Successful companies have one important thing in common: a really strong brand.
And a strong brand should be a priority for all businesses striving for success – even if you’re starting out – and trust me, the proof is in the numbers.
Brands that are consistently marketed see an average revenue increase of 23%.
And we know that successful branding yields benefits, such as an increase in customer loyalty, improved image, and of course, an increase in client base.
But a brand is much more than a tagline or a fancy logo. To build a strong brand it starts with a brand position.
Brand positioning is the process of positioning your service, product or company a certain way in the mind of your customers. It’s about selling the concept or idea that will motivate the purchase. And, a good brand position is what will set you apart from the rest.
But it’s not always easy.
Positioning is one of the most ambiguous concepts and can be hard to pin down. That’s usually why many startups or businesses starting out don’t get it right. Well, at least not the first time.
A positioning strategy statement needs to be clear, concise, and uncomplicated. It has to take into consideration the customer’s needs. It should also provide a compelling reason why potential customers must buy your brand.
And this is why it’s so important…
A clearly defined positioning strategy statement guides all your marketing and marketing communications strategies. Without it, you’ll be executing marketing tactics like Facebook ads, direct mail or designing websites that are disjointed and misaligned.
In short, your customers will get confused.
3 steps to create your own brand position
Creating your own brand positioning strategy involves diving deep into the details of your brand and discovering what you do better than anyone else. How can your business, product, service stand out?
These 3 steps will be help you create a brand positioning statement that’s unique to your business.
1.Conduct competitor and customer research
If you’re currently marketing your product or service does your marketing stand out? Start by first considering your target customer and ask yourself three simple questions: Who are they? What is their core problem? How do you help them (and add benefit)? Doing an audit and understanding how you serve those potential customers is a perfect starting point.
Next, determine how your product or service is different from the rest in the market. It’s also important to understand the market you’re in and what you’re competitors are doing. The research you conduct will allow you to decide what you can do better and what will give you that edge.
Not sure where to start? Ask your customers. Ask your sales team. Or go to the Googles.All these different methods of gathering customer or competitor research will allow you to decide what you can do better and give you that edge.
2. Identify what makes your brand unique
Now that you have the research you can start to see key themes and trends in the data. You may start to see a repetition in key words or notice common benefits popping out of the data. As you start to compare your product or service, you’ll start to see where your product can stand alone. This is not about the how or the what. This is about the why. Why your company exists. If you haven’t watched the Simon Sinek talk about finding your ‘why’ you need to do so right now.
By figuring out your unique selling proposition (or why), will essentially make it easier for your brand to be unique and stand out. And let’s be honest, customers want brands that can speak directly to them.
The Cube noted that “48% of consumers expect brands to know them and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs.”
3.Create your position
Now the fun part (at least I think so). It’s time to take what you learned and create a brand positioning statement.
First, take what you learned (I find it the easiest to place all those benefits and key words from your research on a whiteboard in front of you) and start to draft a simple and compelling statement. It doesn’t have to be hard. BUT you do have to keep your customer in mind. You want to lead them in making their buying decision not tell them what to do.
According to The Cult Branding Company, “a positioning statement is a one or two-sentence declaration that communicates your brand’s unique value to your customers in relation to your main competitors.”
Remember, communicate the value of your brand and the rest will fall into place.
After you have the position statement, ask yourself, does it work?
Take the time to test the concept with your audience. They are always your best litmus test.
But here is the really, really important part; ensure that is it reflected in everything you do.
Your positioning statement should be the heart of your business and it should be clearly communicated and reflected in every interaction with your customers. Leaders like Nike and Apple have exceptional brands because they live and breathe their positioning statements.
And guess what, so can you.
Let me guess, as an entrepreneur or startup founder, you have been told to ramp up your content marketing.
More content means more leads, right?
But you’re not really sure where to start or maybe even what it means.
The truth is content only works if it’s useful.
First, let’s agree on a definition of content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all things content marketing related, defines content marketing as:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
The keyword here is ‘valuable’.
As a business owner, you want to create content that is valuable and useful to your audience. You want to help solve a problem for your target audience by producing free and relevant content that helps them along the buyer’s journey process.
What is the buyer’s’ journey you ask?
It’s creating content at every step along the journey your customer takes to purchase your product or service. The buyer’s journey is usually broken down into three phases.
- Awareness. Prior to awareness a customer may have a need, but they are not aware there is a solution.
- Consideration. Once a customer is aware there is a solution, they will perform research to educate themselves. At this point the customer starts comparing different products from different vendors to make sure they’re getting a high quality product at a fair price.
- Decision. Finally, the customer makes their decision and moves forward with the transaction.
Once you have mapped out your buyer’s journey, and all the steps within those stages, you need to identify what is unique that you offer at each stage.
Content marketing tends to tap into the first two stages of the buying process by raising awareness of solutions and educating the customers about a product or service they may have never considered.
Content marketing programs set businesses up for predictable, scalable, and cost-effective traffic and lead-flow that doesn’t always have to rely on a big budget. The reality is that businesses that focus on content marketing increase their leads by 3X compared to paid search. That is why the best content marketing strategy complements other marketing techniques at various stages of the buyer’s journey.
So, how do you get started?
Like any initiative, content marketing requires some planning and thought (fun, fun, fun!). To get the success you want and to start to see some dividends to your business, start here with these three but important basics.
1.Don’t reinvent the wheel.
If you want to jump in and start creating content yourself, don’t recreate the wheel. There are already a number of awesome content marketing resources out there that will help with ‘how-to write’ blogs, ebooks, etc. I always tell everyone wanting to start their content strategy to follow the pros. Check out Copyblogger and you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into clients. And in the words of the very smart and talented Anne Handley, write that first ugly draft, and then don’t look back.
2. Make it genuine (…and enjoyable to read).
You have to make content genuine.
Ask this question: Does it resonate with the reader?
Think about what you paid to read lately. Why did you pay to consume that information? Did it bring you joy? Was it educational?
That is how you have to treat your content creation process. Your audience doesn’t want to be sold something. They want to learn and consume something that feels genuine to them. If you do that than content marketing will be good for your bottom line – and your customers. That means you have to genuinely care about the audience you’re serving. You may not have a huge budget to start but you can still give potential customer valuable information.
Some people say this is the secret sauce. But it shouldn’t be a secret.
The truth is that adding value is so important.
From a customer’s standpoint, if you’re not adding value, they just skip it. If you want to create content or a message that doesn’t get skipped, add value for your customers. If you’re not sure how to add that value through content marketing, ask your existing customers what kind of content you can produce that would be helpful to them now or would be helpful to them if they were looking for your product or service. They’ll tell you.
The goal . . . to create valuable, genuine content that resonates with your target audience. Create something that they want to look forward to reading.
If you do that than content marketing will be good for your bottom line – and your customers.
Do you want more customers, more revenue, and more growth? Of course you do, we all do. Then you’ll probably need an excellent marketing strategy. But a strategy without a plan won’t get you far.
One of the most important aspects to growing your business is your marketing strategy. But first, you need an effective marketing plan in place. Having a plan means understanding opportunities for new growth, who your actual customers are versus what you thought, and how to attract and gain new customers. Not to mention, where to best spend future marketing dollars.
The challenge that most companies face is that they fail to create a marketing strategy. No strategy means a future destined for struggle (and maybe failure). Think of it like turning on your GPS without plugging in a final destination. You’re going do a lot of driving but won’t get anywhere.
One could argue (and I may be biased here), that marketing is one of the most important functions of your company and a vital part of your entrepreneurial success. Without marketing your business you can’t attract the right customers. Without attracting the right customers means not generating sales. And no sales means no revenue or profits.
Do you see a pattern here?
Marketing presents a continuous process that every business needs to perform BUT you need a roadmap to get there. That is where a marketing plan comes in.
A marketing plan is a blueprint or roadmap for your organization. It’s short-term in nature, specific in scope, and combines strategies and tactics to get your desired results. Writing a marketing plan is not a simple task. But, once you have one, it will help you and your business with the action steps you need to take in order to attract the right customers.
Here are three key factors that must be in your next marketing plan:
1. Customer are the heart of your plan.
The marketing plan revolves around your customers. Think of the customer as the sun. Your business and the tactics you execute need to be focused around your customer, not your boss or the competition. This is an essential ingredient to your plan. You want to figure out key information about your customer – demographic, geographic, and psychographic characteristics – to begin with. Once you have that outline in place, you can create a buyer’s persona.
The buyer’s persona is a secret weapon used by many successful companies. The buyer’s persona paints a picture about who you’re targeting as it relates to your product and service. The information you gather can make it easier for you to target your marketing and communication efforts, and create loyal customers. It’s often said, “knowledge is power.”
2. Communicate your value.
Yes, communicate your value. But that does not mean communicate your product features or list all your fancy features. You must communicate with your customer or potential customers where they are at and what they want to know. So, ask yourself the following questions: What matters the most to them? How is your product or service going to make their life easier?
It’s so easy to jump into the ‘what’ of your product and much harder to capture the “why” (as said by the very brilliant Simon Sinek).
When you’re positioning your product or service, your selling a concept that motivates a purchase. The position statement needs to clearly articulate your value and identify how you want your company or product to be portrayed in the buyer’s mind. Not to mention, it also helps guide your entire marketing plan. Without it, your marketing strategies and tactics fall flat.
3. Set really, really clear objectives.
Objectives help you stay focused. Really focused.
Objectives help you identify what you’re going to accomplish in a one-year period. If you stay focused, and ensure your objectives are about your customers, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
“Help your customers and you help your business.” ~ Leo Burnett
The practice of creating objectives is important. You want to set objectives that are qualitative in nature. Remember the SMART principle? Make sure your objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. This will ensure your entire team knows where you’re going and how you’re getting there. Not to mention, it will keep you accountable to reaching those objectives as you execute your marketing plan.
To achieve this kind of focus, be sure to include your entire team and find other ways that you can create objectives that add value to your customers’ lives. This will also keep your marketing team focused on the real mission of your business.
Get started. Now.
Of course, the first step in ensuring the success of any marketing plan is to get all those ideas down on paper. Bring your team together, facilitate a brainstorm session, do your research, and start with these three simple steps. The rest of the plan will start to fall into place.
It’s on your to-do list.
✅Set your digital strategy.
Sounds simple, right?
But often entrepreneurs and business owners feel overwhelmed and a bit lost about where to start.
Strategy, in spite of being a favoured word tossed around among executives, really just means thinking about why you’re doing something before you do it.
It’s really that simple.
But often we forget to think about the strategy behind that Facebook ad campaign or product landing page because we’re focused on hitting our numbers or meeting a revenue target.
It’s easy to get lost. It’s easy to feel rushed.
But setting your digital marketing strategy is as simple as deciding what you want to do, how you’re going to do it, what you expect to happen, and when and how you’re going to measure your success.
It’s about heading in the right direction. Because at the end of the day, you mainly want to attract and delight your customers.
The first question you need to ask yourself: Why are you deploying this digital tactic (facebook ad or SEM)? What do you want the result to be?
Here are a few objectives or end results that may be fueling your strategy:
- Brand Awareness:Do you want more people to know about your brand, your product or service?
- Acquisition or lead generation rates: Do you want to reach more people who’ve never bought from you before and bring them into your buyer’s journey?
- Growing your existing customer base (increase the customer value): Do you want to retain your customers and have them purchase from you more frequently?
Based on your end results (and main objective) you need to start to shape you out your overall strategy.
Here are the 3 steps to take to build your digital strategy today:
1. Set a SMART goal.
Set a specific goal – and a metric – to help you get to that end result.Goals and objectives are crucial to helping guide you where you’re going.
Goals are like a lighthouse. It’s guiding you to your final destination and where you want to be.
Goals need to follow the SMART principle. And in case you need a refresher, that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. We’re going back to the basics but it’s so important. Here is what your goals might look like for your digital strategy:
- X number of leads from your downloaded ebook in 30 days
- % follower growth on Facebook within 3-weeks
Really understanding the goal you’re trying to hit is the first step to reaching it. Create an example and make it come to life.
2. Know your audience.
Get to know your audience! This doesn’t mean understanding some key characteristics or traits. I want you to go deeper than demographics. This means truly understanding them.
If you don’t know your audience well, you won’t be able to deliver a message that’s relevant enough to cut through the noise.
You can go about understanding your customers in a number of ways and you don’t need a big budget or fancy agency to do it.
First, think about who your customers are and group them into 3 or 4 buckets. Take each of those buckets and create a character for them. Add in a number of different details; such as, bio, age, goals at work, how you can help them reach those goals, challenges, how you can help them overcome their challenges, their objections, etc. You see the pattern here.
If you haven’t done this and you’re looking for an excellent template, Hubspot has a great outline and exercise for you to do. Once you know your audience well. The rest gets a whole lot easier.
3. Audit your Brand
This step doesn’t always seem obvious. And no, I’m not talking about asking people if they like the colours you selected. I want you to audit what people say about your brand when you’re not in the room.
This is linked back to your brand image.
How does the public at large perceive your brand? Is it positive? Is your message consistent?
What you find out might shock you. Or it might validate some of your original hunches.
- Presence – Measure the brand’s social footprint
- Influence – Branded message adoption
- Perception – Emotional reaction to the brand
- Virality – What comes when people are organically in conversation
- Resonance – reaction to the overall conversation about the brand
Remember: Be OPEN.
This is where you’re going to walk away with the biggest takeaways. Which will also help your customers.
Bonus #4: Evaluate and alter
Now it’s time for the loop. This is where you take all that information, and you put measurements in place to ensure that you’re going to meet those goals.
In order to be successful, you must continually evaluate and alter your digital strategy.
Yes. This is a must.
I find that a lot of start-up companies feel that they don’t have the time. Or they are on to the new product launch or the acquisition of 100 new leads. But slow down just a little. As marketers, it’s important that we measure everything.
What will be your ultimate measures? Figure out your performance standards – conversion rates? Followers? Leads?
These days, quantifying and qualifying the value of your digital strategy is important to better communicate with your boss or the CEO the value you’re producing day in and out.
You delivery results and your hard work should be recognized.