Marketing is the process of communicating your value to your public. Whether it’s a product or service, if what you offer has value and solves a problem, then you need to market it in a way that lets your target audience know just how important it is to their lives.
If marketing is communication, then your brand is a part of the message. According to the American Marketing Association a brand is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” And everyone can afford to be distinctive (at least on some level) — distinctively simple, distinctively effective, etc.
You have to stand out to the right people (your target audience) for the right reasons (you solve their problem in a way that resonates with them). In other words, your brand – your distinction – is the consistent message about what your product is and what it does. Your logo, your tagline, your key phrases, your service style and your customer service team all advance your brand. The more consistent and frequent the message, the more people hear you.
Who Loves Your Brand the Most?
In “How to Recognize and Reward Brand Advocacy,” Yvonne DiVita makes a distinction between your fans and brand advocates. She says, “Brand advocates do things like write a blog around your product, or tweet about you daily, and faithfully follow you on Facebook.” She says the brand advocate is more devoted than a fan and is “loyal to a fault – all without being asked or compensated.” Sounds like somebody you want on your team.
While marketing seems to come with a lot of terms that make it easy to slip into semantics, Yvonne’s key point resonates with me. She encourages us to find your brand advocates, “understand them, reward them and measure their engagement.” And she provides suggestions on how to get it done.
How Do You Advance Your Brand Online?
If you accept the role of marketing and the impact that branding can have, then you have the choice to advance your message in print as well as online. In “The 6 Biggest Social Media Mistakes Brands Make,” Janet Thaeler discusses the common errors we all make, including the impersonal initial contact. Have you seen or done this before:
- Person finds you (or you find person).
- Person wants to connect with you (or you want to connect with person).
- Person writes you some stiff email to “connect” (or you’re the one writing the “stiff” email).
- Person gets disappointed as you wonder “who is this?” and naturally deflect the interaction (or vice versa).
It’s all in the greeting.
In order to make this conversation work you need a touchstone, a point of conversational contact, a reason to talk that’s a little bigger than just you. Janet says, “The initial contact with someone you hope to work with should be personable….To get a feel for what they are interested in and care about, read their blog and Twitter stream.” Her other five tips are helpful as well. But what if you swear that social media is not the thing for you….
How Do You Advance Your Brand Offline?
Maybe your clients aren’t online and just don’t use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Maybe. In “5 Powerful Alternatives for Social Media Haters,” Ivana Taylor accepts your hatred of social media (I say that in jest) and offers you solutions.
Ivana says, “The number-one benefit marketers found from using social media is brand and company exposure.” But if you discover that your target market doesn’t use social media, then she says “your best bet is to create your own community,” starting with building a list.
Your goal is to create a community, and your email list and email campaign are among the most effective ways to connect and advance that relationship. While I believe in social media, connecting by email is also a solid foundation for business – and laying a foundation always comes first. Ivana also gives advice on how to handle your blog and tips on how to engage your developing community.
In the spirit of Spock (yes, Star Trek) and spoken directly to your business: Live long and market.