HOW TO BUILD A BRAND THROUGH DIGITAL MARKETING? [FOR LOCAL SMALL BIZ OWNERS]
Did you know that SMBs spend an average 46% of their total marketing budget on digital marketing? (Source). However, only a miniscule part of their budget is spent on brand building. Small and local businesses tend to think brands are only for big-budget companies. SMBs spend money on driving traffic through SEO, PPC, Social Media, and email, but make no long-term commitment to transform their businesses into brands. The truth is you can build a strong digital brand within the same budget that you are going to spend on digital.
WHY BUILD A BRAND?
Brand is the personality of your business. It gives your business identity and recall value. Your brand invokes the set of emotions and experiences the customers have when they use your product or service. When your brand is established with a positive set of attributes, you don’t need to convince the customers to buy from you. Just a mention of your name or a look at your logo is enough to motivate purchase. Your brand sums up your product or service, its functioning, and the values that differentiate your business from others. In short, building a brand is the only way to ensure long-term business success.
HOW TO BUILD A STRONG DIGITAL BRAND
Before you think about building a brand, your product or service must deliver the benefit your communication promises. After that, it’s just the matter of paying attention to the branding elements in your messaging and remaining patient. Businesses don’t become brands overnight, but when they do, they dominate customers’ hearts and mind for a long time.
5 STEPS TO BUILD YOUR LOCAL BRAND
Brand building requires a long-term focus, as opposed to driving leads through short-term direct response campaigns. But with that said, direct response and branding don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Follow these simple steps to add value to your brand through your regular digital communications.
STEP #1: ENSURE CONSISTENT DIGITAL PRESENCE
The NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) and description of your business should be consistent everywhere. It’s good for Local SEO (source), but it’s also great for your brand. Use the same info across your website, social channels, local listing, trade directories, and all other places where you’ve featured your business. Contrary to common belief, having the same business description at different sites does not count as duplicate content. Instead, it makes your brand look consistent and adds credibility. The same is true for images, graphics, color scheme, and your logo. Use the same workplace photos, pictures of your staff, and videos across all your directory listings and website.
STEP #2: MARKET FOR REVIEWS
Each customer review is a trust signal for your potential customers. Fresh, positive reviews add value to your brand and establish your authority. However, merely providing good service may not be enough for garnering reviews. You need to persuade your loyal customers (through email, etc) to share their experiences online. They can post their reviews to your directory page, social pages, forums, and website. Other than marketing for positive reviews, you should also be responsive to negative feedback. Great brands care about what their customers think.
STEP #3: PUBLISH AUTHORITATIVE CONTENT
Don’t blog or market content just for the sake of building links, but to build and strengthen your brand. Each unique piece of content that your customers find useful adds to your brand’s reputation. The content that you share through your social media or blog should answer the pressing questions that are on your customers’ minds. It should also be engaging and invite your audience to share their knowledge and expertise. Use author bios showcasing the writer’s expertise and social profile.
STEP #4: BECOME AN ACTIVE COMMUNITY MEMBER
Have you figured out which particular forums, blogs, social media groups, and other online places are relevant for your business and customers? Most of SMB owners simply can’t spare the time to engage with their target audience through forums and communities, but it’s crucial that you do. Participate in discussions. Answer and ask questions. Help people out and build relationships. You should short-list and monitor the most relevant online communities and stay active.
STEP #5: MARKET BRANDED VIDEOS AND EBOOKS
Video can boost conversions by 64–85% (Source). But even more importantly, a professional video can make your business look like a top brand. Depending upon the nature of your business, you can produce and publish explainer videos, how-to videos, screen-capture, event videos, and profile video through your marketing channels. Ninety percent of online shoppers find video helpful (Source). Videos can go viral and bring you overnight recognition. They also establish your authority in your locality or industry. Additionally, you can also write and publish helpful eBooks and distribute them free to boost your brand’s exposure and authority.
Brand building is not a forbidden fruit for small local businesses. In fact, Internet has made it easier than ever before to transform your small business into a local or even international brand. It takes time and consistency, but not necessarily more money. Following the above steps will put your business on the road to becoming a dynamic brand.