Branding is a very conceptual term. It can be hard to get your head around if you’re new to it.
It holds almost mystical power.
My definition of branding is
“To emotionally connect, to prospects and customers, through meaningful storytelling.”
Branding helps shape customer’s BELIEFS.
It helps shape how customers think about you. The meaning your brand holds for them. What they think you stand for. What they think your values are.
It determines if they feel they know like and trust you and whether they want to support you, by buying from you.
Think about why you buy the brands you buy.
What car do you drive?
What footwear do you wear?
What make of TV do you watch?
What coffee do you drink?
What washing powder do you wash your clothes with?
Where do you shop for groceries?
Which pub, cinema, restaurant do you frequent?
What search engine do you use?
Where do you spend most of your social media time?
What make of lipstick, if any, do you buy?
So you see, which brand you use is heavily influenced by the story the brand uses to emotionally connect with you. And the story you subsequently carry around with you.
If a brand doesn’t have a story to share, then it’s a commodity and whether you buy it, or from it, comes down to price, convenience, impulse, or just pure luck and circumstance.
Prospects and customers probably won’t give your brand a second thought. They probably won’t remember you very well when you’re not around.
They may enjoy some aspect of your value proposition. Your great service, your pleasant-natured sales assistant, your great value for money, a great solution to their problem. They may remember your warm smile, your witty banter, they may have liked your comfortable chairs, they may appreciate your attention to detail, or whatever you do to make them feel good and valued.
But what branding does is pull everything together into a coherent story, which makes remembering and identifying your brand easier, particularly when they are ready to buy again rather than going somewhere else.
Branding requires you to provide value through your value proposition. You are required to have a product or service that addresses your customer’s needs. Without this, no amount of branding is going to help you over the long term.
You must show up regularly through advertising or content creation.
Try to add value between sales. By building the perception of expertise, through things like tutorials and tricks and tips. Try to build a relationship with prospects and customers alike, so they get to know like and trust you.
Congruency is vital. Everything you do should support the story you want to communicate.
Consider how you look, via your website, social media channels, advertisements, signage, brochures, mail shots, vehicles, and in-store.
Also, what you do is vitally important. The extra value you add through your solution. Your customer service, even how you market your brand matters. All should be driven by beliefs and values that are important to your customer base.
And all this needs to fit together, to make sense, and support the story you’re telling.
Your brand should be distinctive, so that you’re noticeable, and clearly identifiable from the competition.
Make a good first “impression”. You only get one chance, so make it count.
Manage a “good Reputation”. Trust takes time to build up and seconds to destroy.
Be a good tribe leader, by taking a stand. Make sure you stand for something, don’t cop out by sitting on the fence. Focus on your customers and only them. It’s okay to say “we’re not for you” to everyone else.
Ultimately help your customers tell their story by allowing them to piggy-back on your story. Help them identify with your brand, bring it into their sense of self.
Branding is about creating a little bit of magic through story. It’s about inspiring them to imagine the possibilities of fulfilling their potential through your brand.
Branding is about owning a word in the mind of the customer.
Having a simple to understand and remember position, separate and distinct from all other competition.
It’s not about saying something short, dumbing down or using sound bites. It’s about prioritising the core message which should be both simple and profound. Proverbs are the ideal in doing this, like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; a one sentence statement so profound that you could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.
You can build on top of schemas to leverage existing knowledge, like describing Speed as Die Hard on a bus, or being the test crash dummy of online marketing, as with Pat Flynn.
A good core message helps customers understand and remember your brand, while also helping employees decision making. As with Southwest Airlines’s core message being THE low fair airline, customers know what southwest are all about, while employees know what intent should drive their decision-making when it comes to a choice of say, putting extra filling in the sandwiches or not.
Commander intent is used in much the same way by the Army, a simple, plainly-worded statement that summarises every military order, to ensure everyone understands the underlying tactic to be accomplished.
Journalists would describe it as making sure you’re not burying the lead, but instead putting it front and centre of communication, as if you might be cut off at any time.
Doing this prevents decision paralysis caused by overload, and uncertainty. It’s harder to remember 3 things than it is one. One clear message is easier to communicate, to get across and strengthen.
Use this core message as the centerpiece of your marketing, but branding is also about driving it into the customer experience at every touch point. This means making it part of your value promise and then delivering it, consistently over and over. If you don’t deliver on your promise, your message will be undermined and diluted.
Your Core message doesn’t have to have all the information built it. Treat it like breadcrumbs. The low cost airline, doesn’t advocate saving money on airline maintenance and is not as accurate as “improving shareholder value” but is more usable and memorable, and guides employee decisions by knowing the commanders intent when making individual decisions.
You’ve probably heard the term “content is king” countless times, and it’s ever more important in today’s internet-centric business environment.
The aim of content creation should be to allow your business to stand out from competitors, and help prospective customers get to know, like and trust you, so that they will, in time, consider doing business with you.
In other words content should be used to build your brand!
If you try to transact your prospects every time they interact with your brand, you will find you have to compete with all your competitors doing the same thing, and that can get expensive in terms of advertising costs.
Using advertising to first grab attention, then trying to convert prospects via a landing page or over the telephone is a big ask, and prospective customers are very guarded against slick sales messages. They will only consider you if you make the right first impression and are able to build trust quickly.
Consider an alternative solution, which is a longer term strategy but can prepare the ground by building trust and goodwill with people that are not quite ready to buy just yet, but who might be in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. This is called content creation.
When it comes to creating content you should be looking to give visitors something for nothing, to provide value to them without asking for something in return. You should try to help your prospective customers get to know more about your brand, to get to like how you do business and allow them to build up trust in you.
So, create content that prospects want from the page they arrive at. Make sure your adverts or links from adverts or social media posts are clear, and informative and accurately reflect what you’ve promised them. Don’t promise something that you fail to follow through on, just to get them onto your website. That is the surest way to ruin your reputation and destroy trust.
Once they are on your page you need to understand who the prospective customer is, what is their desire? What solution are they seeking? What possible questions are they asking and wanting answered?
To provide value for them, you need to answer these questions effectively, thoroughly and as uniquely as possible. Don’t just regurgitate the same old information, that everyone else is doing. Instead do it in your own voice.
Some content ideas…
1. To build awareness on social media use ENGAGEMENT POSTS – any format, to get comments or a reaction (clicks) – this pushes up in news feed and can include questions, funny memes, photos with a question
2. To grow authority – Encourage testimonials, case studies, speaking engagements, you in action doing what you’re trying to sell – honoured rather than boastful
3. To get clients – leads (email list sign up or phone) and clients attraction. Questions, graphics, videos, gifs
To provide value;
Be relevant – You must have content that interests your prospective customer, otherwise why would they be interested in what you have to say.
Be contextual – formatted for each channel specifically. Try to reformat your content to suit where you want to be found. Vertical video works better on Facebook than it does on Youtube.
Be transparent – builds trust,
Be authentic – be true to yourself,
Inspire interaction – build community,
Be current – so that you resonate with your audience today,
Aim for connection – It’s better to be narrow and deep than wide and shallow- 100 loyal fans better than 10,000 none engaged followers.
Content should be made up of:
There are only 3 types of content when you boil it down.
Escapism and entertainment
Escapism – being removed from our mundane real life situation for a short time, to forget.
interesting (aligned with audiences interests),
create a knowledge gap and fills it,
highlights a threat,
challenge plot, creative plot, connection plot.
Information and utility
Providing information that will help prospects in some way to improve their understanding, increase their knowledge or make life easier or better in some way.
Core information your customers need to know about your products and company before they’ll include you in their consideration set.
How – to’s,
Customer ratings and review.
Ancillary content – This is the supporting and additional content. Think of ancillary content like the bonus tracks on a DVD.
Take prospects behind-the-scenes,
Let prospects get personal with your employees,
Encourage customers to share photographs using your product.
Re-imagined content – Plan different versions of your content to ensure it’s contextually relevant to each specific platform. Again, this is best planned in advance to maximize resources and include it in your content creation contracts.
Provide Commentary – This is the related content and comments that your employees, customers and fans create in coordination or as a result of your core content.
Commentary works best when your audience creates it out their desire to share with their circle of friends and social connections such as Facebook and Instagram posts.
Internal content curation – This is where you maximize the value of your own previously published content by using it in the creation of new content and the re-promotion of old content, giving it new life. It has one or more of the following attributes.
Make content contextually relevance,
Extend content into a new format.
Some additional ideas..
Target a new audience for old content,
Provide access to a location, a person, an institution,
Curation of other peoples content,
Chart your own progress in some relevant endeavor,
Your journey to build your business – moving your business online,
Your progress in a new job,
Learning a new skill,
Put sales techniques into practice,
Sell something different every day testing your sales skills.
Current niche trends,
Software trends if relevant,
Explore the topic more freely and in-depth,
Cover local issues,
Real estate – local amenities, history of area – reasons why it’s good living here,
Local relevant events.
Connect people and community, to share ideas and stories.
Coming up with content ideas
Here are the 33 prompts that you can use to write just about ANYTHING… feel free to copy and paste them into notepad so you can use them every day when you sit down to write content.
Ask a question,
Reference current events,
Create your own terms,
Reveal news (new/introducing),
Tell the reader to do something,
Make a comparison,
Promise useful information,
Tell a (quick) story,
Make a recommendation,
Use a testimonial,
Promise to reveal a secret,
Target section of your audience,
Scarcity of savings/value,
Deliver good news,
Challenge the reader,
Highlight your guarantee,
State the price (as benefit),
Set up (seemingly),
Address reader objection/concern,
“As crazy as it sounds”,
Take them to the promised land,
Reason why headline,
Stress cost saving and value,
List / answer questions,
State / deliver on reader’s goals,
Highlight cost of mistakes.
Use this website for content ideas http://answerthepublic.com/ enter a keyword and it will suggest content ideas
Types of content
Lists of lists,
Did you know,
Covering fast changing situations,
From around the web,
Summing up events,
Q&A for interviews,
High level breakdown,
“Day in the life of” post,
Videos – screencasts, talking heads, illustrations, graphics, film roll,
User Generated Content,
Meme – Meme Generator and Quick Meme,
Social equity – introductions, access to contacts (interview, insight) – Leverage status (fame), membership (masons), contacts, relationships.
Guides – A guide is a detailed and fairly long piece of content. Think of it as an epic blog post. It goes beyond the length, style, and approach of an ordinary blog post.
Book reviews – A book review is a simple discussion of a book plus your take on it. You recommend good ones, critique not-so-good ones, and share the value that you glean from them. Book reviews are great because they help to position you as a thought leader.
Opinion post (rant) – This style of post is substantially different from your typical blog post, mostly due to its tone. You may be used to publishing a careful and researched discussion of a topic. The rant or opinion, by contrast, may be stronger and more expressive. The more vociferous your position, the more it’s going to get read and shared.
Product reviews – Like the book review, a product review can help establish authority and leadership in your industry. Every industry has its unique array of products, software, and services. When you engage key developers, manufacturers, or service providers, you gain recognition and respect. All you need to do is share your experience with the product and provide your recommendation.
How to.. The how-to is one of the most popular types of content, especially in my niche. On my blog, I write a lot of how-to guides. How-to articles have awesome long tail search potential due to these popular long tail query introductions: “How to…” and “How do I…?”
Lists – Lists have endless appeal. We’re wired to love them. Chance are you’re going to see or read an article today that involves some sort of a list — “5 Security Breaches You Need to Know about,” “17 Ways to Rank Higher in Google in One Month.” Hey, you’re already reading an article with the title “15 Types.”
Link pages – link page is simply a post that provides links to great resources around the web. The great thing about link posts is that they spread link love to other sites, provide your own site with authoritative SEO signals, and assert your thought leadership within your field.
Ebook – An ebook is long content packaged in a different format, usually as a PDF. Ebooks are often a downloadable product, available for free in exchange for joining a mailing list. Producing an ebook helps to strengthen your authority within a field, and it makes for a powerful method of sharing your knowledge with others.
Case study – A case study explains what your product or service is and how it helped a client. The case study basically says, “here’s what we do, how we do it, and the results we get.”
Podcast – Podcasts had their phase of popularity, and they’re still a great form of content. Plus, they’re not hard to create. Many people listen to podcasts during their commute or exercise. You have a chance to spread your message farther and better using this format than a lot of other formats.
Interview – Every field has its leaders. When you’re able to interview a leader, you can garner a lot of respect from others in the field, not to mention huge amounts of traffic. Interviews are unique. No one else has this information — only you.
Research and original data – Most of us work in data-intensive fields, where numbers and metrics hold a lot of value. Sharing your findings with others is a powerful way to drive traffic, build trust, and establish your authority. When you do the research, which is hard work, people respect that. What’s more, people share it.
Digesting info and regurgitating/repackaging and presenting it to your audience in a new package,
Content curation and Content aggregation, where you filter good quality content for your readers, this adds value for them and saves them having to troll through low quality content,
If you don’t have anything to say, DOCUMENT! – easier than having to create new content,
If you’re not an expert in your niche you can become a well informed commentator (share stories from niche – curate content made by others and add your own commentary).
Look after your readers
Always reply to comments or messages,
Use names and tag people,
Share things – if you come across something you like share it,
Be an investigator – Google Alerts – gives you news about a chosen keyword(s),
Check out the results, go to a page and leave a comment as a nice gesture,
Make navigation around the site easy,
Decrease page load times,
Get rid of annoyances on site such as pop-ups and distracting ads,
Surprise audience – give something for free,
Include transcript with podcasts or video,
Use high quality audio and video,
Skip the sales pitch – the best sales pitch is no sales pitch at all,
Reply with a video,
Invite participation – reader challenge, ask for opinion, calls to action – get people involved,
Get personal – infuse your personality and life to get deeper connection,
Provide unique content such as provide case studios, experiments, income reports etc
Proof read content before you post it,
Remember who you are and who your serving,
Always over deliver,
Write post which is potential vehicle for income. Good quality, unique, have affiliate links in sidebar so on every post and in text,
Create a visual representation of the information you are talking about to help you and your audience remember it,
Transformation – what’s the transformation you want your audience to go through. Another way of putting it is what’s the purpose of your article. What’s the goal,
Start with in this episode we are going to talk about x. by the end of this you will be able to Y using your Z,
Tell them what you’re going to tell them, Tell them, Tell them what you told them,
Reverse engineer the transformation. Work backwards. What supporting content do you need to include to achieve the transformation,
Write down all possible objections and include a reply to each of these in the supporting content,
Tell stories (more memorable) or Include case studies or Research and data. Always include the professors full name and qualifications include accurate data to the penny,
Subdivide the article so that it is easier to understand and follow. Subdivisions could be steps, tips,
Make the beginning and end memorable,
Ending should have a call to action, get audience involved, show how what you have talked about actually works, surprise audience in some way (must be relevant),
Beginning should have a video or high impact beginning,
Aim for Consistency,
Talk like a human being,
You shouldn’t be vanilla – take a point of view,
Don’t talk at your audience, talk with them. connection, interaction.
So as you can see there is a lot to consider with regards to your content. The best advice I can give is get stuff out there and see what works best for your audience.
Successful branding is about controlling the perception of your business/ brand in the mind of prospects and customers alike. It’s made up of …
The impression people have of your business is going to heavily influence whether they are going to consider buying from you or not.
Being perceived as credible, likable and trustworthy, is particularly important with regards to people who have had little or no previous experience of your business/ brand.
Perception is a dance between impression and reputation. As people get to know more about your brand/ business, reputation becomes more influential, but even then, people’s impressions can still be altered through ongoing interactions. In the same way you can go off people, you can certainly go off brands and businesses depending on new information. There is no such things unconditional love, with regards to branding. However people tend to be more forgiving of bad experiences, or bad publicity if they have previously built up positive history with you.
Your reputation is about what people say about you when you’re not there.
Always be looking to strengthen your reputation through all customer touch points for new and returning prospects, and customers. Reputation is spread through word of mouth and technology that performs in the same way as word of mouth. If you have a bad reputation, you need to take a serious look at what is going wrong, having a strong brand with a bad reputation is the worst place possible to be.
Remember this point; If you’re not strengthening your brand, you’re weakening it, there is no middle ground here, so ensure you’re strengthening it at every opportunity.
Throughout the customer journey, there are a number of touch points they are exposed to your business/ brand in some way. You should look very carefully at each of these points and consider how they impact your reputation, and influence impressions of your business/ brand.
Some possible touch points might include..
Social media channels
What are you posting about?
What value are you adding to prospects and customers?
Are you constantly trying to sell or are you adding value in other ways? Consider Gary Vaynerchuk’s jab, jab, jab, right hook principle, otherwise known as build brand, build brand, build brand, push offer.
Are you’re communications giving the impression you want them to give, through the imagery, copy and other media?
Are they driving your brand promise home?
Search engine listings & website
If your customers are searching on search engines for the solutions that you provide, you must make sure you can be found there, either through SEO, or PPC.
What pages are you being found through?
Are people finding your page, but not clicking on your link? If not clicking on your link, why not? Are you not giving them a reason to click?
Are you communicating the right messages on those pages, once they click through?
Are these pages helping to build your brand, through the copy, images and other media?
Are you demonstrating enough social proof through reviews and testimonials, case studies and the likes.
Premises and signage
Is your premises and signage giving the right impression of your business/ brand?
Is it all ON BRAND?
Your people and value delivery
Your people include your Customer service reps, Receptionists, Employees, Leaders, and sales people. Your brand promise is not just something you just say, it’s something you live from and in. All beliefs and values, and the subsequent behaviours that come from them, should be aligned to drive you brand promise forward. Branding starts within your business and is then communicated out through what and how you do the things you do to bring value to the market.
At the end of it all, you are trying to control the OPINIONS of your prospects and customers, and indeed, everyone else that comes across your business/ brand.
They have to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST your business/ brand.
To KNOW you
They can only know you, if they see you, so been visible. Share your story with them, let them see you in action with behind the scenes content or a 247 like backstory. Be as personable as possible, don’t hide behind a corporation persona, because people prefer to buy from people.
To LIKE you
Think about the people you like and why; generally people are attracted to people who are like them. People who they feel they are on the same side as, and have things in common with. We learn this through interaction, and sharing, so your business/ brand needs to do the same kinds of things, by sharing and caring.
To TRUST you
To build trust, you must be AUTHENTIC, TRANSPARENT, CONSISTENT and GENUINELY want to look out for best interests of your customers.
Without these, people will see through you and your intentions.
It’s vital you control the narrative and story around your business and brand. Make sure the reception of your message is as intended, during the transmission of it. Otherwise you might mistakenly misread what people think about your business /brand, so keep communication channels open both ways, to ensure you’ve got a good handle on the opinion of the people that matter; your prospects and customers.
Make sure your message is simple to understand and easy to remember, emotionally meaningful from the point of view of prospects and customers, and further strengthens your brand promise.
When it comes to earning a living, there are so many different options, but if you want to be really wealthy, as in having lots of spare dosh, what’s the best way to go about it? For a more in depth guide, check out our wealth guide, here.
We’re keeping the discussion limited to income options in this post, but our wealth guide talks about dealing with expenditure as well.
#1 LINEAR income
This is the option of providing value once, and getting paid once for it. It’s the route the majority of people go down, trading time for money, as in working for a salary, or a fee, if you’re a freelancer. This is considered the least expandable, because there is a limit to the number of hours you can work and the income you can make. Sure you can, if you’re say, a sports star earn incredible income from your work, but it’s still limited to some extent. Many sports stars earn extra income from merchandising or other deals that take advantage of their celebrity.
#2 PASSIVE income
Create or buy assets or provide value once, and get income from it over and over again. This could be achieved from buying stocks and shares, and getting dividend payments year after year, or royalties for say music or art that you own, or licencing of intellectual property that’s yours. If you’re thinking of charging for say a video course, you film it once, and get paid over and over again for it, if it’s considered valuable enough.
Some other examples of recurring income
Property income (rent) or profit made from buying and selling
Marketing activities that attract paying customers
Royalties from intellectual property (art, photos, ideas, writing, music)
Licencing fees (ideas, inventions, IP)
Stocks and shares income
online courses (videos, e-books and email automated)vert
Peer to peer lending
Rent out a room in your house (Airbnb style, or to a student, or lodger)
Lead generation website – supplying leads to local businesses
Online store selling products that can be drop shipped
Youtube videos that are popular and have advert placements on them
Pay Per Click adverts on website
Property renting out advertising space (car, building, fence)
#3 RECURRING income
Recurring income comes about by providing ongoing value or owning assets that you get regular payments for. This would include things like memberships or subscriptions for magazines or websites that you own, or from rent, if you’re a landlord.
#4 LEVERAGED income
Last but not least is leveraged income, which involves making income from other peoples resources, such as their money, time, effort, assets, skills, or popularity. You can do this if you own a business and employ people for instance, you get them to use their skills to make you money. You can also leverage other people’s resources via partnerships or joint ventures.
Other examples of leveraged income include
Owning a franchised business
Network marketing (avoid these)
Being a talent agent
Owning a freelancer service website where you earn a commission
So there you have it, I’ve tried to keep this post as short and concise as possible, hope you got some value out of it.
When it comes to creating content for your website or blog, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to write about. This post is here to help you generate some content ideas.
When it comes to creating content you can either…
Be a facilitator, by providing access to and curating other peoples/experts content, and providing additional insight and commentary in order to provide additional value.
You can create your own unique content from scratch, although this takes more time and effort.
Or you can document your journey and provide insight to those following you. This can have the added bonus of ingraining recently learned knowledge for yourself, and giving you an opportunity to better understand what information you’ve just acquired.
There are really only 3 types of content
Escapism and entertainment content – fun stuff, games, videos, movies, that are humourous, clever, insightful, inspirational, scary, emotional, intriguing or interesting
Information and utility content – calendars, diaries, to do lists etc
Social content – around people and community
It’s important to understand that context matters. So make sure your content bares some relevance to your website and business. For example it doesn’t make any sense talking about the latest gadget releases if you’re trying to promote a gardening business. Keep your content relevant to your target market, help them or entertain them in a way that adds value for them.
Content can be made up of:
Be cautious of the following pitfalls…
Focusing on the wrong topic,
Using the wrong media,
In order to ensure you don’t fall foul of these pitfalls, you must have some understanding about the type of people you’re wanting to attract and cater for.
What do your visitors want to know?
How can you best provide value for them?
What content will help built, trust, credibility and generate some goodwill with your target audience?
Some additional info
Chart your own progress
Your journey to build your business – moving your business online
Your progress in a new job
Learning a new skill – learning SEO, PPC
Put sale techniques into practice
Sell something different every day testing your sales skills
Cover current niche trends
Current photography trends/techniques
Explore the topic more freely and in-depth
Cover local issues
Real estate – local amenities, history of area – reasons why it’s good living here
Local relevant events
Content can come in many formats, here are a few ideas…
Lists of lists
Did you know
Covering fast changing situations
From around the web
Summing up events
Q&A for interviews
High level breakdown
Some more content formats (excuse any duplicates to previously mentioned types)
“Day in the life of” Post
Videos – screencasts, talking heads, illustrations, graphics, film roll
Successful selling from your website, requires a plan of action, so that you know what you’re trying to do with each advert, each piece of content, each image, video, graphic.
Effectively it gives you a strategy, an aim for everything you’re doing, you have direction and structure and purpose.
Firstly, you’ve got to get people on to your website, from wherever they currently are, whether that be searching on Google, socialising on Facebook, browsing imagery on Instagram, or consuming content on other websites.
So the question becomes, how do you get people who are minding their own business or searching for something, to want to click through to your website, instead of continuing to do what they’re doing?
Well, first you have to be in the same location your prospects attention is focused on. If they’re on Google, searching for information, services or products, you’ve got to be there either through Search Engine Optimisation efforts, or Pay Per Click advertising. You need to be on the first page ideally, because most searches don’t extend beyond the first page.
If they’re on social media, you also need to have a presence there, either in the same groups, or by delivering content that they find interesting, or via paid adverts.
Secondly, you need to get “noticed”, this means standing out from the crowd in some way, either with eye-catching graphics or attention-grabbing words or copy.
Once you have them on your site, you must provide what you promised them on your adverts or copy. Don’t mislead them, because they will be annoyed and disappointed and this isn’t good for your brand reputation. Trust takes time to build and seconds to destroy.
Include information that is entertaining, informative, insightful and adds value to the person consuming it.
Also make sure this content is relevant to what you’re selling. No point providing cute pet videos if your customer is looking for business solutions.
There is no point getting random traffic to your site, you want people who are going to benefit from your services/products, and only them. So keep it relevant to your target market from initial content on social media or in search results through to your website pages.
Finally you need to have a “call to action”, either getting them to sign up to your newsletter, so you can keep providing value and pitch your service/products, or have a buy now option, where they can purchase directly from you straight away.
Test different approaches to see what works best for you, but remember people buy based on TRUST, COMPETENCY, CONVENIENCE, RELIABILITY, QUALITY and VALUE FOR MONEY. Selling on the internet is the same as selling face to face, in this respect.
If you’re business is not currently online, you’re potentially missing out on lots of business, which is going straight to your competitors.
Is business good? Well it could be so much better with an online presence.
My photography business survives without any passing trade, it’s all done online and of course word of mouth.
It’s not enough to just have a social media profile business page. What if it goes away or get’s hacked. What you need is your own website, a based from which to grow from, that’s your own.
Next you need to be found in search results.
You can still use your social media channels, if you have them, but your website and search is a whole new marketing channel.
Staying as you are is of course an option, after all you’re in your comfort zone. But remember if you do what you have always done, you’ll likely get what you’ve always got. Well that’s not entirely true, because more and more business is being conducted online these days.
You’ve got to be where your potential clients are hanging out. This is online, sure, on social media, but also on Google search. People search for things on Google and other search engines. You have got to be there to be found and you won’t be via Facebook or Instagram.
Appearing in search means..
You need a website (hosting)
You need to find out what you prospective customers are searching for (keyword research)
You need to have your site optimised for search results (SEO)
You need to fill in the gap between going live and being found in search, through advertising via PPC (Google Adwords)
You can convince yourself that you’re okay with the way things are, that you can manage without the need to go online, but really you’re ignoring all the potential business you’re giving up.
Why settle for okay when things could be great with more business coming through the door?
It’s easy to make excuses, after all they make us feel better about dealing with things as they are.
Here at Get Lasting Results, we call them coping excuses, and while they are justifications for dealing with our current behaviours and allow us to feel better about the way the land currently lays, we can all do better and demand more.
Once you deal with the discomfort of making the initial transition online, you’re there. After the initial effort it gets easier, it becomes part of your normal work routine.
In fact we can hold your hand throughout the whole process, and do it for you, from hosting, keyword research, SEO to PPC.
For more information follow this link (sign up), fill in your email and we’ll get the conversation started.
I’m asked quite a lot about the requirements for achieving online success, so have done a walk-through of the considerations for achieving online success, so check it out below.
I haven’t elaborated on each of the points, rather I am just trying to highlight considerations, there are other posts on this site that deal with details.
This site isn’t specifically designed around providing information about running an online business, but I have a number of articles about the subject, based on my research and own experience, which are linked to at the end of this post.
This post is designed for people who want online success, to get results with their online business, but are getting, frustrated, puzzled (why is it not working?), feel like giving up, have run out of ideas.
Let’s assume your goal is to achieve online success.
What’s needed to get there, and what is your target? Make sure you have an end goal in mind, before you begin. You can, by all means, have a number of interim goals, that get increasingly bigger, but by having an end goal you will ensure you are fully in alignment, and not deviating on your journey.
i.e. Making an online income of 10k month
Something to sell
Must first have something to sell that is in-demand by prospective customers, and either…
Monetise via advertising (bring audience to advertisers)
Monetise via sponsorships (bring audience to advertisers)
Get large enough audience/traffic volume to make a living from sales/advertising revenue – bigger volume needed on tighter profit margins.
Produce and use content to pull prospects to sales channel
Allow audience to get to know you
Build trust, likeability
Add value to them
Offer extra help and support
Allow them to see you in action
Advertising online and offline channels
Point all advertising back to content and sales pages
Pay affiliates to drive sales
Influencers with big audience made up of your customer profiles
Get backlinks from other reputable websites
Guest posting on other websites and linking back to your site
Share graphics or unique content with other websites with attribution link back to your site
Optimise website for SEO, using tags, keywords in content text, internal and external links
i.e. Not getting success online
A. Not building volume of traffic to lead pages and then sales pages
to social media pages
B. Not enough engagement/interest in content and then products, no free sharing to help in cost of building volume either
C. No way of monetising or not effectively monetising off back of content
A and B. Is the lack of traffic down to…
#1- Quality of content not engaging and building volume (being shared for free)?
#2- Not effectively marketing well enough?
#1- Producing the Quality Content
Is the subject matter in-demand?
If so, by whom?
Where is the attention of these people?
How can I best reach them?
What are their pains/passions/desires?
What are they having difficulty with?
Where and why are they stuck?
How can I help them get unstuck?
Generating content ideas
Go to forums, online groups, niche thought leaders and see what is being asked, and become part of that community (commenting, asking questions and adding value by giving insight) – Do this for interaction with the community (marketing) and getting content ideas
Check out books in the niche (Amazon) and see what is being written about (table of contents)
Check out magazines and publications within the niche to see what is being written about
Check mainstream media to see what is being written/talked about
Is the content good enough?
Is it attractive? Images, text, video
Is it interesting? – Valuable, useful, well presented – does it benefit the reader?
Am I talented/skilled enough to pull it off (writing skills, video capture/editing skills, speaking skills)
Is the content easily digestible (clear, interesting and valuable)?
Easy to navigate
Links to similar content
Broken into easy to digest paragraphs
Does it cater for different media preferences?
Is it presented from a unique perspective? Not the same as competitors
Are you credible enough?
Proven track record
Past prestigious customers
Testimonials and reviews
Or Documenting my journey – testing “crash test dummy”
What I’ve done up to now and what I’ve learned
Or Collating and commentating on well renown others
Talking about other’s ideas
Testing what other’s suggest
#2- effective marketing of content – look for low acquisition costs (underpriced attention)
Are you using social media effectively (where the prospects attention is focused) to drive traffic to content/sales pages?
Understand the psychology of these channels, the acceptable code of conduct and make sure you don’t break these.
Are there any other marketing channels available to target specific audience that you’re not making use of?
Look at niche specific publications, forums, chat groups, to see if any are being advertised, or discussed.
c. Monetising off back of content
Is there a service or product to sell at the bottom of your sales funnel?
Is the product service valuable (demanded/needed/wanted)?
Sell professional services/products (one to one coaching)
Via ecommerce or drop ship
Via digital media
Are there other methods of monetising available for this niche, that can be lucrative enough?
Not getting results
Online failure points
Failure to get site ranked high in SERP’s
Not enough traffic to website via
Optimise for onsite and offsite SEO
PPC or social media ads
Get to know and understand marketing channels on social media, particularly Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on Google PPC
Ask for links
Make content usable for other bloggers/content creators
Get content seen on niche specific forums/groups
Get content In front of influencers who will freely promote your stuff or you can pay to do so
Post on – https://www.quora.com/
Get advert clicks on website
Make the offers enticing enough, relevant enough
Blend the ads to look like links to other parts of website (posters) so they click on them by accident
Have enough ads around content area
Convert visitor’s to subscribers or get customer’s on website
Incentivise visitors using content upgrades, free reports, white papers etc
Scarcity – make the offer limited (number/timescale)
Get more customers
Advertise/add value on channels where prospect attention is focused
or where influencers (who can increase your reach) are situated
Think of an advertising system where you can target specific prospective customers based on how they are searching for your services. You can appear to them at the very moment they are looking to buy from suppliers just like you.
You only pay when someone clicks on your advert unlike traditional print media where you pay a fixed fee whether you get leads or not.
Depending on the type of business you have, you can scale up your marketing or narrow it down. You can re-market to visitors that have visited your site without buying so that you increase brand awareness. Research shows that a prospect will interact with your brand at least 7 times before buying.
The advertising platform that does all this is called Google Adwords, otherwise known as pay per click (PPC) advertising.
The importance of being on page one of Google search results
If you’re not on the first page of Google, prospective customers aren’t going to find you. Think about it, do you look beyond the first page of Google search results when you’re looking to buy something on-line? Research shows that most people don’t.
Click through rates vary massively even if you do appear on the first page of the search results, depending on what position you’re listing appears, for instance the first 3 positions on Google get over 60% of all the traffic with the bottom 3 positions getting less than 10%.
In a recent study on the effectiveness of social media as a sales generator compared to PPC and SEO it concluded, “As far as driving on-line sales goes, social media is an astoundingly ineffective channel. If you want to grow your on-line sales, the evidence is clear: SEO and PPC are where you need to invest”
SEO is a long term strategy, simply because it can take months to get a decent listing position, providing you follow the SEO guidelines for onsite and offsite SEO, all of which takes time to put in place. Whereas PPC is immediate, there’s no waiting months to see results. As soon as your adverts get Google approval, they go live. I have had adverts go live within minutes of setting them up.
Quick Tip – Success in Pay Per Click isn’t just about getting your advert displayed as much as possible for the least cost. It’s about getting it in front of good prospects that are interested in buying your product or service. You don’t want to be paying for people who are just looking for information, particularly if your budget is tight or you’re bootstrapping. You don’t want them clicking through your advert and bouncing off your landing page either, ideally you want them to buy if they click through your adverts, or not click at all, if they’re not interested in your product or service. How you achieve this balance is where the magic happens. Focused targeting is the name of the game.
DIY or pay someone else to do it for you?
Now you can learn to do Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising yourself, there’s lots of free information available out there that takes you through the process. However much of it may be out-of-date, with Google constantly making changes to its system. There is also a lot of mis-information circulating that you should be aware of.
Alternatively you can pay an expert to do it for you, many of which will want a large up-front commitment of £300-£800 to set the system up for you, followed by a minimum contract period. I used a very reputable SEO company to do PPC for me some years ago, and after spending £1000+ I didn’t get a single sale out of it. I still get calls from PPC businesses now that promise the world but don’t ask anything about my business, and without knowing about it and my prospective customer profiles, how can they know who to target?
I decided to learned the system myself from the ground up, and I still use it successfully today because I’ve tested it, tweaked it, and improved it as I’ve gone along. I use it for my own business (not related to this site), and it works for me. I have learned to build on each campaign by split testing, peeling and sticking, dropping poor performing adverts and replacing with new improved versions, in an ever improving spiral. It takes time, I’ve spent lots of money as I’ve gone along but I’ve learned, DOING is the only way to learn in this game.
I highly recommend you try PPC for yourself, it’s made a huge difference to my business. I compete with some of the big UK based experience companies and have consistently ranked higher than them, so it can be done with the right targeting. And with a ROI of well over 300%, it can also be profitable.
Local business campaigns can be effective for as little as a couple of pounds per day, of course if you want a bigger reach you’ll have to employ a bigger budget. Return On Investment is what it’s all about. If you can make £2 for every £1 you spend, than spending £10k a month means you’re making £20k, spending £100k means you’re making £200k, and that’s how you should look at it.
Below is a blog post I did back in 2013, but which was on another website, I thought I would include it here as it has some relevance today.
I have been using Google Adwords for my photography business for 7 years now. Initially I used a third party to execute a campaign for me, but after spending about £1000 without getting a single sale, I decided to cut my losses and end the whole sorry saga.
However in the back of my mind I thought the basic premise of Adwords was a sound one. Your ads appear to anyone searching for your product / service, at the very time they want it. Surely this is one of the best ways to target your customers? So why was my previous experience of Adwords such an expensive disaster? Had I not given it enough time? The company that ran my Adwords campaign thought I should have given it more time, I ran it for approx 4 months. Only when I questioned why I wasn’t getting any conversions did they talked about changing certain aspects of my site to improve performance.
I decided to run my own campaigns and set the whole thing up from scratch. I read a lot of stuff online, and invested in what turned out to be a great book a “Ultimate Guide to Google Ad Words: How To Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes” by Perry Marshall. which was great at giving me a clearer understanding of the psychology of how Adwords works and then how to develop the campaigns to get better and better results. I read much more after that book but would have to credit it for getting me off to a solid start, so thanks Perry.
Once I had a clearer understanding of the techniques that make the difference between a successful campaign and one that empties your pockets faster than an hole in the bottom of them, I understood why I hadn’t got anything out of my previous attempt. I now get more in voucher sales from my site than I spend on Adwords and with a good chance of up-selling those vouchers once they are redeemed, I find Adwords to be an invaluable sales channel.
The moral being that if your product is suitable for online selling (and not all products are) and if you know your customers have a tendency to look for your service online, which I did, then Adword can be very profitable if you know what you are doing.
So what did I do to change my results, from having no sales to actually making a profit from Adwords? Well first of all I took a close look at my customers. Who was buying what from me? Initially I had Ads selling portraits, with lots of different keywords that included Babies photoshoots, Family photoshoots, Pet photoshoots, and Mother and Daughter Makeover photoshoots. Once someone clicked on the Ads they were taken to a page that sold vouchers for all of of these photo experiences. The first thing I learned to do was split my business into all the separate experiences and who the likely buyer of those experiences would be.
Makeover photo shoots – Usually purchased as a gift for friends or relatives, sometimes bought for self, enjoyed by 12 year olds up to middle aged women. Having said that the purchaser is often an husband or boyfriend.
Newborn Baby photo shoots – usually purchased as a gift for friends or relatives, sometimes bought by mother of newborn babies.
I then split these separate experiences into their own campaigns, chose keywords that were relevant to each such as baby photos, newborn photo shoots for the baby campaign, makeover photo shoot for ….guess what …the makeover photo experiences…and so on.
I kept the number of keywords down to about 1-2 per ad group, making sure that each keyword was included in the Advert and again on the landing page, which contained information about just that particular kind of photo experience. What was I doing? I was focusing my Ads towards specific customers who were looking for specific photo experiences. So someone looking for a baby shoot would type in say “baby photo packages” into the search engine, which would trigger my ad to appear on their search results. They would see my headline “Baby Photos just £30” and hopefully would click on it to find out more, they would then go through to see my landing page which would give more information about my baby photo packages. They then have the option to buy a voucher for the package there and then, or give me a call to order one.
This way of structuring my Adwords campaign has helped turn my fortunes around. It sounds like common sense but wasn’t how the so called experts that managed my first campaign had gone about it.
Adwords can work for you but you need to know what you’re doing. I guess that applies to any kind of advertising. I am sure there are many great PPC agents that can execute very good PPC campaigns for you, but only when they understand your business, your products and your customers. If they don’t ask many questions about your business at the start, how can they know enough to give you the best return on your investment. I will be going into my Adwords experience in more detail in future posts.
Google Adwords can work for local businesses, but you really need to know what your doing, otherwise it can be an expensive waste of time. The key to setting up a successful Adwords campaign is to know your business and focus on each of your product offerings (either individual products or by category depending on the nature of your business) and the type of customer who buys that particular product offering. Focus is the key here. If you are using an agent to do your Adwords campaign for you, make sure they understand your business as well as you know it. Even if you do use an agent to manage your Adwords campaign for you, I would suggest having a basic understanding of how Adwords works, so that you know if your agent is giving you the best service. I would suggest reading “The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords” by Perry Marshall, it contains everything you need to know at this time. Adwords is ever evolving so you will need to stay ontop of the changes to get the most from the platform.
Hope you found something useful in this one….thanks for stopping by.