Make Something Happen.
Some of my clients, business associates and friends are all gearing up to launch or to expand their businesses in 2013. I am also launching three new online resources to help entrepreneurs with their web content, PR and personal branding in 2013. So, I wanted my first blog post of 2013 to mark the move from ideation into brand execution.
In the rush of our daily lives, we get too busy with what we are doing to take the time to plan, develop and execute the most effective brand strategy. Knowing that you, my colleagues and friends, are currently in that “brand shift,” I wanted to provide some tips and tools to help you through that shift. I hope you’ll use these seven tactics to help nurture and grow your brands.
1. Audit Your Brand.
Take the time to audit your brand right now before you make any changes. If you haven’t taken the time lately to inspect your brand, you should make this a priority. Look online and offline for how people perceive your brand. Identify and inspect all your touch points from your business cards to your website to ensure consistencies in all your words, visual and other elements that are creating your unique brand. Be your own Brand Police and take the time to delete old images or create new videos, graphics or other designs.
Some immediate actions you should take:
1. Review your Google Analytics – document today’s current stats.
2. Google your brand and your key employees – what are the first page results? If you’re not happy with the results, you can take steps now to change this.
3. Take screenshots of your homepage, social media sites, and other graphic designs and create your business Pinterest business page.
4. Review your company’s YouTube page and check to see if you’ve been tagged in any other online videos.
5. Collect and review all your printed samples from business cards, flyers, direct mail and POP displays. Do they properly reflect your professional brand?
6. Read your own brand stories on your website. Think about the impact of your brand stories and your founder’s story. Are they effective? Are they engaging?
Bottom line: Be your own Brand Police and take a real, unbiased look at how people perceive your brand. Take action now.
2. Remember to Tell Your Brand Story.
Forget advertising, customers want to hear your authentic brand story. Don’t have one? Take the time and effort to craft your brand stories. From your CEO story, founder’s story, backstory, specific brand stories, and customer stories, this is your chance to connect with your future customers through the power of storytelling. If they don’t understand your brand story, they’ll move on to the next company. Take the time to tell an authentic, engaging story. Watch for more resources to help you with your brand story in future blog posts and resources.
Bottom line: Tell the right story and tell the story right.
3. Develop Your Content Plan.
As you tell your brand stories, you’ll want to create a new Editorial Calendar for 2013. Don’t forget your new blogging strategy. Remember: “Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog,” HubSpot’s Marketing Benchmarks from 7,000+ Businesses. Now is a great time to reach out to your influencers and ask them if you can write a guest blog post for their blog. It will drive traffic to your site and they’ll appreciate your fresh, new viewpoints.
Discuss your visual plan with your graphic designer. My suggestion is to simplify and create brand meaning in everything that you do.
Build your content team and use a professional platform to collect and distribute this important brand content.
Check out the blog post on the five best free content marketing ebooks of 2012 from Julliet Stott, guest blogger, Econsultancy: http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/11367-the-five-best-free-content-marketing-ebooks-from-2012.
Bottom line: Your brand content plan is one of the most important strategies you’ll have to effectively communicate your brand message to your audience. Earn your social currency.
4. Update Your Marketing Plan.
The new year is a great time to review your marketing plan and analyze your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and your success stories from your 2012 marketing plan. If you haven’t created your marketing goals and objectives for 2013, get busy because your competitors are waiting to take your business. Construct SMART marketing goals and think about your marketing benchmarks in the process. Are you able to build your brand vision and tell your brand story through your strategic marketing plan?
Bottom line: Make your marketing goals are measurable and contain a specific timeframe or prepare to spend more money.
5. Jump In and Get Social.
Social media continues to be a key influencer in growing your brand. In fact, more companies are spending more of their online advertising dollars to grow their brand presence using social media. My suggestion is to keep developing your community with your strongest social media tool and commit to taking it to the next level by testing new ads or a developing a new special promotion, for example. I would also suggest that you learn one new social media vehicle as soon as possible. If you haven’t tried Pinterest or if you’ve neglected your YouTube channel, now is the time to learn some new social media tricks for 2013.
This is a great time to commit to perfecting your team’s Social Media skills in 2013. Resist quick fixes and self-proclaimed “social media gurus.” Instead, invest your time in learning from the best. Review Neal Schaffer’s blog post, The 20 Best Social Media Books from 2012 to Read in 2013: http://windmillnetworking.com/2012/12/21/best-social-media-books-2012/?goback=%2Egde_66275_member_198840353.
Your first stop should be to craft your company’s Linkedin business page and keep it updated with timely and relevant company updates.
Bottom line: Invest in building real relationships with your audience through your social media strategy. Learn from the best and start today!
6. Up Your PR Game.
Remember, it’s best to launch your brand with word of mouth marketing and pubic relations and then build it with advertising. First, develop your media contacts and pitch them on something you are doing right now to promote the category of your buinsess. Think how you are making a difference with your clients/customers rather than what new product or sevice you have. If you haven’t pitched the media lately or don’t know your industry’s journalists and expert bloggers, today’s the day to get out your black book and start updating your media lists. Don’t forget, your own customers and clients want to know what’s new with your business too.
Expand your online press room with new press releases, updated videos and professional pictures so you’ll always be prepared for the next media opportunity. I highly suggest PitchEngine.com to help you host your online press room.
Bottom line: The power of positive media buzz is priceless. Build trust with the media and it will pay off for your brand.
7. Grow Your Personal Brand.
It’s 2013 and it’s time to make a bigger investment in your personal brand. In today’s world, people are making decisions about your company based on your personal brand.
“Consider these survey results compiled by Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest PR firms, that illustrate the importance of a CEO’s reputation to the success of the company. The results indicated that, based on a CEO’s reputation:
While we can’t all be like Richard Branson, we can take the time to interact and develop meaningful relationships within our own communities.
Here are a few personal branding tactics to get you started:
• Read the classic personal branding article by Tom Peters, The Brand Called You;
• Secure your domain name for your full name;
• Write your own book;
• Register for your next upcoming professional conference;
• Rethink your own personal blogging strategy;
• Rewrite, edit and update your Linkedin Profile;
• Join a new Meetup group and network with other professionals in your city;
• Attend Dan Schawbel’s new personal branding class: http://web1.udemy.com/personalbranding/.
Bottom line: Personal branding counts. Today you are the CEO of the brand called You.
Well, it’s not the end; it’s just the beginning of a successful year for your brand. The next step is yours. These are just few brand tactics to help you create a more meaningful brand strategy. I hope you’ll take the time to implement these important steps to grow your brand.
I invite you to ask questions, make comments and leave your success stories below.
Let’s launch these brands!