Building Your Brand: Becoming a Niche Authority
Running a business is a tough thing to do; it is harder still to promote that business through all the online channels that are seemingly required these days. Most companies have a team of people to do their online promotion and build brand awareness.
Other smaller companies try to juggle the process themselves; this is no easy task. That said, I have compiled 5 actionable top tips to help build your brand presence online. To better illustrate the points being raised I will provide examples of brands doing a particular area of brand awareness well.
Lay the foundations
For any brand to build awareness they need a great website. Many small companies opt for the quick and easy option you see on the TV and in advertisements, an all-in-one website for $50 or similar - although these may appear attractive on first impression; unfortunately they are often very limiting in terms of customisations and often look very sterile and dull and, worse still, that they have come from a conveyor-belt-style template. The problem with this is there is often nothing that sets your business apart from the competition. Online users are becoming more and more savvy and can spot a website that has not had lots of love and attention.
My advice: employ a professional, research for sites you like, list what you like/don't like and provide as much of a detailed brief as possible to the designer. Work with them through the entire process so the end result is an excellent site that is bespoke and unique to your brand. Customers will thank you for it, I assure you.
Identify where your customers 'live' online - join the conversation
Don't be afraid to get involved in the online community. For your brand to be successful you first need to know where they currently go online, what they do and who the influencers are. You should be spending quite some time searching for your competitors, reading on forums and generally getting involved and contributing to your niche.
Every niche has a wealth of blogs and both amateur and professionals commenting and contributing to the wider niche you are in. Take the home accessories and fashion industry for example: both industries have a huge number of blogs and all provide great opportunities to contribute, participate and most importantly see what people are talking about and what is generating a lot of buzz.
As you interact slowly introduce who you are where you're from and point people in the direction of your brand; even just a simple brand mention done every so often will do wonders for brand awareness.
Build the best resources
A key part to any brand building venture is having something that sets your brand apart from the rest. You may think yours is far superior to the competition but you need your customers to acknowledge that and the best way of doing that is to offer something your competition does not. This could be a great blog that goes beyond the competition in terms of the content being produced, or it could be a useful resource providing evergreen content that is ever-lasting and useful again and again. Depending on your niche you could even produce a tool or just opt for the good old fashioned discount or incentive.
Keep things consistent
One of the things I see again and again is brands starting out with lots of enthusiasm, but before long the blog posts start to become fewer and far between, the social activity dries up and the passion goes.
This is more noticeable to your customers/online users than you might expect. If you have been producing great content for a few months and then stop or dramatically slow down, it won't be long before those users go elsewhere to find what they need/want.
You need to produce great content continually. It is not an easy thing to do and there lies the reason so many fall by the way-side. If your brand can maintain its efforts while others falter, you will reap the reward, that's for sure. A good example of this approach working well is The Workplace Depot; their team maintain a very active blog, social feeds and regularly participate in their online and offline communities and it is paying off for them as many of their competitors struggle to keep up with the pace.
Shout from the roof tops
Lastly don't be afraid of some self-promotion. If you have put in all the hard work to create a great website, you're involved in the community and have something worth shouting about, then get the megaphone out.
Show you are proud of your brand and show your personality. Customers like to see some personality behind the brand; give your brand a face and a voice and use social media to display a more human aspect to the business. Ideas such as 'behind the scenes' updates/photos always go down well as customers like to know how a company ticks.
Also on the thread of social media: don't be afraid to go off topic, talk about things other than your business. Got a funny anecdote, story to tell or hot piece of news? Share it: your customers will love you for it and you will drive lots of engagement and become the go-to authority within your niche before you know it.
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