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How To Make Your Brand Matter

Written by Kevin Wood

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

make your brand matter

You can either look at branding as a buzzword, or something very valuable for the continued success of your business. For the sake of this post we’re going to investigate the latter definition.

Every company has a brand whether they’re aware of it or not. However, not every company has a brand that matters. In this post we’re going to examine what makes brands matter and how to transform your brand from boring to brilliant.

 

What Is A Brand?

The moment a person thinks about your brand the feelings they feel, or the thoughts they think are the backbone of your brand. Your brand extends way beyond your logo and what font you use on your website.
Think of Apple. The moment you think about their company, or hold on of their devices in your hand you automatically think about simplicity, sleek design, attention to detail and beauty.

What kind of feelings do you make your customers feel?

Sadly, most brands aren’t making their customers feel anything. Most brand are bland and don’t inspire action in one direction or another. The worst feeling your customers can feel when interacting with you is ambivalence.

In another way you can think of your brand as the experience you deliver to your users.

 

Make Your Brand Matter

How do you exactly engineer a brand that makes people stop in their tracks? It takes more than a fancy website and sleek logo. It takes asking the right questions to get to the center of why you do the work you do, and what it looks like.

1. Why Are You Different
Different is good. People have more choices than ever. By trying to cater to every style of customer you end up appealing to no one. By taking a stand about what you believe in you can create a brand that others believe in as well.

This goes in line with what makes you different. Why would a customer choose you over the competition?

2. Discover Your Values
Your company values run deeper than your products and services. Your values are your core reasons for doing business in the first place. Why are you doing what you do?

Is it for freedom, for love, or for making a difference in the world?

Patagonia has a deep environmental ethic that runs throughout their entire business. As a result, every aspect of their business caters to this ethos. From their website, to their products, to their images and even storefronts.

3. How Will You Communicate This?
In what style will you communicate this message? Will you be stylish and clean, or brash and crude?
Whatever you choose is up to you. But, it will come across in your web copy, your overall design and how you interact with your customers.

Building a brand that people care about takes time. It takes being honest, and it takes brining every aspect of your business into alignment. However, the results are well worth-it. By building a brand that matters you’ll start to cultivate passionate brand evangelists who will do most of your marketing for you.

Why Small Businesses Need To Have (and Grow) An Email List

Written by Taylor Hawes

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Why Small Businesses Need to Have and Grow Their Email List

You already have an audience for your business.

When you have events, people show up. When you hold a sale or introduce a new product, people are there to buy. And when you open your doors each morning, you know you won’t be spending the day alone.

Your phone rings, your website gets traffic, and over time your business grows.

But if you’re not giving this audience a way to stay connected with you when they’re away from your business — you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to build relationships with these customers and accelerate the growth your business can achieve by driving action around the things you’re already doing.

 

Social Media Alone Isn’t Enough


Sure, you could set up a Facebook Page or get started on Twitter but at the end of the day you don’t really own those contacts — you’re renting them. You can put days, weeks, and months into building a fanbase, but if one day Facebook decides to limit your ability to deliver your message, you’ll be no better off than when you started.

On the flipside, by growing your email list, you’ll be able to take control of your message and communicate with your audience on your own terms. You’ll be giving the people who are actually interested in attending your events, buying your products, or signing up for services the ability to opt-in to receive information that’s relevant to them.

And because you know the information is delivered to a place where your customers are going everyday — the inbox — you know your message is reaching your target audience.

That’s what growing your contact list can do for your small business. And that’s the best case for why small businesses should consider email marketing.

 

Not Sure Where To Start When Growing Your List?

Growing your list really breaks down to two things: covering your touch points and remembering to ask.

Make it easy for people to sign up for your mailing list at all the places people are interacting with your business.

This includes:

  • Online: Add a sign-up form to your website to capture new visitors who may not be ready to buy. You should also use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to encourage fans and followers to join your email list.
  • In-store: Place a paper sign-up sheet on your counter and ask people to share their name and email address. Email marketing solutions like Constant Contact also offer integrations with many business management and POS providers to automatically add new customers to your email marketing database.
  • At events: Use a tablet to allow event attendees to join your email list on their own at events and other networking activities.

 
Covering your touch points will guarantee your audience will grow and won’t require much heavy lifting from you or your staff.

 

You Also Need To Make Sure You’re Asking People To Sign Up.


Most of the people who walk through your door, call your business, or connect with you on sites like Facebook or Twitter will be happy to hear more about your business — all you need to do is ask!

Make sure people understand what they are signing up for when they join your email list. What type of information will they receive? How often will they hear from you? What have other people enjoyed about receiving your emails? Use this information to set expectations early and make sure you’re following through.

To encourage them even further, you can provide an additional incentive for signing up.

In some cases, that incentive will be a monetary discount or free giveaway. But you can also use other types of offers like a free download or access to an upcoming event to encourage people to share their email address.

 

Get Started!

Write down a list of all the places you’re already interacting with current and potential customers.

Are you making it easy for people to join your list at all of these touch points? Have you clearly stated the benefits of signing up?

With a few simple steps, you’ll be able to capture new email contacts without putting any additional stress on your staff or your budget.

Constant Contact has all the tools you need to grow your email list. Start your free 60-day trial today.

Top 4 Free WordPress Plugins For Bloggers

Written by Chris Delker

Monday, July 13th, 2015

wordpress plugins

How many plugins are available to WordPress users?

A recent count put the number at nearly 40,000 plugins, most of them free. That places an astounding array of functionality at the fingertips of WordPress users.

But not all plugins are created equal. Some are of more universal value than others. And while value is in the eye of the user, the Huffington Post recently published their take on the top 5 free WordPress plugins:

 

#1: Pretty Link

Pretty Link helps you to “shrink, beautify, track, manage and share any URL on or off of your WordPress website.” It’s an elegant method of directing traffic to other sites as desired, or to other pages within your site.

Both free versions and paid versions of the Pretty Link plugin are available.

 

#2: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an invaluable, free tool for measuring, tracking, and tweaking the performance of your website. And the Google Analytics plugin by Yoast makes it super simple to install GA on your WordPress site.

This free plugin will deliver all of the benefits of GA, and has been installed on more than one million sites. And if you want some help with making the most of Google Analytics, there’s also a premium version of this plugin available.

 

#3: WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress is a great content management platform for search engine optimization. But the Yoast plugin for SEO builds upon WordPress’ compatibility with SEO.

SEO is a constantly moving target. And staying in the good graces of the search engines requires great expertise – or the Yoast plugin. This plugin is typically updated several times per year to stay up-to-date with SEO best practices.

 

#4: SumoMe

It’s bad news for a business website when most of the visitors are hit-and-run: they stop in for a brief visit and then flit away, never to return. But each visitor that arrives at your website represents an opportunity to cultivate a relationship, and eventually, a customer. The SumoMe plugin can help you to do that.

SumoMe offers great value both for e-commerce sites and for bloggers.

 

Tip of the Iceberg

With a field nearly 40,000 strong, there are certainly far more than 5 WordPress plugins that offer great value. And while the plugins listed above could be considered must-haves for most business sites, they represent only a tiny portion of a massive group of wonderfully useful plugins.

Not all plugins are great, of course. Many aren’t worth bothering with.

But a fun aspect of managing a WordPress site is browsing through all the plugins available. If there’s a job that needs doing on your WordPress site, odds are good that there’s a great plugin ready to go to work for you – for free.

 

*****

Chris Delker is a freelance copywriter based in Dallas, Texas.

How To Use Email Marketing To Create And Grow Customer Relationships

Written by Taylor Hawes

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

How to Use EMM To Create and Grow Relationships

When you’re a small business, you have one distinct advantage over the big guys: customer relationships.

Every time you’re talking with a customer in-store, emailing someone who has a question, or answering the phone, you’re building a relationship. It’s almost impossible for bigger companies to establish the same connection with customers (that’s why those that do really stand out).

 

Want The Really Good News?

It’s never been easier to grow the relationships that are so crucial to your business’s success.

Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that gives you the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day — their inbox. Email makes it easy to build customer relationships because you’re able to stay top-of-mind and build trust and loyalty with the people who matter most to your business.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that 66 percent of consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message (Direct Marketing Association, 2013). Or that email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping your business acquire new customers (McKinsey, 2014).

With a little bit of planning, you can use email to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. This will help turn new visitors into loyal customers, and turn new customers into loyal advocates for your business.
Follow this 3 step plan for building long-lasting customer relationships with email marketing.

  1. Ask for permission

Before you add a name to your contact list, ask the customer for permission.

When you ask permission, you’re able to build a list of people who are interested in your business and are excited to hear from you. They’re more likely to open your email, less likely to mark it as spam, and will stay with you longer than contacts that are added without consent.

Permission-based email marketing is the best route to developing long-lasting customer relationships that can drive repeat sales and valuable word-of-mouth for your business. These practices also keep you in compliance with legislation like the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).

  1. Treat your email contacts with care

Chances are you already provide a great experience for your customers when you’re face-to-face. Let email marketing extend that experience.

When someone takes that step to subscribe, they’re saying, “I’d like to get to know you better.” They’ve invited you into their inbox. You don’t want to abuse that relationship by constantly promoting your products and services.

Instead of making your newsletter all about you, think about how you can offer your subscribers something of value. Whether you choose to send them useful information or a special offer, having their interests in mind will show you care.

  1. Create a compelling newsletter

You want to create a newsletter with content your subscribers aren’t going to get anywhere else. What this information is depends entirely on your industry, your company goals, and what will move your readers to action.

Think about what your readers will find interesting, useful, or otherwise entertaining. Stuff that could stand on its own even if you had nothing to promote. Encourage subscribers to connect with you beyond your newsletter by linking off to a recent blog post, a useful video, or a social media channel that your business is active on.

 

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Email Marketing Relationships

  • Email marketing allows you to control the message, when it goes out, and who receives it.
  • Subscribers have actively made a decision to give you permission to contact them, which means they’re interested in what you’re offering.
  • You’re able to build stronger relationships with your audience — and people do business with or help people they know, like, and trust.

Put these tips to work!

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or a small business owner with little marketing experience, Constant Contact has the easy-to-use tools, KnowHow, and coaches to get you started with email marketing. Best of all you can try it free for 60 days.