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Branding for Small Businesses

As a business owner one of your top priorities is how your company is perceived to your prospective clients.  Careful crafting of your brand matters, no matter how big or small your business is.   You could have the most innovative service or product, but you need to make potential clients aware of it before you can turn it into a success.  Unfortunately marketing your business isn’t as easy as just placing your logo and a sales message on a postcard or flyer and mailing it to prospective clients.  Marketing is about branding your business so potential clients have an idea of what your business is about, what it may be like to work with you, and how you are different from your competitors.

Simple Works How is your business different from your competitors?  What makes your services or products unique and original?  What aspect of your business is the most attractive to the client?  These are just a few of the questions that should be addressed by your brand.  It should be conveyed in a smooth, easily understood, uncluttered way that is tailored to you audience.  Simple and direct.

Give Your Words a Voice Often times communicating with your prospective clients is done through a series of direct mail pieces, emails, newsletters, or your very own website.  Creating a unified “voice” that can deliver your message in addition to producing an overall image for your company will set you apart from competitors and take your communications from passive to active.  Aligning your message and brand across all channels such as print, website, blog, and social networking will further strengthen your voice.

Consistency is Key Sometimes a small tweak in your overall image is necessary to get a buzz going.  Changing a font here, a color there, or a new image to represent your brand could all help in highlighting your business in new, exciting, and different ways to the same audience, or help in attracting a completely new one.  Once you have identified which tweak or series of tweaks generates the biggest response stick with it and modify all your communications and client accessed websites to reflect that voice, message, and image.  Committing to the change once it is made is the most crucial step.  You may not get the desired results immediately, but scrapping all the work you’ve put in will only be a waste of your time and money, as well as confuse potential clients.

Building your brand can be a labor of love.  If you put in the work and let your individuality pour into your business and let it shine through your communication pieces this will truly set you apart from your competitors.  Your current and potential clients will see your products and services as genuine and attainable.  Branding is all about perceptions, so build the perception you want them to have!

Pinterest – A New Social Media Channel On the Rise

Is Pinterest the right avenue for a small business? Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way consumers and businesses alike communicate, but recently a new online community is generating quite a buzz.

Pinterest is an online social community where users “pin” articles, pictures, or links to a virtual bulletin board and can be ordered into categories based on the content or theme.

Before you start a pinning frenzy, consider doing your homework. Is Pinterest the right place to increase the visibility of your business?

The Benefits:

  • Pinterest is an informal online community. This makes it a great place to relax and click through an immense amount of content from all types of users.
  • If women are your target market, you’ve come to the right place. According to AppData of the nearly 10.4 million registered Pinterest users 97% of them are female.
  • Brands can be successful on Pinterest if they feature a product with strong visual appeal and are willing to interact to promote it.
  • The Pinterest experience can be customized based upon whom you follow. If you’re all about self-promotion the likelihood of attracting and maintaining a large follower base is slim. You have to be willing to interact and connect with others.
  • A few websites have benefited from huge traffic increases from pins shared from their sites. If you position your brand wisely on the Pinterest network it can translate to large amounts of traffic being directed to your site.

The Challenges:

  • Be aware that everything posted has the potential to go viral. If it does, your business may not get credit for the image unless you have watermarked it in a way that cannot be cropped.
  • Initially all pins shared are linked to either a website or uploaded directly from a computer. As pins are shared and re-shared many of the links are lost in the process. Unfortunately, it’s not a guaranteed way to drive traffic to your site.
  • Upon signing up for Pinterest there is an option to integrate your pins with your Facebook Timeline. If you opt for this permission every item you pin will be posted to your Facebook Timeline and will be visible to your friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Not all content is family friendly, be mindful of what might show up if you have a young audience.

If you think Pinterest is something you’d like to try out for your business, here’s how to succeed:

  • Upload images that draw attention directly to your brand or item you’re promoting. Focus your viewer’s attention right where you want it.
  • Name and categorize your pinboards thoughtfully. The boards are searchable, so include SEO friendly keywords to boost traffic.
  • Follow big names. This was a proven strategy in Twitter. If you follow popular figures or other leaders in your industry they’re likely to follow you back!
  • Describe the benefits your brand can offer, not just the features.
  • Share more than just what products you’re selling. Offer tips, short stories, or innovative products from other companies.
  • Make sure that you’ve completely filled out all of your pinboards before you start following others. Make sure you’re giving them something they’ll want to follow back!
  • Pinterest is all about exploration and connecting. Follow things that interest you and you have fun sharing. That excitement will catch on and further promote your brand.
  • Allow time to log in daily to respond to comments, see what has been added, and expand your pinboards.

Happy Pinning!