Archives for brand management

Branding the Sales Funnel

What does your brand say about you? Or does anyone even know your brand?

Something that you hear a lot of in social media is the idea of branding.  We also hear about branding in exclusion to sales. But is branding just a marketers excuse for not delivering the sale? What part of the sales funnel incorporates branding?

Branding

When a marketer isn’t deliver the sale you will often hear them say:

“We are building your brand recognition”

“Creating a strong brand”

“Getting your brand out there”

What does that mean? What is the value of branding? It might sound like a bucket of horse apples, but there might be more to it than you think.

A brand is a name you know, like and trust. So branding is the art of becoming knowable, likeable and trustworth.  Not sure you are fully seeing the value?  Lets look at some of the ultimate branding successes:

Kleenex – Your nose is runny to you ask for a facial tissue or a kleenex?

Coke- Have you ever said you wanted a coke and then were asked what kind?

Xerox– how often do you make photo-stats or do you make a xerox

Even Google has become one- “Let me google that” instead of “let me search for that”

These are words that have become a part of our vocabulary and encompass everyone in their category. Of course most people won’t achieve this level of brand recognition, but it doesn’t mean that branding doesn’t play a valuable roll in your business marketing.

Brand recognition is what separates you from the pack. Your name becomes synonymous with your reputation. If that reputation is good then your name carries its own capital value. If your reputation is good and your name is synonymous with your reputation, then you will breed trust with your brand. That trust then also becomes a part of the brand reputation.

Does branding get you the sale?

Not in the short run. But it will in the long run. When you are building your brand you need to focus on establishing your reputation. People don’t yet know you so they don’t yet trust you. If they don’t trust you why are they going to click your link and buy from you?  However, once you have brand recognition they will buy from you because they do trust you. Not only will they buy from you but you will have better loyalty and be able to command a higher price than your unbranded competition. People are willing to pay for reputation.

In some cases your reputation becomes a status symbol, like Bently or Rolex. There are plenty of other diamond encrusted watches that are good. But you know Rolex is good and that they stand behind their product. So you are willing to pay a premium for what you know to be a quality product with good customer service and a high retained equity value. That is another place where branding comes into play. The value of your brand also extends to its long term equity. If you are known for excellence in your products, that can generate a higher resale value, which intern makes buying your product an investment.

Social Branding

Branding is not the end all be all of marketing. You still need to go out and farm the lead and work the sale. Though it will great help you in the long run, you still have to get the sale in the short run.  This is why social media is so effective to accomplish both. With a good strategy you can generate leads while you simultaneously work your branding. As your branding improves, so will your sales.

Using the social networks to get in front of your audience and participate in topic relevant conversations are a great way to get your brand in front of your potential customers. By thoughtfully participating you can begin to boost your reputation by establishing yourself as educated and informed. This is the first step to being trustworthy.

Brand your Sales Funnel

You do not have to have a million dollar marketing budget to work on branding. You need to get the sales.  But your branding should not be separate from your sales, it should be integrated.  While you are finding your leads and closing your sales, keep in mind that your brand will be helping you along the way. So help it back. Hop onto your networks and jump into the conversations. Offer your knowledge and contribute.  You will be surprised at how many leads you can generate by simply participating.

 

Social Media: The Ultimate Business Tool (part 1)

The Social Media Examiner released their Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Over this next week I will be sharing and analyzing it. Below is a summary of the top findings from the report:

Marketers place high value on social media: A significant 90% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business.
Marketers want to know how to monitor and measure ROI and integrate those results into their strategy.
Social media marketing takes a lot of time: Most marketers are spending 6 hours a week on social media.
Video marketing is on the rise: 77% of marketers plan to increase YouTube and video integration into their social marketing plan.
Facebook and Blogging are the two social media platforms marketers want to learn more about.
The top benefits of social media marketing: Social media marketing is generating more business exposure (72%) and improved SEO (62%).
The top social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs are the top social media tools used by marketers, in that order.
Social media outsourcing is underutilized: Only 28% of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing.

This indicates that social media has become an integral part of business marketing.  It is a resource for business connections and, more significantly, for business exposure.  Traditional marketers continue to struggle with concepts of ROI, because in social media what is really counts is ROR, or Return on Reputation. ROR is not simply based on click-throughs or recognized at point-of-sale; it encompasses the relationships you build, the word of mouth you generate, the authority and trust you establish, the reach you gain and the influence you have.  Though this does not always convert to overnight money, it does convert to long term success. Social media is not about the immediate buck – it is about growth, development and the continuing success of your brand.

In short, social media is gaining strength as the ultimate tool in brand management and recognition.

This week I will bring you more trends, tools, successes and challenges of utilizing social media.

 

The Softer Side of Facebook: Zuckerberg’s Puppy

Mark Zuckerbergs new puppy

"I am a Puli, which is a type of Hungarian Sheepdog. I was born in Grants Pass, Oregon and now I live in Palo Alto with Mark and Cilla. I am extremely cute."

From the start, Mark Zuckergberg had the air of a highly motivated genius who created a social network that became the definition of social networks.  Since its inception, Facebook has dominated the social networking world.  As it got bigger, people wanted to know more about the mastermind behind it, and Mark Zuckerberg became a household name.

Fast forward to the movie The Social Network, and Zuck transformed from driven genius to megalomaniac.  As they say in the movie “Mark, you are not an ass-hole. You are just trying really hard to be.” Obviously the movie is not a documentary and everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt. However, what it does convey is the flip side to the socially awkward computer genius. He is also someone who will fiercely defend his creation.

The movie definitely left the impression that Zuckerberg is a bit of an anti-social jerk.  Though people admire him and are constantly impressed with his accomplishments, he has not recovered from his own image. Now, Mark is possibly taking hold of this by offering a “softer side of Zuck”. He has created a Fan Page for his new puppy.

The Fan Page features pictures of Mark and his girlfriend playing with his very cute fuzzy-faced puppy.  You are probably asking, why do I care? Well, good question. Zuck is using Facebook as a way to create a new facet of his image.  The Fan Page for his dog is not that interesting. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was Zuckerberg’s dog, I would not care.  But it is his dog. I am interested in him. I am interested in who the person behind Facebook really is.  So I Liked the page.

Social media is a living network. What happened yesterday might be written in ink but it is not written in stone. This means that just like the real life version of yourself, your online persona is changeable.  You might never be able to shed a bad brand image entirely, but you can reinvent it to a degree.  Mark is using his new puppy as a way to show that he is a real person who is caring and funloving.

Use your tools.  Your brand is not always what you create, but it can be highly influenced by you and by alternate perceptions of you.

You have no control over your brand, embrace it!

Every company wants to have complete control over their brand. You want to be able to control what is said about your brand, whether it is you or someone else saying it. This is precisely why some businesses are nervous about going into social media, because they do not have that control. However, social media is happening whether you are a part of it or not.

This lack of control is not actually new with social media, it is just bringing it to a new level. Word of mouth reputation always existed. News publications would write product or business articles either in support of, or against, a brand. Then there is the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports. Once the Internet became popular along came service and product reviews, website reviews, blog reviews. The big difference now is that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are potentially increasing the conversation about your brand. People can write about you to their friends, on your page, or just generally comment.

Recommendations from someone you know are the most influential. So just as a good report from a friend about your brand can boost sales and referrals, a bad report can potentially damage them. However, this is where it is not necessarily cut and dried. Usually:

Good recommendation =  more business, sales, referrals, increase in reputation

Bad recommendation =  less business, loss of sales, damage to reputation, no control over impact of bad publicity.

On Social Media:

Good recommendation = more business, sales, referrals, increase in reputation, plus increased sales leads, fostering of relationships, demonstrating an interest in your clients, client interaction becomes a resource

Bad recommendation=  you have the ability to communicate with the person who wrote the bad review, an opportunity to resolve the issue and increase customer service and client relations, talk about issue publicly, communicate, dismiss rumors, respond to bad press and turn it into something good.

Essentially the conversation is happening whether you are part of it or not.  So it is time to accept that you have no true control over your brand.  What you do have control over, though, is your brand’s ability to communicate and engage.