MARKETING / BRANDING / SOCIAL MEDIA
Branding – Social media – Social media Policy
Branding: What is a brand, the concept, why do you want it?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.
Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
- Delivers the message clearly
- Confirms your credibility
- Connects your target prospects emotionally
- Motivates the buyer
- Concretes User Loyalty
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.
Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.
A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It's a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without.
"Branding" is the often subliminal process by which a business employs marketing strategies to get people to easily remember their products and services over a competitors' ... essentially, its applied psychology.
Use Branding to Increase Your Market Share
Branding has evolved over the years and has now become a common term used in marketing. Branding is essentially burning your company or web site name or slogan into the minds of potential customers.
What is Branding and Why Do You Want It?
The way you get your brand across is projecting your personality - who you ARE - in every aspect of your business. What your web page looks like, the wording, the inclusion of quotes or not, graphics, the way you handle your customers, how well you deliver products, promises and services. You products and your style.
Building your Brand:
What do you think your customers associate with you company? What type of mental image do they have of you when they hear your company name?
If you're not sure - or possibly you currently have a not so good company image - it time to have a re-think in the way your company presents itself. It's not surprising that industry leaders in every category from soft drinks to toilet rolls work tirelessly to create some of the world's most recognized brands.
Don't worry though, it won't cost you millions or take years to get you back on track. By using our four part guide you can create (or re-create) that winning brand image.
Differentiate your brand.
Branding is all about sending a strong and consistent message. With a strong brand, you won't have to sell for as long or as hard. Customers will know what you stand for before you give your pitch or proposal.
You want to be easily identifiable at every customer touch point, from word of mouth to final sale. Whether it’s by visiting your web site or seeing a print add, ensure that every bit and byte of packaging, presentations, communications, and marketing peaks with your brand-consistent look and feel.
If your business is in a highly competitive area, it is critical to keep fine-tuning your brand image, this is what will make you stand out from your competitors.
The only way to see if you are standing out from the crowd is by performing a competitive analysis. If you have not performed one for a while, make time to take this important step in re-aligning your brand.
- Clip all your competitors' ads
- Review their PR coverage
- Research them online
- and buy their products and services
From this you can decide what makes your product or service different. It's this point of differentiation that allows you to create an image that sticks in customers' minds.
Now that you have worked out what separates you from your competitors, it is time to redefine your brand message so that your best prospects can relate to what your company stands for. Ask yourself, how well do you know and understand your customers? Create an accurate portrait of your target prospects. Research them and this will help you focus your branding efforts. From doing this, it will help you reach the audience that will be most receptive to the unique qualities of your products and services.
Do not try and be all things to all people. This will only cause you to end up with a diluted and weak brand. Concentrate more on what your unique customers want, need and value the most. This will result in strong branding and sales.
If you are unsure what your customer’s value the most from your products and services, set-up a message board on your web site or a printed satisfaction survey to your mailing list, these will help you monitor customers' perceptions of your brand and uncover any unmet needs.
Become a market leader.
To become a true leader in your market niche, focus on improving your customers' experiences and interactions with your company. Honor what your brand symbolizes by continuing to deliver to your high value customers. Always make sure you keep your promises and live up to your marketing claims. Perform like a leader by keeping your promises - nothing can ruin your branding efforts than failing to do what you say.
In today’s world, before making many purchases, customers will:
- Look at reviews
- Read in-depth information
- And pay attention to word of mouth
This is known as "ownership experience" and customers do this in order to feel confident that the purchase and post-purchase experience will live up to expectations raised by brand marketing.
Integrate your messages.
How consistent is your brand's message communicated? Do the messages of your various marketing programs conflict? The same branding should appear uniform on your entire advertising range, marketing channels and promotional options, not just stationary or sales brochures. That includes:
- press releases
- e-mail signatures
- trade show displays and booths
- store or office signage
- banners and billboards
- print ads
- posters and marketing for sponsored or charity events
- In other words everything.
Audit all your company’s current marketing communications, paying particular attention to sales tools - as over time, these tend to become mismatched and disconnected from other marketing efforts. This will ensure that your branding tune-up is successful, and once your sales and marketing tools are re-aligned, will create a stronger brand image.
B2B Marketing: Reasons to adopt social Media marketing:
Why is there such effectiveness in social media?
Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs.
At a minimum B2B businesses should at least be involved in communities and social network where there customers already are. Explore the opportunity to reach out to key influencers in your target market and optimize your content and social media applications for syndication.
I know that stepping out into social media can feel somewhat daunting for more traditional marketing team, but it doesn't have to be difficult to be successful. Chose a few initiatives that will work well for your company and gain you incremental success until you are more comfortable in really delving into the social media and applications.
Social media enables you to:
- Share your expertise and knowledge
- Tap into the wisdom of your consumers
- Enables customers helping customers
- Engages prospects through customer testimonials
- Manage your reputation
- Offer tips and advise
- Brand yourself as an expert and information resource
Monitor the reputation of your brand:
Don't be mistaken, just because you are a business and you are not using social media, don't think that your brand can't be hurt by it if you are not paying attention. The reality is, whether or not you are participating in social media - you are playing. Your brand in some way or another is being represented, either by you as a company, by your customers or by your employees.
Monitoring major social media platforms and solving issues that reflect poorly on your brand is one of the most important parts of any company's social media effort. As a business, the most important thing to remember is that even if you are not using social media, you need to be aware of what’s going on in the social media realm when it comes to your brand. It doesn’t pay to turn a blind eye and, by doing so, it can, ultimately, be a detriment to your success.
We've all heard of brand monitoring and many of us, especially small to medium sized businesses, in the past haven't seen the need. We'd just treat customers well and give them what they need and they'd tell their friends and family. Now that we have the internet and social media, it’s even more important to monitor our reputations, especially as business owners. I always remind the clients with whom I consult that it’s not just seven people one person will tell about your services, now it’s in the millions. This is especially true with the social media tools that are available and widely used, such as Face book, Twitter and YouTube.
I don’t care if you don’t want to use social mediums to market your service or products, it’s more vital than ever to at least have an awareness of what’s being said within the social media realm about you, your brand, your products and your services. Sticking your head in the sand will only hurt you not help you.
How Can You Monitor and Protect the Reputation of Your Brand?
- Step 1: Understand how the social media platforms work. Learn how to use Face book, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace. Become familiar with their platforms. Take a few moments and read the terms of services and watch and learn how people are using these social media outlets.
- Step 2. Don’t assume that social media doesn’t affect you. When it comes to social mediums, there are not just thousands of users, there are millions. These users consist of your customers who are bloggers, influencers, columnists and public figures. These people are talking about companies. Are they talking about yours? You need to know this and you need to know whether the chatter is negative or positive.
- Step 3: Actively Protect Your Brand. There are many steps that you can use to do this. Register your brand names with the various social media platforms, this way you avoid the chance of them being hijacked by someone else.
- Step 4: Create a social media policy for your company. This means creating a plan that informs and educates employees on the company policy and guidelines of using social media. This policy should inform them as to what they should and should not discuss when it comes to the company. And other appropriate practices and procedures to follow, especially in the event of a crisis.
- Step 5: Always be aware. There is no excuse not to know what is being said. It’s important to always have your finger on the pulse of what is being said, whether it be positive or negative. You always want to know when someone is talking about you and your brand – ignorance is no excuse. Monitor the social media platforms.
- Step 6: Embrace the negative when necessary. Social media is a conversation and a dialogue, so be willing to embrace the negative and dialogue in public regarding the situation. This gives you credibility with other consumers.
- Decide where your company stands with respect to their desired relationship with social media. You also need to decide where you stand relative to monitoring employee use of social media, too. You need to determine how far your company wants to go in utilizing social media for brand recognition, engaging your customers and employees in conversation, and for driving sales.
Will you choose only to communicate in reaction to what someone else says? Will you be proactive in engaging the community (consumers and bloggers)? Without an overall way of thinking about social media, it can be very hard to create a policy.
- Determine what constitutes social media. Each organization needs to define for their own use what constitutes social media. “While a blog and LinkedIn may easily be categorized as social media – what about online video? What about Twitter? What really constitutes social media? You must have your own (preferably) written definition. This is especially true because new websites and tools emerge all the time. One definition of social media is any website or medium (including video) that allows for communication in the open.”
- As with any offline or online content written, used, received, developed, or saved in company-owned electronics provided to employees, clarify who owns what. There is no question, as an example, about a personal blog, written by an employee, on his time. If he leaves your employ, the blog and the content belong to him. But, the content of his company-owned laptop and cell phone, and the content he wrote for the company website, probably belong, by written policy, to the company.
In social media, does your company have a Twitter account or a Face book Fan page, as examples? The company needs to assure that the ownership of these social media accounts belongs to the company, not the employee whose current job assignment includes posting to and monitoring these accounts. Your policy must cover who owns what in the social media sphere.
- Keep confidential and proprietary information private. Respect the privacy rights of other employees and your customers. Social media policies address the issue of keeping proprietary and personal information confidential. Due to the casual nature of these sites, it is easier to give away key information without realizing it. Even private messages aren’t always secure. Each site has its own fallibilities. It’s best that employees never share any confidential or proprietary information using social media – either publicly or privately.