How to Refresh Your Brand in 2017

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The close of one year and the start of the next brings many things. For most individuals and businesses a new year means a new start, providing a clean slate with which to move forward. While this may not be technically correct – after all, the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve doesn’t erase previous performance – the mindset of change and starting over can be refreshing, especially for small businesses with big goals.

Whether 2016 was a year overflowing with success or wrought with challenges, the coming of 2017 is the perfect time to refresh your brand, fine tune your focus, and get started on the right foot. A brand refresh can have great potential, reminding you of your vision, ensuring consistency, and encouraging growth rather than stagnation. Here’s what you can do to ensure 2017 is your best year yet.

Connect With Your Audience

Most companies choose to leave outsiders in the dark when it comes to business strategy. For many, this is a logical decision, preventing competitors from overtaking your ability to gain ground. However, this approach can have the opposite effect with customers, putting up walls that create unnecessary distance.

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to inspire some loyalty and emotional ties. Consider posting a blog summarizing your activity and successes in 2016 and thanking your customers and fans for all that they do for you. When shared on social media, these posts provide the kind of information that stimulates a connection between you and your customers.

Target a New Market

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If you’re a small company or a new business, you may not be reaching everyone who can make use of your products and services. In order to maximize potential, use the start of a new year as inspiration to grow and improve.

Take time with your marketing team, and review who you are targeting, what you are targeting, and where the majority of your sales are coming from. With this information, you can draw conclusions regarding what areas you can approach more aggressively, and which audiences likely aren’t receiving the attention they deserve.

Reevaluate Costs

Even the most successful companies in the world can feel the pain of pinching pennies. To improve your odds of financial success in the new year, it’s important to take a deep dive into your expense reports.

Start from the top down and evaluate each category that drives your spending. Sure, you may not be able to do anything about monthly rent, but making minor energy saving changes, like limiting printing to must-have reports, can really add up over the course of the year. Look for unnecessary expenses that your team can do without that won’t compromise employee morale, and make some cuts for the new year.

Try New Marketing Techniques

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How you market your products and services can be a great opportunity for growth and change. With so many options from social media marketing to email newsletters, there’s bound to be a strong strategy you’ve never considered.

Instead of doing the same things day after day, take a look at what your marketing campaigns may be lacking. Are you tracking your success with Google Analytics? Are you focusing solely on Twitter instead of taking advantage of Facebook? By taking the time to identify shortcomings, you can find a great way to move forward in the new year.

Brainstorm New Ideas

When the status quo is positive, it’s easy to fall into a predictable rhythm every year. However, there’s no good way to grow without incorporating changes. The start of another year is the perfect time to start brainstorming new ideas, whether that means putting more focus into research and development, or simply improving community relations with volunteer activities.

Consider putting out a suggestion box and soliciting ideas from your team. Take at least one option offered, whether functional or recreational, and implement it company-wide. This strategy not only shows that you listen to feedback, but can also demonstrate a willingness to keep moving forward.

A brand refresh offers many benefits, providing a new perspective on your corporate identity and an opportunity to build connections with current and prospective customers alike. If you’d like to do more than simply exist in the new year, this can be your chance to revitalize your brand and move your business forward. By changing up marketing techniques, building emotional connections, and launching new products or services, you help ensure that 2017 will be a smashing success.

Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners

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Looking to grow your online presence? Want to boost your website’s ranking in search engine results pages? Creating and maintaining a small business blog takes work, but when done right, it can deliver a great return on investment for your enterprise.

A blog gives you the opportunity to position yourself as a subject matter expert in your particular field; it can also give your audience a chance to get to know your company and develop a personal connection with you, your business, and your brand.

Here are some simple tips you can use right now to establish and grow your small business blog:

Establish a Consistent, Approachable Voice 

A blog provides small business owners a chance to connect with clients, customers, and prospects on a personal level. Use your blog to demonstrate your personality, not just to promote and market your business. Think of your blog as a one-on-one conversation with your audience – aim to establish a consistent, friendly voice that reflects how you actually talk when discussing your products and services.

Stick to a Schedule 

Once you establish a small business blog, make sure to keep your audience engaged by posting new content on a regular basis. Many companies make the mistake of starting a blog and then failing to follow up with fresh content – this can give the unwanted impression that a company has gone out of business, or has lost interest in connecting with their customers.

Provide Value to Your Audience 

Give your readers a reason to read and return to your blog by providing them with real value. This value should be in the form of information —for example, ideas on how they can save money, save time, or improve their lives in some way.

Look for topic inspiration in the questions you’re asked as a small business owner. For example, if you operate an automotive repair shop, chances are you’re often asked for maintenance tips, information about choosing the right tires, or ways to save money on car care. These are all topics you can expand on within your small business blog.

Keep It Brief

Remember that most blog readers are looking for quick, easy-to-read content that they can consume during their down time – that means your audience will likely be reading your blog during their lunch break, while standing in line at the grocery store, or during their daily commute. Aim to write easy-to-read content that can be broken down into short paragraphs and lists, since this type of content is easy to view on mobile devices like smart phones and tablets.

Integrate Your Social Media Links

Promote your small business blog through your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter by posting a new update on your feeds whenever you update your blog. This is a great way to encourage your followers to navigate to your website and read your new content. It also makes it easy for your audience to share your blog on their own social media feeds.

Use Your Spell-Checker

As simple as it sounds, it’s worth saying – always check your blog content for spelling and grammatical errors. Regardless of what industry you’re in, the quality of your blog reflects you and your business, so it’s important to ensure your blog is clear, accurate, and well-crafted.

By creating a consistent, engaging blog that delivers value to your readers, you can harness the power of small-business blogging to position yourself and your company, as a go-to resource within your community.

Four Popular Myths About Marketing Your Small Business

Every small business owner has two major goals in mind: increase profit and customer retention. To be more specific, 45 percent of small businesses state that increasing profit is a big challenge they want to tackle this year; while 43 percent report that improving current customer experiences and retention will be vital to revenue growth.

The larger question at hand is, “How will small business owners (such as yourself) be able to overcome these challenges?” Of course, the obvious answer is to get more sales. But what is holding your small business back from increasing profit and customer retention?

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In this blog post, we’ll debunk four popular myths about marketing your small business:

1) Marketing is too expensive

The traditional misconception about marketing is that it’s too expensive and too difficult to track. However, marketing should be looked at as an investment. Here are a few stats that shouldn’t be ignored:

  • Business owners who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
  • The only thing blogging costs you is: your time. Therefore, publishing even just one blog post per week or two per month is a great place to start, rather than just having a website that only talks about you. Blog posts are a great way to write about things that your customers actually care about, i.e. create a meaningful connection. Plus 82% of consumers want to read content from brands, as long as they provide value.
  • For every $1 spent on email marketing the average return on investment is $44.25.
  • Seventy-eight percent of people say that a company’s social media posts influence their purchase decisions.

Quick tip: To start, dedicate anywhere between 5 to 10 percent of your revenue back into marketing and narrow in on three to five specific tactical executions. Doing so will help you best understand the right marketing mix to help foster profitability and retention.

2) Doing it all yourself

Truth is, you should be busy running your business, not focusing on “doing it all.” When it comes down to executing your marketing programs, don’t shy away from outsourcing or hiring someone part-time to help. More specifically, much of marketing is moving into the digital-sphere, which means you have the ability to track what’s working and what’s not in a quick manner. This enables you to stop any campaigns or implementations that aren’t providing a positive return.

Quick tip: To start, consider hiring a local marketing firm who can succinctly outline a strategy and the return you will likely see or hire on a freelancer. If you go the freelance route, remember cheaper isn’t always better. Also, have realistic expectations, i.e. no such thing as overnight success here.

3) Must have a strong brand

You don’t need to have a strong brand presence in order to successfully drive marketing campaigns that will foster sales and retention. All you need is the commitment as well as the prioritization of ensuring you don’t give up before seeing the results you want.

Quick tip: Put together a simple content calendar to follow. Doing so helps you block out time to know when you should be updating social media, updating your blog to checking in on how many sales you’ve generated with an advertising campaign.

4) Too time consuming

Getting the right marketing strategy and tactics set up will take some time, especially if you are unfamiliar with the technologies (e.g. Google Analytics, Adwords, Facebook Ads, etc.) needed for success. However, once setup is complete, you should easily be able to get into the cadence of spending anywhere between 2-5 hours per week optimizing and managing campaigns.

Quick tip: Check out brands both small and large (e.g. GoPro, Expedia, Sevenly, Ugmonk) that are doing a great job of connecting with their audience (via social media and content marketing) and generating sales. Adopt some of their practices and test them out for yourself. 

For a list of trustworthy marketing companies to help take your business to the next level, visit the BBB Accredited Business Directory.