6 steps to grow your brand on a budget
When you’re first starting out in Knowledge Commerce, you likely don’t have unlimited means. You need to market your business if you’re interested in growing your brand, but you have to pinch your pennies in the process.
That’s not impossible. In fact, there are lots of ways to grow your brand on a budget. Following are the six most cost-effective ways to increase brand awareness without blowing your budget.
1. Get to know your target personas
A buyer persona is a fictionalized biography of your ideal customer. It describes that person’s goals, habits, struggles, problems, demographics, and other details so you can more effectively market to them.
Imagine how you would describe a character from your favorite television show. Where does he work? What are the main sources of conflict in his life? How does he spend his time? How much money does he make? Where does he live?
Answering all of these questions will help you get to know your ideal customer more intimately. Consequently, every piece of content or copy you write will speak directly to that person.
For instance, if your target customer is a young single mother with a full-time job and a small apartment or house, you would approach content differently than if you were targeting a middle-aged family man with kids in college and a low-stress job. You have to think like your customers if you want your products to appeal to them.
2. Develop your unique brand voice
Have you ever read Seth Godin’s blog? It’s an excellent example of a consistent voice in Knowledge Commerce. Godin’s voice (sparse, question-oriented, and inspiring) translates well into his books, his speeches, and his other endeavors. He’s great at metaphors, so he uses them liberally.
Your voice should resemble the way you’d talk to a friend or family member. Are you naturally funny? Do you tell lots of stories? Can you express complex ideas in easy-to-understand ways?
3. Build a consistent social media presence
You might have heard that social media is the new blog. We don’t quite agree with that — there are lots of benefits of blogging — but we don’t discount the benefits of social media, either.
According to a MarketingSherpa study, 58 percent of respondents reported that they follow at least one brand on social. Clearly, consumers don’t just use social media to check in with people they know.
Start by choosing the best social platforms for your Knowledge Commerce business. Do lots of your prospects hang on on Twitter? Do they congregate on Facebook? Are they sharing photos on Instagram?
Then start building up your presence on those platforms. Follow influential people in your industry, engage with people who discuss your niche, and make your profile as professional as possible.
4. Start a blog — And keep it updated
Blogging is essential for Knowledge Commerce professionals, so don’t just start a blog — keep it updated. Share news about your business, start a blog series to introduce a new online course, or share little-known tips with your audience.
5. Devote yourself to customer service
Your brand should revolve around how you treat customers. Demonstrate that you’re willing to answer questions, resolve complaints, and share your knowledge with the rest of the world. answer customer questions and resolve their complaints. Communication with customers can be time-consuming. If your company is large enough, you can make it more efficient and faster with office phone systems or a ticketing system.
6. Partner With Other Knowledge Commerce Professionals
You can do that with your Knowledge Commerce business. Partner with other professionals who have more customers or stronger brands than your own. Find ways to help those professionals.
22 strategies to build brand awareness
Having a brand-awareness strategy in place can help you grow faster and manage your reputation more easily. We’ve come up with 22 brand-awareness strategies to stimulate your imagination.
1. Host a webinar
You can use webinars to answer customers’ questions, demonstrate a particular skill or process, provide a tutorial, introduce new digital products, or generate excitement about your business. Don’t be afraid to try new formats and to engage with your audience in real time.
If you host a live webinar, consider making it available as a recording on your blog or website. That way, it will continue to drive traffic and conversions long after the event ends.
2. Start a referral program
Referral programs encourage your customers to share your business with their friends and other acquaintances. They might get a discount on your online courses, a free month of membership to your membership site, or some other benefit.
As a result, you get a new paying customer who might refer friends of their own. While referral programs might seem like they cost you money, they can actually multiply your revenue many times over.
3. Offer to guest blog
Content marketing doesn’t just work on owned media. Guest posting on other publications’ blogs can give you access to new audiences and generate backlinks for your Kajabi website.
Think of guest blogging as Internet marketing’s answer to visiting a brick-and-mortar business and handing out your own business cards. It’s even more effective, though, because you get the chance to demonstrate your credibility and your knowledge.
4. Create and share infographics
5. Get social with your customers
Social media isn’t just for linking to your latest blog posts or announcing the launch of the new online course. It’s also — or perhaps mostly — for engaging with people on a personal level.
When your customers follow you on social media, engage them in conversations. Ask them questions, thank them for their patronage, and answer their questions. When you share stories and otherwise socialize with your customers, they feel more entrenched in your business. Consequently, they will be more likely to buy your future digital products.
6. Surround yourself with influential people you admire
Additionally, if you surround yourself with influential people, consumers will begin to associate your name with tears. As we mentioned above, your brand can grow exponentially simply by association with a stronger brand.
7. Take advantage of LinkedIn publishing
You can depend on organic traffic to drive potential customers to your content, but that will take time. Speed up this process by publishing content on a platform that already has a built-in audience.
LinkedIn publishing is one prime example. Everyone in your network will see your posts and can share them with their own audiences. Plus, people you don’t know can find your content more easily and find ways to connect with you.
8. Start your own medium account or publication
Just sign up for your own account on Medium, click on your profile icon, and click “New Story.” You can then write your own article in the interface or paste an article that you’ve written elsewhere.
9. Create a podcast
10. Try PPC advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising offers a faster way to build your brand and gain exposure. You get to set your budget, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank, and you can refine your audience so your brand message only gets seen by people in your target demographic.
Keep in mind that PPC advertising works best for consumers at the bottom of the funnel. Provide a can’t-miss offer that will encourage consumers to click and, ultimately, buy your products.
11. Don’t neglect content marketing
12. Optimize your content for search engines
13. Try remarketing campaigns
Remarketing helps boost brand awareness by displaying your brand to people who have already encountered it before. It’s like seeing a television commercial, then seeing the same one (or a similar one) the next day. You’re more likely to remember the brand.
14. Test paid social advertising strategies
Test social advertising using a small budget. See if you get a decent ROI and if conversations about your business become more common. The goal is to get people used to your brand image so they remember what you do and how your business can benefit them.
15. Hold a contest
Whatever the case, encourage people to spread the word about your contest, especially on social media. You could offer double entries, for example, to people who retweet about the contest. Just make sure that the giveaway directly relates to your business.
What Is a Brand, Anyway?
A brand is a culmination of all the things you use to differentiate your company and gain the attention of a specific target market. This includes not just visual assets, like your website design, logo, brand colors, and business cards, but also your tone of voice, your company mission , values, and more.
If something contributes to how your customers perceive your organization, it’s likely a part of your brand. Let’s look at Apple, for instance. Apple sells computers and technology, just like many other brands. So, what is it about the company that causes customers to line up around the block for a chance of getting one of their latest products? It’s the brand.
Apple’s brand is all about simplicity, innovation, and modernity. The company sets itself apart with a minimalist approach to aesthetics, from the crisp white stores in the real world to the ultra-sleek Apple website.
How to Brand Your Business: 8-Step Checklist
Think about what kind of products you’ll be selling and who they’ll serve. Try to be specific with your choice of the customer. For instance, instead of targeting “dog owners,” a pet accessories company can focus on new dog owners with younger canine companions or people who train dogs for shows. Choosing a specific niche will mean you have less competition to worry about.
Identifying your audience will help you choose a brand voice, design, and even the right marketing strategy to connect with potential buyers. You can build your knowledge of your audience by:
As you begin to build your ecommerce brand, you’ll have new opportunities to learn more about your audience from analytics tools and customer surveys. Adding to your customer personas as you go will help to keep them accurate.
2. Develop Your Brand Position
Developing a certain depth of knowledge about your target audience will also give you an insight into your brand position. You can’t be a high-end luxury fashion company and a budget-friendly business at the same time. You need to decide where you’re going to enter the market.
The easiest way to do this is to build a positioning statement. This is one or two lines you can use to help establish who you are and what you’re doing. For instance, your brand position statement might be: “We’re a home accessories company selling unique hand-made products to customers in [region].”
When establishing your brand position, think about how you will differentiate your business from others. In the example above, the main differentiator is the “hand-made” aspect of the products. When you know your position and selling points, you can begin creating marketing campaigns and branded content that speaks to your target audience in the right voice.
3. Pick a Business Name
For example, if you’re a clothing business committed to designing something new for your customers, you might make up a word, like “Vision Clothing.” The key to success will be picking a memorable word with sounds that convey the right emotions or ideas to your audience.
As your brand name will also define the URL/domain of your online store, be sure to do some research to see what’s available before deciding on a name. Check out our guide to choosing a perfect name for your store or use these business name generators to get some brand name ideas.
4. Outline Your Brand’s Story
Your brand’s story is essentially the “why” behind your organization. All businesses need to have a purpose (beyond simply making money). Think about why you set up a business and how your products can positively impact people’s lives.
The company tells its story on its website about how it found a new way to serve customers by avoiding conventional channels. Engaging with customers via direct online channels allowed it to offer good quality eyewear at a fraction of the going costs.
5. Establish Your Brand’s Look
Establishing your brand’s look means deciding how you’re going to help customers identify your company at a glance. For instance, what kind of packaging are you going to be using for your products? How will your customers identify your parcel when they order items from your ecommerce store? What will they see when they navigate your website and look for products?
6. Create a Logo
Your logo is another major element in learning how to start your own brand. Alongside your name, your logo will be one of the first things your customers recognize in your brand.
An excellent logo should be meaningful and easy to understand. Apple’s iconic apple image with the bite taken out of it doesn’t require any explanation. The best way to ensure your logo has the right impact is to work with a professional designer to help capture your visual essence.
- Brand emblems: A brand emblem is an image placed in a circle or shield in most cases. A great example is the Starbucks logo. Emblems have a sophisticated and traditional look.
- Mascot logos: Mascot logos often center around a specific character, like Wendy’s logo. They can help to humanize a business with a unique face.
- Letter marks: Letter marks transform an acronym name into a visual logo. The IBM logo is an excellent example of this.
- Icon: Icon logos use a simple image as an identifier, like the Twitter bird. They’re great for bringing a memorable visual to your brand image.
- Wordmarks: Wordmarks use a stylistic font to transform your brand name into your logo. These logos are excellent for making your name more memorable.
- Combination marks: Combination logos bring the name of the company and an image together, like the Taco Bell logo, for instance.
In an effort to be thorough and accurate, companies often create internal communications materials that are self-important or just plain boring. This can be avoided with a little humor or style. When Volkswagen relaunched its brand with the “Drivers wanted” advertising campaign, the company also created a film to explain the brand vision to staff and dealers. Forgoing the usual speeches and beauty shots of cars, the film took the form of a whimsical journey of two young people setting out on a Saturday morning to do some errands, intercut with slogans that captured the new spirit of the brand. This device allowed the makers to show an idealized brand user, which was to become a model for the new target (young, energetic people who enjoy driving). The film was a phenomenal success, communicating the spirit of the brand in a way that no PowerPoint presentation could—and it became the basis for the first commercials in the television campaign.
When it comes to delivering the message, it’s tempting to send out a memo, a video, or a package of colorful materials and consider it done, but there’s no substitute for personal contact from the organization’s highest levels. Indeed, failure to communicate at a personal level can undermine the most sophisticated and expensive rebranding campaign. The failure of the merger of Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank in 2000 can be attributed in part to the failure of management to persuade Deutsche’s investment bankers of the vision for how the newly merged company would compete. Many key employees left, and the threat of a mass walkout forced Deutsche to abandon the deal after considerable damage to the share price of both companies.
It’s worth noting that research conducted early on can pay off when it comes to implementation. If you’ve identified a subculture of resistance, for example, you can give extra attention to the resisters when you roll out the brand. Or if you’ve learned who the most influential employees are—the ones who shape the attitudes of those around them—then you can target those employees directly, and, if you get them on board, they can help get the word out.
The final stage of a branding campaign is feedback and participation from the target audience. For large, geographically diverse organizations, the company intranet can be a superb facilitator of communication and interaction. Indeed, we’ve found that in companies that do not use intranets for candid dialogue, employees inevitably turn to external Web sites like the Vault to complain about the company. Accenture understood that risk when it rebranded in January 2001. It created an interactive Web site to allow people to ask questions and view the replies to questions others had posted. Joe Forehand, Accenture’s CEO, also includes a feedback button on every internal message he sends to employees and personally responds to every question or suggestion.
As yet, however, the potential of this medium is unfulfilled. There is no reason, for example, why the chairman can’t Webcast occasional “fireside chats,” a possibility undreamed of by previous generations of managers. But don’t let the Web become a substitute for face time or walking the corridors: Fireside chats can be broadcast to different company locations so that everyone can take part at once, but the leader shouldn’t hole up in his or her office to deliver the message.
Fireside chats can become part of an effort to weave the branding into the fabric of the organization. Since it’s not feasible to conduct a series of major campaigns—it’s costly and employees begin to tune them out—the company should make every effort to incorporate the branding into everyday experiences, so that employees “live” the brand at all times. Such employee touchpoints mirror the consumer touchpoints that have become familiar in consumer marketing, where every point of interaction with the consumer is an opportunity to reinforce the brand. (Some of the best examples of consumer touchpoints are retail outlets like Niketown or UPS’s vans and uniforms, which are deliberately styled after the military to express discipline and punctuality.)
The most obvious place to begin is the company’s physical space. When Condé Nast asked the architect Frank Gehry to design a cafeteria for the offices (home of Vogue and Vanity Fair, among others), he used curved glass panels to reflect the see-and-be-seen culture of the fashion magazine world. And Nike celebrates its heritage and devotion to athletes by naming key landmarks on the company campus after sports legends: Bowerman Drive leads to the campus, where you’ll find the Joe Paterno Child Development Center and the Bo Jackson Fitness Center.
Companies can also reinforce the brand very effectively through company policy. Quality Bicycle Products, which employs 195 people in the suburbs of Minneapolis, includes as part of its vision statement a commitment to protecting the environment. To bring the vision alive for the people who work there, the company offers a financial reward: Employees who live within ten miles of the company are paid $ 2 a day to bicycle, carpool, or take a bus to work. The money is paid in credits toward the company’s products. Recruiting and hiring policies are other areas that can serve as touchpoints. Hollywood Video, which regards its passion for movies as its differentiation from the mammoth Blockbuster chain, requires that employees show knowledge of and enthusiasm for movies. Southwest Airlines is known for rigorously assessing candidates’ personalities during interviews, rating all potential hires—from pilots to mechanics—on a scale of one to five on seven traits corresponding to the brand’s core values. While other companies might consider only more traditional values like honesty or responsibility, Southwest preserves its unique brand personality by hiring only people who are a perfect fit.