Brand is a buzz word that simply means, is your business recognizable? For you as a small business owner, it means: knowing your goals, articulating your value, and communicating on a regular basis with old and new customers.
1. Figure out your mission
Why are you starting a business? What do you want to achieve? And what do you want your customers to achieve?
When you can answer these questions, add this information into your online presence. Include your mission on your website. Add a condensed version to your Instagram bio, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profile.
Don’t lose sight of this as you grow.
2. Do your research
Who are you customers? What are their demographics (age, location, gender)? Where can you reach them? What are they interested to do and know? Who is your competition? How do they (an individual or company) portray themselves?
Once you know your first target audience, you can create a beginning marketing plan. A small amount of preliminary knowledge can go a long way.
3. Be yourself
While still maintaining an err of professionalism, don’t omit your personality completely from your brand. If you can’t be yourself, you’ll be working uphill every step of the way.
Think of yourself as a customer for another service, what are personality traits you enjoy working with? Take note of what resonates with you.
4. Consistency and repeatability
Don’t think about marketing as needing to reinvent the wheel every week. Do a few things a week, every week. This will make your process easier every time and make more sense as results of your efforts come through.
The effect of branding and marketing takes time to sink in. It could be months before your blog posts or email newsletters become something that people recognize and look forward to, like any habit.
5. Take note of your competition
Competition is healthy. Look at the profiles and blogs of your peers and industry leaders, sign up for their newsletters — take note of what inspires you and what you don’t like.
Competition opens a lot of doors. Be nice to others in your industry, join in on conversations. You may get referrals through these people one day.
6. Tell the same story in person
While focusing on your online brand and persona is important, make sure that you bring the same personality into your in person interactions. There should be no disconnect between the two.
7. Engage with others
In a perfect world, new customers would simply find you without having to do any work. But, that’s not a realistic mentality. As you build your business, make time for joining conversations, adding in respectful opinions or interesting information, and offering help or knowledge. This is how you will build an online following throughout your entire career.
8. Review your work every 14 days
How will you know if your work is paying off? Get in the habit of setting aside an hour of your day every 2 weeks to view your results. Are you increasing followers? Have you engaged in a conversation with more people than the weeks previously? Are more people liking your posts? Have you had more contact requests?
Paying attention to how your efforts are working for you is the only way you will know how to adjust your marketing plans later.
9. Pick a pronoun and verb tense
As you begin writing, set a few rules for yourself. Are you using the first person or third person to describe you and your services? Are you referring to customers as “You” or “They”? Are you talking about your services in the present tense or future tense? Are you using perfect verb tenses?
It might seem slight, but it makes a difference to choose and stick with it.
Above all, the benefit of branding benefits you and your business first. It feels good to be organized. And, it’s okay if it feels like you’re simply making it all up — that’s exactly right, you are making your own choices and you are the only one to answer to it. Welcome to owning a business.
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