Monday, September 17, 2018

8-Step Branding Strategy for Your Small Businesses



Branding is so much more than having a cool logo or flashy website.

Sure, today you have to be able to engage your audience and “tell your story” . . . but if you don’t tell it the right way, you’re left with nothing but a wasted opportunity.

This is where branding strategy comes into play.

Many startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs only look at the present, focusing on short-term rather than the long-term growth and success of their business (the difference between a startup that dies after 6 months and a prosperous business such as eCommerce giant, Amazon).

So what exactly does branding mean? By definition, it means, “making a mark”. OK, that’s pretty vague.

Let me explain.

Branding is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Simply put, branding differentiates you from your competitors, and it allows you to control how you want to be perceived.

This is something that so many people neglect because they are involved in every other aspect of the business—they are overwhelmed.

Building a brand is a process. So where do you start?

Step 1 – Determine your target audience

Your business might be founded on a brilliant idea, but until you determine your target audience, your marketing efforts are going to suffer.

Who am I trying to reach? Who does my product/service appeal to most? Who is my ideal customer?

Now use this data to align your brand’s efforts with your target audience.

Step 2 – Research competing brands within your industry

Today, even the most original ideas have competition, and untapped niches are few and far between.

Scout out your competitors. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? How can you draw influence without becoming a carbon copy of other businesses?

Step 3 – Choose a brand name that is easy to spell, say, hear and REMEMBER

It’s easy to overthink naming your brand; but the most important thing is that you choose something that can be spelled, pronounced, and remembered.

If you’re able to use your brand name to clue your audience in on what your business is about, that’s a plus!



Step 4 – Define your brand

Your brand can be anything. And until you spend some time defining your brand and narrowing your focus, that’s exactly what it will be – anything.

As we mentioned earlier, branding is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Developing your brand’s identity allows you to create something unique and marketable.

Step 5 – Create value propositions

In online marketing, you don’t have the benefit of a face-to-face conversation or a facility that showcases your latest products and services. This makes value propositions extremely important to your brand.

What are value propositions? These are main selling points of your brand. They are what separate you from your competition.

Once you identify your value propositions, be sure to put them on display.

Step 6 – Set brand guidelines

Brand guidelines (or style guides) are often overlooked by small businesses, but they are an important component of a brand’s identity.

A clear set of brand guidelines allows you to maintain order and uniformity. A brand without guidelines looks scattered and unsure of itself.

Step 7 – Stand out from the crowd

If you followed steps 2 & 5, you should be able to start carving out your own lane within your industry or niche.

But if you’re still feeling this out, ask the people around you for honest feedback. What do they see as most attractive about your business? These are elements worth emphasizing.

Step 8 – Be consistent

The only way to build brand trust is through consistency.

If you make a 100% guarantee but only deliver 90% of the time, that’s not being consistent. If you boast a one-hour response time but don’t respond to someone for 24 hours, that’s not being consistent.

When it comes to building trust, all of the little things do matter.

Branding strategy is critical to the success of any business. If you dream of sustained success and customer loyalty, you need to be purposeful about branding.


With these 8 steps, you can do just that. 


Source: www.business2community.com
Image Credit: iStock by Getty Images

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Apply These 20 Local Marketing Strategies To Improve Your Small Business Revenue


An enormous 85% of business owners depend on word-of-mouth referrals, showing just how crucial it is to reach customers in your local area. Local marketing strategies are slightly different to the techniques and methods you’ll use for general marketing, as you’re working hard to find, reach, engage and appeal to local customers specifically.

Local Marketing Strategies

Here are 20 of the best local marketing strategies you can use to increase awareness and your customer base in your local area:

Get Involved with the Community

Getting involved with the local community can be a surprisingly effective way to engage with local customers. You’ll meet lots of local people and build valuable links. You can get involved with your community by attending local events, sponsoring charity events or perhaps donating a little of your spare time volunteering.

Claim Your Google Local Listing

More than half of business owners still haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing, which means that they can’t manage and update vital information such as opening hours, address, images and contact details.

Run Local SEO Campaigns

This is one of the most important local marketing strategies, is it enables local customers to find you when searching for businesses, services and products in the local area. There are lots of ways to improve local search engine optimization, including making good use of local-focused keywords and regularly updating a business blog with fresh, engaging content.

Make Local Business Contacts

Partnering with local businesses, especially those in similar or complementary industries, is a great way to start expanding your local network. Start in online professional groups on sites like LinkedIn, making sure you do plenty of real-world networking too.

Advertise a Loyalty Program

The reason this is one of the best local marketing strategies is because customers love to feel valued. Create special offers and discounts for local customers only, perhaps bringing everything together in a loyalty scheme.

Start a Referral Program

If you need a boost in word-of-mouth marketing, why not push your customers to do it for you with an irresistible referral scheme? It’s simple to start, all you need to do is offer a tempting freebie or special discount for the original customer and the person they refer.

Bring Your Staff into Your Referral Plan

Who better to act as an advocate for your brand than your dedicated staff? Offer a bonus to staff for referring new clients and customers.

Advertise in Local Public Transport Hubs

To reach local customers, you need to think about the places around town they tend to go. Public transport stations and hubs are excellent for this, so put your ads up in rail, bus and other local transit stations in your local area.

Engage with Audiences on Social Media

With 800 million active monthly users, Instagram provides a wealth of opportunities for small businesses to reach out to new customers. Make sure to tag your location in your posts, as research shows that posts with a geo-tag receive a huge 79% more engagement from social media users.

Use Targeting Tools for Online Marketing

Social media platforms such as Facebook offer many ways to target customers in your local area. You can use paid advertising features to ‘boost’ posts, setting parameters to target customers within a certain number of miles from your business HQ.


Tell Your Story

If you’re from the local area you’re targeting and have a great story about how your business got started, make sure you tell it! Customers love to support a local business, especially one run by a hard-working local resident. You can create a video or do a series of blog posts and share them on social media.

Hold an Event

Throw a party or a launch event for your business or a new product and invite new customer to come to you. Putting on some free food, drink or entertainment is a smart move, as it provides an incentive to attend.

Get Reviews and Testimonials

Local customers want to use a business that they feel they can trust, which you can demonstrate with positive reviews and testimonials. Never pay for these, but simply email previous customers saying that you’d really appreciate a review if they had a good experience.

Win Over Local Bloggers and Journalists

Who are the influential journalists and bloggers in your area? Invite them to an event or send them a product to review and see if you can get some positive local press.

Send Out Targeted Email Campaigns

74% of marketers find that targeted personalization increased customer engagement, so as part of your local marketing strategies, make sure you’re tailoring your email campaigns to customers in the local area. 

Consider Running a Coupon Deal Site Offer

This may not be appropriate for all businesses, but as coupon deal sites such as Groupon group offers by location, a special deal or discount could bring in a host of new local customers.

Offer a Free Consultation or Advice Service

This is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in your field, while getting potential new customers interested in what you do. They may come for free advice now, but they’ll likely come back to make a purchase later.

Advertise in Local Newspapers

Never underestimate the power of traditional local marketing strategies such as print media advertising. Ads and features in local newspapers, as well as mailed circulars, can attract the attention of local customers.

Get Yourself on Local TV

Whether in a news story about a charity event or a paid advert, you need to get your business into the homes of local customers – all through the power of local TV networks.

Partner with Another Business

Could you team up with another well-known local business? For example, a design firm could team up with a printing company to refer clients and offer discounts.





Source: www.smallbiztrends.com
Image Credit: Shutterstock

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, September 14, 2018

5 Ways to Keep Your Business Growing


Running a small business requires effort, time, money and many other things. You also need to take advantage of the plethora of tools that exist in order to succeed. Some of these tools are tangible and some are concepts that will strengthen you and your business. Here are five ways to keep your business growing.

Focus on flexibility

While it may feel like a challenge it’s in your best interest to keep a flexible mindset. A business that has flexibility is better equipped to navigate through hard times than one that is more rigid. Flexible small business owners who are ready to adapt know they have to accommodate to changes in the industry. Focus on staying malleable; you always need to be open to making changes and implementing improvements.

Use business cards

Don’t underestimate the power of high quality business cards! Business cards still matter. In a world where everything is digital, handing out business cards is one way to make a genuine connection and offer a great first impression of your brand. The best news? You can even make your own business cards using Microsoft Word making this a very lucrative method of direct marketing.

Develop a brand voice

In order to really strengthen your brand, you need to develop a voice. A compelling and original voice almost acts as a magnet, making customers come back time and again. It will help you build an engaged community of fans who listen to your every word, leading to a community that grows as your fans share your posts.

Blogging is a great way to show your voice. If you need blog topic ideas, that’s okay. Everyone runs into a wall sometimes. To get inspiration, focus on images, turn to past highly successful posts and elaborate on the topic and write how-to posts.

Use social media

Everyone knows social media is an incredibly powerful tool when used correctly. You can use it to promote your business. It will also give you powerful insight when you practice social listening. You will find out what your customers are saying about you, learn more about their behavior, determine trends and keywords that appeal to your target market, and boost your customer service skills. Social media is hands down one of the top customer engagement strategies available to small business owners today.

Give back to the community

If you want to attract new business, build brand awareness right in your community. You can sponsor a little league team or participate in a local community event such as a 5K walk or run and raise your business profile. Do what you can to make sure people know you and what you stand for – forging personal relationships and gaining credibility is what will take your small business to the next level.

Growing your small business will be an ongoing pursuit that requires innovation and hustle. Keep an open mind and use these tools to ensure your business will continue to attract new customers and retain your current ones.



What techniques have your small business used to continue to grow?


Source: www.business2community.com


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to Build Meaningful Relationships in Business


Thanks to technology it’s easier than ever to stay connected with friends, family, and business colleagues. Next time you’re at the office, take a step back and think about how many tools you use to communicate with others. You’d be surprised in how many you can come up with.

Many of these tools have made our lives much easier. But they’ve also changed how we define relationships. Just because someone has 800 friends on Facebook doesn’t mean they’ve built meaningful relationships with 800 different people. In fact, it’s probably quite the opposite.

Building lasting relationships with people takes time. You have to treat every relationship different. To know how to build each relationship, you need to take the time to get the know the person. Listing them as a friend on Facebook or a connection on LinkedIn simply isn’t good enough.

Throughout your business career, the people you meet will make all the difference in your success. That said, it’s more important than ever to build authentic and meaningful relationships. Here are six tips to achieve exactly that.

Don’t try to be somebody else

There’s nothing worse than a phony. In business there’s always a fine line between “fake it til you make it” and being straight up dishonest. Often times the extra “fluff” is just a result of passion. It starts to go south when you paint a picture of yourself that you can’t uphold. If you want to play it safe, just be as authentic as you possibly can.

Think about it this way. Every successful entrepreneur needs at least one win until they can call themselves successful. It’s okay to be a newbie. It’s okay to fail. As long as you’re authentic others will want to help and work with you.

Practice your listening

Did you know one of the most important communication skills has nothing to do with talking? Well you guessed it, it’s listening.

I’m sure you’ve dealt with this issue throughout your life. The fact that nobody listens. Whether it’s your parents, spouse, or boss it just seems like they don’t understand or listen to what you have to say. Well, how do you think other people feel about you?

Next time you’re having a conversation, try your hardest to listen attentively. As you feel yourself want to blurt out or interrupt, just hold back and continue to listen. You’ll learn much more about others and when it comes time to respond, you’ll have a lot more to talk about.

Go on more lunch dates

Pay close attention here and notice the choice of words. This isn’t a lunch meeting, but simply a lunch date. We get so bogged down with work it’s often nice to go out to lunch and let loose for an hour or so. Even better if it’s with one of your business colleagues.

The most valuable relationships in business come from people who genuinely like and respect each other as humans. How do you build that relationship outside of work? One place to start is a lunch date.


Give someone a call, just to check in

This is very similar to the point made above. In business, we’re always trying to keep things “strictly business”. When it comes to building meaningful relationships, however, you need to solidify the bond outside of the workplace.

When was the last time you called a friend or business colleague simply to check in? Just to see how they’re doing? If you’re like most people, it’s probably pretty rare. This isn’t because we don’t care about those people, it’s more so that this hasn’t crossed our mind as much. After all, we sent them a Snapchat a few hours ago about the new puppy in the office. That’s enough right?

After you finish reading this article. Take the time to call at least one person you’ve met in business and give them a call. When they ask why you called, you can tell them you just wanted to check in and say hi. You’d be surprised how far that’ll take you.

Be hasty with your responses

Sure we know that you aren’t on your computer or phone 24/7. However, most business people are within reach of a device for the vast majority of the day. Even better, we have access to all of our communication tools on most devices. This makes it super easy to respond to others when they reach out. So why does it always take so long to get a response?

Sometimes the person is truly to busy to respond. Most of the time, however, they simply see the message and decide to respond later. Don’t be one of these people. If you see a message, you should always try to respond right away if you can. People like reliability. If you take a day to respond to a text, people may stop reaching out altogether.

Embody positivity

This is one of the most important things you need to do if you want to build meaningful relationships in business. Ask yourself this. Would you rather spend time with someone who’s a total downer or with someone who’s bubbling with positivity? Okay, I’ll admit, the latter can sometimes be a bit over the top but it’s still much better than negativity.

If you embody positivity it will influence those around you to do the same. If you’re the person who others come to get lifted back up you can expect to keep people around for life.


If you’re looking to start building more meaningful relationships in business, make sure you don’t forget the six tips listed above!


Source: www.business2community.com
Image Credit: geralt / Pixabay



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

10 Tips for Effective Networking



According to Webster’s dictionary, networking is “the cultivation of a productive relationships for employment or business.” The key word is relationship. Unfortunately, the majority of people in the business community don’t seem to understand that important part of the definition. I thought it would be helpful to outline ten tips to help initiate relationships that can eventually lead to financial success and/or a long-lasting friendship.


  • Don’t hand your business card to someone before you engage in at least a short, but meaningful conversation. Randomly handing out cards is a waste of paper and does not create a good first impression.

  • Send LinkedIn invites to all panelists and speakers either shortly before, during or after an event. Generally, the panelists are experts in their field and filled with knowledge. When sending the invite after you have met, reference something said or mentioned that got your attention. That gets their attention.

  • The best networkers are considered, “Givers.” Givers understand networking is about people helping other people. The other three types of networkers, which are not effective, are “askers,” “takers,” and “traders” according to a great book on networking by Jack Killion, Networking All the Time, Everywhere with Everybody

  • Invite people you meet for coffee or breakfast. When you meet with people in their offices, the conversation is 90 percent business; when you meet people outside of their offices it’s mostly personal with little or no distractions from other colleagues.

  • When you invite people for coffee or breakfast, it should be your treat. If people insist upon splitting, that’s okay, but as a general rule, it’s rude to invite someone out and expect them to pay. It’s like inviting someone over to your home for the first time and asking them to bring their own food.

  • Giving a person a copy of your favorite book adds a nice touch. People appreciate books and love to learn what book might have helped you in life be a better person, more successful, etc. Certainly, if you are an author, giving them a signed copy of your latest book is the ultimate gift.

  • Take good notes. I prefer a notebook. I find when I take notes on my iPhone, I’m distracted by open emails and texts. Without notes to review later on in the day or week you will most likely miss a follow-up. People value when you remember what they said, where they grew up, how old their kids are, etc.

  • Always put your phone on silent and if you are expecting an extremely important call, ask the person if they mind if you take a call that might be coming in. Ideally a meeting should be scheduled without interruption.

  • Meet periodically to catch-up. It might be every 4 months, 6 months, etc. As is true, “out of sight, out of mind.”

  • When someone asks you to explain your business, always ask them, “What other questions do you have?” instead of “Do you have any other questions?” The former continues the conversation, the latter implies you are short on time.


Remember in many cases you only have one opportunity to turn a first encounter into a successful relationship. Remember, too, that the sole purpose of a business card is to relay contact information, not to initiate a relationship. Business cards, as stated before, are pieces of paper. A conversation makes the best first impression. It’s an encounter where the other person thinks, “I want to get to know him/her.”


The next time you go to any event business don’t fill your pockets with a bunch of business cards. Instead, think about how many productive and meaningful relationships you can cultivate. Networking is about getting to know people as people and helping them to achieve their goals. If that is your focus, your goals will be achieved over time. Effective networking is long-term, but it’s worth it.




Source: www.business2community.com
Image Credit: FotografieLink / Pixabay


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!