By Sue Painter
Start-up business owners get the rush from so many vendors that it’s very easy to miss-step, heading down a garden path that won’t get you and your new brand growing. Speed in getting your brand to bloom is critical. Why? Speed has a positive effect on your cash flow, and most start-ups need that early on. Here’s how you pick the right path and take sure-footed actions for your brand.
1. Show your passion. People are hooked by gut reaction far more than by logic and factual information. Broadcasting what your business does and who it works with is expected. Prospects take in that data and keep it (hopefully) for future use. But sharing why you do what you do can connect to people’s emotions – and that’s what they have a gut response to. Make sure that your brand has an emotional punch.
It’s easy to demonstrate the difference. If I say “I’m a season serial entrepreneur who devises cost-effective marketing strategies for small business owners” you understand that factual information, but likely there’s no visceral reaction. When I add “if I can help even one person totally believe that he can create a successful business and never again depend on a salary that can disappear in an instant, because I know that our society is stronger and more resilient when we are self-responsible and believe in ourselves ” you are far more likely to remember me. The why statement elicits an emotional response. Even if the emotion is negative, your passion and your brand will be remembered.
Showing passion is far more important to creating brand equity than getting too caught up in other parts of brand development. Michael Port commented on this very thing in a recent blog post “Your Logo Doesn’t Matter” where Port says, “When you’re a service professional like an attorney, financial planner, chiropractor, consultant, or coach, your logo doesn’t mean all that much.” He goes on to say “pick one and get on with getting clients.” Michael Port understands that the getting of clients means sharing your why – your passion. It’s one key tool in building your brand.
2. Launch with lightning speed. The marketplace moves so quickly that a prolonged roll out of your brand can mean you don’t get traction quickly enough and aren’t engaging in enough marketing platforms to be memorable. Spread the seeds everywhere and see where your return is the best. I often see start-ups set up a “one at a time” launch strategy. First quarter focus is on website and blogging. Second quarter is social media strategies. Third quarter we’ll do media buying. To gain brand equity quickly, create a launch that includes all your platforms from the start and, more importantly, make sure they are integrated and play off each other from day one. You’ll get far more bang for the buck. To prospects you’ll seem to be everywhere all at once. That creates buzz, and buzz builds brand.
Here’s a quick example. Create a Facebook business page. Make sure you use your business page to promote a special for checking in on Foursquare. On your website, be sure to include your Facebook link. Blog about your Foursquare special, and at the bottom of your blog post let people share it to their Facebook page. Find a customer who is using the Foursquare special, video them at your business, and share that on YouTube with links back to your website.
3. Create constant content. Content marketing builds brands. Sharing content about your business helps build that all-important know/like/trust factor, especially for companies that market on the web (and who doesn’t market on the web anymore?). Here’s just a few things a content marketing strategy will do for you:
- Build your expert status
- Offer social proof (create content about customers and results)
- Educate prospects about what you offer and how you offer it
- Keep existing customers coming back to your platforms for more.
Evaluate each piece of content against a predetermined yardstick.
- Does the piece build knowledge of your business, likeability, or trust? (It may do more than one.)
- Does the piece include appropriate key word terms for your business?
- Have we created this content in formats friendly to blogging, social media, micro-blogging, and video?
Take action: Evaluate your current brand strategies again these three recommendations, and make additions and changes where your plan falls short. You can also build a checklist from the bullet points. You will be able to weed out what isn’t going to build your brand quickly, and you’ll be rewarded with a blooming brand and greener cash flow.