Nearly all consumers use Internet resources to make purchasing decisions, even when shopping locally, according to a 2010 research by BIA/Kelsey. The study found that 97 percent of consumers used some kind of Internet resource, with 90 percent using search engines, 24 percent using Internet Yellow Pages and 48 percent using comparison shopping sites. With the vast majority of consumers turning to the Web for buying information, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your company’s online brand stands out and accurately reflects your company.
Give Your Brand an Identity
What is an online brand? Simply put: it’s how your company is perceived by Web shoppers. With the thousands of companies online, yours needs a way for shoppers to differentiate you from the pack. Most consumers click on the link in search engine results that they are most familiar with, observes Brian Taylor in Search Engine Journal. You need to be the company with that familiar link.
Consumer products companies are realizing that, to retain brand relationships and make their value proposition convincing, they need to redirect marketing budgets back into building the consumer relationship,” Elaine Parr from Ernst & Young’s UK & Ireland Advisory Services states on the company website. Now under CEO, Mark Weinberger, Ernst & Young’s brand marketing continues to help them remain one of the world’s top and most recognizable brands. (3)
How do you create your online brand? There are several different ways. You can hire a spokesperson to be the online voice of your company — or enlist your CEO if he’s a dynamic speaker (refer back to Weinberger). You can create a logo or mascot, such as the Geico gecko, or you can use colors than identify your company, such as Hertz Rent-a-Car’s vibrant yellow or UPS brown.
Your Social Media Brand
Of course, in today’s interactive environment, you need more than just a good logo. You need to be active in social media. There are more than 400 social media sites, and more are being added each month. Facebook alone has more than one billion registered users and Twitter has more than 550 million users, according to statisticbrain.com. Numbers like than are difficult to ignore.
How do you market your brand via social media channels? First, pick a few sites that best reflect your product or service. Facebook is a general site, but there are hundreds of smaller, more specific sites, like GoodReads (for books) or Revelry (for sewing and knitting enthusiasts).
Build an attractive and interesting page. To be successful online, interact with your customers and potential customers. “It’s not enough to just start the conversation,” cautions Inc. magazine. Interacting means posting frequently, sharing things like industry news, ways to use your product, special deals and images of your product in use. It also means responding promptly and courteously to client comments and questions.
Building Your Brand
What else can you do to build your brand? To be one step ahead of your competition, you must be perceived as the expert in your field. You can do that with a blog or social media posts that offer tips on thing like how to save energy (if you are an HVAC contractor), good pet dental health (if you’re a veterinarian) or how to prepare recipes (if you’re a food manufacturer or gardener). Even if your reader doesn’t need your product right now, you’re setting yourself up as an expert in his or her mind and that reader will likely turn to you when he or she does need your product.
The Bottom Line
Without an online brand, even the best product or service will fail to get noticed. In today’s dynamic and ever-changing marketplace, investing in an online brand isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
This is a guest post by Britney Anderson: A sales manager who loves closing deals, Britney enjoys sharing her strategies and getting feedback on what works and what doesn’t.