Howdy BGB’ers… long time, no talk-y.
Sorry about that, Dad died, been moving and packing/unpacking, plus dealing with sickliness on top of it all… you know how it is!
You know I still love you though, and I will be back full force sometime in the near future… still just trying to get settled at the moment.
Thankfully I have awesome readers who feel compelled to contribute to the awesome-sauce of BGB and so today I bring you… Jason Nash!
Or rather… a guest post from Jason Nash. 😉 Enjoy peeps, and please make him feel welcome in the comments below.
Today, every business, no matter how small, has to build brand identity and brand awareness on the Web. Small business used to mean local, but that is no longer the case. Small businesses now face stiff competition from all over the world regardless of their industry.
In order to compete and flourish in such an environment, they must adapt. In other words, they must brand build to create a lasting impression on the appropriate online audience.
It is a simple idea to express but one that is challenging to achieve. It is the reason why so many transitions to the online arena fail; businesses apply traditional brand-building techniques exclusively.
That failure is not an indication that traditional methods do not work at all but rather that they are inadequate in this constantly evolving business landscape. In order to succeed in this brave new world, the modern business must find balance between those two strategies.
Traditional (or Offline) Brand Building
The concept of traditional brand building is broad, so let us define it. Traditional brand building and marketing is impersonal. If it were a story, it would be one told in the third-person. Traditional brand building is also highly focused.
As a profit-oriented organization, we do not want to expend resources building identity and awareness in areas where our markets are limited. Instead, we use newspaper, radio, television, direct mail, quality logo promo products and outdoor advertisements in those areas where we believe our market is densest and most lucrative.
Modern (or Online) Brand Building
Modern brand building is personal and social. If it were a story, it would be one told in the first-person. Modern brand building can be focused, but it is often most effective when it is not. That is not to say that it is unfocused but rather that is organic.
If using a TV ad is a logical approach to brand building, then we may conceptualize Twitter as the intuitive approach. The Web is our market, and so we want disperse our identity and extend awareness as far we can.
Find the Balance- Traditional and Modern Brand Building
The key for every business is to achieve the right balance between the two, but the emphasis should always be with the online branding. Even a truly local business, such as a tanning salon, can use local marketing online that is more effective and cost-efficient than traditional means, even with the additional cost of webhosting and other services.
In addition, the “truly local” business can expand their reach and augment profits, such as selling tanning products and other beauty aids online.
How Business Has Changed
For many years, numerous industries did not have to worry about outside competition. A rural hardware shop may not be able to compete with the big Ace Hardware in town directly, but it did offer the clientele convenience.
We might be willing to pay a dollar more for that hammer because Ace Hardware was out of our way. With the Internet, however, everything is convenient. We can order just about anything we need at the best price and have it delivered right to our door.
Embracing the Internet as a Business
Embracing the Internet can be the solution to all of our business woes, but there is much more to it than simply choosing a cheap web hosting and slapping together a website. Even people who have been highly successful in traditional business endeavors have failed when making the transition to the Web.
One of the primary reasons they fail is that they shoehorn their old techniques. In order to avoid this mistake, we must objectively recognize what works online, and then embrace it with all that we have.
This Is a Young Person’s Game
It is a young person’s game because effective business techniques are appearing and evolving right before our eyes. Prior to the Internet, we had marketing down to a science. Now, we must embrace change, and it is the young that are best suited to doing that.
However, youth really is a state of mind. Blockbuster is an old company that thought old and is paying the price. Marvel is an old company in a dying industry (comic books), but their youthful approach made them an attractive purchase to Disney.
Putting Verbs into Our Sentences
So we’ve purchased dedicated server hosting for our business; what’s next? Well, first we need to determine if we can eschew traditional brand building altogether. Many businesses can, and that allows them to focus all of their efforts and resources online.
That does not, however, mean that we have to avoid local brand awareness altogether. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, we can use local online marketing strategies (like Google Places) to augment our broader approach.
Next, we need to engage our audience. We’ll use Twitter, Facebook and a host of other social networking tools. But most importantly, we need to determine how we’ll engage, and what type of response we want to elicit.
Let’s consider the humorous t-shirt market. Online, it is highly competitive, so how do we distinguish one company from another? Well, we might attract people to Twitter by hosting weekly guest comedians that use our feed to tell their jokes.
Never Abandon Core Tenets of Traditional Brand Building
Our business may never use impersonal marketing, and we may never have an ad on radio or TV. Nevertheless, the core tenets of traditional brand building still have great value to us because we can apply them to our online endeavors.
For starters, reduce your enterprise to a concept. That concept should be pure and powerful but also simple and genuine. In our above example, we’re all about the funny not the t-shirts. If you need inspiration, examine the Nike swoosh logo, and consider how you might be able to use a logo on Facebook and your website.
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