branding http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4220/all en-US 8 Surprising Ways a Personal Website Can Improve Your Life http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-a-personal-website-can-improve-your-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-surprising-ways-a-personal-website-can-improve-your-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-541288714.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The popular book <em>The Martian</em> became a best-seller in 2014, but started out as a series of blog posts by author Andy Weir on his personal website. Andy posted one chapter at a time, and got comments from readers as he posted new chapters. Eventually, he self-published an ebook which was later published in hardcover by Random House and became a big budget Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon. This example highlights some of the benefits you can get from having a personal website where you can publish anything you want in a way that anyone in the world can access.</p> <p>I started writing on a personal website about four years ago and have discovered a number of ways that having a personal website can be beneficial. It's useful for storing, organizing, and sharing all kinds of creative work such as writing, a personal journal, photos, sound recordings, video clips, and other information that you want to share with the world. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-a-side-hustle-can-advance-your-career?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways a Side Hustle Can Advance Your Career</a>)</p> <p>Here are some ways a personal website can improve your life.</p> <h2>1. It's a place to get creative</h2> <p>When I started my personal website, it had been years since I had done any creative writing. I realized that I could easily start a website and publish my writing immediately. That is both scary and exciting, but what did I have to lose?</p> <h2>2. It won't cost much (or anything at all)</h2> <p>It is possible to set up a professional website or blog at no cost at all. I set up a blog on the Blogger platform for free years ago and still use that today. If you want to spend a few dollars per month, you can get a custom domain name and add ecommerce features to support an online business.</p> <h2>3. It's an opportunity to make money</h2> <p>Once I started getting visitors to my website, I realized I could make money. I started selling advertising and placing affiliate marketing links on my site. Affiliate marketing links are links to products for sale that are related to the content on my website, and I get paid a commission if someone buys after clicking on that link. If you are willing and able to produce material that people are interested in reading, then you can make money on the side. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-really-make-money-by-starting-a-blog?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Can You Really Make Money by Starting a Blog?</a>)</p> <h2>4. It becomes a creative portfolio for you</h2> <p>My personal blog has provided a place to showcase my writing, and I have leveraged this to win some paid writing opportunities. Having your own website gives you a way to get those early publications of your work, which can lead to opportunities with other publishers. A portfolio of work is essential when you are seeking new assignments.</p> <p>You can post almost any type of creative work on a personal website: digital photos, artwork, audio book narration, video clips, crafts, and even technical projects. You can also add a resume, and provide contact information for those who may be interested in working with you. This can help boost your career in almost any field.</p> <h2>5. It helps you learn and practice coding</h2> <p>Although there are lots of graphical tools to create Web pages, I sometimes edit the HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) code or CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) code to make the page work how I want. By understanding a few simple principles, you can gain a deep understanding of how websites really work.</p> <p>I have also practiced coding on my website by making JavaScript calculators and publishing them on my blog. You can code the graphical interface with calculator buttons and write equations for the calculations with code that is embedded in a script on the page. This is a great way to practice and show off your coding skills in a way that people can use and appreciate.</p> <h2>6. You can get published today, no roadblocks</h2> <p>One of the best things about having your own website is that there are no rules. You can publish whatever you want with no censoring and no gatekeeper. You get to decide for yourself what can be published, even if no one else would publish it. This means that you can become a published writer immediately.</p> <h2>7. You get to perform for an audience</h2> <p>I remember how nervous I was to push the &quot;publish&quot; button the first few times when I was starting my website. I knew that anyone in the world would be able to read my posts and perhaps even comment or send me an email complaining about my content. Writing for an audience pushed me to do my best work, more so than writing in a notebook that no one else could see.</p> <h2>8. You learn how to become more visible on the internet</h2> <p>One of the fun parts about having your own website is looking at the stats to see how many people are visiting. Since you always want to have more visitors, it makes sense to learn how people are finding your website and try to boost your traffic. One strategy is to use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to get more traffic from search results. Understanding SEO can be a valuable skill, both for your own website and as a consultant for other sites. With your own website, you have the opportunity to do experiments to try ideas out and learn what works to boost traffic.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F8-surprising-ways-a-personal-website-can-improve-your-life&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F8%2520Surprising%2520Ways%2520a%2520Personal%2520Website%2520Can%2520Improve%2520Your%2520Life.jpg&amp;description=8%20Surprising%20Ways%20a%20Personal%20Website%20Can%20Improve%20Your%20Life"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/8%20Surprising%20Ways%20a%20Personal%20Website%20Can%20Improve%20Your%20Life.jpg" alt="8 Surprising Ways a Personal Website Can Improve Your Life" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-a-personal-website-can-improve-your-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-surprising-ways-to-earn-money-online">7 Surprising Ways to Earn Money Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-extra-income-with-a-drone">How to Earn Extra Income With a Drone</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-creative-remote-jobs-that-can-supplement-your-retirement-income">4 Creative Remote Jobs That Can Supplement Your Retirement Income</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-money-by-creating-youtube-videos">How to Make Money by Creating YouTube Videos</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-you-can-earn-18-to-25-an-hour-with-amazon-flex">How You Can Earn $18 to $25 an Hour With Amazon Flex</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development Technology branding hobbies personal growth personal website self-promotion side gig side hustle website Fri, 07 Apr 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1923219 at http://www.wisebread.com These 6 Instragrammers Are Getting Rich by Traveling the World http://www.wisebread.com/these-6-instragrammers-are-getting-rich-by-traveling-the-world <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-6-instragrammers-are-getting-rich-by-traveling-the-world" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-494672194.jpg" alt="Instagrammers who get paid to travel the world" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Love taking travel photos and sharing them with your friends on Instagram? So do the social media stars below. They've earned celebrity status &mdash; and sometimes six-digit incomes &mdash; from the travel snaps they post on the photo sharing giant.</p> <p>Building such a loyal and monetizable following takes a long time, a lot of talent, and a little luck. But hopefully, their work can provide you with a bit of inspiration for your photography on your next trip. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-social-media-stars-make-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Surprising Ways Social Media Stars Make Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Liz Eswein</h2> <p>Liz Eswein (<a href="https://www.instagram.com/newyorkcity/?hl=en" target="_blank">@newyorkcity</a> and her personal handle <a href="https://www.instagram.com/lizeswein/?hl=en" target="_blank">@lizeswein</a>) started her account when Instagram first came out in 2010. Perhaps her early entry to the game helps explain how she was able to snag the handle @newyorkcity, which has now accumulated well over a million followers.</p> <p>Eswein posts pictures of New York, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Although her account wasn't initially focused on travel, her success on Instagram has led her to travel to Chile, Namibia, and Dubai for different clients.</p> <p>Her personal account has thousands of followers, and features destinations she's visited such as Tokyo, Seoul, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.</p> <p>After beginning the Instagram account, Eswein told The New York Times she earned around <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/fashion/social-media-stars-use-instagram-twitter-and-tumblr-to-build-their-career.html" target="_blank">$50 for a promotional post</a>. But the Gazette Review reports that since then, she's increased her earnings to $15,000 a post, making her one of the top earning Instagrammers in the world. The publisher estimates her net worth at $850,000.</p> <h2>2. Chris Burkard</h2> <p>It shouldn't come as a surprise that professional photographer, writer, and videographer Chris Burkard (<a href="https://www.instagram.com/chrisburkard/?hl=en" target="_blank">@Chrisburkard</a>) has gained such popularity on Instagram, garnering more than 2 million followers.</p> <p>His account features breathtaking shots from the Arctic Circle (his focus is surfing in freezing waters), Yellowstone National Park, Zakynthos Island in Greece, and many other places.</p> <p>Burkard regularly works with Fortune 500 clients and has given a TED talk on how he found meaning in those frigid Arctic waters. <a href="http://www.chrisburkard.com/About/FAQ" target="_blank">According to his website</a>, he began taking pictures when he was 19 years old, and his favorite place to travel is Iceland. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-simple-ways-to-take-stunning-travel-photos?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Take Stunning Travel Photos</a>)</p> <h2>3. Julie Sariñana</h2> <p>Julie Sariñana is a blogger from Los Angeles, California. She began her blog in 2009 writing and posting about fashion, travel, and lifestyle. Today her Instagram account (@<a href="https://www.instagram.com/sincerelyjules/?hl=en" target="_blank">sincerelyjules</a>) has an audience of more than 4 million followers.</p> <p>As of June 2016, <a href="http://gazettereview.com/2016/06/ten-highest-paid-instagrammers/" target="_blank">Gazette Review</a> calculated her net worth at $800,000. She makes money by promoting products on her Instagram account and writing fashion articles. She also has her own fashion line, Shop Sincerely Jules.</p> <p>Some of her recent destinations include Paris, Hawaii, and Costa Rica. She's been featured in Teen Vogue and Elle, and has written for Glamour. Some brands she's worked with on Instagram include Karl Lagerfeld and Nespresso. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/earn-extra-income-with-your-smartphone-camera?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Earn Extra Income With Your Smartphone Camera</a>)</p> <h2>4. Julia Engel</h2> <p>Julia Engel's Instagram account (<a href="https://www.instagram.com/juliahengel/" target="_blank">@juliahengel</a>) is focused on fashion and travel. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Engel posts photos of destinations including the Bahamas, Iceland, and Miami on her account.</p> <p>She's parlayed her 1 million Instagram followers into $1.5 million, as estimated by Gazette Review. Some of her earnings are generated from a shopping app called LIKEtoKNOW.it, which allows Instagram followers who like a product they see in one of Engel's photos to be directed to a website where they can buy it. Engels reaps a commission from every sale.</p> <h2>5. Emilie Ristevski</h2> <p>Emilie Ristevski's account <a href="https://www.instagram.com/helloemilie/?hl=en" target="_blank">@HelloEmilie</a> has about 400,000 followers. This Australian traveler started posting on Instagram when she was still in university and her travel-related posts attracted so many travel offers that she was able to <a href="http://awol.junkee.com/we-chatted-with-one-of-australias-most-prolific-travel-instagrammers/17799" target="_blank">turn Instagram posting into a living</a> once she graduated, according to an interview with AWOL.</p> <p>Some of her favorite destinations? Petra, Jordan, and New Zealand's Milford Sound. She has worked brands including Moet and AirAsia.</p> <h2>6. Brooke Saward</h2> <p>Brooke Saward is the woman behind the <a href="https://www.instagram.com/worldwanderlust/" target="_blank">@worldwanderlust</a> Instagram account. Originally from Australia, her travels have recently taken her to Lake Como, Italy; Paris, France; and throughout Japan. With more than 600,000 followers, she's attracted diverse brands such as Bose Australia and smartphone e-tailer Honor Global to work with her.</p> <p>At just 24 years old, she's been featured in Elle and Glamour. Her rates are unpublished.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div align="center"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthese-6-instragrammers-are-getting-rich-by-traveling-the-world&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThese%206%20Instragrammers%20Are%20Getting%20Rich%20by%20Traveling%20the%20World.jpg&amp;description=These%206%20Instragrammers%20Are%20Getting%20Rich%20by%20Traveling%20the%20World" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <div align="center">&nbsp;</div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/These%206%20Instragrammers%20Are%20Getting%20Rich%20by%20Traveling%20the%20World.jpg" alt="These 6 Instragrammers Are Getting Rich by Traveling the World" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-gokee">Amanda Gokee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-6-instragrammers-are-getting-rich-by-traveling-the-world">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-instagram-account-into-a-paying-gig">How to Turn Your Instagram Account Into a Paying Gig</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/earn-extra-income-with-your-smartphone-camera">Earn Extra Income With Your Smartphone Camera</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-social-media-stars-who-earn-way-more-than-you">5 Social Media Stars Who Earn Way More Than You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-one-social-media-micro-star-gets-lots-of-free-stuff">How I Scored Tons of Free Stuff By Building a Small Social Media Audience</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-passive-income-online">5 Ways to Make Passive Income Online</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income Travel affiliates branding earnings instagram photography social media sponsorships travel photos Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:30:27 +0000 Amanda Gokee 1913292 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-improve-your-online-reputation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-easy-ways-to-improve-your-online-reputation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/two_friends_computer_000062076912.jpg" alt="Two woman managing their online reputations" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Searching for another person's online profile is common practice these days. Employers routinely use search engines to screen potential candidates. We even Google ourselves. It's totally expected and normal!</p> <p>Knowing that bits and pieces of information about your identity are floating around cyberspace should compel you to ensure your online reputation is in tip-top shape. And it's easy with these <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-improve-your-work-reputation">reputation management</a> tools.</p> <h2>1. Get <em>YourName.com</em></h2> <p>The number one way to control your search results is by purchasing your own domain name. If you have a name that is unique (like mine), this will be cut and dry. For people with more common names, you'll have to be a bit more creative. If the name Kim Smith is taken, incorporate your professional title. For example, Kim Smith, MBA could try <a href="http://www.kimsmithmba.com" title="www.kimsmithmba.com">www.kimsmithmba.com</a>, or <a href="http://www.kimsmith-mba.com" title="www.kimsmith-mba.com">www.kimsmith-mba.com</a>.</p> <h2>2. Get on LinkedIn</h2> <p>Adding your profile to popular social media sites is a surefire way to ensure the real you (that you wish to portray) shows up at the top of search results. LinkedIn is the largest social networking platform, with over 347 million users, and has great SEO power.</p> <p>Creating a profile provides the unique advantage of getting your very own, customizable vanity URL. For example, if your name is Jane Smith, your personal LinkedIn page would look something like <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/en/janesmith" title="www.linkedin.com/en/janesmith">www.linkedin.com/en/janesmith</a>. Because the LinkedIn network spans more than 200 countries worldwide, the letters preceding your name will represent your country's code.</p> <h2>3. Get on Google+</h2> <p>If you don't already have a Google account, it's time you get one to start taking advantage of the super searchable features of <a href="https://plus.google.com/">Google+</a>. It allows you to &quot;share and [be] discover[ed], all across Google.&quot; In many ways, it combines the features of popular social media networks. Users can create circles, add updates, and share posts and photos similar to Twitter and Facebook. And when someone searches for your name, your Google+ profile will be one on the first results to appear in search.</p> <h2>4. Setup Google Alerts</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.google.com/alerts">Google Alerts</a> tool allow you to monitor content on the web by inputting the search terms you want to track. Input your name to detect any new information that appears about you. You'll be notified via e-mail with a link to the source whenever something new is found. If you're unhappy about the content, you can use tools like the ones below to bury it in search rank.</p> <h2>5. Use Brand Yourself</h2> <p>With <a href="https://brandyourself.com/">Brand Yourself</a>, users can sign-up and personally manage their online profiles or receive the guided support of a reputation management expert. The free account has limited features that allow you to control your search results by &quot;boosting&quot; three URLs you want to appear at the top of search results. Paid accounts come with more boosts and additional features. You also get instructions on how to improve the rank of certain URLs, which you can apply to all of your reputation management efforts.</p> <h2>6. Use ReputationDefender</h2> <p><a href="http://www.reputationdefendertestimonials.com/images/en/logo_reputationDefender.png">ReputationDefender</a> is a company dedicated to helping its clients improve their online reputation. Though it's a paid service, it can help you remove or minimize unwanted search results and boost positive search items. If you have serious online reputation concerns, this may be one of your best bets.</p> <p><em>What online reputation management tools have you used, and why?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-improve-your-online-reputation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-high-paying-jobs-that-didnt-exist-10-years-ago">9 High-Paying Jobs That Didn&#039;t Exist 10 Years Ago</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-instagram-account-into-a-paying-gig">How to Turn Your Instagram Account Into a Paying Gig</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-clean-up-your-image-on-social-media">7 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Image on Social Media</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-one-social-media-micro-star-gets-lots-of-free-stuff">How I Scored Tons of Free Stuff By Building a Small Social Media Audience</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-jobs-that-robots-cant-do-yet">10 Jobs That Robots Can&#039;t Do, Yet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Technology branding Google online reputation social media Thu, 14 May 2015 21:00:13 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1420555 at http://www.wisebread.com Get the Job You Want With the Right Professional Image http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/emotions-5077584-small.jpg" alt="face" title="face" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your professional image &mdash; your &quot;personal brand&quot; &mdash; combines all of your knowledge, talent, and experience into the public face of your professional persona. The most effective personal brand not only reflects the proper image, it also works across a variety of online forms as well as in person. But even the most carefully crafted personal brand can benefit from a little tweaking. Here ten ways to improve your professional image by improving your personal brand. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-brag-about-yourself-to-employers-without-sounding-like-a-jerk?ref=seealso">How to Brag About Yourself</a>)</p> <h2>1. Emphasize Your Distinctive Traits</h2> <p>Your personal brand relies on being able to highlight what sets you apart from others in your field. What are some things that only you can do? Do you have any specialized knowledge? What new ideas have you come up with? How have you added your own touch to projects you've been involved in? What kind of lasting impression or influence have you had on previous employers and colleagues?</p> <p>This aspect of your personal brand is especially important for job seekers. An employer's number one question is, &quot;What makes you the best one for the job?&quot; Showing how your way of doing things has been successful in the past, and how your brand can benefit the employer in the future, is an effective way of answering that question.</p> <h2>2. Get a Website</h2> <p>A website can elevate your image and provide a home base for your brand. Paying for a <em>&quot;yourname.com&quot;</em> domain not only ensures you'll be at the top of the search results when people Google you, it also provides a more professional representation of your personal brand than a subdomain on a free hosting site.</p> <p>For most people, a simple site containing a short personal bio, your education and professional experience, and your contact information should suffice. Single-page site building tools such as <a href="https://www.strikingly.com/">Strikingly</a> work well for just this task, with the ability to populate the site with info from your Facebook profile and the inclusion of a personal-brand standard: a &quot;What I Believe In&quot; section. If you want something more substantial than splash pages, you can go with the myriad of website templates available on the web or hire a professional to create a unique site from scratch.</p> <h2>3. Blog the Talk</h2> <p>Blog posts allow you to discuss the areas of your expertise in more detail, provide insightful commentary or analysis of industry news and issues, and give additional opportunities to express your brand's personality. If you prefer a visual medium, you can upload short videos instead. To spread your brand even further, contact industry-related websites, blogs, and other publications to see if they are open to guest posts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-do-bloggers-make-money-what-every-non-blogger-should-know?ref=seealso">How Do Bloggers Make Money?</a>)</p> <h2>4. Get Passionate</h2> <p>It seems simple, but your brand should really be about doing something that you love. If you don't feel that your brand is a part of your very being, it'll be pretty difficult to sell it to anyone else. However, when your brand revolves around doing what you love, you project that passion and your brand feels authentic to others.</p> <p>Employers know passionate workers perform at a higher level and companies are keen to work with other business owners who share a passion for their work, so having passion as the foundation of your brand benefits job hunters, promotion seekers, and the self-employed alike. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-dream-career-a-reality-for-less-than-100?ref=seealso">Make Your Dream Career a Reality for Under $100</a>)</p> <h2>5. Focus Group Your Friends</h2> <p>The best way to know if you're displaying the right image is to ask people who know you. Question friends and colleges about the impressions they have of you. If what they say doesn't match up with the brand you want to project, you'll need to figure out where you're going wrong and find ways to strengthen your weaker areas.</p> <h2>6. Dress the Part</h2> <p>When you visualize yourself at the top of your game, what are you wearing? Use that ideal representation of yourself as the basis for your professional wardrobe. Take it a step further by developing a signature style move that makes people think of you whenever they encounter it. Whether it's an affinity for chartreuse gemstones or your partiality for the Trinity knot in your ties, playing up your unique fashion sense helps you craft and solidify your brand's image. Don't forget to include it in your social media profile pictures. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-16-pieces-a-man-needs-in-his-wardrobe?ref=seealso">The Only 16 Pieces a Man's Wardrobe Needs</a>)</p> <h2>7. Optimize Your Social Media Profiles</h2> <p>LinkedIn and other professional networking profiles are a huge part of a successful brand, so make sure yours are completely filled out and up-to-date. Think of an eye-catching headline that succinctly describes your brand, such as &quot;Passionate personal finance consultant for working-class families.&quot; Use the site's groups and other networking features to connect with other professionals and organizations and bolster your standing as a player in your field. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-linkedin-profile-noticed-with-a-few-attention-grabbing-tweaks?ref=seealso">How to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Noticed</a>)</p> <p>As for more socially-oriented sites such as Facebook and Twitter, fill out all the profile information that's relevant to your professional interests and hide everything else. Keep your pages fresh by making a few relevant posts every day, maybe passing along a particularly valuable article or pointing to your newest blog post or video. Use image-focused social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest to share pictures and videos that relate to the image you want to project.</p> <h2>8. Create Business Cards</h2> <p>Although they're not quite a big deal as <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoIvd3zzu4Y">Patrick Bateman would have us believe</a>, business cards are still an important part of your personal brand. Even in the smartphone age, business cards are the best way to provide all of your vital information in face-to-face situations. To make your business cards better represent your brand, include your picture, a unique logo, or a short quote or tag line on the back of the card.</p> <h2>9. Show Off Your Accomplishments</h2> <p>A collection of your greatest hits tells potential employers or clients exactly what they'll be getting when they hire you and bolsters your image as you grow in your career. A physical portfolio that showcases your best graphic designs, articles, or grant proposals can provide a strong visual representation of your expertise and highlight your ability to deliver consistently. If you decide to have a website, you can include a digital version of your portfolio along with links to pieces you've published and projects you've worked on.</p> <h2>10. Demonstrate Consistency</h2> <p>This is the bit that ties your personal brand together. In the most general sense, all you need to do is perform in your own unique way time after time. This should be an easy task if your brand is a genuine representation of <em>you</em>.</p> <p>More specifically, make sure the information you provide is consistent across all of your branding materials, from your resume to your YouTube profile. This means using your signature colors, a uniform font, similar language, and creating the same general &quot;feel&quot; across all of your branding materials. The most effective personal brand is a cohesive one, so even little things like having your Twitter background match your Facebook cover photo matter. Regular blog or video posts are also a handy tool for demonstrating your consistency.</p> <p><em>Do you actively manage your brand? Manage it in comments below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lauren-treadwell">Lauren Treadwell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-improve-your-resume-today">Great Ways to Improve Your Resume Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-spot-a-social-media-snake-oil-salesperson">7 ways to spot a social media snake oil salesperson</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-improve-your-online-reputation">6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-brag-about-yourself-to-employers-without-sounding-like-a-jerk">How to Brag About Yourself to Employers (Without Sounding Like a Jerk)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-job-search-stunts-to-get-you-noticed-by-employers">7 Job Search Stunts to Get You Noticed by Employers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building branding marketing personal brand self promotion Mon, 24 Mar 2014 09:48:21 +0000 Lauren Treadwell 1131914 at http://www.wisebread.com Logos 101: Designing Your Business Identity http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/logos-101-designing-your-business-identity <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/logos-101-designing-your-business-identity" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/logos-101-designing-your-business-identity</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/logos-101-designing-your-business-identity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000017657212Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Creating a unique and polished logo shouldn&rsquo;t be the province of only large companies with big marketing budgets or in-house creative teams. As the primary image that represents your company in the marketplace, a successful logo is the distillation of the very essence of what your company represents. It&rsquo;s almost as important to your company&rsquo;s identity as <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/innovation/article/how-16-great-companies-picked-their-unique-names-1">its name</a>. But how do you get there? What are the key ingredients of a good logo and what identity creation tools are available to companies on a shoestring budget?</p> <p><strong>Characteristics of a Good Logo</strong></p> <p><em>Simple</em>: Successful logos are founded in simplicity. In a marketplace filled with competitors and store shelves brimming with products, the goal is to get the consumers&rsquo; attention and convey a host of complex product or service information with clarity and speed. Refining the design down to a simple, yet memorable and unique visual statement, as discount retailer <a target="_blank" href="http://www.target.com/">Target</a> has done, is half the battle.</p> <p><em>Memorable:</em><b> </b>Still, a good logo shouldn&rsquo;t be so simple that it&rsquo;s rendered unremarkable. Balancing simplicity with uniqueness helps to strike a chord with consumers and create a visual imprint that can be recognized later. The <a target="_blank" href="http://www.apple.com/">Apple logo</a> is immediately recognizable due in part to its ruthless simplicity and how that simplicity is leveraged in a unique and memorable way.</p> <p><em>Timeless:</em><b> </b>The very best logos stand the test of time and transcend the ephemeral notions of fashion and trends. Coca-Cola&rsquo;s <a target="_blank" href="http://www.coca-cola.com/en/index.html">logo</a> is an example of durable design. Since the goal of your mark is to create some equity in the marketplace, constant change and updating shouldn&rsquo;t be required. As you consider and develop your logo, ask yourself, &ldquo;how will this look in 20 years? Are there any elements which might not age well or could seem outdated in a decade?</p> <p><em>Flexible:</em><b> </b>Potentially, your logo will be produced on large and small scales, in print and online. The best marks can adapt to any media and still look great. Consider FedEx, the overnight package delivery service. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.fedex.com/">Its logo</a> must be identifiable across scores of media and contexts, from web banner ads to airplane wings. Specifically for print considerations, think about how your logo will look in a single color, in black and white, in reverse color, and reduced to thumbnail size. Can it adapt and still be clear and easily recognizable?</p> <p><em>Adaptable: </em>We all know businesses are dynamic and the marketplace is ever-changing. One product line might take off while another withers on the vine. Think about this phenomenon as you brainstorm your logo. The best marks communicate what your business is about today and can adapt to how it may change over time. Marks that are too specific pigeonhole businesses or become irrelevant as products and services evolve. For example, while <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ebay.com/">eBay&rsquo;s</a> lowercase &ldquo;e&rdquo; may link the online bazaar with the early days of Internet commerce, the logo remains dynamic as ever, even as the company has grown and evolved.</p> <p><em>Appropriate:</em><b> </b>Perhaps the strongest design urge business owners have is the urge to create a logo that&rsquo;s too literal. A bakery owner wants a rolling pin in the logo; a law firm wants the scales of justice, etc. But great logos don&rsquo;t have to be self-explanatory to be appropriate. The <a target="_blank" href="http://www.starbucks.com/">Starbucks logo</a> is one of the most recognizable on the planet, but it doesn&rsquo;t feature a cup or a coffee bean. Well-crafted marks use color, scale, font, and image choice together to create distinction that&rsquo;s appropriate without necessarily being literal.</p> <p><strong>Choosing a Logo Designer</strong></p> <p>For a business that wants to create or recreate its identity, there are a wide range designers and online services like <a target="_blank" href="http://www.logomojo.com/">LogoMojo</a> available to help. Logo creation is big business and the options are as varied as the price point and the results. For the best product, choose someone who will work one-on-one with you to create a mark that&rsquo;s rooted in an understanding of what makes your business unique. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a designer or an online logo development service:</p> <p><em>Portfolio and experience:</em><b> </b>Does your designer have experience that includes a strong portfolio of work? Pay attention to the ratio of real logos to hypothetical ones (i.e., is the designer creating logos that are actually being used or just conceptualizing?)</p> <p><em>Customer testimonials:</em><b> </b>Does the designer or design service offer testimonials from satisfied customers? If so, contact a few of the client companies and check on their level of satisfaction.</p> <p><em>Awards, recognition, and affiliations:</em><b> </b>Has your designer won any awards for identity and branding work? How well recognized are they in the industry? For talented new designers who may be just starting out, what are their professional affiliations?</p> <p><em>Communication:</em><b> </b>As you research services or designers to work with, gauge their responsiveness and level of professionalism and communication. Do they get back to you quickly? Are they asking questions to learn more about your business and your vision for the logo? Do they protect their work and their clients through sound contracts?</p> <p><em>Timing:</em><b> </b>Ask questions about timing to get a sense of how much effort and customization will be put into your logo. The creation and refining process typically takes three to four weeks, but can last months, depending on complexity.</p> <p><em>Price:</em><b> </b>In identity work, as in most fields, you get what you pay for. The fee for most online logo creation services start around $175. Of course, the cost of working one-on-one with a designer varies by experience and recognition, but there are many young and hungry designers looking to create a body of work who may be flexible on price.</p> <p>Take a look all around you&mdash;what marks get your attention? What labels and logos are on your clothes, on your desk, and in your wallet? With a fundamental knowledge of good logo design and by exploring a few creative resources online, your company can develop a lasting mark that represents what it&rsquo;s all about.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/logos-101-designing-your-business-identity">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image">Get the Job You Want With the Right Professional Image</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center branding business identity identity logos marketing small business Mon, 19 Dec 2011 00:04:46 +0000 Kentin Waits 825737 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Genuine Ways To Execute The Brand Promise http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-genuine-ways-to-execute-the-brand-promise <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/4-genuine-ways-to-execute-your-brands-promise" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/4-genuine-ways-to-execute-your-brands-promise</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/4-genuine-ways-to-execute-the-brand-promise" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000015140878Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="200" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have witnessed the brand promise of a prominent local corporation executed flawlessly at one location and fumbled ridiculously at another site. For years, face-to-face, phone, and online experiences fell far short of perfection. Its tagline&mdash;meant to imprint a positive message in the minds of community members&mdash;made me smirk more than smile.</p> <p>Because of the company&rsquo;s domination in my local market, I repeatedly found myself in the undesirable position of having to access its services. On one occasion, rather than search for another source, I resigned myself to close supervision in order to prevent disaster. However, I was astonished and pleased to see genuine execution of the brand promise.</p> <p>Having seen what works (and what does not), my starkly different experiences made me think about how businesses can keep their brand promises. Successful execution starts with the mindset that the promise is meaningful and relevant for the long haul, not empty words that keep shareholders and stakeholders happy for a fleeting moment. After the foundation has been laid, take these actions to keep the promise alive.</p> <p><strong>1. Precisely Determine the Brand Promise&rsquo;s Affect on Day-to-Day Activities</strong></p> <p>Relate the brand promise to common interactions and scenarios. Let everyone, customers and employees alike, know what to expect when they initiate transactions, respond to requests, and perform certain tasks. Design protocols for these customer touch-points, and communicate them widely via your website, in-store signage, employee manual, etc.</p> <p>Specific areas to cover might include:</p> <ul> <li>Response times for certain types of inquiries;</li> <li>Lead times for order processing, product deliveries, and project completions;</li> <li>Product return policies;</li> <li>Timing and frequency of communication alerts.</li> </ul> <p>Having highly visible operating standards can be scary, but such communication helps customers and employees discern between unreasonable and reasonable expectations. Plus, managers can readily distinguish an actual service failure from a perceived sleight, and take appropriate action quickly.</p> <p><strong>2. Embed the Brand Promise in Employee Documents</strong></p> <p>Make sure the brand promise appears in key employee documents&mdash;job descriptions, training materials, performance reviews. Trust that employees will commit to memory each of the specific deliverables that the brand promise encompasses. But don&rsquo;t stop with statements posted on the website or engraved on a plaque at the office. Integrate actionable items into communications with employees about their job duties.</p> <p>Spell out the brand promise in ways that employees can apply on a daily basis using these methods:</p> <ul> <li>Develop job descriptions that detail position requirements and performance standards consistent with your tagline. As a result, employees can focus on doing their work tasks correctly, rather than trying to remember and follow brand-promise guidelines that may not seem relevant to their job functions.</li> <li>Train employees to interact with customers, vendors, and colleagues. Conduct role-play sessions to illustrate how you would like your promise to be interpreted and applied in various situations.</li> <li>Design performance evaluations to measure adherence to work standards, which should be synced with your brand promise.</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Hire Smart, Dedicated, and Genuine People</strong></p> <p>Hire people who have the credentials and capabilities needed to excel at your company. But don&rsquo;t extend offers to those who merely pass your screening hurdles. Search for candidates who are enthusiastic about executing the brand promise.</p> <p>Look for people who have demonstrated these characteristics in previous positions:</p> <ul> <li><i>Insightful</i>: She intuitively understands your business model and brand promise, and has clarity about what they mean for complex problems. (Nevertheless, you should detail requirements to ensure consistency among all employees and adherence to expectations in murky situations.)</li> <li><i>Receptive</i>: He is eager to grow professionally and personally, not just at the start of his career but throughout his working years. Though confident in his abilities, he is willing to consider and learn new ways of doing business, particularly as technology and mindsets change.</li> <li><i>Innovative</i>: She brings new ideas to the organization that fulfill the brand promise with personable and fresh, rather than robotic, approaches to managing customer relationships.</li> </ul> <p><strong>4. Listen, Ponder and Act Appropriately</strong></p> <p>Encourage your <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/customer-ideas-to-ignore-1" target="_blank">customers and employees to express appreciation and concerns</a>. Make contacting your business really easy, whether someone wants to give a positive review, ask a question, or lodge a complaint. Then, listen.</p> <p>Don&rsquo;t react quickly just to quiet a concern. Consider complaints from the customer&rsquo;s perspective and your employee&rsquo;s point of view. Evaluate whatever information is presented in order to determine whether your company has lived up to its brand promise or failed to deliver.</p> <p>Craft and execute your plans to include:</p> <ul> <li>explaining to the customer what actions you intend to take;</li> <li>acknowledging any shortfalls in the behavior of your employees;</li> <li>bringing any broken promises to the attention of your staff; and</li> <li>making adjustments to your operations, policies, and communication styles that will allow your organization to stay true to its brand messaging.</li> </ul> <p>Acting appropriately rather than reacting to momentary pressures allows you to advocate for those who want to do the right thing but not just anything the customer wants. If your employees know that you will protect them, then they will be doubly committed to executing your brand promise in each and every customer interaction.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-genuine-ways-to-execute-the-brand-promise">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-your-first-employee">How to Hire Your First Employee</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-the-holiday-quiet-time-to-boost-your-career">How to Use the Holiday Quiet Time to Boost Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-small-business-credit-cards-affect-your-personal-credit">How Small Business Credit Cards Affect Your Personal Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center brand promise branding employee management employee motivation hiring small business training Sat, 12 Nov 2011 00:06:14 +0000 Julie Rains 781127 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Principles Of Creating A Cultural Brand http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-principles-of-creating-a-cultural-brand <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-principles-of-creating-a-cultural-brand" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-principles-of-creating-a-cultural-brand</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-principles-of-creating-a-cultural-brand" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000017950182Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Creating a unique and lasting cultural brand is the holy grail of advertising. Tapping into that nebulous mix of timing, attitude, and emotion to not only recognize, but reflect an ideology is something close to marketing magic. Only a few companies have succeeded and even fewer do it well decade after decade&mdash;brands like Subaru, Starbucks, Apple, and Ben and Jerry&rsquo;s are a few that come to mind. Each of these companies offers consumers a brand that reflects more than cars, coffee, computers, or ice cream. They were astute enough to recognize (or lucky enough to stumble upon) a shift in cultural mores <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/how-to-cash-in-on-long-lasting-fads-1" target="_blank">and position their products</a> as agents of change.</p> <p>But how do other companies create something that seems to have no recipe?</p> <p><strong>1. Cultural brands recognize a disruption in society.</strong></p> <p>History shows brands that have achieved the strongest cultural associations first recognized a tacit change in society&mdash;or a ripeness for change&mdash;and then positioned their brands as markers for it.</p> <p>For example, Ben and Jerry&rsquo;s ice cream was founded in the late 1970s and launched its product line in a market already flush with other ice cream brands. They thrived in the 80s by positioning themselves as an antidote to the Reagan era when strong divisions between liberals and conservatives were just starting to become apparent. The brand became identified with the ideas of peace, love, and harmony, and a sort of rebirth in counterculture.</p> <p><strong>2. Cultural brands create a sense of community in consumers.</strong></p> <p>Brands that reach iconic cultural status don&rsquo;t just offer products; they provide a sense of community.</p> <p>Maybe as a direct result of reflecting and offering participation in new cultural movements, these brands give consumers entry to an elite club of like-minded individuals and offer all the benefits that come with that level of brand experience. Subaru is a perfect example&mdash;its products bring to mind a class of consumers that is family-focused, outdoorsy, value and safety-conscious, and ecologically aware. Whether these assumptions are always true, partially true, or completely false doesn&rsquo;t dilute the brand experience.</p> <p><strong>3. Cultural brands create an experience with the consumer.</strong></p> <p>Cultural branding goes beyond the product to include how consumers experience the product.</p> <p>Companies like Starbucks have enriched their products (and expanded their product line) by attending to the customer environment. Overstuffed chairs, good music, upscale décor details, and soft lighting all create a salon-like atmosphere that complements the coffee and encourages customers linger and keep coming back. And that experience isn&rsquo;t lost when customers leave&mdash;it&rsquo;s become part of the brand itself and is reflected in every mermaid-emblazoned cup we see on the street.</p> <p><strong>4. Cultural brands offer strong products and services.</strong></p> <p>Of course, no brand has cultural staying power without a strong product or service. Though the brand experience may be just as compelling&mdash;or sometimes even more compelling&mdash;the product must be able to stand on its own merits.</p> <p>Apple&rsquo;s success in becoming <i>the</i> cultural brand powerhouse grew out of its technological and design innovation that continues to change the world of personal computing. Each of the corporate brands in our examples thrived by first bringing a high-quality product to market and then creating a compelling story around it.</p> <p><strong>5. Cultural brands are supported by a consistent brand infrastructure.</strong></p> <p>The adjunct to a strong product or service is the infrastructure that surrounds it&mdash;this is the essence of what the brand stands for and how the company operates. The image that surrounds the best cultural brands transcends the product to include the experience, the story, the community&mdash;and infrastructure that delivers it all with consistency.</p> <p>Target has succeeded quite well at delivering and communicating the infrastructure component of its brand. Target prides itself on giving a portion of its profits back to local communities. Customers, in turn, feel that their purchases help drive charitable giving and that their communities are the beneficiaries. In this way, the brand becomes a literal mechanism of social change and customers see a reflection of themselves in the good works of the company.</p> <p>Brands that have become part of our cultural landscape have broadly embraced and nurtured their relationships with their customers. Whether by luck or by study, these brands offer their customers the right formula of social awareness, community, experience, products, and infrastructure. The result can&rsquo;t be overstated: the brand enters our cultural lexicon. It nearly self-perpetuates the brand story and it becomes part of our cultural and historical identity. You can&rsquo;t buy that kind of advertising.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-principles-of-creating-a-cultural-brand">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image">Get the Job You Want With the Right Professional Image</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center branding brands cultural brand marketing small business Sat, 29 Oct 2011 17:16:48 +0000 Kentin Waits 764348 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Stop Stunting Your Growth http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-ways-to-stop-stunting-your-growth <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-ways-to-stop-stunting-your-growth" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-ways-to-stop-stunting-your-growth</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-ways-to-stop-stunting-your-growth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004885388Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="191" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are lots of resources and task lists to which an entrepreneur can subscribe if he or she wants to grow a business. But these five practices will often impede growth, even if you are doing everything you&rsquo;re supposed to do to grow.</p> <p><strong>1. STOP Investing in Your Brand</strong></p> <p>Branding is about heavy, long-term investments into recognition and awareness that often takes years to generate a positive return. The biggest challenge of branding is that its short and long-term impacts on the business are often very hard to track except in an aggregate and often nebulous way. Branding is not wise for entrepreneurial companies. Getting new customers now, with quantifiable metrics that determine the costs to acquire those customers, is what entrepreneurs need.</p> <p>A marketing, SEO, and social media consultant I know recently posted this question on Facebook: &ldquo;When you're a start up you can't afford a real brand strategy. So, your logo becomes your brand and you build off that. Agree or Disagree?&rdquo;</p> <p>I agreed.</p> <p>Most start-ups don't really have a handle on who their most valuable customers will be. They may have lots of theories and assumptions, but they don't really know until they go to market and get significant traction. As a firm tweaks and pivots, it only makes sense to invest in branding when they really understand the inner-workings and thoughts of their most valuable customers. Brand around that, and you'll succeed. Brand without that knowledge, and you'll most likely miss the mark.</p> <p><strong>2. STOP Planning in Your Office</strong></p> <p>Too many business owners stall in the planning phase. A new movement in entrepreneurship, centered on principles of lean start-ups and business model pivots taught by <a target="_blank" href="http://steveblank.com/">Steve Blank</a> at Stanford, <a target="_blank" href="http://blogs.forbes.com/nathanfurr/">Nathan Furr</a> at BYU, among others, teaches entrepreneurs to do their planning on the fly while they are talking to prospective and actual customers. &ldquo;Get out of the office,&rdquo; is a common theme in their content.</p> <p><strong>3. STOP Undermining the Authority of Your Managers</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;ve finally grown to a point where you can hire others to help you manage your business and employees. You have to resist the temptation to go directly to each employee with problems, concerns, and instruction. Regardless your intentions, you&rsquo;ll likely end up cutting the legs out from under the manager to whom that employee reports. You can no longer behave as the founder on the top of the organization chart that has a direct line drawn to every employee in the company. If you do, you&rsquo;ll lose your managers, confuse your employees, and stifle your growth.</p> <p><strong>4. STOP Attending Every Meeting</strong></p> <p>The need to attend every meeting is a sure a sign of a micro-managing entrepreneur.</p> <p>You&rsquo;ve hired smart people, so let them do what you pay them to do. This is easier said than done, especially since your employees will likely do things differently than you. If you want to grow, manage to results, not tasks, and empower your employees to get those results with as little input from you as possible. With all the time you&rsquo;ve freed-up by stopping your attendance at several meetings, think how much more of your energy and focus can be directed to growing your company.</p> <p><strong>5. STOP Making Exceptions to Policy</strong></p> <p>Your company has identified a common problem and allocated significant time and resources to deliberate about it, solve it, and then issue a policy everyone must follow whenever that situation is encountered in the future. For example, after much debate, you decide your company will no longer offer advances to employees. But when you find a star player you want to hire who negotiates an advance when they start with the company, you are telling the rest of the company that you don&rsquo;t support the policy. This behavior will erode the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/cultivating-teamwork-excellence-1">healthy culture</a> you've worked hard to cultivate, which is a real barrier to growth.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ken-kaufman">Ken Kaufman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-ways-to-stop-stunting-your-growth">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-small-business-credit-cards-affect-your-personal-credit">How Small Business Credit Cards Affect Your Personal Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-build-business-credit-when-youre-self-employed">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center branding company policy executive management growth small business Fri, 26 Aug 2011 21:52:58 +0000 Ken Kaufman 667158 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Essentials For A Great Social Media Strategy http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/7-essentials-for-a-great-social-media-strategy <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/7-essentials-for-a-great-social-media-strategy" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/7-essentials-for-a-g...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/7-essentials-for-a-great-social-media-strategy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000013774566Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="127" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The key to success in social media for small business does not depend, necessarily, on which online platform you use. It's in how you lay the foundation for your social media strategy, and then how you follow through on that strategy. Before you create your Facebook page, lay your social media foundation with these essential items. Then you'll be ready to use social media to successfully build up your small business. And isn't that the point?</p> <h3>Set Up Your Home Base</h3> <p>All the awesome networking in the world is kind of pointless if, at the end of your great Twitter conversation or Facebook interaction, your new potential client can't click a link and learn more about you.</p> <p>While a social media presence matters, it matters because the goal is to turn those interactions into customer relationships. And potential customers, in order to become real, live, loyal, giving-you-money customers, are going to want to know about you, about your business, your services, your products, your pricing, your reviews, your history, your expertise. In short, they're going to want to know a lot more about you than that last 140-character tweet you sent or what you put in the Info portion of your Facebook page. Set up your home base on the Internet first: your business website, which may or may not include a blog.</p> <h3>Continuity of Message and Branding</h3> <p>We've talked before about how <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-create-a-professional-online-image-at-low-to-no-cost">to create a professional online image</a>, and if you haven't walked through those steps, go do so now before you start promoting your business through social media. Yes, there's a lot of talk about how people want to connect to a real person; they do. But they also want to know that the real person they're connecting to is a professional, an expert, and someone they can trust.<a target="_blank" href="http://www.halobusiness.com/teamhalo/marianna-hayes-chapman/">Small business marketing consultant Marianna Hayes Chapman</a> advises her clients to work hard on consistency, from their social media messages to the in-store experience they give customers. &quot;<a href="http://www.resultsrevolution.com/2010/07/consistency-is-a-customer-experience-requirement/">Consistency is a desired customer experience</a> that makes your customers feel like insiders,&quot; she says, and &quot;...a sure meal ticket to success.&quot;</p> <p><i>[Disclosure: I've worked personally with Marianna and can't recommend her enough as a small business coach, especially for locally owned businesses.]</i></p> <h3>Realistic Demographics</h3> <p>Research, research, research! Know your target market. You've heard this before &mdash; if you're throwing promos and coupons into cyberspace with no idea who is reading your messages, you're wasting your time.</p> <p>Get the information about where your target market hangs out online. Twitter attracts a particular set of people; Youtube attracts another; Facebook has a broader reach, but that doesn&rsquo;t guarantee that your people are there.</p> <p>Research will save you time and ensure that your efforts matter. Remember, you want to connect with the people who will be interested in your business, not just waste time connecting with whoever happens to be online when you are.</p> <h3>Specific Way to Measure ROI</h3> <p>How are you going to measure your success (or lack thereof)? If you don't have some systems for measurement in place, even something as basic as analytics on your website so you can see where your traffic comes from, when it comes, and how long it stays, then your business succeeding in social media is as likely as a blind jockey winning a horse race. It could happen, but if it does, it will be purely by chance. You don't have time for chance.</p> <h3>Defined Level of Commitment</h3> <p>Building a social media strategy depends largely on what you can invest in it, both in terms of time and money. Make some cold hard commitments, on paper, and then you'll be able to see exactly what your business is capable of in the social media world. If you have no money, you can't buy ads on Google or Facebook. If you have no time, and no employee to delegate the work to, you can't post regularly on your business blog.</p> <p>Before you start building your profiles and putting up logos, figure out how much time you can invest on a daily and weekly basis, and how much money you can invest on things like a professional website, graphic design (logos, branding, etc.), copywriting, ghost blogging, ads, and so on.</p> <h3>Designated Owner</h3> <p>Someone has to be responsible for making sure that the regular work of social media marketing is done, and in a way that is consistent with the message and brand of your business. Don't underestimate the amount of time and energy that it will require.</p> <p>At the least, you need to oversee what is being done, measure the ROI, and make decisions about how to adjust your strategy when needed. You may outsource or assign the actual work of social media: the content creation, the posting, the interaction. It will work best if you have one person in charge whose voice and personality can come through consistently across all your social media work.</p> <h3>Reason for People to Interact with You</h3> <p>Social media is a thriving, busy, crowded place. You can jump in and add to the noise, get noticed and then ignored, or you can create and offer something of value to the people already there. Then you'll get noticed, remembered, noted, followed, and appreciated.</p> <p>In short, don't come to the picnic unless you bring your own bucket of potato salad to share, and make sure it's good. Otherwise you're just one more person making noise.</p> <h3>Social Media Strategy</h3> <p>Once you've worked your way through those first seven essential steps, you're ready to create a roadmap to execute your social media strategy. Decide which social networks you want to focus on (it can be more than one, but keep in mind that it takes an incredible amount of time to manage even just one effective). Also, focusing on one main outlet at a time, allows you to evaluate whether your strategy is working. If you see responses, keep putting in the effort. If not, decide if you need more time or if you need to make changes.</p> <p>The most important thing to remember is that social media success takes time. It takes time in terms of time spent, every day and every week, to keep on producing value and getting it out there. It takes time to interact. It takes time to figure out what's working. And it takes time for things to start working.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/7-essentials-for-a-great-social-media-strategy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-use-social-media-in-business">13 Ways to Use Social Media in Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-one-social-media-micro-star-gets-lots-of-free-stuff">How I Scored Tons of Free Stuff By Building a Small Social Media Audience</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-34-smart-ways-to-improve-your-social-media-presence">Flashback Friday: 34 Smart Ways to Improve Your Social Media Presence</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-social-media-stars-make-money">5 Surprising Ways Social Media Stars Make Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-social-media-stars-who-earn-way-more-than-you">5 Social Media Stars Who Earn Way More Than You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center branding Facebook marketing small business social media twitter Thu, 19 May 2011 22:34:38 +0000 Annie Mueller 541081 at http://www.wisebread.com How To Create A Professional Online Image At Low To No Cost http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-create-a-professional-online-image-at-low-to-no-cost <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-create-a-professional-online-image-at-low-to-no-cost" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-create-a-profe...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-create-a-professional-online-image-at-low-to-no-cost" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004469423Smallc.jpg" alt="DIY branding" title="DIY branding" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With all the new media that's come into the business world, there are corresponding pools of professionals waiting to take your money in exchange for their expertise and services. And they offer valuable services, from professional website design and graphic design to SEO research, from social media coaching to ghost blogging and copywriting; these are not unimportant offerings.</p> <p>But the bottom line is that if you have no budget for an online presence, it doesn't matter how great the offerings are. You've got to navigate the waters on your own, or miss the boat.</p> <p>You don't need to miss this boat.</p> <p>The truth is, you can build a professional online image without spending dollars you don't have. However, without a large budget, you don't have the luxury of adding a lot of bells and whistles. You have to pare down to the basics and create a simple but effective message about you and your business. Focus on the three key elements of your online presence.</p> <h3>1. Your Image</h3> <p>First, you need a logo for your business or a head shot of yourself. Though opinions will vary, and there are exceptions to every rule, I'd recommend going with a personal headshot rather than a business logo. Why? Because your online presence is all about networking, creating connections, and building trust. It's a lot easier for people to trust a friendly face than it is for them to trust a business logo. You're a person, even when representing your business or your professional self; be a person.</p> <p>If you don't have a professional headshot, you have a few options.</p> <ul> <li>Cough up the money and pay for one. It will be worth it.</li> <li>Find a friendly photographer or skilled friend and barter for something in exchange for a photo shoot.</li> <li>Find a decent photo of yourself and edit it to look as professional as possible.</li> </ul> <p>A professional headshot will go a long way toward making your online image professional; however, if cash payment simply isn't an option, throw some bartering offers out there. Many photographers are small or micro business owners themselves, and may value the products or services you can offer in exchange. There's no harm in asking. Alternately, bribe a skilled friend.</p> <p>If your only option is to doctor an amateur photo you already have, follow these guidelines:</p> <ul> <li>Choose a photo that is primarily of your face with little background clutter.</li> <li>Choose a photo that is sharply in focus on your face. Blurry = unprofessional.</li> <li>Crop the photo to show you, from the shoulders up or thereabouts.</li> <li>Try it in black and white to see if it looks better.</li> </ul> <h3>2. Your Copy</h3> <p>The second element of your online image is what you actually say about yourself. Copywriters everywhere will cringe when I tell you that you can do this yourself and still sound professional. (Since I happen to do a good bit of copywriting myself, I don't feel too bad letting you in on this trade secret.)</p> <p>Here are the basic documents you need to create:</p> <ul> <li>A short bio or business summary (up to 250 words)</li> <li>An extended bio or business description (up to 700 words)</li> </ul> <p>Choose a professional biography, rather than a business summary, if you are working as a freelancer or consultant. Otherwise, go with a business summary and description.</p> <p>Take your time to brainstorm. Keep the language simple. Think about what your potential clients or customers need or want from you, and focus on telling them how you know about that need (establishing your expertise) and how you meet that need (establishing your importance to them). Write a short and an extended version, then edit and proofread each one about fifteen times.</p> <p>There is no better way to make yourself look unprofessional than with the random typo, misspelled word, or nonsensical sentence. Get a friend to proofread what you've written. Fresh eyes will find what you might have missed. Read what you have written aloud to yourself. The editing process should take as long (if not longer) as the initial writing process.</p> <h3>3. Your Product</h3> <p>The third element of your online image is your actual product or service presentation, which may be a sales page, a portfolio, or a collection of product descriptions. This is what you want your customers to see once they've read your bio or business description and are interested enough to say, &quot;Tell me more.&quot;</p> <p>Your portfolio should highlight your best work. Your sales page should talk about the greatest benefits for your customers when they purchase your products or services. Your product descriptions should be clear, concise, and show how each product solves a problem or meets a need.</p> <p>The most important part of this presentation is giving a clear, direct, and simple way for customers to respond. Copywriters deem this a &quot;call to action.&quot; It should be short and simple: &quot;find out more,&quot; or &quot;purchase your package today,&quot; or &quot;contact me for more information.&quot; It should take your customers directly to a place where they can perform that action.</p> <h3>Put Yourself Out There</h3> <p>Once you've created the elements of a professional image, distribute them across every single place you appear online in your professional aspect. This includes your business website, blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and any profiles you have on review or geo-social media sites. It also includes any &quot;guest appearances&quot; you make. If you contribute an article to an online magazine, write for a trade journal, get interviewed by a blogger, or have your product highlighted on a website, make sure the notice includes your information, and if possible, direct links to your pages.</p> <p>This aspect of consistency, of using that same photo or logo and that same bio, summary, and/or presentation across the board, builds brand consistency. It makes you recognizable and familiar, hence more trustworthy. You can certainly do little tweaks here and there, but you want people to feel comfortable with your online image from one Internet locale to another, not startled by how different you or your business appear from website to blog to Facebook.</p> <p>Simplicity and consistency are key. Keep your descriptions simple and true-to-life. Keep your biography or summary simple, speak plainly, and be personal. Talk like a real person, not like a business textbook. Keep it consistent for an image that's true to you, true to your business, and true to the professional reputation you want to create online.</p> <p>With these tips in mind, you'll be able to create your own professional and effective online presence.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-create-a-professional-online-image-at-low-to-no-cost">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-small-business-credit-cards-affect-your-personal-credit">How Small Business Credit Cards Affect Your Personal Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-build-business-credit-when-youre-self-employed">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center Technology branding branding costs business biography design marketing marketing budget small business Wed, 20 Apr 2011 22:29:01 +0000 Annie Mueller 524257 at http://www.wisebread.com Find Your Point of Difference and Promote It http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/find-your-point-of-difference-and-promote-it <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-find-your-point-of-difference-and-promote-it-heather-allard" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-find-your-poin...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/find-your-point-of-difference-and-promote-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000010140065Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&rsquo;re in business, then you know that standing out from the crowd is essential to your sales success. But in the sea of similar sellers out there, how exactly do you stand out? Easy. You find and market your <i>point of difference</i>.</p> <p>What's a point of difference? It's how your product stands out from that of your competitors', in a very specific, positive way.</p> <h3>Pinpoint your Point of Difference</h3> <p>To figure this out, you need to know how your product is different in all sorts of ways, good and bad.</p> <p>Some points of difference that you could consider:</p> <ul> <li>Price</li> <li>Variety</li> <li>Features</li> <li>Benefits</li> <li>Availability</li> <li>Convenience</li> <li>Customer service</li> <li>Your story (how, why or where you do business)</li> </ul> <h3>A Dog Eat Dog World</h3> <p>Let&rsquo;s say that you&rsquo;re in the dog biscuit business. You might decide that your dog treats will feature all natural, exotic ingredients, the benefits of which include easing indigestion and helping with weight loss programs in pets.</p> <p>The biscuits might be available at certain renowned pet stores and also online. They could be shipped free of charge and even offered in gift-wrapped packaging.</p> <p>Your website might have an automatic replenishment feature so customers never run out, and they could contact you personally to ask your advice on buying treats that are perfect for their pet's needs.</p> <p>You might also play up the story behind the creation of your business to add an extra point of differentiation from companies born just to make profits.</p> <p>These are your points of difference.</p> <h3>How to Discover <i>Your</i> Difference</h3> <p>Knowing your points of difference &ndash; and the overall differentiation that helps you stand out from the competition &ndash; can really help you market and sell your products or services.</p> <p>Here are two easy ways to figure out your points:</p> <h4>Method One: Be a Detective</h4> <ol> <li>Draw three columns on a piece of lined paper.</li> <li>In the first column, list one of your top competitors.</li> <li>In the second column, note how your products are similar (both use organic ingredients; both cost $25; both are healthy dog biscuits, etc).</li> <li>In the third column, note how your products are different (theirs are made in China/mine is handmade; theirs costs $49/mine costs $29; theirs comes in two flavors/mine comes in 10, etc.).</li> </ol> <p>Repeat these four steps for up to 10 competitors. When you're done, look for recurring points you've listed in the &quot;differences&quot; column.</p> <p>Find any? Bingo &ndash; those recurring points show some major differentiation that lets you easily stand out from the competition.</p> <h4>Method Two: Just Ask</h4> <p>It's that simple. Find someone you can ask what makes your product stand out. And by someone, I mean someone unrelated to you. Not your mother or your sister or your husband or your best friend.</p> <p>Ask your customers.</p> <p>What do you ask them? Ask them why they purchased from you. Ask them if they considered buying from the competition and if so, what made them choose your product instead. Ask them what they like about your product (and what they don't!), and ask why they feel your product is the best choice for them.</p> <p>Ask these questions to as many customers as you can &ndash; preferably 20 or more. Write the answers down, and scan through the list to spot recurring points of difference. To make this process even easier, you could send a quick survey to your last 50 customers using <a target="_blank" href="http://surveymonkey.com/">Survey Monkey</a> &ndash; your answers will be organized and ready for point of difference analysis.</p> <p>And then, once you've determined your point of difference...</p> <h3>Market, Baby, Market!</h3> <p>When you know your points of difference, you have a golden path to sales. You can market what makes you stand out and make sure potential and new customers know what makes you special.</p> <p>How do you market your differentiation? Mention it <i>everywhere</i>:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Your website&rsquo;s landing page</li> <li>Your business cards</li> <li>Your company name (Think <a target="_blank" href="http://thelaunchcoach.com/">The Launch Coach</a> and Toys-R-Us)</li> <li>Your tagline (<a target="_blank" href="http://themogulmom.com/">For moms running a business, raising a family and rocking both</a>)</li> <li>Your wholesale brochure</li> <li>Your website bio</li> <li>Your product packaging</li> <li>Your shipping container</li> <li>Your logo</li> <li>Your email signature</li> <li>Your social media profiles and backgrounds</li> </ul> <p>When you define your points of difference and market them well, getting your business noticed is easy. And you'll easily answer the crucial question potential customers always ask: &quot;Why should I buy from YOU?&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heather-allard">Heather Allard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/find-your-point-of-difference-and-promote-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-weird-ways-people-get-promoted">3 Weird Ways People Get Promoted</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image">Get the Job You Want With the Right Professional Image</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center branding differentiation marketing promotion small business Sun, 13 Mar 2011 20:40:05 +0000 Heather Allard 499389 at http://www.wisebread.com What’s in a Name? It Might be More Than You Bargained For http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/what-s-in-a-name-it-might-be-more-than-you-bargained-for <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-choose-a-business-name-kate-lister" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-choose-a-busin...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/what-s-in-a-name-it-might-be-more-than-you-bargained-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000014129781Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Over half a million new businesses and even more products are launched every year. They&rsquo;re all looking for a great name. These days that&rsquo;s a tall order.</p> <p>In the old days, say 15 years ago, choosing a name for a business was a fairly simple. If &quot;San Diego Chocolates&quot; was already taken, you could go with &quot;Chocolates of San Diego&quot;, or &quot;San Diego&rsquo;s Best Chocolates&quot;. Today, however, it would be death by cacao to pick a name for a store that wasn&rsquo;t also available as a URL. With over 200 million domain names already in existence and 25 million more being added every year, it&rsquo;s getting harder by the nano-second to find the right URL.</p> <p>But picking a good name isn&rsquo;t just about finding one that&rsquo;s available.</p> <p>For example, my partner and I thought &quot;Barnstorming Adventures, Ltd.&quot; was a great name for a biplane ride business. It had so much character. And the &lsquo;Ltd&rsquo; gave it that old-timey feel that reflected the era of the planes we flew. At least that&rsquo;s what we thought.</p> <p>It turned out most people didn&rsquo;t even know what &lsquo;barnstorming&rsquo; meant. The mispronunciations and misspellings over the years were downright embarrassing: barfstorming, branstorming, brainstorming. The only thing we were brainstorming was how to change the company name without losing the value of the brand we&rsquo;d spent years building.</p> <p>Sixteen years and probably as many doing-business-as (dba) names later, you&rsquo;d think we&rsquo;d have learned our lesson. But no.</p> <p>In 2009 we wrote a book titled <i>Undress For Success&mdash;The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home</i>. We thought it was pretty catchy and so did our publisher, John Wiley &amp; Sons&mdash;kind of a play on the 1970&rsquo;s bestseller, <i>Dress For Success,</i> that banished green leisure suits from the boardroom. The URL, UndressForSuccess, was not in use, but someone else owned it. We tried to buy it. They wouldn't sell, so we went with Undress4Success.com, instead.</p> <p>Both the book title and the web address turned out to be bad ideas. Let me count the ways.</p> <ol> <li>TV or radio mentions, unless they spelled out the web address, inevitably led folks to the &lsquo;For&rsquo; address.</li> <li>The word &lsquo;Naked&rsquo; in the title of the book triggered spam bots and in some cases caused mail servers to block our messages.</li> <li>No one remembered the old <i>Dress For Success</i> book so they didn&rsquo;t get the joke.</li> <li>One of the top accounting firms we&rsquo;d interviewed for the book opted out in the final proof&mdash;apparently they didn&rsquo;t think the image of a CPA wearing nothing but a pencil behind his or her ear would be good for business.</li> <li>Worst of all, the &lsquo;For&rsquo; web address we tried to purchase has since become the kind of website you need to trash your cache and toss your cookies after a visit.</li> </ol> <p>So, to help you learn from the mistakes of others (ours!), here are a dozen tips for choosing a good name for your next venture or product:</p> <ol> <li>If you can&rsquo;t own the web address, choose another name.</li> <li>If it&rsquo;s easily misspelled (or miss-heard) and you can&rsquo;t own the misspelled web address too, choose another name.</li> <li>Descriptive and understandable trumps cute and artsy any day.</li> <li>Most people won&rsquo;t get the joke, whatever it is.</li> <li>Be careful not to infringe on any patents or trademarks. Mistakes can be costly.</li> <li>Check the meaning of the word in multiple languages (see below).</li> <li>Avoid lingo or jargon that only insiders can appreciate.</li> <li>Choose one that won&rsquo;t limit your growth. &quot;Coastal Pizza&quot; is going to look a little funny in Kansas City.</li> <li>Think about any potentially embarrassing abbreviations or acronyms (Fitness and Tanning, Inc.).</li> <li>Consider how it will look on a business card or letterhead.</li> <li>If possible, choose a name that starts with a low letter. Apology Flowers will likely get the business over Repentant Blooms when someone is in need of a quick rose fix.</li> <li>Avoid special characters such as &quot;&amp;&quot; that don&rsquo;t work in a URL or require special web code.</li> </ol> <p>If you're already stuck with an albatross of a name, take heart; somebody else has probably come up with something worse. In fact, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.i18nguy.com/translations.html">whole web sites</a> are devoted to the naming mistakes of others, some of them from the biggest names in business:</p> <ul> <li>Coca Cola&rsquo;s first Chinese translation read, &quot;bite the wax tadpole&quot;.</li> <li>&quot;Gerber&quot; means &quot;puke&quot; in French.</li> <li>American Motors' &quot;Matador&quot; translated to &quot;killer&quot; in Puerto Rico.</li> </ul> <p>Sticks and stones may break your bones and bad business names really can hurt thee. Be careful out there!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/what-s-in-a-name-it-might-be-more-than-you-bargained-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-small-business-credit-cards-affect-your-personal-credit">How Small Business Credit Cards Affect Your Personal Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-build-business-credit-when-youre-self-employed">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center branding business identity business name dba small business Thu, 24 Feb 2011 01:11:58 +0000 Kate Lister 491508 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Entrepreneurs Should Care About Google Suggest http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/why-entrepreneurs-should-care-about-google-suggest <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/why-entrepreneurs-should-care-about-google-suggest-chris-birk" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/why-entrepreneurs-sh...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/why-entrepreneurs-should-care-about-google-suggest" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009782493XSmall.jpg" alt="Typing at computer" title="Typing at computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="245" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Entrepreneurs take great pains to cultivate and maintain a strong and squeaky-clean brand online.</p> <p>The concept of online reputation management has become increasingly crucial in an age of Yelp reviews, anonymous blog comments, and rampant social networking. It&rsquo;s imperative that company leaders respond rapidly to negative reviews and online complaints.</p> <p>Many entrepreneurs and marketing experts are clear on the need for consistent and thorough online reputation-management strategies. But even the most well-seasoned veterans are grappling with an emerging battleground: Google Suggest and its cohort, Google Instant.</p> <p>This automated-suggest feature is in some ways changing the way we search online. Google Suggest provides users with search-term suggestions shaped by local and global search patterns. Google Instant predicts results as the user types.</p> <p>For consumers, it&rsquo;s a keystroke-saving function that at times seems to double as a mind reader. But for companies, Google Suggest can lead to some serious reputation and brand-image problems. Combating them requires a commitment to make online reputation management an essential element of future marketing efforts.</p> <h3>The Perils of Google Suggest</h3> <p>The concern is one of control.</p> <p>Negative Google Suggest terms associated with your brand can immediately turn off potential consumers. Some companies have already seen phrases like &ldquo;scam&rdquo; or &ldquo;is a rip off&rdquo; become attached to their names in Google Suggest.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a more extreme example in a search related to telecom giant Comcast. Imagine, for the sake of example, that the user planned to search &ldquo;Comcast ISP,&rdquo; with the latter term short for &ldquo;Internet Service Provider.&rdquo; Before the user can type the P, here&rsquo;s what Google Suggest returns:</p> <p><img alt="Google search" width="500" height="105" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u921/google_search.jpg" /></p> <p>Needless to say, slow, issues, and terrible are all words you probably don&rsquo;t want associated with your company.</p> <p>Granted, Comcast is a multibillion-dollar behemoth, one of those companies that consumers love to gripe about. But local businesses and more community-focused entrepreneurs certainly aren&rsquo;t immune.</p> <p>Google Suggest gathers information from multiple data points. The famously tight-lipped company doesn&rsquo;t provide a full break down, but likely sources include page content, frequency of the search term, and feedback from the news and social media spheres.</p> <p>The continued use of local search data may soon bring the headaches of Google Suggest to smaller doorsteps. All it might take is a few unhappy customers who take to blogs, review sites, or other locales to publicly complain about your &ldquo;scam&rdquo; or your &ldquo;horrible&rdquo; product or service. Suddenly, a visit to Google turns into a brand management nightmare.</p> <h3>Tips for Handling Google Suggest</h3> <p>This is one of those areas where, to borrow a sports cliché, the best defense is a good offense. Here are a few tips for warding off potential problems with Google Suggest and <a href="http://reputationmanagers.com/blog/google-suggest-google-instant-bad-for-reputation/">online reputation management</a>:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Be Vigilant</strong><br /> Social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter have ushered in a new era of interaction between consumers and business owners. Instead of writing letters or berating customer service representatives, today&rsquo;s aggrieved consumers head straight to the web.</p> <p> Entrepreneurs need to be on top of their online reputation. Set up <a href="http://www.google.com/alerts">Google Alerts</a> and detailed Twitter searches to scour company mentions. Respond quickly to complaints and questions and go as far as reasonably possible to rectify customer issues.</p> <p> Don&rsquo;t let negative reviews and blog comments linger without a response. If someone bad mouths your company in a comment field or blog post, ask the site owner for an opportunity to reply.</li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p><strong>Be Proactive</strong><br /> Unashamedly embrace self-promotion. Pump out good news about your company via press releases, blog posts, and social media feeds. Showcase your customer testimonials. Flooding the market with positive news can help counteract some of the negative comments.</p> <p> Consider buying additional web domains to safeguard your company from attacks by spurned consumers or even nasty competitors. See if &ldquo;CompanyXscam.com,&rdquo; &ldquo;CompanyXreviews.com&rdquo; and other variations of your brand are available and snatch them up. Use them to show off your glowing customer reviews or just keep them offline and out of mind. We pursued this exact track for our <a href="http://www.vamortgagecenterreviews.com/">VA loan company</a>.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s also probably a good idea to refrain from repeatedly searching things like &ldquo;Company X scam.&rdquo; The last thing you want to do is create your own negative feedback loop.</li> <li> <p><strong>Be Honest</strong><br /> Admit when you&rsquo;ve messed up or failed to live up to your high expectations. Be transparent with consumers, both prospective and returning. It&rsquo;s unrealistic to expect every customer is a satisfied one.</p> </li> </ul> <p>For most companies, isolated negative comments and reviews on blogs and websites are simply part of doing business. You can&rsquo;t make everyone happy. But Google Suggest and Google Instant make it worth trying.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/why-entrepreneurs-should-care-about-google-suggest">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-improve-your-online-reputation">6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-a-personal-website-can-improve-your-life">8 Surprising Ways a Personal Website Can Improve Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-siri-can-be-your-personal-finance-assistant">9 Ways Siri Can Be Your Personal Finance Assistant</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/apple-introduces-most-outrageous-rewards-program-in-history">Apple introduces most outrageous “rewards” program in history</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center Technology branding Google small business small business marketing Sun, 23 Jan 2011 20:01:38 +0000 Chris Birk 457887 at http://www.wisebread.com The 4 Ps of Luxury Branding http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-4-ps-of-luxury-branding <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/the-4-ps-of-luxury-branding-kate-lister" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/the-4-ps-of-luxury-br...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/the-4-ps-of-luxury-branding" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004535003XSmall.jpg" alt="biplane" title="biplane" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Thanks to luxury branding, our startup aviation sightseeing business became the oldest and largest in the U.S. by the time we sold the company a few years ago.</p> <p>Initially, our open-cockpit biplane flights were priced to serve a broad market &mdash; something for everyone &mdash; but we read that some people simply want the &quot;best of the best,&quot; and that resonated. On a regular basis people would call and ask for our best flight. Choosing our most expensive offering, they'd create their own luxury experience with the addition of a limo, roses, champagne, or even diamonds in several cases. So we put together an assortment of exclusive flights.</p> <p>The <em>Sunset Snuggler</em> would take off an hour before sundown and as the sun slipped over the horizon, we'd climb and watch it set again. Few people can enjoy two sunsets in one day. Not exclusive enough? Our <em>Great Gatsby Fly/Dine</em> paired the sunset flight with dinner at a local five star restaurant. Still not over-the-top enough? How 'bout our <em>Lucky Bastard</em>, a biplane ride plus an air combat mission plus thrills in a WW2 warbird, with leather jacket and silk scarf included. It wasn't our bestselling flight, but as the price went up so did profit. Before long we were pondering the advantages (and complications) of adding a vintage limousine to our stable of rare machines.</p> <p>Just because our 1920s flying machines pre-dated the well-known Four Ps of marketing, that didn't mean we could ignore them. In fact, what we found was luxury branding almost turns them on their heads.</p> <h2>Product</h2> <p>Driving cost out of a product by accepting adequate quality may work for a mass-market brand, but luxury branding is built on a foundation of quality, even if it means a higher price. A mediocre high-priced product will never achieve luxury status.</p> <p>We had to be sure our luxury flights were the best available &mdash; and that meant the sunset flight was limited to one per day. The jacket had to be a WW2 design made from supple calfskin. Dinner couldn't be just anywhere; it had to be at the extraordinary Vivace restaurant in the Four Seasons (now Hyatt) Aviara Resort. And dinner couldn't just be whatever was on the menu. The chef and manager put together a special selection and displayed the choices in a unique leather menu with an embossed art deco airplane design.</p> <p>Simply ensuring quality and uniqueness isn't the only product consideration. Imitations have to be avoided. If a comparable experience is available everywhere, the cachet is lost. Limitations help create a luxury brand, too. If every flight could include a jacket and meal, the uniqueness would evaporate. Accommodating special requests, such as roses or champagne, add to the perception of pampering and luxury. Personalization, engraving a name on a product or in our case greeting a guest by name, helped make the difference between an airplane ride and a luxury experience.</p> <h2>Price</h2> <p>Generally, low prices are considered key to product success, but luxury brands are priced high.</p> <p>If some people aren't complaining about your prices, it's said, they aren't high enough. That may be true for general market products and services, but luxury products are, at least in part, defined by their higher price. Still, trust is key to luxury brands, and if your prices are perceived to be artificially high the strategy will backfire.</p> <p>Bargain sales and discounts are antithetical to the concept of a luxury brand. If a quality product is worth the price, then how can that price be reduced without sacrificing quality? To ensure people understand your devotion to quality, don't give them reason to believe you're willing to compromise it.</p> <p>Another way luxury brands engender trust is to avoid odd prices. A five hundred dollar flight priced at $499.99 sends a mixed message. If we've succeeded in communicating that our product is of such high quality that it's worth the price, trying to trick a customer into thinking it costs less is insulting and defeats the purpose.</p> <h2>Place</h2> <p>In the general market, the premise is that broad distribution achieves the greatest sales. However, limited distribution increases perceived exclusivity &mdash; an important component of a luxury brand.</p> <p>If location, location, location is the formula for general market success, limited prime location is key to luxury branding. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Rolex, and Cartier don't have locations on Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills, Bond Street in London, the Ginza in Tokyo, and the Champs-Élysées in Paris because of their success. They're successful because that's where they put their stores.</p> <h2>Promotion</h2> <p>High-volume mass advertising and hard-sell verbiage may work for general products, but for luxury brands, image ads and targeted publicity convey the right message.</p> <p>Our vintage biplanes and the flights were inherently easy to promote because they were unusual, colorful, and fun. Their Roaring Twenties history &mdash; one was used by a Chicago detective agency to transport gangster-sniffing bloodhounds &mdash; added to their appeal. Reading about the flights in upscale golf and travel magazines not only added to the perception of luxury, they subtly endorsed the brand as no advertisement could.</p> <h2>Some Observations</h2> <p>Research from the <em>Harvard Business Review</em> shows that a luxury brand's profitability will increase with perceived premium value, &quot;but only if the brand is extended into product categories adjacent to the core brand.&quot; We might have succeeded with a brand of luxury auto tours, but probably wouldn't have had much success selling premium wine.</p> <p>Loyalty is key in the luxury market, so make it the basis of your strategy. It's more expensive to attract a customer than to keep one; that's why loyalty is so important. Margin allows you to &quot;pamper&quot; your customers so that they don't go to another brand. Nordstrom famously accepted a returned set of tires even though the department store doesn't sell automotive products.</p> <p>Luxury brands have huge net margins, close to 80 percent, but the risks are immense because success or failure is based on an elusive, irrational, unpredictable, intangible asset &mdash; the brand.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-4-ps-of-luxury-branding">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image">Get the Job You Want With the Right Professional Image</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center branding luxury brands marketing small business Wed, 01 Dec 2010 19:17:31 +0000 Kate Lister 299214 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Become a Premier Local Brand http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-become-a-premier-local-brand <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-become-a-premier-local-brand-julie-rains" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-become-a-premi...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-become-a-premier-local-brand" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000003164931XSmall.jpg" alt="premier" title="premier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When potential customers decided to purchase products recommended by <em>The Dandelion Patch</em> from lower-cost sources, owner Heidi Kallett did not entice them with better deals. She replaced mainstream items with high-end lines consistent with her focus on high-touch service and highly personalized products. As a result, her company has experienced double-digit, profitable sales growth. Here are some steps to build your own brand.</p> <p><strong>Step 1: Define Who You Are</strong></p> <p>The Dandelion Patch is a specialty retailer, selling fine stationery and gifts; the company has four locations in Northern Virginia. The heart of its brand has always been warm, attentive, and expert service. A focus on consultative sales has consistently differentiated The Dandelion Patch from its competitors. Friendly, professional employees deftly assess customers' styles, and offer guidance in making stationery and gift selections.</p> <p><strong>Step 2: Keep the Brand, Reassess the Approach</strong></p> <p>Customers gladly tapped employee expertise for product design and selection, but prospects soaked up expertise and then bought finished products from retailers with lower prices. Heidi couldn't afford to chase customers with discounts so she decided to abandon her (former) mainstay product lines.</p> <p>Another segment of customers were a hindrance on profitability. When Heidi analyzed the return on her investment in acquiring new customers, she realized that those who stretched to buy even moderately-priced products were unable to afford complementary items. The cost of acquiring these customers and servicing their needs was relatively high given their lifetime value to the company.</p> <p>Keeping incredible, informed, intimate service, Heidi deliberately elevated her brand to a luxury level. She sourced exclusive lines not available at lower prices. She pursued upscale customers who relished the opportunity to delightedly <em>and repeatedly</em> discover finds at her stores.</p> <p><strong>Step 3: Transform, Slowly</strong></p> <p>Heidi didn't alter her company's brand overnight. Transformation came at a slow but measured pace. Rather than replace merchandise with luxury items immediately, Heidi purchased and placed one new item on the sales floor at a time. She tested the appeal of the product (a high-end picture frame, for example) and, if sales were strong, began offering the item on a regular basis. She continued the process of updating and upgrading the company's offerings.</p> <p>Her customers may have noticed subtle additions and deletions. As a consequence of gradual change, they embraced the newness rather than become alienated and confused. Just as significantly, this approach was friendly to the company's budget. New, higher-priced inventory was purchased with working capital.</p> <p>Similarly, when Heidi decided to remove the color brown because of its mainstream connotation, she moved slowly. Instead of tossing out marketing collateral, she eliminated brown from reorders of logoed bags, business cards, signage, etc. Soon, she will replace store interiors and the company's website with a cleaner look sans brown.</p> <p><strong>Step 4: Visualize Your Target Customer</strong></p> <p>Today, Heidi describes her company's brand in one word: Charlotte. Fictional character <a href="http://www.hbo.com/sex-and-the-city/cast-and-crew/charlotte-york/index.html#/sex-and-the-city/cast-and-crew/charlotte-york/index.html">Charlotte York</a> of the popular HBO sitcom Sex and the City exemplifies the target customer and embodies the brand. She is graceful, optimistic, creative, and devoted to her family and friends. Life's milestones are celebrated elegantly.</p> <p>The Dandelion Patch is the go-to place for exclusive, fine stationery and one-of-a-kind gifts to share the joy of these milestones. Dandelions evoke memories of carefree days and making wishes. As dreams come true, customers visit The Dandelion Patch to celebrate and commemorate weddings, births, special birthdays, and more.</p> <p><strong>Step 5: Let the Brand Drive Business Decisions</strong></p> <p>The brand image is embedded in all marketing messages, print and digital. Even tweets adhere to etiquette and grammar rules, consistent with The Dandelion Patch's commitment to propriety and graciousness.</p> <p>However, branding influences business decisions beyond marketing communications, such as:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Merchandising<br /> </strong>Product offerings with custom designs reflect the luxury status of the brand. Merchandise exclusivity allows Heidi to protect her pricing in order to afford payroll costs associated with hiring and retaining qualified employees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Return on Investment (ROI) of Customer Acquisition<br /> </strong>By elevating the brand, the target audience can afford not only the expense of wedding invitations but also the cost of day-of paper (such as menu cards and programs). These customers also tend to generate repeat business for milestone-related items, gifts, and corporate stationery. As a result, the ROI for customer acquisition and the lifetime value is much higher at the luxury level than the moderate price point.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Staffing<br /> </strong>Customers who pay premium prices expect expert assistance. Employees need to be friendly, attentive, professional, and knowledgeable in order to serve customers properly. Heidi thoughtfully and carefully selects her staff.</p> <p> She employs and mentors high school students, but they are assigned to basic tasks such as refreshing inventory and operating cash registers rather than advising customers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Philanthropy<br /> </strong>The Dandelion Patch has a philanthropic strategy to differentiate itself through prominent support of a main beneficiary: Childhelp, a national organization serving victims of child abuse and neglect. This focused approach helps to raise awareness of the company's commitment to philanthropy, consistent with its brand image.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Step 6: Live the Brand</strong></p> <p>Live and breathe your brand every single day, Heidi tells me. If your brand resonates as Charlotte, don't switch midstream to Samantha. Be consistent in all marketing communications, interactions with customers, and business decisions.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-become-a-premier-local-brand">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-small-business-credit-cards-affect-your-personal-credit">How Small Business Credit Cards Affect Your Personal Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-build-business-credit-when-youre-self-employed">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center branding marketing small business Tue, 30 Nov 2010 22:01:02 +0000 Julie Rains 296949 at http://www.wisebread.com