It’s hard being the new kid on the block
The ink has finally dried on your business license, you’ve polished the fixtures in your store a million times, and you are ready to open your doors. After all the tears, sweat, perseverance, and support from your loved ones, the floodgates have burst open and you are now a successful business. But a few days go by and you aren’t getting any leads, and then weeks go by and you wonder if you properly installed your phone. Now the banks and investors are calling you waiting for their ROI and you see your trembling hands are empty.
One would hope that few have had to deal with this nightmare scenario, but alas, according to the Small Business Association, 30 percent of new businesses fail within the first two years. In five years that number jumps to 50 percent. Being new means you have to work twice as hard to show you’re up for the task. One way to broaden your brand is to establish that your brand is credible.
Be the Authority, and Back it Up.
Let’s be real here, Google and smartphones have changed the game. If you want to prove you are a strong brand who has their money where their mouth is, you need content they can scour. It’s human nature to think you’re the smartest person in the room. Consumers want to be able to have the information at their fingertips. Having blogs on the subject of your expertise is a great way to improve your brand. Not only will it help from a marketing perspective, but it’s also great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Chances are, at one point in your life, you’ve looked up a recipe to create a new dish for dinner. When you find one that speaks to you, you often have to scroll through a two-page spiel of why this spaghetti reminds the author of that one summer in college studied abroad. While this may seem annoying and silly to the average reader – because my god, just get to the damn pasta! – it’s actually a really clever branding ploy. By telling these mundane and flowery stories, the author is guaranteed more clicks on their page. If the author had just told you the ingredients and how to prepare it, they could potentially be fighting against 300 other exact recipes. Not getting clicks means no view, no views means no repeat consumers, no consumers means a failing brand. These silly stories have a better reach for SEO. Now, not only can someone find the business if they want to make a mean plate of spaghetti, but if they had wanted to know something about Florence, Google will make sure the author’s recipe will be one of the first results to show up.
Blogging isn’t meant for every brand – and that’s okay! The point is that when you do something, you have to do it well and you have to be consistent. Blogging, Facebook, and even Twitter are all great platforms to help you stay relevant and gain traction for your brand. If you’re a boutique, for example, consistently have new products to keep your customers interested in your store. Make them want to check your Facebook daily to see the new deals or products you are offering to keep them interested.
Social media is a beast in its own rights. Look at Wendy’s Twitter page for an example of marketing done right. Yes, they’re already an established brand, but their creative and sassy voice for their Twitter page has raised an influx of interest in the social media world. Consumers go out of their way to promote Wendy’s without advertisers having to get off their butts. How did Wendy’s do this? They made funny and creative tweets “beefing” with other companies. Large masses of people started following them, taking screenshots of their twitter, and sharing them across all major platforms. People who hadn’t had Wendy’s in years were willing to try them again because they enjoyed the content Wendy’s put out.
Wendy’s had success in this because they did it well. If you’re a business (and be honest with yourself) that isn’t meant/cant produce humor. Don’t do humor. My point is, whatever platform you choose you have to be consistent, post often, and create content you can stand behind.
Keep your Cheeks in the Bedroom.
While I mentioned Wendy’s marketing, it doesn’t always pay to be cheeky. Some businesses
(or the highly trained sassy 20 somethings) just don’t have the finesse to pull off what would usually be considered tacky marketing moves. Basically: stay in your lane. You don’t have to be boring in order to improve credibility for your brand, but you also don’t want to brand your company like every other plain Jane out there. After all, you want to show consumers that you’re unique and that they want to do business with you. If all your company does is go to trade shows and pass out stress balls with your logo on it, you’re failing as a brand. While those old school marketing techniques are “tried and true” they’re also dated. When you’re competing for attention among 30 other logo-ed SD cards at the bottom of a tote, it’s time to refocus your marketing.
You know that person who gets invited to things, never shows up, and then complains when they stop getting invited? Don’t be that business. Networking is extremely important and one of the most valuable things you can do to establish your business cred. Any event that gives you the opportunity to talk about your brand is an event you have to be at. Whether that’s a one on one business meeting at a coffee shop, or a work gala, if you have the opportunity to really shine and show off your brand, do it.
However, don’t be the lunatic who goes up to anyone with two ears. More importantly, don’t just talk about your business. Networking is a two-way street and the people you network with can very well become a close part of your business family. While enthusiasm for your brand is good, you also don’t want to end up coming across as a sale’s douche.
Follow-up and Follow-through
The hard fact that can’t be stressed enough is this: unless your brand has 100+ inbound marketing leads per day, you’re doing some type of direct or network selling; those dollars are wasted if you are not following up on the leads. As the old homage goes: put your money where your mouth is. If you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. Thinking of joining a comity that specializes in your brand? You have to do it. If you network with someone and they give you their card, you need to touch base with them. Every lead you get you have to follow up either through email or phone call. If you decide to promote your brand through Facebook, then invite people to like and follow your page. If you promise a new blog every week, then rain or shine you better have a blog front and center. It’s really that simple. If you want your business to be looked at as credible, then you need to follow through on everything you promise.
While establishing credibility can be hard going at first, it’s one of the most rewarding things to look back on. When you have other businesses start reaching out to you, you know your brand is pretty credible, and that’s pretty badass.
Written by: Lauren Anderson