead of having the same content inserted repeatedly, you can simply link to that section of your FAQ page (click here to learn more) sort of thing.

By doing this, users can establish trust that you know what you are talking about, as they don’t have to disappear back to a search engine to run another query just to understand your content.

Inter linking is an integral part of your optimisation, but they need to be considered carefully, always ensuring that they are inserted for user benefit and not solely for search engines.

The words you use on your pages, the linking structure, and the navigation are three major aspects of a well-optimised website.

6) Unnatural linking is no go!

In the past, a major impact on search rankings weighed heavily on the backlinks a site had coming in. The number of referring sites acted a trust metric, establishing trust in the domain, pushing it higher in rankings.

Penguin crushed that game as it was widely open to manipulation.

Backlinks, while still weighed in search, you need to be encouraging the natural links, and not manually building them.

The key to building natural links is to generate awareness of your brand name. When you do that, discussions begin online, and people link naturally to you.

Google is one of the search engines that help website owners to control their incoming links. Referring domains are shown through webmasters tools, and analytics reporting.

By monitoring these, you can see the linking domains and the inner page that directly links to your website. By monitoring this section of your analytics, you can identify where low quality and irrelevant links are pointing to your domain.

If this spikes, then Google does have a disavow tool that you can use to notify them to disregard certain incoming links.

That should be a last resort though.

Site owners should handle any unnatural, or spam looking links themselves at the outset. They can do so by contacting the site owners themselves, and request a manual link removal. If you have no success there, then use the disavow tool to notify Google that you do not want that site/link/page associated with your domain.

It is considered a more advanced measure, and used the wrong way could have negative impacts on your search rankings, so use this tool with caution. The manual approach should always be attempted first, before instructing search engines to disavow certain links.

7) Own your prime space

The prime space on a website refers to the section above the fold of your website. The part that is immediately visible when someone lands on any of your pages. This is your prime space and the area your most important message should be.

If you are a plumber, then describe your services here, give your readers your contact details, and place any key information that you need to engage with your readers.

What you should not do is give it up for advertising. If you are linking out to another site, then web spiders could view it as a doorway page, with the sole purpose being to direct traffic to another website.

That will affect your ranking position, so the key is to own the most prominent area of your website, to encourage user engagement on your own domain.

Each of the above are areas measured by search engine algorithms, and need incorporated onto your website and your offsite optimisation too.

Speaking of off page optimisation, this is how most SEO firms look at it. The way we look at here, is to promote your brand name, with the emphasis on the marketing aspect of your business, marketing in a way that encourages conversation, and naturally boosts your backlinks by making your target customers aware of your online presence.

That is what we believe makes for a successful SEO campaign.

The Keys to Unlocking Twitter Success For Your Business

When you’re about to start using Twitter, or even if you’re already on the platform and not seeing the results you were initially expecting, then the following will put you on the right path.

There’s a right and a wrong way to use Twitter for business, and the right way needs a plan to get you noticed.

You’re going into a crowd of millions here. A crowd that doesn’t give T in the Park, even combined with a Glastonbury festival a look in. The noise is unnerving and to get yourself standing out amidst a crowd of this magnitude, you need a plan of action.

The steps below will steer you in the right direction for using Twitter for your business:

Getting your Twitter Handle Right

When the .com boom started a market formed of people snatching up domain names, holding them, and then selling them to business owners for more than they purchased them for. This still happens because the .com is like the web. Without a .com or a .co.uk you’re going to struggle with branding.

The only reason being, that people associate a website with a .com or a .co.uk extension.

That same issue is now happening with Twitter. Your Twitter handle is your user name. Since branding requires consistency, you may be better with a domain extension for your personal blog or corporate website, which has the same Twitter handle available for brand consistency.

It’ll avoid confusing your target audience and even stop people from following the wrong people when they think they’re on your page.

Set your brand image up

Your brand is the image you need consistency with too. For your best approach use the same image across all your social media profiles. The wording in your tagline should explain exactly what you’re about and your image should remain consistent across all your social media accounts. Again…avoiding confusion

Differentiate what you’re all about – Expert, Resource or Both

When you’re on Twitter, you’ve got a couple of personas you can take, depending on your expertise. You can be the expert resource for people to turn to, perhaps becoming known for Q & A sessions, answering questions that your audience has.

The other option you have is to be a resource to your audience, and not claim to be an expert. As a resource, you’re just staying on top of all the latest news and providing commentary along the way.

Form a consistent marketing plan

With your Twitter accounts set up to brand your business, your website and your Twitter handle, you then need a marketing plan to ensure people remember your details.

You can do that in a number of places by placing your Twitter handle on your:

  • Email signatures
  • Business cards
  • Letterheads
  • Thank-you slips you enclose with any shipped orders

If you’re using video marketing you can also embed your Twitter handle into the video too.

The key to success on Twitter is through consistency – consistency in your branding, in your persona, your images/logos down to consistency in your marketing plan.

It all adds up to maximum success in marketing your business on Twitter.

Please feel free to contact us today. We’d be happy to discuss your Social Media Management and Marketing requirements.

Essential Social Media Management Marketing Services

social media management photo

Social media services are the backbone of your online brand and essential to the creation of your virtual persona. Business can no longer rely on a 7 x 4 ad in the Thomson Local or Yellow Pages.

People want to know more about your business, the team you have available, and the customer services they can experience by doing business with your company. That’s where social comes into things.

Integrating social media into your marketing strategy gives your brand a fresh perspective and enables your brand ambassadors to connect with your customers and bring your offer to live.

Engagement is a powerful tool: get the balance right when it comes to content and your customers will come back for more, then spread the word about your offer and act as your unofficial – but influential – brand ambassadors.

Do you know where most businesses go wrong with marketing on social media?

Many businesses fall into the trap of using social media channels to churn out their direct marketing, a mistake which will quickly turn off existing and new customers

People hate to be sold too – that’s not why they’re on social sites. They hang out on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus etc, to socialise with people who have similar interests.

If you’re passionate about baking, and run a local bakery, then chances are you’ll be on Facebook posting pictures of the delicious cakes you’ve baked – this is fine if you’re encouraging genuine interest and comments without a hidden agenda.

Your customers and potential customers want to know what’s new but it’s more impactful to get them to do the talking for you, and share their opinions on your chocolate muffins rather than hear from you how great they are.

Subliminal Marketing through Social Media

On social media sites, a subtle approach, which represents your brand without the hard sell is the best approach..

For a social media campaign to be a success, you need the time and know-how to manage your account effectively. And as your brand presence grows along with your number of followers, the more interactions you’ll be required to manage so it’s essential you have the time to keep up these interactions and ensure your content is balanced.

Create a profile/page/account which is current, interesting and two-way (don’t overdo the hard sell) and your fans and followers will find it a conducive environment for sharing and connecting. And before you know it, the platform will be your living brand.

Remember, not every update needs to business-focused. Interaction with your ‘fans’ is key and it’s important to make time to get to know them, understand their needs so you know what makes them tick.

A mixture of personality and business keeps your business real

To anyone who doesn’t already know about your business, your social media presence is a useful gauge to establish your credibility, so take it as seriously as you would any other marketing channel.

When it comes to complaints, it’s easy for your customers share their often unflattering views on these, very public, forums. It’s really important to keep on top of these potential damaging comments and respond quickly to maintain your customer satisfaction and demonstrate to prospects there’s a real human side to your business which cares, wants tosolve problems and keep its customers happy.

You could call this the subliminal part of the marketing – every action you take on line embodies your brand so your online persona, like employees, must act with integrity in order to establish trust and encourage customers to themselves become ambassadors of your brand through powerful Word of mouth recommendations..

5 key Social Networks:

1) Twitter

2) Facebook

3) Pinterest

4) Google Plus

5) YouTube

The most popular choices for businesses across all sectors is Facebook And Twitter, which have different functions but complement each other well and benefit from simple integration across the platforms.

Pinterest is the social images network. Images can be an equally effective medium for spreading your marketing message, and building your brand. By generating social shares your brand gains , exposure and with it credibility..

Google Plus’ concept of circles for friends, and business associates is another useful tool which adds additional credibility to search results related to your business by, adding a powerful image which will stand out among a page of text.

YouTube can be linked to G+ account thus inviting prospects more interested in video content, rather than written material.

In short, the more channels you use to interact with your customers, the more successful your campaign can be; but it takes time to manage these channels and skill to keep them fresh and engaging, and time is often something small businesses lack. .

That’s where social media marketing services can help your business.

Please feel free to contact us today. We’d be happy to discuss your Social Media Management and Marketing requirements.

The Importance Of Good Web Design For Online Branding

web design brandingThe online world is a fast-paced environment where users expect the information they’re seeking to be accessed in seconds, with a few clicks of the mouse.  Get them confused with complicated navigation and multiple click-throughs to deeply buried pages and you’ve lost them, for good.

Gone are the days  of slow load times and pages laden with lengthy text and flashy images. Simple, clean and current are today’s web buzzwords and these apply as much to a website’s look and feel as to its content.

Ordering your Information

First things first, you need to get your content in order by assessing and creating your ‘information architecture’. This is the process of organising your website’s content into categories and designing an interface to support those categories. You must have a clear idea of what you want your site to do (e.g., do you need an e-commerce platform?) and what structure the site needs to support this. This is technical stuff so although many off-the-shelves websites exist, if you want a truly bespoke offer, you will need to get the experts in.

Navigating a clear path

Think of your website as a path which can go off in different directions but provides clear signposts to help users navigate their journey. A maze-like website which uses a myriad of menus, drop downs and multiple child pages will get both the user and its content completely lost.

Use a less-is-more approach and stick to a short set of clear, universally acceptable  headings for your global navigation – such as ‘About Us’, Contact Us’ and ‘Our Products’. It’s useful to provide a ‘crumb trail’ at the top of each page so users no where they are and can see an easy route back home.

Branding is Your Best Friend

Your brand is about more than just your logo. It should translate into all aspects of your website, from its typeface and images to page layout. Tone of voice is your brand personified so ensure your web copy speaks in a voice that compliments your product or service too.

When it comes to the nitty-gritty elements of your brand, go back to basics to ensure what works offline works online too.Your logo may need some tweaking so it conveys itself effectively – ask yourself some simple questions: is it big enough, clear enough, bold enough to make an impact?

How about the tagline/supporting text, too much or not enough? Do the colours need sharpening up? Is the image high-res enough? When you chose a typeface/font, ensure it is applied across the site for absolute consistency. Using multiple fonts creates a confused, chaotic feel which creates a poor user experience, and in turn a poor brand experience.

Think about your images too – ideally they should be original and unique, not taken from a stock image source. And a carefully chosen colour palette, with accent tones to differentiate areas of your site  really help create a streamlined, professional look.

Content is King

Content is like a loaf of bread; it gets stale easily. Core content has a longer shelf life, but don’t neglect your web pages once they’re written and assume they can be left unchanged indefinitely. As your products/services evolve, so should your content, which must reflect anything new that’s going on in your business.

content is king

The introduction of a blog, which can be linked from your site or be an integral part of it, is a great way to ensure there’s always something fresh and new. And it also helps you create that all-important brand persona, giving your offering a human voice.

New, fresh content is what’s known as ‘sticky’ – it gets existing and new users hooked on what you have to say. And Google likes it too: regularly updated web pages show you’re offering a valued service to users, so your site is seen as an authority and your search rankings are boosted.

Fresh not Flash

It’s fresh, easily digestible content that counts, so forget slow loading videos and images which frustrate and hinder access to your site. Keep blocks of text short, concise and impactful with paragraphs no more than a few sentences long. Images and pull quotes should be used to break up text and support your key messages.

fresh contentThe temptation is to overload webpages with tickers, pop-ups and rich content but a pared down look which is easier on the eye conveys a more professional, pulled-together look. Of course you should embed video content, add social buttons and make use of side bars to add impact but step back and assess the finished page and remember less is definitely more. There’s nothing worse than a page that looks too busy and tries to say too much.

Remember to Optimise

Once your site is up and running don’t forget to put some effort into ensuring all your hard work is actually visible, and easy to find for your target audience. This is where search engine optimisation comes in.

You may want to get expert help but there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your site gets off to the best start. Firstly, do some keyword analysis using a free tool such as Google’s keyword analyser. Think of top search terms related to your offer (ideally your domain name should also include one of these, so make sure you do this kind of research up front). Using navigation and creating content relating to all these will help Google see that you’re an expert in this field, and start to rank you accordingly.

Getting back links to your site helps boost its authority and shows you are a credible, trusted information source. Setting up social media channels to promote your content is a good way to do this. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube are some of the key channels you should be considering.

Are Facebook and Twitter Fads With No Future?

facebook twitter

When social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter first started to emerge, it was easy to assume they wouldn’t be around for long and their use would be short-lived. Perhaps just like generations before us which were skeptical about radio, then TV, and later the personal computer.

Making life easier..and harder too

Few could have predicted just how rapidly these social media channels would take hold and on how many levels they would impact daily life. The average workplace now has a social media policy to ensure employees have limited (or no) access to channels during office hours.  Educationalists debate twitter’s impact on students’ language and grammar skills and authors pen self-help books on how to digitally disconnect from the always-on life we now live.

The same tools we all love to hate have also made it possible to reconnect with childhood friends, share intimate details with perfect strangers or arrange a night out at the touch of a button, and far more besides.

big and small business

Big (and small) business gets social

Once purely social domains, social media sites are now among many businesses core communications channels, with customers (and potential customers) paying more attention to these than more traditional tools such as e-newsletters or standard website content.

It’s now increasingly important to be where your audience is, and engage with them on their ‘turf’, rather than continue to assume they will come to you (and your website). This two-way conversation, rather than corporate monologue, will help business become more friendly, approachable and attractive.

Retention and engagement issues

Despite their obvious uses, recent research (Source: Associated Press and CNBC) suggests that 50% of Americans think Facebook is ‘just a passing fad’. Now in its 9th year of running (Facebook started back in 2004), it shows no sign of slowing up, as founder Mark Zuckerberg devises new ways to monetize the channel, largely through targeted advertising and sponsored content.

But with exactly half of its users failing to see its value, and everyone knowing at least one friend who has shut their account, perhaps the world is finally starting to disconnect from some forms of digital life.

Could it be the very route that is set to finally make these sites legitimate money-making businesses be the thing that actually turns their users off and sees them searching for alternative, niche (and less commercial) platforms to share and connect?

Additional research from Nielsen suggests Twitter, launched in 2006, is also seeing a crisis among its users. A massive 60% of those who signed up to use the channel failed to return to the site one month on, which is hardly a glowing endorsement.

Here today, gone tomorrow?

Not a week goes by when we don’t read about another social media site which promises to be the can’t-live-without tool. Will we  ever have enough social bookmarking, image sharing, micro-blogging, professional networking and friend connecting tools?

The question, after all, is not about quantity, but quality. The survival of one social media channel over another will ultimately come down to its users. They will decide whether it is a tool which adds value, is user-friendly and listens to their needs, then evolves to meet them. People power will always separate the wheat from the chaff.

Fad, or here to stay, be selective, stay focused

So, whether or not there’s more to come from these social stalwarts or we’ve seen the best from Facebook or twitter, it’s important to decide whether they’re the best tools out there for your business.

Not every tool is right for every offer so don’t jump on the bandwagon if there is no clear fit or obvious benefit. It’s better to concentrate on one or two channels and do these really well – update content regularly, be consistent and accurate with tone of voice/brand persona, respond to comments and queries and build relationships through two-way conversation and interaction.

The web, by its very nature, is ever changing and this perpetual evolution will continue to throw out new applications. The trick is to hand-pick the select tools which will make a difference to our business and concentrate on mastering these so they make a valuable contribution as part of an overall marketing strategy.