Website & Social media; the heart of your brand

That link better be in your bio! Otherwise, you are losing a ton of customers. There is no point in creating great content and gaining a mass of followers if you are not planning to monetize your influence. Unless you find enjoyment in building social media profiles for free. In which case, you would not be reading this article. Being an entrepreneur is about doing what you love on your own terms, but for you to continue doing what you love you will have to learn to monetize somewhere. A website is where you house all your products and services.

Even better yet, a website is your virtual assistant before you reach the point at which you should hire an actual virtual assistant. Your website should be set up to educate your customer with content in your blog, answer your customer’s questions on your FAQ page, offer your customer solutions for purchase on your products page and offer them a freebie on the subscribe page. Essentially through automation, your website should run itself. Initially, you will want to launch nothing more than a landing page while you are still in the process of developing your website and growing your social media. A basic website should have the following 6 pages

1.       Home

2.       Blog

3.       Services/Products

4.       Contact Us

5.       FAQ

6.       Subscribe/ Special events or launches

Write the content for each of these pages and when you are ready to create your website all you need to do is type things up and paste them where they belong. Writing beforehand makes the website building process easier. Especially for someone who is not a professional website builder.

Honestly social media should have been one of the first strides you took in branding your company. Building a following takes time. Even at my highest efficiency I only gained a maximum of 100 followers a day. High numbers are great but true conversion is measured by the level of engagement that is taking place. Conversion is the percentage rate at which followers from Instagram visit your website and make a purchase. Of course, conversion rates vary from business to business.

As I stated before conversion is heavily influenced by engagement. There are Instagram pages with 1 million followers that have posts that only receive 300 likes. This is a sign that conversion is low. No matter how many followers you have, if you are not engaging with your potential consumers your conversion rate is going to be low. Posting good content is not enough. Get on your social media and get active! Whether you end up paying for branding through a boutique, brand coaching or DIY, understanding the process is important. What goes into branding has a significant impact on your customer. Put time into your logo. Back your logo with great content, consumer engagement, and a well put together website. You want to give your customer butterflies when they see your logo. Each piece of branding is just as important as the next. What you put into your business branding will directly affect your sales and website traffic.

How to define your brand personality & Create a logo

This is where you can use your imagination. It may sound weird to give your brand a personality, but believe it or not, if you don’t do it your consumers will. Deciding your brand colors plays a big factor in this portion of your DIY brand. A gothic brand would not use pink on their website. Vice versa a girly brand most likely would not make use of the color black. Is your brand sassy, straightforward, nice and sweet or punk rock? Deciding the personality of your brand will help you better create an overall image. Your customers will want to be friends with your business. What type of friends would your ideal client have? In a short paragraph describing your brand as if it were a person.

This portion of branding can be something you outsource if you have a specific image of what you would like your logo to be. If you have no idea I suggest using a program such as Canva to give you a starting point. Canva is free and easy to use. Logos evolve over time, so do not get stuck on the idea that what you choose as your first logo will be your logo forever. Although you do need to be wary of changing your logo too many times. You do not want to confuse your customers. A few general rules to keep in mind, a logo should be simple.

Anything too complicated will translate as overbearing. Eventually, you will most likely want to print your logo on various items such as T-shirts, notebooks, stickers, flyers, etc. Too many colors will make this hard to translate across multiple platforms. If you are going to attempt to use an image as a part of your logo, be sure the image is high definition and clearly defines what you do. There is nothing more confusing than looking at a logo and thinking a business does one thing and then going on to explore their website and realizing you were wrong. Design your logo. Do not over think it. Do not overdesign it.    

What makes you different? (Competitive Advantage)

Know what sets you apart. Before you release any products or think of presenting yourself to potential consumers be ready to answer the question “What makes you different?”. There are a lot of markets that are oversaturated right now. In other words, there are a lot of people selling the same exact items. This does not mean that you too can not be successful selling those same items. It means that you now must come up with something that sets your business apart. 

Even in markets where there is not an overflow of the same products having a competitive advantage will increase your sales. With the surplus of options consumers have when spending their hard-earned money, he or she wants to know that they are receiving something unique before they swipe their card. 


List a few things that make your business unique. Include not only product uniqueness but the packaging and customer service as well. Anything you can do to set yourself apart will contribute to your brand image and the consumer's view of your business. 

Do your research! Acting like you are the only brand in the world is not going to make you stand out to the consumer. You should be researching your competitors. Big companies like Walmart, Sprint, and McDonalds have teams of people that are responsible solely for researching the competition. Knowing what your competitors are doing will help you stay relevant. Keep a running list of your biggest competitors.

Check their social media and websites daily. These competitors should have a similar niche and target audience. This is called market research and will help you when you begin to develop more products as time goes on. Watch how the target audience interacts with different businesses on different posts and learn from their trial and error. Even influencers have social media profiles they look up to and lean on for inspiration from time to time. 
 

You need a target audience, niche AND ideal client

This piece of advice is one of the most repeated EVER. I tell every client I encounter that they need to determine their target audience, niche, and ideal client. It is impossible to run a valuable marketing campaign with a maximum return on investment without defining these three elements of your business. Each element is related to the next but different in its own way. Niche is your specialty. The target audience is the group of people inside your specialty. The ideal client is the perfect person to purchase your products or services inside that group of people. For example, if a business sells make up their niche may be all natural products. Their target audience may be millennials, and their ideal client may be a college student that is concerned about the environment and cruelty-free products.

Determining all three of these areas is vital to designing a successful marketing campaign. If the makeup business was to market only to their niche, their products will most likely exist among millions of others and a customer may never even encounter your brand because you are not setting yourself apart in anyway. Let’s say the makeup business markets to their niche of all natural products and millennials as their target audience but not their ideal client. The company will receive good leads and some purchases, but there will be big holes in their sales funnel and sales will not be consistent. Although millennials do purchase beauty products that are all natural there is no pressing necessity for the average millennial to choose a cruelty-free product over an average product.

On the other hand, if the makeup company markets to their niche of all natural makeup products, their target audience of millennials and their ideal client that is concerned about the environment their ads will show much more promise. The overlap of all three of these elements creates an ad that is marketed to someone who will only be products that this company sells because they prefer no other option. The goal is to present your product to someone who will 9/10 purchase. Focusing your marketing efforts will give you a better return on ad investment. Describe your target audience, niche, and ideal client.  

Define your brand's mission

In a few sentences describe what your business does for your customers and why. We know this can be a mouthful. If need be you can write a longer statement (no more than two paragraphs) and afterward go back and edit it down to a maximum of 5 sentences. Your mission should be concise enough to be printed on the back of a hang tag, or on the side of packaging labels. Many companies use their brand mission for this reason. Unfortunately, blogs, drop shipping businesses, hair selling empires and even real estate agents fail to take the time to write a brand mission.

I do not mean to call anyone out, but let’s be honest. When is the last time you discovered a company via social media that provided any of the services I just listed AND had a clear and easy to find brand mission? You do not have to be a nonprofit out to save the world to have a brand mission. If your business was started out of passion (which it should have been) then you have enough information to write a brand mission. Even if all you do is order products wholesale and rebrand them for resell, you need to have a brand mission. Consumers want to know why you do what you do. Give your customers a reason to care! Otherwise, they won’t. No one is going out of their way to throw their money at someone they do not know and do not feel for in some capacity.

Businesses without a brand mission are missing out on the opportunity to turn one-time purchasers into lifelong customers. If you have a brand mission and it is nowhere visible on your website or social media, you are just as bad as someone who does not have one. In all seriousness, if you sell physical products and nowhere in your packaging includes your brand mission you are in the same boat as someone who has no brand mission at all. These words may be harsh, but believe me, the sharpening of a knife is not comfortable, but the result is impeccable.  Write your brand mission. Make it visible.

Intro to branding

Your voice, your visuals, and your vision is your brand. People have come to confuse what the word brand means. Your logo is not your brand. A logo is a representation of your brand. If someone were to show you the Nike logo, the way the logo makes you feel is the brand itself. Branding is the way you as a business owner communicate the essence of your company. The emotions a consumer feels when looking at a logo is a composition of three levels of experience he or she has had with that company. Visual is the initial form of interaction most consumers have with a company. You see brand colors, logo and images from social media tagged with a business.

The second encounter a consumer has with a company is usually voice. After seeing visuals, most people seek more answers and begin to read or do research on a company and what it offers. Lastly, comes vision. After a customer has decided they approve of a company’s visuals and understand their voice, the psyche seeks to identify with the vision of the business. Consumers prefer to shop with businesses that share values and beliefs like their own.  With so many options available in the marketplace small differences become deciding factors. As a business owner, you must keep in mind that success is in the details. Take advantage of branding, as it communicates to your customer what your business is about.

There are branding experts flooding the market right now. Many of which are qualified and amazing to work with. As a new business owner, however, you want to save money wherever you can. Reading through this eBook will give you a general idea of how you want to define your brand. Whether you decide to go full fledge DIY with your branding or decide to hire a specialist, you will need to invest time into branding. The blog posts in this section will help you figure things out.

Running a campaign

Once you have created a product you may be wondering “How do I market this?”. This is a question we all ask ourselves as business owners, and as you should. Marketing is an integral part of running a successful business. Whether you realize you are marketing or not, everything you do on social media, in the public eye, and via email is all a form of marketing.

Often people confuse branding and marketing. These two are not the same and understanding their major differences will help you when designing a campaign for your new product. Branding is the perception that people have of your company or product. Marketing is the action you take to inflict that perception. When you are prepping to run a campaign, you need to ensure that first, you know who your target audience is and second, that your product/ service adequately solves a problem for that target audience.

When it comes to paid marketing, you need to be absolutely clear on what your intentions are. You will not be able to deem a campaign successful or unsuccessful if you do not initially set expectations of results. This may be scary because many people do not like the thought of there being a possibility for disappointment, but if you are not willing to take the risk then entrepreneurship is not for you.

Once you set expectations and are clear about what you want your campaign to provide for your business whether it be 50 sales of a new product or a specific dollar amount of income, or number of page views you are ready to begin. Remember to be specific with your goals and ensure they are measurable. When you leave the details out of goal setting you will be left feeling unsatisfied after running a campaign.

Now that you know what results you are looking for it is time to decide what specific audience needs to see/interact with your campaign to bring you to the intended results. This could be either new potential customers in your target market, or customers you already have that could benefit from a new product/ service you have developed.

Knowing who you want to see your marketing campaign will make things easier when you get into paid ads running on social media such as Instagram and Facebook. These two platforms will ask you specifically about your intended audience. Most cases the ad manager will need to know age, race, gender, location, and interests. You should already know these. If you have created a product/service it should have been centered around a group of people from the very beginning.

Decide whether you will be using paid marketing or free marketing. Not every campaign costs money. There is work involved in both the paid and free methods and each will bring you different results. I suggests beginning with free, in order to save money, but if you have a marketing budget (if you have already made some income from your business you should have a marketing budget), paid ads will most likely bring you new potential consumers that would have been difficult to reach otherwise. Combining a campaign with both free and paid marketing options will give you the best results.paid marketing or free marketing. Not every campaign costs money. There is work involved in both the paid and free methods and each will bring you different results. I suggests beginning with free, in order to save money, but if you have a marketing budget (if you have already made some income from your business you should have a marketing budget), paid ads will most likely bring you new potential consumers that would have been difficult to reach otherwise. Combining a campaign with both free and paid marketing options will give you the best results.

Last but not least, set yourself a timeline. This is important. If you are launching a product you need to give yourself time to run a good campaign. It’s not logically viable to spend 6 months creating this amazing solution to someone’s problem and then only spending three days trying to find the people who the product was meant for and then being upset that no one is buying it. You have to think ahead of the game and begin promoting before you even finish the product for optimal results.spending three days trying to find the people who the product was meant for and then being upset that no one is buying it. You have to think ahead of the game and begin promoting before you even finish the product for optimal results.

Anticipation is a big deal in the marketing world. Think of Apple. Before a new iPhone releases officially we are always notified beforehand and as anticipation builds we are excited to see its release. Make your launch exciting. Give yourself a time limit of when you will begin campaigning, how long you will campaign for and when you will stop and move on to the next project. If you give yourself enough momentum, once you stop actively campaigning the product will begin to sell itself.

The Keys to starting on low funds

When you first decide to start a business, you may think that you need a lot of money. When you factor in the cost of products, packaging, shipping and building a website. Although there are some upfront costs there a few says you can save your money and still create a decent start up for your idea. Spending money when you are in the beginning process of building is all about identifying what skills you can learn, what tasks are too challenging for you to do alone, giving yourself a budget and being strategic with every dollar you have.

In theory, you could apply for a business loan and pay for your products, if you are a product based business, website, equipment and marketing. In this case you would be in debt as soon as you begin and this situation is not ideal. There are quite a few items that need to be setup when you begin and first making a list of those will help you identify the areas where you may need to spend money. For example, getting on social media and growing a following will be on the start up list for most companies. Even if you are not good at social media, for most people this is something you can learn to do, at least until you start bringing in some money.

Spending money on social media management from the start may not be the best choice. On the other hand, there are some people who are terrible and know nothing at all about social media but for instance can build a website. In this case, spending money on social media management and building your own website is a great way to spend some of your start up funds. The money you save from being able to build your own website in turn is a great investment for building your audience on social media, because it is something you have no idea how to do.

The key here is to only spend money on things that you absolutely are not good at or are not willing to learn. Of course you have to be flexible with yourself and put forth some effort into learning new things in order to save some money. Watching tutorials online about website building may help close the gap in between what you do know how to do and what you do not know how to do. Simply by putting forth the effort to learn a bit more you can be saving yourself thousands of dollars that can be spent on other things that have too big of a learning curve.

Giving yourself a budget will also help you when starting on low funds. Decide exactly how much you want to spend. Segment that amount to the different areas of your business that need to be up and running for your launch. Stick to your budget and be strict on yourself. You may need to skip a few amenities when you are first starting, to not break your budget. This key is to use as little as possible to begin creating income and once you do, you can invest into the bigger toys and software later.

 

No one starts a business with everything they need to make a million dollars. You start small and you build. For example, a lot of the software available to small business owners online all have a free version or trial period. Starting with this version will allow you to get the feel of the tools and if you are able to create some income, the tool is then worth the investment and you can use a portion of that income to upgrade and make more money.

Being strategic with the money you have set in your budget will help you think outside of the box when it comes to growing your business. When you get creative, you set yourself apart and customers appreciate your uniqueness. You will save more money this way and generate income that will help you reinvest and further grow your passion. Never think that you have to have a big bundle of money to begin building your empire. Notably, when you do begin to make income, remember that reinvesting in your business is a must. If you do not invest in yourself, customers will not invest in you. You have to pay to play!  income, remember that reinvesting in your business is a must. If you do not invest in yourself, customers will not invest in you. You have to pay to play!