Running a business has numerous facets to be considered, and in this post, I'm going to focus - in broad strokes - on sales and marketing. Let's begin by talking about brand and why it's important to your success.
A brand is not your name and logo. It is not your colour, font or image choices. Your brand is how your customers think and feel about you and you cannot control that directly - you can only try to guide it indirectly.
Or, look at it this way, "It takes more than a tiara to make you the Queen of England" and it will take more than hanging up a sign on your door to be successful.
"It takes more
than a tiara
to make you
the Queen of
Why this is important is that your brand sets your customers expectations before they walk through the door, it attracts new customers when they choose you over your competitors as well as keeping your existing customer base from going elsewhere – and finally, it defines both your pricing and your perceived value to your customers. It's that important.
Managing your brand is essential
Let me give you another example. Imagine you are a famous movie director and you had a vision for a romantic film. You spent years working to bring your vision to life, planning and crafting your story, hiring the best director, cameraman and finding that perfect location.
You want to hire well known actors, but you're beginning to worry about your budget and think you can save some money on your two primary stars, so you choose two other actors; ones with less experience, less well known, less fame...
...and while the final result may be charming, it is not exactly what you had hoped for, not exactly what you had envisioned so many years ago at the beginning of the process.
Your audience will also be expecting a different film and when they leave the theatre they will be disappointed because the film didn't meet their expectation and they will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on until the film no longer attracts any customers.
A brand is "the set of expectations, memories,
stories and relationships that, taken together,
account for a consumer's decision to choose
one product or service over another".
As I mentioned, although we cannot directly control how our customers think about our business, we can influence them to believe we are the more 'fun', 'modern', splashy', 'exciting', economical', 'safe', 'effective', 'wealthy', 'popular', brand than our competitor– and they will believe and share this perception - as long as their actual experience and expectations meet this perception.
So, like the fictitious film director I described, brands should take as much care and effort in every aspect of their business, including their logo, website, spa design, sales, marketing and customer service, etc. as required to ensure their vision meets their customers expectations.
In brand creation
"Design is essential, but design is not brand."
I'm going to share some low cost and free tools and software that will help you build your business and manage your brand.
Squarespace is a well known website builder, with free templates, product and service sales and marketing tools.
Weebly is a easy to use website builder with many common templates, ecommerce, inventory and order tracking as well as other add-ons.
Wix is a very easy to use website builder and domain host, with lots of great features that are simple to implement on your website – including drag and drop templates, mobile optimization, SEO, booking calendars including payment options and a large image collection.
WordPress powers 28% of the internet and has more than 350 easy-to use themes for a variety of businesses, however it takes more effort and knowledge to build and manage a WordPress site.
Reaching out to customer via email
MailChimp provides marketing automation for e-commerce businesses. Send beautiful emails, connect your e-commerce store, advertise, and build your brand. It is simple to use, offers free and low cost options and has superb customer support.
BTW, their brand hints that it is; 'so easy to use, even a chimp could do it'. Clever.
Have you been posting, sharing or marketing on social media and want to step up your game? If you spend a lot of time on social media, especially if you are on more than one channel, then you should consider a social media manager to help organize your marketing schedule.
Hootsuite is one of the better known managers. It offers a free plan for a single user including 3 social media platforms as well as various other plans for larger businesses. You can schedule your content manually or it can auto schedule content for you. It allows you to create search streams to find content relevant to your audience. You can also monitor all your social streams within Hootsuites dashboard making it easier to see what your followers are doing and saying.
Another popular social media manager is Buffer. They too have a free version, however it is slightly more limiting in the number of posts and media channels offered for free.
Social media image creators
Sharing your followers content is great, but you also want to build and post your own marketing content as well as promotional messages.
Pablo lets you quickly create inspirational social media image posts. It has a simple text editing function, limited photo filters and even allows you to add your logo for branding.
Canva is a full fledged tool that allows for more complex social media image posts, ads, posters and more and as a bonus includes thousands of images. The free version has some limitations, but you can always try out the 30 day trial to see if this tool is right for you.
Free images for your designs
There are numerous sites to find high quality, professional photographs and images for a price - but, below are some sites that have free images you can use for your sales and marketing projects.
Flickr has a good search engine, color palettes and many free creative commons images. www.flickr.com
There is also Unsplash and Pexels
Next level: Video editing
The power of mobile phone cameras is astonishing and there is no reason why you can't use your own videos for your marketing.
Openshot is a very good introductory video editor that is completely free and can be used on all computer operating systems.
Sales and Marketing instruction
Online training is becoming more and more popular and if you looking to learn new techniques or skills there are many to choose from.
Skillshare offers online classes for marketing, sales, design, business and more - Free and monthly pricing: www.skillshare.com
Building your brand is integral to building your business. Competition exists in every industry and marketplace - or it will enter the market at a later date. So, the real questions is how does one 'differentiate' themselves from potential competitors. I hope that by understanding the importance and power of your brand and with the help of these tools you be able to separate yourself from the crowd to reach the next level of your success.
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