by Gay Bitter
These days everyone is an online marketer, and Dina Wasmer of Incite Creative reminded us all of the importance of managing our online brand at The DMAW’s February luncheon. So much valuable information was shared that it’s impossible to get it all into a single blog post, but here are a few ideas to help you make your brand work online.
Do you have a brand positioning statement and framework? If you don’t, STOP, do not pass go! Without one consistent messaging is difficult. Putting a positioning statement together will improve your online and offline branding efforts. Make sure you include all internal stakeholders in developing your positioning statement and framework (owner, marketing, sales, customer service), and then confirm it with customers, referral sources and partners. In order to establish your framework you will need to identify your target audience(s), identify your field of play (the categories in which you compete), develop your value proposition and points of distinction, and provide proof points. By the way, being “full service” and having “great customer service” are not points of distinction. Who has great customer service? Everybody! How do you provide proof points? Here are several ideas: case studies, awards and testimonials.
Do a brand audit. Take a look at all of your online and offline materials, presentations for speaking engagements, etc. Is your messaging uniform, credible and authentic? What about presentation – are colors, typography and other brand elements consistent? Go ahead and look at what your competitors are doing, but don’t try to make their messaging yours – refer back to your positioning statement so that your messaging is uniquely “you.” Be sure someone in your organization is the “brand police,” checking to ensure that communication is on target in all media, especially social media where it’s easy for individuals to stray.
Researching long-tail keywords that will drive traffic to your website is important. Long-tail keywords will be less expensive for paid advertising (SEM), and will help drive the specific traffic you want, not general untargeted leads. Once you’ve identified your keywords, make sure you use them in all of your online marketing efforts, SEM, SEO, online press releases, and online articles. Don’t forget to include keywords when naming images – make them descriptive and keyword rich. When setting up links for each online marketing effort, link to the most specific landing page that is relevant to the ad or article, not your website home page.
Some additional ways to drive people to your website are contests, or asking viewers to “tell their story.” Customized Facebook fan pages can act as mini billboards encouraging visitors to take a desired action.
Done well, social media can be a boon to your online marketing – keep a 30 day editorial calendar to get the right message out on all of your social media platforms. Don’t forget little things, like adding your signature with a link to your website when you post on social media forums.
And lastly, don’t forget to measure the effectiveness of your online efforts. In order to effectively evaluate your marketing efforts you need benchmarks. What are you starting with, and what are your goals? For instance, if you embark on campaign of monthly press releases to drive traffic to your website, use Google Analytics or another tool to measure the traffic as each release is distributed.
To sum up – have a positioning framework, audit your brand, focus on keywords and messaging in all online marketing and measure your results!