A small businessman came up with a brilliant idea, created it at great personal expense, and then sold little of his service.
He had no brand.
If people don’t know about your practice or business and what you offer, nothing else matters. Online branding for small businesses is vital to your bottom line. It can also become a significant expense in your company’s budget, so we will discuss how to keep the costs down while still letting the public know that you have or do something they need.
The first step is taking some time to define your company’s values and mission.
A Company’s Values Connect It to Its Customer Base
We know the goal of any for-profit business is to make money. Defining your values to the world is different. Why will your customers be better off if they buy your product or service?
To return to our small business owner–a dentist–with a great idea, he had come up with a creative process for parents to use to calm children as they prepared for dental care. But he failed to invest the time in a critical thing–online branding for local businesses. A key part of that is making your company values known.
Getting that value or mission statement in place takes digging deep to get it clarified and then honed to use in a marketing plan. Engaging in this process costs nothing. Yet, it is foundational to your success.
Mission statement 101
Business people are focused on making money and may think that a mission statement is too “out there” for them to worry about. Don’t fall into that trap. Google didn’t and they are one of the largest companies in the world. Their mission is “……to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” And their brand is now part of our daily vocabulary.
Brainstorm the following:
- Of all the products or services you could be selling, why did you choose this one? Why is it important to you?
- What do people do with your product or service? What do you see as its purpose for the customer? Will it enhance their lives? How?
- Is your product or service unique? If not, why should people buy from you? Is it cheaper or easier to use? More complete? Are you more experienced or knowledgeable?
Now it’s time to convey your mission to the world.
Even though you may consider yourself a small business, you need a tagline or a slogan that brings the result of all that brainstorming together into a single statement. You want the world to associate your company name with all versions of your product or service. Think “Kleenex” for a tissue or “Google it” for looking something up.
Here are some other notable examples:
- Nike: “Just Do It.”
- Bounty: “The Quicker Picker Upper”
- Dunkin’ Donuts: “America Runs on Dunkin'”
- State Farm: “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There”
- MasterCard: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”
In other words, your tagline or slogan should convey the mission of your company while also reflecting the value you are adding for the buyer. Use it on all marketing materials: your website, your stationery, anything related to your product or service. Hopefully, it will instantly evoke a mental picture of your brand.
Let’s turn to another piece of the branding puzzle: your logo.
Look at Your Logo With New Eyes
Spend some time looking at your logo as if you’ve never seen it before. Do the colors draw you in? What about the graphic design? Is it professionally done or merely a design done just to say you have one? Is the font easy to read?
If there are others you trust for their good judgment, involve them in this “study” of your logo. Explain to them the importance of their honesty and constructive input. And then listen to what they say.
This is one part of branding that is worth spending money on. Hire a freelance graphic designer or digital marketing agency to create or redesign a logo that telegraphs your mission, your tagline or slogan, and your company’s values. That’s a difficult thing to do, so it will be money well-spent.
Now that you have the foundation of your company, how do you maximize your marketing budget as you convey the message?
Clean Up Your Business Website
Now it’s time to take a good hard look at your current website. Do the same thing you did with your logo. Study it. Criticize it. Try to use it yourself. Evaluate it. Ask others for their honest input.
Is it responsive or “sticky”? Does the flow of the pages feel right? Have announcements and blog posts (if you have them yet) been updated recently? Is it visually appealing? Does it reflect your mission statement?
This is a time to invest money. Use it to have your website updated by a professional. And don’t forget to include SEO (search engine optimization). An expert in SEO can literally change the course of your business.
Now, let’s talk about social media and all the free help available.
Social Media Awaits
When doing social media on a budget, the biggest investment you will have to make using it as a marketing tool is your time. Or the time of someone in your company designated as your “social media marketing coordinator.”
There are dozens of social media sites and you only need to focus on a handful to get a major impact. It takes a targeted, consistent effort with the commitment to be patient. Set some goals using an analytics tool. Then do everything possible to get your brand in front of even just some of the millions of people around the world who use social media every day.
Of course, you may not have time to dedicate to this or an in-house person who can do this for you. That’s another situation where a local digital marketing company can help you, without it costing a fortune.
Low-Cost Branding Doesn’t Mean Low Quality
Ranchers spent a lot of time coming up with a brand for their herd that was easily recognizable when seen. You want the same thing for your company’s online presence. Commit the time and thought to what you want your brand to convey on sight. Spend marketing money wisely to train the public to see it as the standard-bearer of your product or service. Use all the resources you have available to you, it won’t cost you as much as you may think.
If you have questions about increasing and improving your brand’s presence online, we can help! Contact My KPI today.