Branding has been a marketing buzzword for a very long time. It’s caused multi-national companies to redesign their logos, create spiffy new letterheads, mission statements, rewritten mission statements, and even theme songs, and an endless stream of focus groups to guide the process. And it’s not just the huge multi-nationals that do this…
All of this can, of course, play a role (especially if you’re large company with deep pockets), but branding is actually simpler than that.
It’s letting customers know who you are, what you do, and how you do it (and it doesn’t hurt if they come away believing you’re better at what you do than your competition).
If you want to create an identity for your online business, you need to define your brand up front. When customers arrive at your website, the first thing they should see is what you do and why they should care. Too many websites just bombard you with flashy graphics and catchy slogans, and leave it to you, the potential customer, to figure out what they are actually offering! This is so wrong.
The best thing you can do is spell out what you do and who you are, clearly and unmistakably.
A potential customer doesn’t know (or care) who you are. The best way to make them care about who you are is to start with what you do. This may not make sense at first, but the most important concept of Internet marketing for online business is that your message should always start with stating a benefit for the customer. What’s in it for them? Then, once they know what you can do for them, you can tell them who you are, and introduce your spiffy logo or flashy graphics.
Rather than trying to get readers, visitors or users, think in terms of creating fans. “Users” visit your site, maybe subscribe to your newsletter, and buy your products or services. “Fans” are better—they rave about how great you are to their friends, cheer you on, and breathlessly await news about what you’re up to professionally. It shouldn’t be too hard to see why fans are better than users.
You may have been convinced by a web designer or graphic artist that their flashy designs are what count on the net, but (and it’s a big but) the written word is what really counts on the internet. What matters most online is what words you use.
If you want online fans, you need to give useful, interesting brand-related content. A conversational tone is best. Write like you’re talking to someone. After all, would you rather listen to a real person talking, or a list of bullet points?
Words are what count, but visual elements are still important. The visual elements should reinforce your identity and message. In other words, don’t decorate. Communicate.
The key to Internet marketing for online businesses is simple. It’s branding. And all branding means is letting them know what you do, how you do it, and who you are.