Posts Tagged brand identity

Blog Content Strategy: What Are You Talking About?

What are you talking about on your blog?  If it’s yourself, you’re probably not getting readers.  You don’t want to be the guy at the party whose stories about himself only pause when he has time to stuff an hors d’ouevres in his mouth and continue with “and then I….”

When marketers say the 20 year or so old refrain Content is King, what they mean is the stuff you put on your Web site needs to be interesting to your readers, not just you.  Your blog is not a mouthpiece for your sales department.  It is a virtual conversation that provides something valuable to customers and partners and whomever else you are trying to get to read it.  It’s educational, entertaining, and probably informal.  The more natural a voice you adopt for your blog, the better.  Have fun with it.  Your blog is your creative arm.  It’s where you connect with people who are like you, who would enjoy your product and the subculture that surrounds it the same way you do.

How to come up with ideas to write about:

Listen.

Go to places where your customers hang out, in person or digitally, and see what they talk about.   What else do they like? What can you tie back into the values of your product? Educate them on how to use your product.  Provide profiles and links on people who are doing interesting things with the type of product or service you provide, though not necessarily customers all the time, since that all comes back to being completely about you.  There’s nothing wrong with telling a story or two about yourself.  Just don’t abuse it.  Have other stuff there.

Pay Attention to Subcultures

I read blogs because of the interesting stories they tell about subjects I follow.  And I’ll check out a book or product a blogger is promoting because I trust her, because she writes about other subjects that interest me.

I’ll buy a beauty product from a company if it is a natural product company that writes articles about growing organic herbs and aromatherapy, what collagen actually does for the skin, and how bee farming is humane and generates all sorts of useful ingredients, such as beeswax, which are used in products like theirs.  A blog like this is not designed to push a product, though it informs me about aspects of the product and reminds me of the natural organic subculture that I have unofficially joined through my interests.

Build (and Join) Community

As a side note, I really really love that company if it also sponsors events with recyclers, crafters, and craft brewers in the local organic community and writes about the festivals it supports, since that fits in with my subculture and helps me connect to their idea of community and my own even better.  But events are a whole other ball of beeswax. Though they help immensely with figuring out what to write about.

One way to tap into this community-building and be a local participant is to begin using Twitter to find others like yourself.  Put your interests or your business summary in your profile – as well as a link to your Web site.  Seek out and follow others by typing the words you used to describe yourself into the search bar in Twitter.  People will find you and begin to follow you.  Thank them for following you.  Comment or reply to others in the industry who put tweets up you enjoy, or people who enjoy the same things you do.  It builds on itself until you have a great group of folks who are engaged with your interests, and you can all share ideas – sometimes they are your direct customers telling you what they want, or showing you what they are reading (through the links they put up on their feeds), which is valuable information to have.

Use any or all of these methods to find ideas to write about and good content to link to on your blog. It’s not just about search engine optimization (SEO) or converting sales. You’re relationship building, and you do this through community – and through providing information people care about. Educate. Entertain. Inform. “Convert” comes later.

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Small Business Identity Crisis: The Genius of Landing Pages

Ever find that as a business, you have multiple personalities? That you can’t claim just one type of audience and you don’t know how to address these disparities, these fragments of identity that keep you from being able to write to one type, or have your web site formality set up to attract one type?

This is a common problem in business, especially small business.  Small businesses don’t feel they have a big enough operation to set up landing pages and separate sites or areas for each type of audience.   How will people know where to go? they say.  It’s hard enough getting them to my web site in the first place. 

Sometimes you can write to a variety of audiences, and provide content that resonates with all of them – like Web developer freelancers and CIOs, or teenage girls and their mothers.  But sometimes it just doesn’t work. 

If you sell cakes, you’re not going to appeal to brides and parents of little kids on the same page – unless your audience is

Optimus Prime Cake: More Than Meets the- Naah. Too Cheesy.

like my best friend, who had a Snork cake at her wedding.  You need landing pages to appeal to these specialized audiences, so you can provide your bride with beautiful wedding cake photos that evoke the emotions of her special day, and tout your partnership program with the florist next door who makes the most ethereal arrangements.  The Dad on the Run looking for the perfect Transformers cake for his 6-year-old, a man who wouldn’t know “fondant” if it hit him in the face, will not stay long enough on your Web site to find your Optimus Prime masterpiece if he sees a bunch of frilly wedding sculptures tufted with pearls.  You get the picture.

5-Step crash course in targeted vertical marketing.

  1. So you set up tabs on your web site, and link to them all clearly, with photos if possible, on your home page.  Make the navigation easy as pie, or cake.  Fill your lovely targeted pages with copy and content directed only at the audience for that page.  Have your main navigation bar always visible on the side to help others find what they need if that page doesn’t have it (help Dad discover Optimus instead of Bridezilla).
  2. Write about your various skills in your blog and create categories with lots of keyword tags.  Register your blog on Technorati and hook it up to a Twitter feed, if you have the time to post something to Twitter (or “tweet”) an average of once a day.
  3. You research keywords on the Internet and find out what people are searching for – bless you Google Keywords Tool – then you put some of those keywords on your pages along with great, educational, informative content.  In your own style.  Polished but approachable. 
  4. If you post any ads online, link them to special landing pages just for those customers (your designer will know how to do this, or you can just set up a separate tab in your blog or on the site template and DIY), and add in a promotional code you can track or a coupon they can print and bring in, so you know it’s working. 
  5. Measurement is important (see step 4), which is why you should also visit Google Analytics and register your site so you can look at who is visiting your page, where they are coming from, and how long they stay.  Then you can play around with the site and see if more videos, more photos, or different headlines make a difference. 

 

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Chris Brogan’s Batman Formula for Branding

Chris Brogan’s blog post Personal Branding Basics for 2011 offers pop culture pearls of wisdom for both individuals and businesses, managing to work in Batman as metaphor and, in contrast (or perhaps not), a little Madonna for effect – she is the quintessential brand reinventor of pop culture and a superhero to some Gen X ladies, after all.  It’s an entertaining read even if you’re not into branding, but the post reminds us of some important considerations regarding names (not gimmicks), content, action, and tools – as in not getting overly caught up in the tools you use to put yourself out there.

I am Batman

I am Batman, by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Brogan’s formula for success is common sense, but contains elements and calculations we often forget in the mad rush to keep up with the Big Brands. And there’s an overarching theme about helping others, which is already a focus for many community-oriented businesses and individuals out there, but still isn’t the overarching principle it should be in the 21st century, given all our talk about talented free agents, right-brained thinkers, cultural creatives, and other revolutionaries.

Probably the most important bit of advice from Brogan: Figure out your promise and execute.  That means action, and not a lot of talking about action.  Doing can be a problem for many folks, especially in businesses that require multitudes of checks and balances and that have a hard time with transparency (e.g., not letting employees on Facebook for fear of what they’ll say).  And we all talk about that novel we’re “working on” that never quite comes to fruition.  Maybe it’s perfectionism, but this market moves at light speed and if we think too long about acting, the opportunity evaporates.

Speaking of light and speed, Brogan points out, “Batman showed up every time the signal was lit. He seemed to be everywhere to stop crime and to build momentum on the fact that crime wasn’t a good idea in Gotham City.” So act on your promise and be everywhere.  Great advice for anyone, individual or company.  And Batman’s a stellar role model, maybe minus the vengeance thing.

So here’s the formula:

“You want to crush it in branding?” says Brogan.  “Focus on:

1. experimenting to improve your abilities,
2. executing to bring your promise into the real world, and
3. telling stories by making useful media to build relationships with your buyers and supporters.

That’s where you’ll see your rewards. Repeat, repeat, repeat.”  No rinsing required.  Armored rubber suit optional.

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