5 Steps to Build a Powerful Corporate Identity
If you cannot hire a big ad agency to build your brand, try some of these do-it-yourself ways to establish your company’s corporate identity.
1. A war cannot be won without a strategy
“I know my business in-and-out; people will trust me for my experience.”
People who know you will surely trust you for who you are, but what about others who will give you real business? You will face the competitive intensity when you realize that Google brings in 10 million results for your service keyword – it’s literally a war out there. People will not come to you if they feel that you are not offering anything exceptional. Therefore, before you start building your marketing and branding plan, you should study the market and identify ways to differentiate yourself from your core competitors. Studying is not difficult – all you need to do is to put on the shoes of a prospect, call your competitors and visit their websites to check-out how they position themselves. The difficult part comes now – creating a value proposition that will make your company the preferred one. You can take help of a marketing consultant to help you device an idea that stands-out, while offering real value to your prospects. You will need to clearly define your target market and build concrete short-term and long-term plans based on their preferences. But how do you make a plan?
2. Take a holistic approach
“I have got an attractive brand logo designed.”
Many business owners feel that designing an attractive website and a unique logo is all it takes to create a brand image. It might grab the attention of your visitors for a while, but would not make them pick up the phone and call you immediately. Promotions are short-lived too, as they can be copied easily. Your marketing plan should include an optimum mix of well-planned online and offline activities that slowly head you toward your goals. Online activities do not eat too much of your budget so you can be liberal while planning them. Online branding activities include:
Building an informative website that inches your prospects from ‘attention’ to ‘desire’ stage
Optimizing your website for search engines to increase organic visitors
Marketing your business online by actively participating in related blogs, forums, networks, communities, business directories, and allied websites
Posting useful content on twitter, wikis, youtube, PRweb, ezinearticles, and the likes
Site-targeted advertising, pay-per-click search campaigns, and banner ads based on your budget
Opt-in newsletter, webinars, and promotional email marketing campaigns
Offline activities include print/TV advertising, marketing collateral building, event participation, direct marketing, customer support, and more. All these activities should be done intelligently keeping your core brand positioning in mind all the time. Consider other external factors too. Word of mouth can play an important role in the web-world.
3. Implement and measure to the last detail
“I have explained my business goals and marketing objectives to my staff.”
That is a good first step, but definitely not the last one. Your main objective is to create a unique position in the mind of your prospects. Staff often understands the marketing objectives, but seldom knows how to put them across to the clients effectively. A robust marketing plan will draw your internal audience as well as your external audience. To enable this, you have to chalk out monthly/quarterly and yearly marketing goals and ways to achieve them. The goals could be in terms of number of unique visitors, leads, new customers, repeat customers, reference customers, marketing budget, and so on. Online marketing is highly measurable and you can usually know the results of your activities in real-time.
4. Change is the only constant
“My last year’s plan got me good leads; I think I will stick to it for a couple of years.”
The world is changing at such a fast pace that you cannot rest with the belief that what worked earlier will keep working in future too. While one email campaign can bring 500 leads in a week, the next one can bomb as your emails land in the junk mailbox – harming your corporate image drastically. You will have to stay ahead of the changes happening around you and across the world and take advantage of the ones that could be used in your case. Coco Cola’s first ad campaign worked like a charm, but that didn’t stop it from experimenting and treading new grounds. Every year or season, we see newer manifestations of the same brand message in different mediums – a good example to follow.
5. Utilize free tools
“I do not have the budget to make elaborate marketing plans.”
Many small business owners do not even venture into well-planned marketing because they think that it will cost a fortune. With some skills in “Googling,” anybody can quickly find ways to cost-effectively execute marketing plans. The best part is that most online tools are free for low-volume usage. For instance, you can execute an email campaign for free if your database size is less than 100, through Group Mail software. Article and press release submission is free on all the sites; forum and network memberships are nominal too and have options for free members. There are many Web 2.0 tools that you can use that allows consumers to develop advertising slogans and suggest product improvements for their favorite brands. Many apps allows you to create and manage you own online coupons and syndicate them out to local consumers through partner websites and RSS feeds. There are many more effective ones – all you have to do is search.
You would need to put in dedicated effort and time to make your marketing plans work, but at the end you would realize that it was all worth it. All the best!