I firmly believe that one of the most important first steps to a successful marketing campaign is branding. It is unfortunately often overlooked. Before you get started with marketing, you need to consider your branding strategy.
Why You Need to Establish a Brand First
Before the digital age, you definitely could get away with not having a branding plan, but now in the age of Facebook and Google branding is extremely important. If you want to have success with your digital marketing you must think critically about what your brand represents and what it symbolizes.
You need to start by creating a brand plan. It is the vision for how you want your business to be perceived, the value it brings its customers, and the strategies for engaging with customers and potential customers.
It is important to build a brand for your business because it will kick start your business and set you up for success.
What is Branding?
Branding is crafting a message that informs the processes your business takes to reach its goals, whether that be getting more customers, more press, or more employees.
Branding makes your business more visible and communicates your business’ values and what your company stands for with clarity and consistency. Branding highlights your company’s uniqueness and makes people more likely to think of your company when they are in need of the products or services you offer.
Think of it as a plan of attack that focuses on the strategy your business will take to achieve your marketing goals. Your brand plan should be a part of your marketing and sales strategy.
There is so much more to branding than a logo, colors, or fonts.
How to Establish a Brand Plan
So how do you establish a brand the right way? A grand brand plan conveys the following:
- The Purpose of Your Brand
Think about your target market. How will your company add value to their lives? What is your mission statement?
- The Values of Your Brand
How is your business different from your competitors? What is your value proposition?
- The Personality of Your Brand
Define what inspires and influences your brand. This is represented through colors, fonts, logos, graphics style, and the wording you use in your branding.
- The Culture of Your Brand
How do you want people to feel about your business? What words come to mind when people think about your company? How does your business treat employees and customers?
- Craft Your Messaging
Identify your marketing message. Think about the words and phrasing you can use on your website, social media posts, ads, etc. to attract your target market and get them to want to learn more about your business.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is how you leverage channels such as social media, search engine optimization, or email to name a few to connect with your ideal customers. It is the set of tools and processes used to promote a business. There are a number of channels that you can use which might make you feel overwhelmed about which channels to use and how to have success with it.
Before You Get Started with Marketing: First Steps
After you have developed your branding strategy, you are now ready to get started with your marketing strategy; however, there are a few things you should consider when creating a marketing strategy. You will need to set realistic goals. Do your research on different marketing channels. Study your competition. Do market research on your industry.
Why is Marketing Important?
Without sales business is dead. Marketing is how you gain the attention of potential customers. Marketing directly affects your sales, promotions, and advertisements. Marketing is not something you can ignore.
Creating a Marketing Plan
Here are the steps you need to take to sort out the basic components of your business’ marketing plan.
- Create a Customer Avatar
If you want to have success with your marketing, you need to create a customer avatar that defines who your ideal customer is and what they believe in. I will mention this now because I know some people are going to be thinking about it. No, that ideal customer is not “everyone.”
Often I hear small business owners say that their target audience is everyone. And to be completely honest, whenever I hear that I cringe inwardly.
So many entrepreneurs are not specific enough about who their target market is and it is killing their business!
Your target market is not every one because not everyone is going to identify with your brand or be interested in what you offer. For example, if you own a hair salon, your target market isn’t everyone because not everyone has hair or will go to a salon. Some people prefer to do their own hair. Some people are hair stylists themselves. Unless you were selling products as well, those other hair salons or hair stylists can buy, your target market is not everyone.
When crafting a customer avatar, you want to know your customer well, so that when you market to them, they feel like you are inside of their head. That is the key to a winning marketing strategy.
So ask yourself, who do you serve, or, if you are starting a business who would you like to serve? Is it retirees, moms, people who like to camp? Once you have your customer avatar, you can move on to the next step which is developing your strategy.
- Choose Your Channels
One mistake I see a lot of small business owners make is that they try to do everything. They want to be on all the social media platforms, have a podcast, do email marketing, have a blog, and so on and so on. This often doesn’t turn out well because it is just not sustainable for a small business owner to try and do all these marketing strategies without help. Even if you hire someone a lot of small business owners do not have the money to outsource all of these marketing strategies to someone who can do them effectively. In addition, if they do have the money to hire a team or agency, it is unlikely that using every marketing channel you can think of will add value or revenue to your business. Stop trying to be everywhere and doing everything.
As a small business owner, you must learn to become discerning so you can define your business goals and find a winning strategy that works for you. One that your target market will identify with and that plays into your business’s brand identity.
Marketing channels are the places where you’ll distribute the content that instructs and inspires your customers, produces leads, and brings attention to your business.
In the event that you distribute (or plan to distribute) via social media, this is the spot to write it down. Utilize your marketing channels area of your marketing plan to put where you want to be discoverable, how you’ll use them, and how you’ll measure your success. Some portion of this section’s purpose is to plan out how these channels will help your business grow.
So how do you decide what marketing channels to choose? Well, that’s something I can’t decide for you. You will need to do some research and decide what channels will help you get discovered by your target customer and that make sense for your business. Learn about marketing trends for 2019 to help you brainstorm ideas. Check out case studies to discover what has worked for other businesses.
- Set Goals
Analyze your current business situation. Then, establish realistic goals for your growth that are timely and measurable. Establishing goals and objectives will help you take a direction for your marketing plan. It’s like the old saying “what gets measured gets managed”. In addition, outlining where you want your business to be in the next 3, 6 or 12 months means you will be able to evaluate whether your marketing methods are successful or not. Later on, you will be able to look at the numbers and see if you are hitting your goals and objectives or not.
Deciding the number of your assets to assign to marketing can be one of the greatest hurdles that small business owners face. It can likewise be a key part that can represent the moment of truth a business. There are rules that will help in distributing your assets, here is what WordStream suggests in regards to your marketing budget.
Your marketing plan should inspire and instruct. Once you create a marketing strategy, you must remember to be consistent. This is where a lot of small business owners miss the mark.
Pillars of Marketing Online
Think about it. When you’re interested in learning about a topic or finding a solution to a problem you have, what is the first thing that you do? For most people, they go to a search engine such as Google, Pinterest or YouTube. According to Digital Marketer, a search engine is defined as “any channel that uses an algorithm that you can learn and leverage for success”.
Search engines play an important role in marketing in the digital age because they foster connection. Human beings are wired to desire connection. People like to connect with businesses online that they are interested in doing business with.
Through connecting online you can build trust with potential customers. Once you have successfully built trust, you will be rewarded by gaining new customers who are loyal to your business. In your online marketing, you need to focus on putting out content that establishes connections with your target market and builds trust.
Most people will not buy the first time that they hear about your business. On average it takes people 12 times of seeing a commercial before they buy. That is why it is so important to capture people’s information or get them to subscribe to hearing from you again. That way you can stay top of mind when they are ready to buy.
You must position your business offerings and communicate the value of them. Inspire customers to say, “Yes, I want that! Here’s my money.”.
- Leverage press
Look for strategic opportunities to bring value to other people’s audiences where you feel like you can make a difference and by doing so grow your own audience.
- Sell the benefit, not the features.
Human beings are emotional creatures so relying on logic alone just doesn’t do. People need to see how what your company offers will help them. Instead of saving your product absorbs the sun’s rays to power your lights. Say using our lights will save you money on your electric bill while allowing you to continue to use your outdoor lights for extra security at night.
Importance of Marketing Audit
Try not to stress if your initial marketing plan doesn’t give you the outcomes you want. Examining your business, which you can do yourself or with the assistance of a third party can enable you to improve your strategy for future success.
I recommend checking all your marketing channels to gauge if your desire messaging is reflected in the content put out on these channels. In the event that your brand messaging is not being interpreted in the way you were intending by your target market, then there is a disconnect that needs to be resolved.
Should I hire someone or outsource to an agency or Freelancer?
I hope that so far you have found the guidelines for creating a winning marketing strategy outlined in this article helpful for growing your business.
By now I hope you understand that creating a successful marketing plan takes time, expertise, and money.
If you’re like a lot of small business owners you might have started your business because you have a certain skill set in your industry that provides value to others. Often marketing is not a part of that skill set and that’s ok. Hopefully, this article is helpful in gaining more skills in marketing, but I know some people after reading this may also feel they may need help in implementing their marketing plan. Are you wondering how to decide on whether to do your marketing yourself, hire an employee, freelancer or agency? Ask yourself some questions about your available resources to help you decide when or if to hire help.
So what was your biggest takeaway from this article? Let me know in the comments.
By Alliciyia George
Alliciyia George is a digital marketing expert and blogger. She runs a digital marketing agency specializing in data-driven Facebook ads for small businesses.
Visit her website to learn more: https://www.atgphotographyandmarketing.com
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.