"Branding" quickly raises images of cattle and hot irons to this mid-western gal. Indeed even in the internet world, the concept of branding is the establishment of a mark that distinguishes what belongs to you much in the same way the mid-west marks its cattle. A brand is a name or symbol that identifies and sets apart a company or its products to the public and distinguishes them from their competition.
Most of the American public will recognize Coca-Cola® as "The Real Thing" and Nike® as the people who "Just Do It." What you recognize is branding. Coke® set itself apart in the world of carbonated drinks as what is REAL; every other drink is sub-standard by implication. Nike® became synonymous with the "can-do" spirit that is uniquely American thus making their brand not only the brand of achievers, but patriotic along the way.
What made each of these brands a branding success is their appeal to a deeper value held by their target market. In the world of soda pop, the market wanted something that was REAL. Coke® exploited that desire by reminding the public that they were the first and original creators of the syrupy drink and that made them the "real" drink, "The Real Thing" indeed. Similarly, Nike® tapped into the wide spread patriotism and the sense of success that Americans felt during the prosperous eighties of Ronnie Reagan. They exploited the energy of the young people who helped to put Reagan into office and who fueled the economy into an unparalleled period of growth. Running shoes, youth, energy and success are ideas that Nike® made synonymous with their name brand.
But a brand is more than a slogan that accompanies your company name. It is an idea that penetrates your market and becomes synonymous with your product or service. It is a simultaneous use of a logo while promoting the synonymous idea or philosophy.
To successfully brand your company or product, you will need to establish a name that is unique, memorable and stands out in the minds of the public. You may choose to trademark your name and/or logo and this is part of the branding process. To trademark a company name, you will need to make it unique enough that it will be approved by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Here are 5 Benefits of Branding
- Recognition and customer loyalty – Your company name and product become more broadly recognized by the buying public and your customer loyalty increases.
- Increased image of size – The public and target market begins to see your company as larger than it may be and therefore more competent than your competitors.
- Increased image of quality – The public or target market begins to see your company as one which produces higher quality than your competitors.
- Increased image of experience and reliability – As your company's brand name recognition grows, your target market begins to see your company as more experienced and more reliable than your competitors.
- Multiple products become easier to market – The increasing popularity of your brand will make it easier for your company to market new products or services.
In their book entitled, The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding, Al and Laura Ries help to put branding and internet marketing into proper perspective and their material helps to shake the online novice into reality. Here is a brief summary of their immutable laws from their table of contents page, but the book is worth the read and likely available at your local library.
While you may not think branding is all that important to your company's success online, it is becoming more so each year. In some ways, branding is as much the simple formality of giving your company an interesting name and logo. But in the more traditional sense, branding is the slow process of name recognition over time in a still relatively new technology medium. That medium, the internet, is becoming more and more competitive and refined as we move forward in the implementation of internet services to our world. It is important to keep up with what is going on, even if you don't particularly like it or want to be involved in it. If you are taking the trouble to put your company online, then take the time to stay up-to-date on what is happening.
WORDS TO KNOW
- Brand – A name or symbol that identifies and sets apart a company or its products to the public and distinguishes them from their competition.
- Interactivity – The ability of the site visitor to type into the site what he or she wants and to have the site deliver it or at least deliver a response to it.
- Divergence – The historical fact that technologies do not combine with one another; they normally remain divergent from one another in order to fulfill their design and purpose. Example: Less than 1% of the population buys a combination CD/Television set; rather they buy the CD player as a separate unit from the television.
e-Books, PowerPoint and "Public" Information to Expand Your Internet Marketing
In the world of online publishing, e-Books are the "hot" item of the web. There are several ways to make money with an e-Book and we will touch on a couple of them while focusing on what is going to help you to better market your company on the internet. You will see a few ways in which you can take advantage of this cyberspace trend.
As a writer I am approached daily to write e-Books for people who want to market every imaginable product, service or bit of information. There is nothing wrong with this approach to the internet at all and the more exclusive your information or product, the higher price your e-Book will fetch. However, as a business owner you will need to decide if your primary concern is publishing e-Books and trying to make an income from the digital download, or if you are in business to sell and promote the products and services which make up your company. For the majority of the people taking this course the latter will be your choice because you are selling something other than books.
Before we get into how an e-book can enhance your online marketing efforts for your company, I will touch lightly on a few points for those who want to make a business from their e-Book efforts. First of all you must be aware of certain facts concerning e-Books. For instance, approximately 78% of all potential e-Book revenue is lost to online pirates of information. Secondly, securing an e-Book is near impossible in all instances and is highly challenging to the majority of the publishing world. To properly secure an e-Book you must either have the right approach and the right software, or more likely pay a high monthly fee to a service provider who in reality does not guarantee that your book will not be pirated. Some software is effective, but most of what is peddled on the internet is not effective to secure the information in an e-Book. The main reason is that whatever program your e-Book is created in can be disassembled by another program and most times for less than $50 worth of software. People who regularly pirate e-Books have long ago spent the $50 to disassemble whatever they find sitting for the taking on the internet.
Now, if you have invested in the software, do not be discouraged. You can make a good amount of money on e-Books. But to do so you must take the time and invest the money to secure what you write [or what you pay someone else to write for you] and use marketing programs which are effective. I could refer you to some software, but the gist of this section is not how to publish your e-Book, but rather how to use an e-Book to promote your business.
So, we will now look at how to use an e-Book for an increased internet marketing effect for your company or its products. The first thing to remember when using e-Books to increase your internet marketing effectiveness is that as a business person you are trying to sell your products or services more than the e-Book. This does NOT mean that you should give the e-Book away to anyone who asks because information that is given away for free is not readily valued or followed. But what you do not want to do is focus on how much money you will make on the e-Book if you are using it to promote your company's products or services because it is an increase in sales of your products or services that you are trying to achieve. Rather than focusing on striking it rich in e-Book sales, your focus will be to increase your company's volume in sales.
Gina Kopera of Gina's Corner has an e-Book that is a great example of how you can utilize your e-Book to promote your business. To see how she does it, go to I Conquered MS and My Son's Epilepsy. Ms. Kopera is a Master Herbalist whose business is focused on healing clients through herbs and herbal solutions. She sells her e-Book for what is normally charged for a soft cover although she could easily price it at 2 to 3 times more. Why? Because she wants to get healing information in the hands of hurting people and because she knows that when they know what she has to tell them, they will then seek her herbal solutions and her company's sales will increase.
The same is true for any product or service that your company sells. Your e-Book can be a lead for natural sales of your product without having to give it away and without having to charge a phenomenal price for it. The e-Book itself becomes an immediate sales too in so far as it is formatted with links to your site or directly to the products mentioned in the book's content. So, when people read the e-Book they are focused on the topic of discussion in the book and they are then invited to take immediate action by clicking on a link that takes them straight to your purchase page.
PowerPoint® presentations run closely with Webinars because many Webinars are produced in PowerPoint®. Whether you create a PowerPoint® presentation that opens on your website or you make one as part of a Webinar that is offered through your company or one of your B2B companies, they are handy tools that create an interesting effect on your marketing.
If you do not know what PowerPoint® is, go to your version of Microsoft® and look it up in the programs section of your computer. It is standard content of most Microsoft Office® packages. PowerPoint® is a set of templates which you can use to create online presentations or media presentations. If you follow your Microsoft® books and the tutorials in the software, you will be able to create your own presentations.
In my company, we have used PowerPoint® for both online presentations via our website and for Webinars. Most site builders will allow you to insert PowerPoint® presentations or links to open the presentation right into the page. Clients who visit your site can click onto the presentation link and learn all types of things about your company. This type of link on your site is a great opportunity to address client concerns that you know roll in their heads, but which no one mentions out loud. The online PowerPoint® presentation becomes a sales tool by which to remove client objections while the client is allowed to retain their anonymity while they sit on your site and view the presentation. It is a great source of "food for thought" for the prospective client. It gives you an opportunity to present a stronger "close" to the client than you would perhaps on your site pages.
The PowerPoint® presentation or Webinar also humanizes you to the client in a way that is not easily accomplished in the normal pages of your website. You have ample opportunity to insert pages of your company's staff, CEO or facilities of which you may have other reasons to keep off of your site's pages. Putting a face with your company's name will personalize your company to prospective buyers in a way that helps the client connect to you.
"Public" Information on Your Site
The idea of making certain information "public" by posting it to your site is another way that you can increase your internet marketing, particularly in a viral way. Any information that may help the client to make a decision, but which is an unspoken fear or something that the client wants spelled out, is good information to publicly post up on your website. Again, you may be rightfully apprehensive about posting certain things because they address fears rather than positively pitching your sale. But, it can be a way to "take the bullet out of the gun" so to speak by addressing the client's fears. Anytime you do such a posting, it is good to put it into a PDF document that cannot be printed or copied and which can be easily removed from the site at your convenience or when the concern has passed without having to bring in your web staff.
Making certain sales information "public" encourages people to pass it along to family, friends and others since they can simply download the document from your site and forward it in the email. It is the nature of people to help one another when they know and understand their struggles. So, making solution focused, fear removing information available on your site will encourage people to pass the information and come back to your site for purchases.
WORDS TO KNOW
- e-Books – Electronic books – Books that are produced in a digital format, usually a PDF, and are sold online. e-Books are normally sold for anywhere from $8.95 to $89.95, are immediately downloaded to your computer and read from your screen in whatever program produced them. [Because they are usually produced into a PDF file, they are normally read in Acrobat Reader.]
- PowerPoint® – A Microsoft® presentation program that is part of most of the Microsoft Office® software that comes standard on most personal computers.
- Webinars – Online seminars that are usually produced in PowerPoint® and made available online with a speaker giving the presentation and a question/answer session for clarity or instruction.
- PDF – A specialized format that is exclusive to Adobe. Also known as the Portable Document Format; a computer format that actually makes documents [especially large ones] portable.