Your small business website is like a billboard for online searchers racing by. But unlike traditional billboards, you can’t just create your website and then expect to get traffic from it. You need to find your voice, develop your online branding techniques, and create something your leads can connect with. Online branding is how you’ll stand out from your competitors and develop that edge over them that will make your target audience come to you!
Why Are You Online?
If the majority of businesses that have had limited or no success with their website were honest with themselves, they would acknowledge that they had no clear direction of what needed to be done to develop their online branding. This manifests itself in a lack of focus and their inability to state, in no uncertain terms, why they are online.
The development of a clear objective statement for your online activities is important because it will shape what it is you intend to do, and why you are online in the first place. Online branding is a term that you hear most often tossed around in relation to big product names like Apple, Ford, Google, and so on. Not so coincidentally, these are some of the most well known brand names in existence today.
These companies recognize that the perception that exists in their customer’s minds, which is essentially the brand message, is a valuable commodity. It is so valuable that often times it is considered as the most valuable asset of any company. Just think of some of their popular slogans and ads! Apple now has people waiting in line for days to get the newest iphone, we all know the slogan “Built Ford Tough”, and “just Google it” is a popular phrase that get’s thrown around everyday!
You created a website to gain visibility and market your specific brand to your target audience. In the rush of creating and optimizing your webpages, don’t lose your voice!
How Does This Affect Me?
You may be thinking, “how does that affect me and my start-up or small business?” Well, those giant companies with their mega brand valuations didn’t start out as giants. They began life as somebody’s vision or dream in a basement. Over time, they were able to define a very specific category or market segment, and then dominate it through their online branding. As a result, their brands came to be identified with that category or segment. The meaning of their brand names evolved accordingly and became associated with a positive image in the mind of the customer.
In establishing your brand, it is important to follow the path of success mapped out by other successful brands. After defining your particular market category and target audience, you need to work diligently to associate your brand name with them, striving to establish a positive impression that will set you apart. The internet represents the ideal opportunity through which to do this.
The internet was created to enable communication, cooperation, and collaboration. You have the opportunity to establish trust using the internet as a primary communications medium with your prospects and customers. Be cautious about the contents of your messages however. If you try pushing a blatant advertising message through this medium and you will quickly loose that trust.
Let’s break this down into some easy, practical steps:
- Create buyer personas for your target audience
- Develop a standard, repeatable voice and unique style to your website and content marketing (create a template if that helps you)
- Advertise or reach out regularly in a variety of locations that are most visited and used by those in your target audience
Once you know who to target, you can develop a style and voice to best market to them. For certain audiences, you may want a more relaxed or a more professional tone. It’s the customers who will buy or use your products/services, so you want to tailor your brand voice to them.
Everything about the design of your website should represent the unique value within your category, and support the positive impression that you’re striving to establish through your online branding methods. In addition, the information you make available to your website visitors needs to build on the philosophy that you are developing a trusting relationship with your customers and prospects.