Category

Brand Communications

6 questions to ask yourself when building a brand-focused, inbound-friendly website

By | Brand Communications, Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, Brand Theory, Corporate Identity, Product Identity | No Comments

Websites have changed. People have changed. Consumers run on information and websites are their fuel. They search. They learn. They search some more. Before they even talk to a sales rep, they’re 60% through the buying decision according to Gartner.

With buyers in the driver’s seat, what does that mean if you’re designing or upgrading your website? A lot. It means you’ve got to build a brand-focused, inbound marketing-friendly website, with all of the content your prospects are surfing for. So ask these 6 questions to make sure you’re capturing, converting, and cultivating customers.

1. WHO’S MY TARGET AUDIENCE?
It’s amazing how much we focus in on target audiences when we create brand strategies and marketing communications, yet seem to make a website more general to attract more people. It’s imperative to clearly define the prospects you want to attract because they’ll be interested in what you have to offer. Use buyer personas to really understand their mindsets, motivations, and pain points. That way, you can start creating pages, content, and offers that appeal specifically to them.

2. DOES MY WEBSITE REFLECT OUR BRAND?
Your website is the hub for all of your communications and the center of your brand experience. It’s the first place everyone goes to when they want information. So make sure it’s a sterling representation of your brand’s mission, vision, and values. And every page should reflect your positioning, purpose, brand story, brand face, and brand voice. This can be a difficult task if you’re struggling with your brand. But it’s all in a day’s work if your brand is fully defined and well articulated.

3. ARE MY PAGES BUILT FOR THE BUYER JOURNEY?
People don’t buy right away so they certainly don’t want to be sold right away. It’s a process—of turning browsers into visitors into leads into customers into brand ambassadors. That means you need to develop a variety of content that’s right for each step of the buyer journey. Someone looking for information doesn’t want “BUY NOW!” shoved in their face. They want information that is useful in their decision process, stuff that helps them learn why there is a need for your product or service. The right content, from e-books to whitepapers to webinars, nurtures your prospect through the buyer journey.

Looking for a deeper dive? Download our Inbound Marketing Primer from our sister company TRUSTinbound Marketing Group.

4. IS MY SEO REALLY O?
Optimizing your SEO doesn’t start with search words. It starts with the right content. Like meaningful pages that appeal to your buyer persona. Pages filled with meaningful information. After you’ve got that, you can optimize your copy, page URLs, page titles and meta descriptions with keywords based on what they’re looking for. Think about what prospects going through the buyer journey would use for real-world search terms – the kind of stuff they type into a Google search window. That’s how you optimize your SEO for real people, not search engines.

5. IS MY NAVIGATION IDIOT-PROOF?
People aren’t stupid, but navigation sure can be. Think about it, you go through all the trouble to get your website on the first page of a Google search, only to lose your prospect in your maze of menus and drop downs. They’ll drop out and go right back to Google. So make sure your prospects can get to where they want to go with the least number of clicks.

6. IS MY WEBSITE MOBILE FRIENDLY?
It’s absolutely mandatory that your website has a responsive design that looks awesome on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Why? Because your prospects are mobile. In fact, according to a recent study, roughly 56% of consumer traffic to the leading US websites is now from mobile devices. And all of those people want websites that are easy to view and understand.

Meaningful branding and compelling information is the way into the hearts and minds of your prospects. And your website is your digital hub for it all.

So make each page work hard—turning prospects into loyal brand advocates.

7 steps that can turn your organization into a content machine

By | Brand Communications, Brand Strategy, Inbound Brand Marketing | No Comments

“How the heck are we supposed to generate all of that content?”

That’s the biggest dilemma facing small- to medium-sized businesses when it comes to launching and maintaining an effective inbound marketing campaign. We get it. You need to stay focused on your business. Sure, you want the meaningful blogs and helpful whitepapers. But the reality is, you’re lucky if you squeak out a piece once a month or update your social media sites.

Well, fear not. Here are 7 practical steps to get your content engine started.

1. MOBILIZE EVERY EMPLOYEE, WE MEAN EVERY EMPLOYEE.

Creating a ‘culture of content’ takes time. But it starts with everyone knowing that content is king and that every person needs to help generate their fair share. We suggest starting with an all-hands-on-deck meeting to explain the importance of the inbound marketing program and the ROI it produces. It’s also a good forum to set expectations and appoint a gatekeeper from Marketing to help manage the flow of content. To really jumpstart the process, take the lead and set an example by getting out that first blog, e-book, or white paper.

It’s not just marketing and sales people who should contribute. Many people in your organization have valuable information and a seasoned point of view. From Accounting to HR to R&D, there are fascinating facets of your business, with experts who can offer truly useful information.

Don’t expect your people to actually write all of the material. Instead, focus on content. Then reserve the wordsmithing and editing to your key people or inbound partner.

Three great side effects of all of this? Everyone becomes a better writer, thought leader and published author.

2. ESTABLISH GOALS AND ALIGN WITH YOUR BRAND STRATEGIES.

Establish goals for your team – like 3 blogs per week, 1 e-book per quarter, etc. Set it all up in an editorial calendar, then use it to brainstorm and nail down content a quarter at a time. Be sure it’s front and center with all stakeholders.

Inbound marketing builds your brand with every piece of content. So make sure everything you’re creating is in line with your brand purpose and promise – and your selling strategies. Revisit your vision, mission, and values to make sure everything you produce is on brand.

3. KNOCK OFF THE WRITER’S BLOCK.

Everyone stares at that white piece of paper. But getting started isn’t that hard. Just begin writing. Find a topic that matters to you and your customers. And start writing like you’re speaking to them one-on-one. Be as specific as possible. Offer truly insightful information, and forget the selling. Soon you’ll get the hang of it.

Stumped on where to begin? How about focusing on the top 10 to 15 questions customers always ask you? There’s enough content right there to fill an e-book, white paper, and a couple of blogs. And it helps to have a catchy title. Try this great HubSpot Title Generator to get your creative juices flowing.

4. WRITE. REPURPOSE. REPEAT.

The great thing about generating content is that every single piece builds a library of digital materials that can be repurposed and repackaged again and again. You can turn blogs into an e-book with a little deeper dive and a tool like Designrr. Break a white paper down into a simple PPT and post the deck on a website like SlideShare. Combine several blogs together into an interesting roundup. And turn written words into visual infographics. All rich stuff for your homepage, social media sites, email blasts, and more.

5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE IT UP.

Study what works and what doesn’t. Is everyone reading your blog? Write more. No one reading your e-books and white papers? Conduct a quick survey to find out why. Never created a video? Now’s the time to see how one flies. Webinars? Podcasts? You can experiment until you find the perfect mix.

6. THEN MEASURE UP.

Always analyze how you’re doing by measuring the performance of your landing page submissions, new contact rates, website traffic and page views, inbound links, and social media shares. You’ll get a crystal clear picture of what’s working and what’s not.

7. INVEST IN THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

It’s inevitable that, at some point, you’ll need to hire inside or outside people. Don’t fret. That’s a good sign that your inbound machine is racing at full speed. Editors and proofreaders can really help the quality of content. Having an inbound marketing agency [like our sister company, TRUSTinbound Marketing Group] doing a lot of the heavy lifting is a smart and strategic way to go too.

WANNA KNOW MORE?

Download a great ebook from our friends at Scoop.It and HubSpot.

6 sure signs that you have a branding problem

By | Brand Communications, Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, Corporate Identity | No Comments

No long-winded listicle here. These 6 signs are short, sweet and to the point.

1. You need to launch a new corporate or product communications program, but you’re agonizing over differentiation.

2. You need to overhaul your website, but you’re struggling with the “Who We Are” page.

3. All the players in your marketplace seem to be well positioned—expect you.

4. You think a “brand” is just a logo and a tagline.

5. Your people don’t have the same elevator speech.

6. When you ask employees and customers, “Our company or product = ________,” you get a blank stare.

It’s easy to confuse a communications challenge with a branding problem. So here’s a good rule of thumb:
– If you don’t know what to say, you’ve got a communications challenge.
– If nobody knows who you are, you’ve got a branding problem.

Your brand is the sum total of everything it stands for. So, what does it stand for?

Happy Mental New Year!

By | Brand Communications, Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, Corporate Identity, Product Identity | No Comments

Everyone knows that summer means a lull in effort, focus an productivity. Maybe it’s that summer vacation mindset that started when we were kids. Or the nice weather that has us staring out the window, dreaming of being on the beach or in the mountains. Whatever the reason is, the Mental New Year is about to begin, and you need to make sure you’re ready!

So, what exactly is the Mental New Year? It begins right after the long Labor Day weekend when you realize summer is over, and you need to kick your business into high-gear. With Q4-2018 beginning and Q1-2019 right around the corner, there’s no better time to review your branding strategies and make any course corrections.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh man, that definitely describes the situation I’m in right now,” don’t worry! Now that you know, you can use the Mental New Year to your advantage! After all, everyone else is getting their heads back in the branding game, too.

What should you do?

Take stock of your corporate and product brand strategies. Are all of your communications on plan and on brand? This is a great time to review the year so far—in terms of branding initiatives, numbers, and objectives and tactics.

Conduct a brand audit that includes your website, social media program and demand gen activities. Everything following brand standards? Everything have strong continuity of brand story, brand face, and brand voice? Are your product brands rockin’ the marketplace? Are you staying true to your branded house or house of brands strategy?

Get ready for tradeshow season. With trade show activity heating up, are all of your properties and messages reinforcing your brand differentiation?

Make sure Marketing and Sales are strong brand ambassadors. Everyone in your organization who touches the brand should be in lockstep when it comes to your corporate vision, mission, and values, and your brand positioning, purpose and elevator speech.

Start gearing up for 2019. Sure, you’ll get a break during the holidays, but now is the time to be looking at fresh budgets, new product launches and brand upgrades.

And now a little toast, “Here’s to your brand health and prosperity in the Mental New Year!”