Identify Target Niche
Businesses should first and foremost have their target niches identified. This is a crucial step, as the needs and tendencies of these groups will determine the focus and direction of any further branding efforts. Targeting niche markets promotes differentiation. Often, campaigns are abandoned as marketers become discouraged by stagnant results. Sales and products remain in inventory as seeming competitors continue to profit. Because these businesses did not choose a demographic and research what they desire or how these groups choose to communicate, little to no growth occurs. As marketplaces persistently shift, it is important to regularly take stock of target niches and adjust to their changes.
In today’s world, un-satisfaction runs rampant with consumers. Large, established businesses prove over and over the inability to address rapidly changing consumerist trends. Their “One Size Fits All”, mass demographic approach is no longer relevant in a world of personalized consumerism. A door has been opened for entrepreneurs in tune with strong customer sensitivities. Whether it’s the food industry, music, fashion, or technology, opportunities abound for the business with a successfully targeted online audiences.
Tell People Who You Are
Once an audience has been chosen and thoroughly researched, it becomes the job of any business to convey who they are and what they do. In the online arena, this often falls to the “About Us” page of a website.
As a seeming courtesy and tradition to some, the importance of this page should never be underestimated. As views go, the “About Us” is typically the first page visited after landing on the homepage. It is the first and oftentimes last chance to help customers learn about a company’s mission, vision, services, history, and contact information. Ending with this is the mistake most often made by a company, however. To savvy marketers, it can also be a powerful tool to establish a business as personal connection with audiences and promote professionalism. By limiting content and adding personal touches such as short, hobby-including bios, marketers can use the page as a connection point with visitors. Providing a list of top clientele, awards, and community activism can also have many positive benefits.
The success of an About Us page may also increase with the incorporation of social media. Posting links or buttons to a company’s social media accounts directly onto the page can give visitors greater insight about them. Even if they do not buy a product, accessing social media posts lets customers see and hear interesting conversations which may prompt them to return to purchase a product at a later time.
Using online media in branding efforts can be a tipping point for many businesses. Gone are the days of advertising presented spoon fed to audiences by giant corporations. With the evolution of the digital cultural, the keys to the press have been handed to everyone with internet access.
Identify the Proper Outlets
In order to utilize these tools effectively, businesses should first identify outlets which reach their target niches on a regular basis. Online radio and television are popular resources to use. Providing a sample of your pitch to these media outlets can help gain quicker access to their services. With the advent of sharing communities like Youtube and BlogTalkRadio, businesses can even opt for a do-it-yourself approach that has been proven capable of producing positive results. Adding these elements to key areas, such as the aforementioned “About Us” page, can push their visibility to wider audiences as well as increase the value of your company website to prospective customers. By integrating real-world activism with web media, the quality and success of online branding can increase exponentially.
Communicate With Your Visitors
Another highly effective method of online branding is to engage audiences in conversation. Company blogs are a smart, effective way to build online communities. When they are utilized to impart information or expertise on a certain subject, blogs show their value as two-way communication tools. They eliminate the coldness embedded in email marketing, allowing users to participate. Small businesses also profit from the low cost, impactful ability of a blog to establish an online presence.
By far, social media has become the greatest tool for gaining this personalized connection. Facebook and Twitter reign, though there are countless other venues to choose from. Because these tools are readily available through apps, smartphones, mobile sites and ads, modern marketing strategies have had little choice but to incorporate them. Still, simply owning an account will not yield a business social media success. Direct interaction and consistent, engaging posts are essential practices.
Don’t Forget to Monitor Everything
Customers have come to expect quick responses to their inquiries, concerns, and complaints, making the constant monitoring of these sites of paramount importance. Social media has reduced these reaction time expectations down to minutes. Though other sites may not have the sheer volume of memberships to match Facebook and Twitter, their low numbers are relative to those giants and so highly skewed. Negative complaints left unchecked on any one of them can reach and influence hundreds of thousands of potential customers. Online reputations are destroyed every day by a lack of awareness.
Tools have been developed to aid in the monitoring of these sites. Many services offer basic capabilities such as keyword detection. Other high-end services actively search profiles on major social media sites for pertinent comments. Some can even differentiate between positive, neutral, or negative postings. This allows for a more effective, prioritized system of responses.
The days of mass marketing, glossy websites, and an out-of-date Facebook account are quickly ending. In order for businesses to be successful, they have to adapt to the personalized culture of the modern consumer. Products, visuals, and corporate messages above all must to address the individual needs and desires of their chosen targets. Constant monitoring, consistent interaction, and using online media tools effectively are the essential keys to powerful online branding.
The Importance of a Good Logo
When people decide where to spend their money and time, they judge websites based on a number of criteria. Is it easy to navigate? Is the writing clear and precise? Most importantly, does it appear professional?
A good logo is of the utmost importance to a startup online business. People judge a website's professionalism on the first impression they get from it. Our eyes gravitate toward pictures before they notice words. Generally, the first picture a viewer will see on your website is the logo. As they explore your site, they will continually be confronted with that image. You want to make sure that it shows good design sense, looks polished and professional, and accurately represents your brand.
Visual branding is even more important for an online business than for an offline business, because your customers are deciding whether to give you money based solely on images on a screen. A brand is the difference between a personal site and a business site. Your brand is what holds your site together in the eyes of your visitors. A good logo is the seed of a successful brand. You want your customers to think of the name of your business, and instantly have the logo's image pop into their minds. You want that process to be pleasant for them, to encourage them to visit your site and buy your goods.
Furthermore, a well-composed logo is the heart of your online business' colors, language, shapes and personality. If the logo is "elegant," then every other aspect of your site will share that elegance. If it is "cute and girly," then your site will use cute words, full curves, and maybe lots of pink, depending on the logo's color scheme.
Freelance Logo Design Websites
As a startup business owner, you are effectively the development, marketing, sales, and accounting department all in one. You may not have the money to hire a full-time visual advertiser, nor may you have the training to produce a polished logo yourself. That's why sites like these exist. They are designed to put business owners in touch with professional logo designers.
Logo My Way takes a unique approach to freelance logo design. Business owners submit a request for a logo to the community of thousands of professional designers. Through the site, the request is turned into a "contest," with the cash prize being whatever the business owner is willing to pay. Designers submit numerous logos until the deadline, when the owner looks through and chooses the best logo. He or she only has to pay the winning designer. Commissions generally range from $200 to $1000, and it ensures that business owners get the best possible logo for their website.
99 Designs is the original logo marketplace, upon which sites like Logo My Way, Hatchwise, and DesignContest.net were modeled. With over 75,000 designers signed up, you're sure to receive plenty of offers when you put your logo contest up. 99 Designs is a little more business-friendly in that it doesn't require business owners to choose a logo if none of the designs are up to par. This can save a little money, but can also put off designers and prevent them from putting their hearts into their work. Depending on your budget and your concerns, 99 Designs is a little safer for business owners, but connects them less with their logo designers.
Time to set up your website
So we've just talked about the importance of keeping a professional appearance on the web. No matter how beautiful your logo is, or how much good content you have on the site it won't do you any good if you don't also partner up with a professional host.