Branding 101: Implement Three Effective Strategies Today

Branding 101: Implement Three Effective Strategies Today

So many budding female entrepreneurs ask me, “Melissa, why our small business is not getting customers or leads? Our products are excellent. What is the issue with us?”

My only question to them is, “Do your customers really know your business?”

Increasing brand awareness is truly important to secure a competitive spot in the market. With a robust brand strategy in place, you’ll be able to showcase your brand’s unique message in a better way and, over time, establish customer loyalty.

In this blog post, I’ll share the best brand-building strategies for small businesses like yours – many of which I’ve used with our clients.

Stake your claim

Make sure you are clear about your brand promise.

Here are my three favorite branding questions: Who are you being? What are you committed to? What can people count on you for?

Some examples that will get you started in answering these three powerful questions:

  • Who I’m being is accessible.
  • My customers can count on us to get their order delivered in less than 24 hours.
  • I’m highly committed to giving my customers the time to do other things.

Given this example, you can create various customer service strategies, policies, and practices that bring your brand message to life.

Be a superhero for your customers

If you truly want to stand out in today’s hyper-competitive market, don’t just talk to the talk—you need to walk the walk, too.

The reputation you build—and what customers say behind your back—is the most crucial part of your branding.

That’s why if you want to succeed in the long term, you need to be a superhero for your customers—and make a living and breathing customer service your top priority.

Just think about it. What better to be popular than providing top-level customer service to your customers?

Giving a positive experience to your customers every time they interact with your brand will result in a higher customer retention rate—and they’re going to tell their friends, too.

Establish yourself as an SME with the right content

I firmly believe that every small business has experts, but few of them go on to become well-known and influential with their target client group.

You already have a billion-dollar idea and thinking out of the box to grow your business. So, why not be professionals, Visible Experts, and share your beautiful journey with the world?

By gradually developing one or more of these high-profile SMEs, your small business can dramatically increase the power of its brand.

In fact, in my research into these experts and purchasers of their services, 61.5% of respondents said that Subject Matter Expert strategy helps build their firms’ brands.

Still confused? Don’t worry.

Schedule a free consultation call with me, and let me help you build your brand!

I use powerful data to ensure my tactics are running how they’re supposed to. I believe in the power of repetition and know that the long-term strategy can include patience.

In fact, my 12-month marketing strategies are designed to be repeatable. The foundation of them stays consistent, but I constantly look for ways to improve them.

Don’t miss this opportunity. Let’s talk!

The Importance Of Proper Brand Guidelines For Your Business

The Importance Of Proper Brand Guidelines For Your Business

In my line of work as a business consultant, I’ve found that one of the hardest things for my clients to do is develop their branding.

Branding includes every way that you will market your business to the public, from logos, graphics, and color palettes to voice, tone, and messaging. It’s a lot and can be quite overwhelming – which is why, of course, they come to me to help take care of the complex parts for them.

Once we nail down their branding, however, we’re still not quite finished. There’s one more step that all business owners and entrepreneurs need to complete on their branding journey, one that’s going to help them maintain their brand identity for the long haul.

The step they need to take is to develop their brand guidelines.

What Are Brand Guidelines?

Brand guidelines are a set of rules and standards that you establish for your brand, to dictate how your brand presents itself at all times and across all mediums.

Let’s see how brand guidelines work using an example that everyone can relate to: Google.

When Google grants permission to other companies or entities to share any element of their branding, as for a product they’re working on together or an advertisement, they require those partners to stick to very specific brand guidelines.

For example, if they use the Google logo in any way, they must use the logo that Google has approved, with the colors that they specify. They also mustn’t add any additional elements to the logo.

These are just a few of the brand guidelines that Google has set up. They also created rules for the language their partners use to describe the relationship between them, their products, and Google, and instructed them not to use the same combination of colors in their branding as Google uses.

What Are The Benefits Of Having Brand Guidelines?

Brand guidelines may sound complicated, but it’s important to have them because they provide three important benefits.

1. They Create Branding Consistency

Consistency is a key element in branding. It makes your business look more professional and helps you communicate your message.

Brand guidelines help you create consistency on two levels.

On one level, they tell other companies who partner with you on a promotion or a product how they should represent your brand. This way, your branding remains the same, whether it’s you or someone else promoting it.

On the other, they keep all the members of your team on the same page. From graphic designers to marketers, everyone knows how your brand is supposed to look, sound, and feel to the public. That’s because you already set up rules for them to follow.

2. They Establish Rules For Your Marketing Team

Without brand guidelines, your marketing team will be like a ship lost at sea without a compass. They won’t know what logos to use, what color palette they have to work with, what kind of language they can use in their messaging. The result will be that no marketing gets done at all.

By developing brand guidelines before hiring on a marketer or a marketing team, you’ll eliminate a lot of unnecessary confusion and enable your marketers to churn out content much faster.

3. They Increase The Value Of Your Brand Content

Content that follows brand guidelines is always higher in value than content that’s just thrown together with no thought of consistency. It appears professional, well thought out, and cleaner.

In short, it’s more representative of your business, which is what you should always strive for with branding.

Conclusion

Are you ready to start building your brand guidelines? If you are, then Inspired Melissa is eager to help! Reach out to me here and let me guide you (no pun intended) through this process.

How To Out Market Your Competitors At Trade Shows

How To Out Market Your Competitors At Trade Shows

Several years ago, I managed the largest farmer’s market in my region. Each weekend we would have around 5000 attendees, over 300 booth applicants, and 165 booths. Now that I run a consulting business for women business owners and entrepreneurs, I take my clients to farmer’s markets, expos, and other types of trade shows to help them build up their businesses.

A trade show is the best place to network with fellow professionals, grow your customer base, and promote your brand, all in-person. It’s fun, too! That said, there is one other thing you’ll always find at trade shows: competition.

You and other business owners in your niche will be competing for customers’ precious time and attention. The bigger the trade show, the harder you will have to work to stand out amid all the other vendors. I’ve learned that the key to out-marketing your competitors is not to focus on what they are doing in their booths. Instead, you should make your booth as attractive and inviting to customers as possible.

This task will require all your creative skills. It will also take a lot of mental energy and physical stamina. But believe me, the it will be worth it. I’ve seen businesses go from making products to sell out of their garage to selling those products to national brands, just by having a booth and interacting with their customers in person at fairs, trade show and markets. With all my experience, I’ve been able to break out-marketing your competitors down into 7 basic strategies which will help you stand out at any trade show.

Top 7 Strategies To Stand Out From The Competition At Trade Shows

1. Find A Great Location For Your Booth

The location of your booth is crucial. This is especially true if you’re working at a large trade show. Chances are high that many customers won’t visit all the booths, as making an entire circuit could take hours out of their day.
If possible, try to snag a booth close to the front entrance. This way, your brand is one of the first ones that customers see, and they are more likely to stop by.

2. Charm Customers With Free Gifts

Everyone loves free gifts! In fact, that’s one of the main draws for attendees of a trade show, is all the goodies they can get for nothing.

When you plan your next trade show, set aside part of your budget for purchasing gifts which you can give out to customers. Order them online so you can customize them with your brand logo. You can also put them in little plastic bags with your business card so that if the customer decides to contact you after the trade show, they already have your information.

As far as what to give as gifts, the sky is the limit. I’ve seen brands give out everything from nail grooming kits to keychains to cookies!

3. Get Customers’ Contact Information With A Raffle

One of your goals for attending a trade show should be to get the personal contact information – name, phone number, and email address – of the people who visit your booth. With these crucial details (given to you with their permission, of course), you now have an avenue to follow up with them and convert more sales in the future.

A smart way of getting contact information is to raffle off a basket of goodies associated with your brand. You can even raffle off one of your products or services. Make sure it’s a wonderful prize! People won’t give out their contact information for just any old raffle. But make it enticing enough, and they will gladly fill out those small slips of paper for a chance to win it.

Pro Tip: Develop a follow-up strategy. When will you contact the people who filled out contact information slips at your booth? Which method will you use first: text, phone call, or email? What call to action message or offer will you send them? Do you want them to purchase a product, book a service, or just follow your business on social media?

Think about your answers to these questions and have a plan in place before you go to a trade show.

4. Hand Out Informational Brochures

In addition to gifts, you should give customers a brochure or another type of informational packet that educates them about your business. That’s how you stand out and engage customers: hit them with a one-two punch of gift and free information about your business.

As you’re designing your informational brochure or packet, make sure it matches your branding. Keep the information brief and easy to read, while also including any details that you anticipate your customers would want to know.

5. Decorate Your Booth

Nothing catches a customer’s eye like a beautiful and tastefully decorated booth! You’re sure to out-market your competitors if you make your booth look like you put thought and care into it.

Pro Tip: Decorate using colors and iconography that match your branding to create an atmosphere of cohesion. In addition, instead of buying disposable plastic tablecloths and Party City-style décor, use real fabric tablecloths, glass vases, and other higher quality, well-made items. You can usually find the latter in your own home or for low prices at local thrift stores.

6. Visit Other Vendors

Just because you’re competing with the other vendors doesn’t mean you should be rude or standoffish. Remember that trade shows are networking opportunities. Take some time out of your day to visit the other booths at the trade show, talk with the vendors, and exchange business cards. Later, you can contact or meet up with them, swap business strategies, and help one another grow in your own niches.

7. Take Care Of You

This last strategy is one of the most important that I have to share. The most essential ingredient you need to make your trade show booth a success, is you. Your positive energy and smiling face will attract visitors to your booth even more than beautiful decorations or an exciting giveaway. On the other side of the coin, nothing will repel attendees more than a crabby, complaining attitude.

It can be hard to stay cheerful all day long, especially if you’re tired and hungry. That’s why you need to follow this seventh strategy and take care of you. Below are a few ways to do that.

  • Start your day with a great breakfast and your favorite music to get you pumped up.
  • Pack snacks and a healthy lunch with you, as well as plenty of water.
  • I also recommend bringing a painkiller like Tylenol or Advil just in case you’re like me and develop a headache from all the trade show noise and activity.
  • Wear comfortable shoes because you’re going to stand up a lot!
  • If possible, ask a friend or friendly member to come relieve you on booth duty a few times during the day. Use this precious time to get away from the noise and collect yourself. Go outside, get some fresh air, and soak up some much-needed vitamin D.

Conclusion

The thought of trying to out-market your competitors at trade shows may seem daunting, especially to new business owners. You may think you need to be cut-throat and ruthless. But my experience has taught me that that’s not the case at all. All you need to do is use the above 7 strategies and remember that if you can put your unique vision and voice front and center at the trade show, then you’ve already succeeded.

What are you waiting for? Find a trade show in your region that caters to your target audience, make a budget, and start showing your community who you are!

5 Best Branding Practices For Women Business Owners

5 Best Branding Practices For Women Business Owners

I’ve been helping other women business owners and female entrepreneurs develop their branding practices for years. When you’ve been around the block that many times, you learn a thing or two. But the most important thing I’ve learned is this: there is no one-size-fits-all branding strategy.

Some branding “experts” who will tell you, “If you follow my plan from start to finish, you’re guaranteed success! Just buy my e-book to get started.” They may start with the best of intentions, but in my opinion, they’re guiding their clients on the wrong path.

Your branding should be as unique and individual as you are. That’s why, instead of granting you a magical one-size-fits all Cinderella shoe that I allege will bring you instant fame and fortune, I am giving you a basic recipe that will form the solid foundation of your customized branding strategy.

The following 5 best branding practices are basic strategies that I find useful for every client I work with. I will always create a branding strategy with these 5 elements in mind, even as I mix and match them with other practices which I believe will serve each individual client best.

1. Research Your Audience

Researching you audience should always be your first step when developing your business’s branding strategy. Most branding is, believe it or not, audience research. You need to find out who your customers are and what their wants and needs are. What are their pain points and problems? What drives them and motivates them?

When you have the answers to these questions, then you can decide how you want to “talk” to your customers. In other words, you can determine what voice to use in your brand messaging.

2. Determine Your Brand Voice

Your brand voice is not just the tone, verbiage, and visual design that you use to communicate your customers. It’s also the strength and conviction of your message. Think of your brand voice not just as sound, but as a message reverberating across multiple types of digital and print media. When customers read an advertisement or a blog post you wrote, or watch one of your TikToks, or scroll through your website, they should never forget what your brand is about. If they never forget, that means you have a great brand voice.

3. Create A Plan Of Communication With Your Customers

Create a plan of ongoing communication with your customers. This plan may include sending them weekly emails, calling them periodically to check how they’re enjoying your service or product, and texting them about upcoming deals and events.

It’s worth noting the difference between communicating with new customers and communicating with your loyal customers. You have a huge opportunity to forge a deeper connection through your communication with your loyal customers. Don’t be afraid to treat your repeat customers extra generously, offering them more discounts and speaking to them in a more open, conversational tone.

4. Be Consistent

Once you’ve developed your brand voice and customer communication plan, be consistent. Don’t leave your customers to doubt whether you really mean what you say, or if you will go back on your word. If you do, your customers may not trust you. Instead, they may take their business to one of your competitors.

5. Be Flexible

I know I just told you to be consistent. But you must also be flexible.

These aren’t contradictory terms. When it comes to your core values and brand messaging, you should absolutely be consistent. But as the times and trends change, sometimes it’s advantageous to adapt certain elements of your branding to keep up.

The following image is an example of how Pepsi-Cola, which retains a consistent and specific brand voice, has also been flexible over the years. Every few years, they alter their logo to match the most popular and current advertising aesthetic.

Pepsi Logo History

Source: Pepsi.com

Are these 5 steps a recipe for instant success? Not on their own. But much like flour, butter, sugar, baking soda, and salt make up the foundation of a delicious cake, these best branding practices will start you on the path to building a better business.

What Impact Can Email Marketing Have On Your Small Business?

What Impact Can Email Marketing Have On Your Small Business?

Email marketing is the most relied-on channel for upcoming brands. Even developed brands and large-scale businesses include email in their marketing campaigns to get good results.

As per Statista, every day around 333.2 billion emails are sent out, and out of them, many are from the marketing background. Since my introduction with email, I’ve used it to create numerous types of campaigns, including branding campaigns., Let’s explore the benefits of email marketing for your small business.

Widen Your Reach

Today, everyone has an email, and you can use this to your benefit. You can send messages to a large audience at once with email marketing. Moreover, email marketing is free from geographical borders, so you can use it to reach a global audience as well.

Other marketing channels may have restrictions on reaching a big audience at once, but believe me, email marketing gives you complete control over the audience you want to reach. With a curated and diverse mailing list, you can reach who you want, when you want.

Getting Priceless Feedback

Based on my experience of working with small businesses, I always suggest seeking out customer feedback about the company, the services, and the products my clients sell.

Bonus Tip: An ideal way to achieve this is to run an email marketing campaign with some questions.

Occasionally you can send a questionnaire to your customers and ask them to fill out the survey for you. There are many types of questions that you can ask, from product/service feedback to the quality of their experience and so much more. Once you have the answers to this survey from your customers, you might  discover areas where you can improve and you can plan the next steps in marketing and improve your campaigns accordingly.

Improving Customer Relations

I believe that the best use of email marketing is building relationships with your customers. If you take the time to connect with your customers regularly, about the things that are important to them, it’s likely you will notice a difference in their loyalty to your brand.

This increased loyalty and connection will boost your growth, organically.

It’s Cost-Effective

Email marketing is a powerful tool for brands to use in their branding efforts. The best part about it? It’s very cost-effective! As a growing business, closely monitoring your marketing expenses is incredibly important. I highly recommend taking an hour or two out of your week to write and send emails to your clients. As your business grows(and when you’re able to afford it), it’s relatively easy to hire help for your email marketing campaigns.

There are many free email marketing providers that you can use while your business is growing, which makes it possible for start-ups business to do it themselves. I can’t speak enough about the value of landing in your customers email inbox with updates, news, product highlights, service specials and more!

These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits email marketing has.

Let me be part of your small business journey, and I will help you with the best VIP services to grow your small business.

Let’s schedule a discovery session today to talk about how you can use email to grow your business.

Educate Your Audience to Win in Small Business Marketing

Educate Your Audience to Win in Small Business Marketing

Since the pandemic times, we all have seen immense growth in small businesses.

The great resignation is here, and today people are demanding freedom and flexibility at work. If they don’t get it, they are ready to resign. After resigning from the job, business seems to be the ideal way to earn money while protecting our freedom.

However, establishing a business and growing it among the competition can be a challenging task if you don’t know the tricks.

Based on my experienced and expertise, I would love to share some fantastic ideas on how you can increase your small business with marketing and win. Let’s explore the ideas that can help you grow efficiently.

Identify Your Target Audience

One of the best things you can do while starting a business is to have a focused target audience. A target audience can be considered as a group of people who’d buy your products or services.

Before beginning your business’s marketing efforts, it is better if you take a pause and have a better understanding of who is your target audience.

I strongly believe that having a clear targeted audience ease the process of creating an impactful education based strategy. Once you understand who your audience is, you can tailor your message to the things that are important to them. You can offer answers to the questions that they have, which will help them understand how your product or services can improve their lives.

You’ll Need a Website & to Create Valuable Content

If you want to grow your business, there’s no better place than your website. Being in this industry for over a decade now, I can surely tell you the importance of having a website for your business.

I’ve seen numerous small business owners underestimate the importance of a website and more importantly the value of content marketing that attracts customers to their website.

Designing a business website and having a blog section with targeted keywords can really help you drive engagements. Your website gives you a platform to share everything about your business, your story, your products, how you do business, spotlight client success stories and so much more.

Leverage Social Media Presence

We all use social media every day, so why not leverage it to grow your business? I know social media can be difficult to navigate and understand, but the importance of having a strong social media presence is found in the validity and authority that it gives your business.

Many of my clients have boycotted the big social media channels because it is in conflict with their personal values, but if your business isn’t active on social media, I suggest it is time to start today. As per Statista, nearly 35% of consumers trust brands that have social media profiles.

Social media marketing has been ideal for gaining more customers for all small businesses. This type of marketing is cost-effective for businesses with a limited budget, and hiring a social media marketing expert, like me, can help you build your brand, connect with and educate your customers.

Interact with Customers

Taking time to understand your customer’s needs helps you grow your business and what better way than interacting with them directly to know their thoughts on your product/service?

Make a habit of intentionally interacting with your customers, whether it is online on social media platforms or in person. Ask for feedback and reviews from your customers regularly and incorporate their ideas into your business processes.

The more you interact and talk with your customers, the more you understand the driving factors and decision-making strategies of your target audience.

“Business owners who ask for feedback and take the time to get to know the wants, needs, and motivations of their customers are the ones that emerge as winners. Customer-centric marketing is hands-down the best approach.”  – Melissa McGlenn, InspiredMelissa.com

I invite you to start interacting one-on-one with your customers for better results.

Bonus Tip: One of my favorite strategies for engaging with customers is through the use of polls and asking for product feedback publicly. Everyone has an opinion and wants to share it. Try asking a question this week and see if your engagement increases!

Provide Referral Bonus

We all love bonuses, right? So why not provide some to your most loyal customers. Leverage the power of referrals to grow your small business into a larger one.

You can do this in several different ways. Here are a few things that have worked for me:

  1. Add a line to your email signature that says something like, “Your referral would mean the world to me, if there is anyone you know who would benefit from my services, please let me know. You know I’d love to help another business with their marketing efforts!”
  2. Reward any referral source with a gift in return for their loyalty with a local coffee card or a hand-written thank you card.
  3. You can create a referral program where you offer your customers a discount on their next purchase when they refer somone new to your business.

I strongly believe that the above-listed tips will help you stay ahead of the competition and help educate your audience about your product/service. Just stick to the plan patiently, and you’ll indeed have fruitful results.

Do you want to promote and grow your small business but don’t know how? Let me, Melissa McGlenn, help you achieve digital success! Inspired Melissa is a creative advertising and social media marketing agency for women-owned businesses that offer a wide range of services, such as managing your brand, strategies, and marketing.

I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the start of your beautiful journey! Book a discovery call today.

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