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These 10 questions will help you determine if your marketing needs a refresh:

With nearly thirty million small businesses in the U.S., it can be overwhelming trying to market your brand, build awareness, and ensure that your company stays ahead of the competition. Business owners often think that if they have invested in a logo, built a website, and created social media pages they have all of the marketing elements they need. In 2018, however, 76% of small-business owners reported facing marketing challenges, and with digital marketing becoming significantly more popular, the strategy and technology that go into marketing are also becoming more complex. Many businesses are noticing that their efforts aren’t generating quite the same impact that they once did, and they are also recognizing that it might be time for a marketing strategy reboot.

1. Is your website up to date?

Having a website isn’t enough anymore. Customers will often search the web when they are trying to find solutions to their problems. Here, they encounter a vast number of results all offering similar products and services. Therefore, businesses need to put time and effort into thinking through the set of actions they want users to take when visiting their website. Successful websites have a clear pathway or “funnel” that guides visitors through a “sales journey.” Businesses should have clear “calls to action” and content that quickly informs users how their product or service can solve a problem better than anyone else.

Additionally, with more and more people abandoning their desktops, we are moving into an era where companies should be thinking about how their website will react on mobile devices. Today, about 50% of all website users are searching from their mobile devices, so if your website is not formatted for these platforms, you could be missing out on a lot of new business.

2. Are you coming up when customers search online?

Ensuring that your business information is accurate and up to date on major search directories (such as Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, and dozens of others) helps potential customers find your company. These sites should feature your contact information, web address, and any other relevant information. Customers are looking for your products or services, but if they can’t find you, they can’t buy from you no matter how good your products or services are.

As digital marketing rapidly evolves, online reviews are becoming more relevant than ever before! Today, nine out of ten consumers use online reviews to decide whether or not they want to purchase from a company. Accordingly, it is important to have a strategy in place for getting online reviews, responding to reviews quickly (both good and bad), and streamlining the review process. These actions all work toward establishing a positive reputation for your company.

3. How far into a customer’s search will you show up?

You’ve probably heard that SEO and PPC marketing can boost traffic to your website, but what exactly is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising? SEO is the practice of achieving high search engine rankings through organic results—the higher your site is ranked on search engines, the more likely customers will click on it. Alternatively, PPC advertising is when companies pay to advertise and rank higher in the sponsored section of search engines.

Every business wants to be on the first page of Google and justifiably so given that more that 50% of users wind up clicking on one of the first three search results. Getting to the top can be difficult to do, however, without a dedicated SEO marketing strategy. By implementing tactics, such as naturally placing specific keywords on your website, you will organically begin to lead your target audience to your website when they conduct online searches using these words. Therefore, investing in a focused SEO program can help get you moving toward that first page and ultimately get you more business.

Paid search (PPC advertising) is also an excellent marketing tactic for getting your company featured in a higher position on a search engine. PPC advertising can increase the number of precisely targeted customers that come into contact with your brand. By selecting the specific audience who will see your advertisement and focusing on search terms that are relevant to your product, you can completely customize when and where your ads will make an appearance. This is an extremely cost-effective and focused approach if your marketing needs a refresh.

4. Is your email marketing running on autopilot?

Building an automated email marketing strategy is an incredibly effective low-cost way to build brand awareness. Ordinarily, it takes about seven branded touchpoints before a person begins to even notice your business. Through email marketing, companies can pre-build a series of emails that are automatically sent to specific customer segments based on predefined triggers. These strategically planned “journeys” are shown to have significantly higher open rates and larger conversion numbers than promotional emails and newsletters. To do this, you should be actively collecting email addresses and encouraging users to opt in to your marketing lists.

5. Does your content provide value?

Today’s consumers spend more time educating themselves about their purchasing decisions than ever before. Providing content that shows potential customers how your product or service can solve their problems or fulfill their desires is a great way to give your brand a voice and establish your business as an authority in your industry. People will start to look to your company as a resource for solving their pain points and begin trusting your brand.

Starting a blog and posting it on your website and social media platforms can increase your reach and help drive leads through organic search traffic. As you create and push out more and more useful content, your credibility will begin to grow. You will start developing more engaged relationships and building increased loyalty. As customers start interacting with you, your number of followers will ultimately grow, and your bottom line will increase.

6. Is your social media strategy authentic?

Social media is a great way to stay connected with your loyal supporters as well as reach new audiences. With Facebook alone having more than two billion active users, it’s no wonder why social media should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. As an example of how relevant social media platforms can be, 75% of Instagram users reported visiting a website or making a purchase after seeing an Instagram ad. Creating engaging content that encourages your audience to take some sort of further action can help lead to increased sales and brand loyalty. You can do this by actively answering questions that your customers often ask about how your product will help them solve a problem or fulfill a desire.

Just having a presence on social media sites, however, isn’t enough. You need to actively post on a consistent basis. It is necessary to be where your customers are, and, trust us, they are using social media! This is a great way to give your brand a boost if your marketing needs a refresh.

7. Have you built a funnel to drive lead generation?

Incorporating a sales funnel into your marketing strategy is a solid way to generate leads and automatically act on them. The process involves attracting “leads” who have expressed some sort of interest in your business and converting these individuals into “prospects.” This can be accomplished in many ways, such as by interacting with people at trade shows, investing in PPC advertisements, or sending users to targeted landing pages. Once you have your leads’ attention, you need to guide and encourage these individuals to take some sort of action (e.g., provide their email address, fill out a form, or make a basic purchase). Now that you have captured their information and they have “opted in,” you can continue to reach out to this group by sending more and more targeted content as they filter themselves through the funnel until they convert to loyal paying customers.

8. Who doesn’t love a party?

Events are a great way to provide consumers with an interactive experience of your brand. By directly engaging with your target audience, you have a chance to ask questions and get honest feedback. There are many scenarios where you can get face-to-face with your target market, including the following:

These are all surefire ways to bring in new customers and expand your reach to those who may not have otherwise engaged with you.

9. Are you asking your customers for their mobile numbers?

With 98% open rates (most in under three seconds), text message marketing is quickly becoming a popular tool for business. This is all the more reason why you should be collecting mobile phone numbers and asking your customers to opt in for future texts from your business. Even if you’re not yet ready to use them, gathering this information now will help you in the future.

10. After reading this, are you still not quite sure how to begin?

Running a business can be challenging. Business owners are often stuck doing everything from bookkeeping to human resources and even marketing all while still trying to find time to provide customers with their core services and products. So, remember that it is okay to ask for a little help every now and then. You may even find yourself becoming more productive and lowering costs by focusing on what you do best and outsourcing the rest!

Conclusion

A marketing reboot may sound daunting and time-consuming, but by implementing the strategies above, you will create opportunities to reach new market segments while also deepening your relationships with current customers. At BoBella, we provide companies with marketing solutions to help them grow. If your marketing needs a refresh, our turnkey solutions will allow you to get back to what you do best while we work to get you marketing results.

Interested in making your marketing strategy more effective? Contact us today for a FREE 15-minute marketing strategy consultation!

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marketing needs a refresh

Have you ever thought about where the concept of “branding” comes from? From the start of the marketplace, there have been trademarks and other symbols for craftsman to distinguish their…brands, if you will. Cattle and sheep were branded with hot irons to let consumers know what farms they were from, and of course, to assure buyers of the quality of their meat. In 2018, correct branding can symbolize a products “quality” very similar to how brands were used in early history regarding cattle, but there may be a little more to it these days. Recent studies suggest the foundation of a brand can be seen as a psychological model based on human perception. What does that mean exactly? As Bernd Schmitt states in The Consumer Psychology Model of Brands, “Different consumers have different levels of psychological engagement with brands because of different needs, motives, and goals.” To further explain, I’ll start with one simple fact, your brand encompasses two entities: Brand Identity and Brand Image.

Brand identity is your ideal internal personality; meaning, it is how a company views itself and the way you want your consumers to view you. Your brand is your company, your employees, your events, and everything else about your enterprise. Correct use of brand identity motivates and retains employees, thus making your company run more efficiently because everyone is on the same page. Logos, taglines, aesthetic style, and language tone all contribute to your brand’s identity. On the other hand, brand image is the reality of your brand – it is what consumers see, feel, and think about you. This includes your reputation, emotion, impression, and beliefs.

Are you working on rebranding or do you need a boost to help develop your identity? Luckily, Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at Stanford University, developed a framework that measures the five core dimensions of a brand’s personality; sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. This model ranks each of these personality dimensions of a brand on a five-point scale, helping to differentiate a brand from others in a product category. From these dimensions, there are brand attributes (core values that pinpoint the character, and the physical and personality traits of a brand).

Another way to find your brand’s personality and attributes is through concept mapping. Brand concept mapping is essentially a diagram you create centered from the core of your brand with all relevant brand attributes branching from it. In short, concept mapping and brand personality work together to help understand a brand’s identity. Here at BoBella, we use these models to understand each of our clients’ brands personalities so that we can develop an appropriate brand identity.

Brand image is very important because it is how consumers view your brand – you want your brand to be viewed externally the same way it is viewed internally, thus, aligning your identity with your image. Your logo, website, storefront, and marketing collateral all play into brand image. “But, how are brands viewed by external subjects, what does that mean?” you may be wondering. The answer is psychology. In 2012, “The Consumer Psychology of Brands” by Bernd Schmitt was published in The Journal of Consumer Psychology with a model showing consumer perceptions and judgments related to brands.

This model distinguishes five brand related processes: identifying, experiencing, integrating, signaling, and connecting with a brand. When a consumer identifies a brand, they associate it with the product category and automatically compare it with other brands. Experiencing a brand includes touchpoints, which are multi-sensory stimulations through site, sound, smell, touch, and taste. For example, if your brand has a well-known slogan or jingle, a consumer may think of your brand when they hear a similar tune. Or, if you spray a scent consistently in your storefront, a consumer will remember your product(s) when they smell the scent again. Your brand can also affect emotions and mood, known as emotional branding – warm colors give off different feelings versus cold colors in your website or logo or store design.

Integrating is the beginning of a consumer’s summary of your overall brand concept, also referred to as the brand image. Your brand may be considered a signifier that recites specific meanings to consumers. For example, consider a brand that represents cultural values (Grey Goose is featured in music and videos targeted towards a specific niche market), or represent a generation (such as how Abercrombie & Fitch is considered a millennial brand). Your brand may also be used to help someone signal his or her individual identity. For example, consumers may buy your brand to express the way they feel about themselves, others, or conclude their own identity from a purchase (“I bought a Mercedes because I view myself as successful,” “I bought a Mercedes to show my peers I am successful,” “I am successful because I bought a Mercedes”).

The final step in the “Consumer Psychology of Brands” model is connecting. Connecting is indicated by a consumer’s attitude and attachment to a brand, which could indicate a consumer’s intentions of repeat purchasing. All of these psychological factors are your image – emotions, reputations, impressions, and beliefs of your brand from consumers.

As you can see, brand identity and brand image have to be harmonious for a product or service to sell. It is recommended that you work with a professional agency to help your brand be the best it can be. BoBella’s team digs deep to get to know a company’s internal brand identity and external brand image and then aligns them to create a unified perception. It is an intense process of colors, fonts, strategies, logos, websites, concept mapping, and more to create a valued brand. And, yes…we have come a long way from hot irons.

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