Branding to improve your bottom line

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Many small businesses have been up and running a good while before they start thinking about branding and marketing. Of course, with the 101 things small business owners are faced with on an everyday basis this is understandable. However it is important not to underestimate the importance of good branding.

What is a brand?

You might have a great logo but that is only part of your brand. Everything about your business is your brand:

  • The name of your business
  • Your staff
  • Uniforms and office furniture
  • Colours that you use on your signs
  • Your sponsorship and support (such as sporting teams or community activities)

Your brand is essentially the set of ideas your business stands for in people’s minds. Visually this is seen such as through a logo, staff uniforms and office layout and location your brand is also shaped by your actions as a business. A successful brand will help differentiate you from your competitors, build loyalty, increase traffic, create brand advocates and help connect people emotionally to your business.

Creating your brand

Before you embark on building your brand presence you need first to spend some time thinking about the fundamentals of your brand. Considering the following questions will help you define your brand.

  • What is your purpose as a business?
  • What are your businesses core values?
  • Who is your target audience and what are their needs?
  • What do your customers think when they think of your business?
  • What differentiates your business from that of your competitors?
  • And most importantly, what is it you want your customers to think when your business comes to mind.

The great news is you don’t need a huge budget in place to build your brand. You will however need to invest some time and thought.

Marketing your brand

Think about the tone you use when you write, how you interact on with people on the phone, what things you post on social media and what visual images you use. Remember all of this is a reflection of your business and your brand values.

Try using your ‘About Us’ page on your website to give customers a feel for the people behind the business. ‘Meet the team’ or ‘behind the scenes’ can give a face to your business and help people build an emotional connection to your brand.

Be consistent with your visual style, use the same fonts on all of your written materials. Link your logo in with any products or services you advertise and use your designated business colours throughout all of your activities from the business premises through to staff uniforms. Everything should be a reinforcement of your brand.

Customers should see your brand colours and immediately think of you and your business.

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What type of social media platform is best for small businesses?

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If you are a small business social media can grow your business and your profits.

There are lots of different social media platforms – Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram to name just a few options. It can be confusing knowing which social media platform to invest your time into.

Not all types of social media are suitable for all types of businesses. However, Facebook is one social media platform that is suited across all small businesses. Once you become experienced with using Facebook you can decide if you need to add other social media platforms such as twitter or LinkedIn.

According to Business Insider Australia as at April 2015 there were approximately 13 million Australian active on Facebook each month and Australians are some of the highest Facebookers in the world. Every day there are 10 million Australians are active on Facebook, of which 9 million are on a mobile device.

According to a Nielsen report, the latest Australian stats showed on average, of those that have discovered new information on Facebook, 60% would go on to learn more and about 35% of people who have discovered a business or product on Facebook would share that with their friends.
 
The main benefit of having a Facebook page is that your customers can help do your marketing for you. If you appeal to your existing customers they will share your posts with their friends and followers.

Starting up a Facebook page may be daunting but the potential for growing your business, expanding your customer base and making more money is just as vast. However, a Facebook page does not run itself, you have to put time and effort into running your page to reap the rewards.

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Why your website will be better than ours!

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As a website developer, I find that developing and designing for yourself is often one of the hardest projects, after all, you are your own worst critic. Some of the most talented design agencies I've had the pleasure to work with have had some of the most dull websites and portfolios, as the saying goes, a 'builder’s home is never finished' (and as the son of a builder, I can attest to that!) 

Then there are other agencies that have it all sorted! A clear style and branding to their business and a stellar quality website. However these companies generally have higher overheads, additional staff for internal communications and marketing which all costs money and needs to be paid for by their clients.

We are a small, busy team and often as a result we put our own projects to the bottom of the list resulting in our own work often never being completed. Our website has been one of them. The more I’ve been working with small businesses over the years, the more I find this similarity, the business’ priority is dealing with their clients and customers, providing their front line product or service (as it should be) and leaving their own business and brand to the bottom of the list, resulting in poor or little promotion of what could be a top quality business.

When working on a client’s website, we are often in the fortunate position of essentially forcing a client to stop and focus on their own business. When asking them to supply website content, we discuss their brand and the image that they want to portray to the world. It forces them revisit and take stock of what their company is about, how they see their design and their branding. We even take photos of their business or the image they want to portray and weave this into their website. This whole development process often reignites an old flame that may have been close to extinguishing - and we like to see that drive for success rise to the surface of our clients. 

Developing a new website or re-invigorating an old one is not just about platforms, downloads and location maps. It is about working together with a small business to create a presence and face for the business. It is about making each small business an online individual with a space that proudly and passionately says who they are.

We are passionate about our role in helping small business grow and we enjoy working with them.

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Promoting your new website

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So you have your new look website. You’re proud of it. It has loads of information on your products and your wonderful customer service plus it looks fabulous.

Now comes the hard part. How is anyone going to find your website? There are now millions of websites. Gone are the days when people could go to Google and type in a topic or product they were seeking and up would pop your website. These days you have promote your web address at every opportunity you get.

Some very simple ways that you can use to start promoting your website immediately are:

  • Create a Facebook page
  • Purchase Facebook ads
  • List your website address on everything
    • your business card
    • stationary
    • Front of door or building
    • Brochures
    • Direct mail pieces
  • List your website address in your email signature block
  • Donate time or resources to a charity – negotiate for them to promote your website
  • Sponsorships – if you sponsor a sporting team or charity

Promoting your business is a never ending task. And promoting your business website is also a continual process. Learning how to advertise your website is all about starting, getting feedback and adjusting your tactic.

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