Your small business brand and reputation - The online world is a jungle, pure and simple. You’re competing against not only your neighbors, but an entire world’s worth of similar businesses, especially if you’re branding internationally. The good thing, however, is that as big as the potential competition is, the amount of possible customers is also huge — as long as you can get their attention and recognition.
This is why brand and reputation management is one of the most important things you can devote your marketing efforts to, it will set you apart from the crowd and make you that much more identifiable in the digital jungle. Below are a few starter tips on making sure your name and what you’re all about are well known to your customers and their friends.
Create a Website Design/Layout that Works
This is the single most basic thing you can do; making sure your website itself works properly, is easy to follow and fits the feel of what you’re all about. If your business is about something more serious and professional, make sure your web pages reflect that professionalism and seriousness. On the other hand, if you’re selling sports equipment or extreme vacation tours, a different image is probably going to work better, involving certain colors, styles and images. All of these things are part of your personal branding. If you have a certain logo or trademark phrase, make sure it’s very visible on your site too, so nobody can miss it.
Bottom line, don’t let things on the home front be too generic, make your page distinct and your own in at least a few ways. Additionally, make sure everything is functional; this isn’t so much a matter of branding, but nobody trusts a business whose website is a mess of 404 errors, shopping carts that don’t work right and links that can’t be clicked.
Get connected to the Social Networks
Open as many social networking accounts as you can, at least in all the important networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Make sure you have your brand name registered with them all as soon as possible and be sure to regularly update each fan page or account on a frequent basis. Use them to discuss your offers, sales, events, promotions and always, always respond to serious questions or comments from your followers and customers on these channels.
Also, since you’re going to be connected to several social networks, you gotta get their buttons placed on your website, on every single page of it. Make sure that each page also has easy to use “share” buttons for the social networks, letting your website customers spread the word quickly and conveniently.
Create a YouTube Channel
YouTube is a major component of internet search these days and not nearly as competitive as Google’s regular search program. This is a major branding bonus in your favor. Create your own YouTube channel and register it under your business name. After you’ve done this, start posting videos on a fairly regular basis. What kind of videos? Well, almost every business can create a how too or information video that relates to what they sell. Do a clean, professional looking job of creating a number of these and get them up there on your channel, making sure each video has a link to your website embedded on it or shown in the video itself.
Contribute to Discussion Forums and Comment Threads
These days this means two things: Contributing to website forums, discussion threads and blog comment threads on pages that relate to whatever your small business is selling, and contributing to comment threads and discussions on the major social networks, especially Facebook. However, unless you want to look spammy and get ignored by everyone, make sure your contributions are relevant, genuinely helpful, informative and nowhere near pushy in their insistence that someone visits your small business website. Don’t contribute just to spread your URL, contribute to honestly help potential customers so they willingly click back to your business.
Creating a Catchy Brand Name and Trade marking it
As a last simple tip, the importance of creating a brand name that fits your business style and type can’t be understated. Work on this one carefully and make sure you create it to fit the feel of your business while being easy to remember. Again, try to stay away from really generic or boring logos, phrases or brand names. Once you’ve got your brand name and any logos sorted out, get them trademarked as fast as possible! It’s cheap, it’s easy and it could save you thousands of dollars in legal troubles later on.
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