Essential Guide To Creating A Memorable Brand For Your Small Business

Branding is all about resonating with your target audience. If you want to cut through the incessant chatter of the online world or make an impact in the offline world, then your brand needs to say a lot about you.

But how do you go about creating a brand that both reflects what you do and that forms a connection with your customers? For small and mid-sized businesses on a budget, it’s a tough job. So we’ve put together this guide to help you find some answers.

Branding by EdgeThreeSixty via CC BY 2.0

Ask yourself who you are

Be honest about your business and who you are. While some companies, such as legal firms and funeral homes, should stick with a serious or solemn image, others can go with a more lighthearted, cheeky or even humorous approach.

This is where small businesses have an advantage. We can position ourselves as local companies who are helping our local economies while battling corporate behemoths who are sending profits far away. This ‘us vs. them’ message can work well; check out the Brew Dog story for inspiration.

“Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.”

Get your target audience right

To create a successful brand, you have to know who you are talking to, so researching your market is an essential part of the process. Find out who your customers are, what they do, and where they live.

Also, look at what they like and what encourages them to respond. What are their fears, hopes and dreams? Once you have learned enough about your target audience(s), you can create a tone of voice that connects with them.


Be consistent

Great branding is consistent. When people see your business, they should know exactly what to expect. So it’s important to reflect the same brand message throughout your organization. Make sure that employees, partners and anyone else spreading your message are using your tone of voice. Look at managed print services that can keep your marketing materials consistent. Give people what they expect, and they will continue to trust and work with you.


Be yourself

As a small business, you face disadvantages when competing against a national or global company. Don’t try to copy their branding and positioning, because you don’t have their resources to achieve the same results.

You have to look for a unique aspect of your business that differentiates you from your competition and let people know what that is. If they beat you on price, then offer value-added services that they can’t possibly match. There will be many things that you can do better than the big players, so figuring those out — and promoting them — is vital to your brand.

Related reading: Mad Men: Master Storytelling in Any Era


Don’t concentrate on winning new customers

Of course, bringing on new customers is always important, but as a small business it’s important to put more energy into retention. Your current clients are the people who buy from you already — and will be likely to buy more in the near future.

If you offer excellent service and forge long-lasting relationships with your current clients, you’ll grow your brand more than spending all of your time chasing potential new customers.

Related reading: Branding is a Feeling, Not a Noun

Do you want to create a memorable brand for your small business? Check out our other branding posts for tips and tricks or get in touch. We’d love to help you tell your brand story.

We give brands a voice,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your brand, the art of branding or otherwise):
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Specialized Services to Help You Run Your Small Business Smoothly

There are a variety of skills involved in running your own business, and so many to-do’s that it can get a little overwhelming. By using specialized services, I free myself up to concentrate on what CCC does best — help brands communicate with their target audiences.

Specialized services take care of the nitty-gritty and let me focus on being my own boss. I would recommend you try to do the same as much as you can. Here are a few services that can help you run your company smoothly.

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Copywriting

Content marketing is all the rage these days, and this popular (and effective) form of marketing requires a lot of quality content. If you’re not a writer, then you’re going to want to use copywriting services, which are essential for producing excellent content and running a successful blog. You need to make sure that everything you produce is of the highest quality and originality, which can be difficult to achieve if you’re working on your own. You might not have the necessary skills required to be able to keep up with the content demand for your company, or you’d rather spend your time on what you do best. Either way, CCC would love to help with your writing needs.

The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Affiliate Marketing

At any stage, it’s essential to spread the word about your company and the products or services it offers. If you have recently started your company or are going through a rebranding process, it’s even more important. Most small business owners want to bring in more targeted leads and increase their client base, but this can be difficult to achieve while juggling the daily demands of running a business. One solution is to use affiliate marketing services. They allow you to gain exposure on other people’s websites and attract targeted leads, while still focusing on other areas of the company, such as wowing current customers.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”  -Jim Rohn

Appointment Reminders

As a business owner, you have to deal with a lot of appointments and meetings, some business-related, some not. One misstep and you can destroy your schedule for the day and a relationship for much longer. That’s why it’s important to use a service to help keep track of your appointments. Appointment reminder services send alerts directly to software that you already use. That way you never miss a meeting or appointment because you receive constant reminders of what you need to remember.

Jumping Off a Cliff: My 1st Year as an Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur or small business owner is a labor of love. Like you, I have poured so much into my business over the past three and a half years that it’s important to me that it succeeds. Succeeding in small business requires a lot of time, effort and money, but it’s worth it when you create a successful and professional brand.

Your Turn

What services help you run your business on a daily basis?

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs or small business owners?

“There’s nothing small about small business.”

Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business services, your hopes and dreams or otherwise):
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Boosting Sales 101: 5 Marketing Tips You Should Know

No matter what industry you work in, you need to make sure that you get the most out of it. Sometimes, it can feel as though your business is stagnating. Are you ready to boost your sales? Here are five marketing tips that can help.

"Handy Man" by Frankie Leon via CC BY 2.0

1) Come to grips with conversion rates

At first, the idea of conversion rates may sound a little tricky. It may surprise you to know that you can easily learn how to improve your conversion rate optimization. If you get help from an expert, you’ll see that it’s pretty straightforward. You don’t just want people to visit your site; you want them to (eventually) buy something! If they are just browsing, they are not making you any money.

2) Boost your social media presence

Social media sites can be excellent tools for businesses, yet many neglect them. If you want to make the most of your website, you need to share it on social media. Take a look at some of the best social media sites for online marketing. Once you have familiarized yourself with them, you can start to reap the rewards of using them. If it all seems a little confusing, don’t panic. It’s a lot to take in at once, so you need to take things slow. One step at a time, you will learn how to make them work for you.

3) Try direct marketing methods

Direct marketing is not as simple as it sounds. It means that you reach out to people in a face-to-face way. It might seem a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You could run a marketing event or attend a networking session. When you get into the habit of attending these types of events, you will see that they can make a major difference.

4) Chase repeat sales

When someone buys something from your company, the process should not stop there. You’re not looking for one-off sales; you need repeat sales if your business is to succeed. So, what should you do? Well, it’s all about building a relationship with your client base. They need to see you as more than just a vendor — you need to be part of their lives. Understand their biggest challenges and figure out how you can help them overcome these obstacles.

5) Research your market

How much do you know about your buyers? If you don’t do market research, you’re going to have a problem. There are always different business trends that you need to consider, and you need to understand who your ideal customer is. Spend some time each week doing a little research. When you get into this habit, it will pay off for your business in the long run.

It’s time to start putting these ideas to good use. If you change the way you approach your business, your business will change too.

p.s. Did you know CCC is Inbound Certified? Let’s talk about how we can help you attract the right customers, not more empty leads.

All about Inbound,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Inbound marketing, conversion rates or otherwise):
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4 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

I know, I know; 2015 isn’t even over yet, and we’re already talking about 2016. Digital marketing trends move fast, so you always have to look at what’s next to stay ahead of the game and start adapting your strategy early. If you can pinpoint the major marketing trends of the next twelve months, you can begin budgeting for the change, and subtly change direction now. Take a look at these four new trends, and think about how you can move towards them.

United Nations of smartphone operating systems by Jon Fingas via CC BY-ND 2.0

1) Mobile and location-based marketing

Mobile growth had an important year in 2015. At the start of the year, mobile browsing finally overtook desktop and laptop browsing. More people are using mobile devices to get online than any other technology, a trend that is expected to continue to grow in 2016. We’ll also start to see wearable technology find its feet and establish itself, which means coming up with unique location-based marketing strategies. How can your company harness your customer’s location to its benefit? Finally, it’s time to start thinking seriously about developing an app.

2) Long-term relationship building

Until now, digital marketing has focused on short-term success. It’s been all about hitting certain numbers of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and making quick, easy sales online. After all, the Internet provides a forum for real-time conversations with customers and prospects 24/7. The most successful marketers are slowly realizing that a more traditional approach might actually be more cost effective. By nurturing customers for longer, they can double or even triple their sales over time. Start thinking about a way to retain customers, and make the second, third, and fourth sale.

3) SEO is more important than ever

It’s no secret that Google is always updating its algorithm. Every year, the search giant introduces a new change, and every year, it gets smarter. That means your SEO strategy needs to change and adapt alongside it. We asked the experts at Pay On Performance about what SEO will look like in 2016, and here’s what they told us. First, we’ll need to be more careful and targeted with our keywords. Don’t add redundant or unrelated keywords to pages and posts, and focus on long-tail keywords for more traffic. We’ll also need more organic and natural back links to bring more visitors to our sites and blogs. Finally, we’ll need to focus even more on producing quality content and new metrics like ‘time-on-site’ and engagement. That’s what Google is looking for in 2016.

4) Social media is expanding

If 2015 proves anything, it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere. Many predicted that Facebook’s bubble would eventually burst, but it shows no signs of slowing down (although Twitter has hit a stumbling block). In 2016, Facebook will integrate itself even further into our lives, but it doesn’t end there. Instagram and Pinterest have posted enormous growth figures in 2015. Statistics also show they have much higher rates of engagement and drive more sales. These two platforms will be critical for you next year, so start building a strategy now.

Taking note of these trends now will help you get a head start on next year! Where do you think digital marketing is heading? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Are you thinking about adding new platforms into your social media mix? Does your digital marketing strategy need an overhaul? Let’s talk, so we can put together a plan for you.

p.s. Wednesday, October 21st is ‘Back to the Future’ Day. What technology from the 80s blockbuster do you wish we had today?

Riding my hoverboard to 2016,
Jaime

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Awesome Marketing Concepts Your Small Business Shouldn’t Overlook

Cleary Conveyed Communications business card

Marketing a new company can be tough. You don’t know the best ways of reaching your audience in the beginning, and discovering the best promotional ideas involves a process of trial and error. While the digital landscape is a hot property, traditional marketing vehicles can still work in today’s high-tech world.

Business Cards

As the infographic below shows, business cards are (still) effective marketing tools. They help you make a good first impression, and ensure you stay top of mind with clients and prospects. Most people keep business cards they receive for future needs. While it’s tempting to go all digital, a well designed business card printed on quality stock can open up a world of possibilities.

Billboard Advertising

Admit it; we all look at billboards on the side of the road. Most people think advertising on one is expensive, but billboards (or outdoor advertising) is surprisingly affordable. In fact, you can usually get one for a few hundred dollars or less. Thousands of drivers could encounter your brand who otherwise would not, and it’s a great way to expand your local reach.

TV Advertising

Ten years ago, only the largest companies could afford to pay for TV ads, but changes in the industry have forced networks to lower their prices. Businesses can now advertise on TV for less than $5,000, depending on your market. The drop in price, additional time slots and regional availability have opened the door for small businesses to compete with larger companies in this popular arena.

These marketing concepts could provide a boost for your company if you give them a shot. If your business serves a niche market, remember to target your marketing campaigns accordingly. Think big, and your company will do amazing things.

Enjoy this Business Card Must-Haves for Effective Networking infographic, and feel free to share with your clients, co-workers and fellow business professionals.

Do you carry physical business cards?

What traditional (or old school) marketing technique has worked for you?

What’s your favorite way to network?

A (business) card carrying small business owner,
Jaime

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Infographic Designed By http://www.allbusinesscards.com/

The Key Elements To Running A Successful Blog

Good Blog Design

The success of your blog begins with good design. Why? The average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds, continuing a downward trend. In other words, visitors won’t stick around if their first impression is negative. Make sure the design of your blog is user-friendly and easy to navigate. There should always be a search bar for people to look for posts on specific topics quickly. Also, you should have menus displaying your categories (and tags, if applicable). Ensure that the overall design is easy on the eyes too. You don’t want there to be too much going on, distracting visitors from consuming your content. It should be simple, but classy, and reflect your brand. It’s not that hard to come up with a good blog design with a little help. And, if you do, you’re on your way to a successful blog.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Post Regularly

One key to all popular blogs is regular posting. If you have a blog that you like to read, you prefer that they post regularly. It’s hard for people to get involved with a blog if you’re posting once a month. Viewers want regular content, and frequent posts will only see your view count increase. Naturally, you should make sure that all your posts are of a high standard. Don’t post any old thing just for the sake of posting. You have to post good content on a regular basis to run a successful blog.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a clever way for your blog to make some extra money. You will work in tandem with another company and promote something for them. You could write a blog post reviewing one of their products or services and link back to their website. You’ll then receive financial payment depending on how many of your viewers click on the link and visit the affiliate’s site. If your blog is generating a lot of traffic, you’re likely to make more money! First, you need to find some affiliate marketing platforms, and sign up with one that you like. The company will add your blog to its database and contact you if they find an affiliate that’s a good match for your blog. It can be a great way to earn some money and help make your blog successful.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Social Media

You want your blog to get a lot of views, earn money and be a success, but you’ll only get views if you market it properly. The best ways to market a blog are by improving SEO and using social media. If you improve the SEO of your site, it will rank higher in search engine rankings. Work on improving your ranking for relevant keywords, and focus on long-tail keywords, which are easier to rank for. For example, shoes (or even running shoes) is a short-tail keyword. Women’s trail running shoes for flat feet is a long-tail keyword.

Similarly, social media is the perfect place to promote your blog to millions of people. Make sure you post links to your latest articles across various social media platforms, formatted appropriately to maximize exposure on each platform. Use hashtags to increase the the eyeballs on your posts and strong calls-to-action (CTAs) to drive potential customers to click through to consume your content.

Are you interested in blogging or improving your blog? Check out our previous blog-related posts or contact us with your questions. We love supporting fellow bloggers, so drop your blog link in the comments below or suggest your favorite blog to read.

Happy blogging!
Jaime

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The Best Social Media Sites For Business Marketing

"A Conversation" by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

Social media is one of the best marketing tools for businesses. In fact, it’s not just great for businesses; it’s great for individuals looking to market a blog too.

I could go on and on about the advantages and strengths of social media marketing. Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the best social media sites for business marketing.

Facebook image via CC0 Public Domain

Is your business on the largest social networking site on the planet?

Facebook

Facebook has been around for 11 years now and few would have predicted its success. When it started out, there were a few users who accessed the platform to stay in touch with family and friends. Facebook is currently the most used social networking site of all time and shows no sign of slowing down. Millions of people use Facebook every day for a variety of reasons, and this is why it’s perfect for marketing. In addition to the vast amount of potential customers, the social giant offers resources for businesses to help with your marketing efforts. You can pay to have your Facebook page advertised on people’s News Feeds who fall into your target audience(s). There’s also a local element; you can advertise directly to potential customers in your area and promote your location via check-ins, a map and your profile. It’s a tremendous site for businesses to use and continues to add new features and resources on a regular basis.

Twitter image via CC0 Public Domain

Has your business joined the conversation on Twitter?

Twitter

When I think of Twitter, two words pop into my head: real-time and community. Twitter is the social networking site that people go to for instant updates. With its 140-character limit (for now), the micro-blogging platform encourages a higher volume of posting than other social platforms. Many people now go on Twitter to find out about news stories and learn what’s going on in the world. If you’re a Twitter veteran, you’ve probably noticed that online communities are easily formed there by utilizing lists, hashtags and tagging other users. In a business sense, it’s ideal for marketing. You can zone in on Twitter audiences that are most relevant to your business. Twitter also presents you the opportunity to engage with a lot of people. Some of the best social media marketing strategies include using Twitter to engage with users. Using hashtags gives you the chance to promote your business to people all over the world.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Is your business utilizing the power of video?

YouTube

Many people forget about YouTube when the discussion turns to social media. It is considered a social networking site because you can create a profile and interact with others. YouTube was purchased by Google in 2006, only a year after its arrival, and is now a serious player in the entertainment business, with billions of people watching videos every day. This is fantastic news from a business marketing perspective. It gives you a chance to upload videos promoting your business, which can be viewed by potential customers around town or around the world. There’s also a chance that your video could go viral, resulting in a significant increase in traffic, attention and customers to your business. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, than a video is worth even more.

While social media is a conversation, what you want to achieve from this game-changing addition to your marketing mix is all about you.

While these three social platforms can be great options for businesses, remember that your business has unique objectives and needs. That’s why it’s crucial to put together a strategy before getting social. If you’d like help putting together your targeted strategy (or just have some questions on the subject), let us know. We love to help brands get social with their targeted audience(s)!

Let’s do social well (and social good),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media for business, social strategies or otherwise):
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5 Digital Marketing Trends To Develop Your Marketing Strategy

A strong online presence is essential in today’s market. Without the help of digital marketing, your business is already one step behind. It’s that simple. To make sure that you never fall behind the curve, here are five marketing trends to keep you current. These are relevant right now, so prepare to adjust and adapt in the coming months.

'Digital Marketing Trends' by Automotive Social via CC BY 2.0

Is your digital marketing strategy up-to-date?


Don’t Rely On Google (Now a Subsidiary of Alphabet)

Whisper it quietly so no one can hear you, because you might start a riot. Google, the king of the Internet’s search engines, might be on the decline (and is certainly going through massive changes). That doesn’t mean that the search giant isn’t still relevant. Google holds the largest market share and is one of the biggest brands on the planet. However, consumers are starting to want more from their search engine. Some just want a change because Google has been around for too long. SEO is too important to put all of your eggs in the same basket. 


Mobile All The Time

One platform that you have to rely on is mobile. Unlike Google, mobile technology is at the peak of its powers. More than ever, consumers around the globe are using mobile technology to make purchases. Right now, there is an obsession with everything mobile that does not look like it is going to subside anytime soon. Remember that mobile technology is the technology of choice for over half of the world’s purchases, so it’s crucial to incorporate mobile technology into your digital marketing strategy. 


Payment Methods Are Becoming More Popular

A Magento developer has never been more important for e-commerce and online payment websites. With the rise of the Europay, MasterCard and Visa card, or EMV for short, a new age of online purchases is here. Today, you need more from your developer than ever before. They have to be able to install and input these new techniques into your site because the world is quickly embracing the technology. EMVs are supposed to reduce the risk of fraud and data breaches, so you can see why they are becoming more popular.


Time To Start A Conversation

Unless you have been living ‘off the grid’ for the past several years, you know all about the benefits of social media for business. However, one tactic that is often left is the ability to start a conversation. Yes, social platforms are a great source of inexpensive advertising, but they also allow you to connect to your customer base. By connecting with your customers, you have the ability to improve your conversion rates. Sometimes, a simple conversation is all it takes to get to know someone and create a sense of loyalty.

Get Social: 4 Easy Ways to Join the Conversation


Paid Advertising Is Key

The trend of paying for advertising is not a popular one, but it is here for the long-term. As a result, paying for online advertising will provide a boost to your marketing strategy if done correctly. 

Digital Marketing Trends: Your Feedback

What do you see as the biggest digital marketing trend right now?

What will be the biggest digital marketing trend in 2016?

Which social network do you prefer for your brand?

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy or have any questions, let’s talk.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about digital marketing, social media or otherwise):
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5 SEO Techniques That Will Boost Your Web Presence

Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that every website and business owner needs to use and understand. Here are 5 techniques to help you get started and boost your web presence.

5 SEO Techniques That Will Boost Your Web Presence

  1. Choose Your URL Carefully

It’s important to make sure your website’s URL is search engine-friendly. This is important when you’re setting up a website for the first time. The URL should be pretty easy to understand when people see it. It should include words that are recognizable and say something about what is contained on the web page. It’s easy enough to change your URL even if your website has been in use for a long time, so consider this option if you’re not seeing the right traffic.

  1. Focus on Keywords

It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of using the right keywords. They need to be used in almost every part of your website, including your titles, content and image names. You need to think about how your keywords translate as search terms. This is important because the whole point of SEO is to customize your website so that it’s easy to find on search engines. So when you have a web page, you should think about what people would type into Google if they were looking for it.

  1. Get Linked Back to on Social Media

It’s vital to get links back to your website on social media. This means linking back to your website and trying to get links from other people and accounts. The first part of this is easy. You just need to provide links to your website alongside a short tweet that outlines what you’re linking back to. But it’s more difficult to get other people linking back to your website from Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms. It’s not impossible though. Building a strong following on social media and linking to other people’s websites will help.

  1. Make Use of Internal Links

Internal links are one of the most basic, and one of the most important, parts of getting your approach to SEO right. It’s a simple and easy way to improve the traffic to your various web pages. It’s also helpful for visitors who might like what they’re reading and want to see what else you have to offer. This doesn’t mean you should go over the top with it though because then it will look unnatural. Make sure that the link is natural and relevant to the text if you want the best results.

  1. Get Extra Help

There’s no reason to try and take everything on by yourself. If you’re not an SEO expert, then it’s always a good idea to get help from external companies that specialize in this area. Of course, you can do the basics, like the things mentioned above, by yourself. But for the more complex tasks, it could be a better idea to use the expertise of someone else. This guide will give you more information about tools and companies that can help with your website’s SEO.

SEO is an important part of your marketing strategy. If you have any questions, we’d love to talk.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about SEO, your web presence or otherwise):
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