What is brand momentum?

how do you build brand momentum?

What the heck is brand momentum, and why should it matter to your business? 

This one is a little more jargony, so bear with me. ⁠⠀
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Momentum is significant because it’s not just about what’s happening now, it’s a glimpse into what the future of your brand could be. 🔮⁠⠀
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The main reason a company invests in its brand is to help customers navigate through the sales journey by building trust. Trust is what makes people want to buy from you again and brand momentum is what makes them want to tell their friends to buy from you. 

Brand momentum refers to the quality of a brand’s market position and its ability to consistently beat competitors. The trickiest part of measuring brand momentum is that it’s based on the subjective reactions of your customers. Overall, it’s less about what they think and more about how they feel.

The thing is, feelings are pretty hard to measure. ⁠⠀
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How can we dig a little deeper to know if things are moving in the right direction? ⁠Here are three elements to assess when determining brand momentum: 
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✅ Speed — is your company quick enough to keep up with industry changes? ⁠⠀
✅ Reputation — does your company live up to its promises? ⁠⠀
✅ Relevance — does the value that the brand brings means something to people? ⁠⠀

How do you measure brand momentum?

Can you even measure feelings? Not really. However, there are six elements that pack a punch 🥊 when it comes to assessing brand momentum. Here’s what you should be asking: ⁠⠀
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1️⃣ How important is your brand promise to customers? ⁠⠀
2️⃣ How well does the brand handle industry changes? ⁠⠀
3️⃣ Does leadership (CEO) bring life to the brand? ⁠⠀
4️⃣ Is the brand increasing or decreasing in popularity? ⁠⠀
5️⃣ Is the quality of the brand’s products perceived as getting better or worse? ⁠⠀
6️⃣ Does the brand help people make or save money? ⁠🤑
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Overall, you’re trying to understand if people know you, like you, and believe in what you’re doing. ⁠⠀

Who has strong brand momentum right now?

Theoretical concepts are fine and dandy, but they don’t always help to paint a picture that encourages you to take action. Instead of talking about ideas, let’s go over a success story. In 2020, the company that is delivering on all of the elements of brand momentum is Tesla.

I’ve actually seen people stop to take pictures of strangers’ cars when they see them on the street. Governments are restructuring to help encourage people to buy their products. The media highlights mundane Twitter posts from their CEO because people are so entranced by the whole story of what they offer.

To say it, without saying it, Tesla is the ‘it girl‘ brand strategists around the world want to hang out with.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s recap all of the primary questions we highlighted earlier…

How important is Tesla’s brand to customers?

If you check out their Instagram account, you can literally see all the ways this brand is providing value for people all over. Cities have actually started changing their infrastructure to better accommodate electric cars. I personally can’t think of another industry that’s been able to achieve this, apart from maybe automotive or rail.

It’s nuts. 🤯

How well does Tesla handle industry changes?

They’re responsible for actually leading industry changes instead of just reacting to them, so I’d say they’ve got that one covered too.

Is the brand getting more popular?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Does their CEO bring life to the brand?

Tesla has a $0 marketing budget. This is incredible considering the $11 Billion dollars other car companies collectively spend on marketing every year. The bigger question is, how are they making this work?

Elon Musk is in the media all the time presenting new ideas and updates on what’s happening with this brand. He goes out of his way to share his vision and has developed an audience. A real audience. This is what’s driving (no pun intended) Tesla’s brand momentum and competitors aren’t able to keep up.

It’s uncomfortable to step into the spotlight for a lot of people, but the main takeaway here is that your leadership needs to do it to build brand momentum.

Is Tesla getting more popular? 

Undoubtedly, yes. 

Is the quality of Tesla’s brand perceived as getting better?

This one is fairly subjective, but overall I’d say yes.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone complain about their Tesla. I do know people who’ve gone shopping for one of their products and personally herd them BRAG about the experience of shopping for one of their cars. They haven’t even bought anything from these guys yet and they’re already singing their praises.

Does Tesla help people make money?

Well, no.  However,  Tesla customers are obviously spending less on gas. There’s also a rumour that in the future people will be able to use them as part of a ride-sharing system. Tesla owners would get a kickback for letting people use their cars when they’re not using it. Theoretically, this product could be making people money at a later point. Though, some are a bit skeptical.  

Summary

The perceived product quality of Tesla keeps going up (minus that weird truck they released). Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, brings nonstop energy and ideas that the media LOVE. More importantly, the audience he’s built loves them too. The brand promise continues to grow and people are truly excited to see what they come up with next.

This brand has momentum that is breaking industry standards and shaking things up in a big way. 

What’s the real lesson here?

You don’t need to have a billion-dollar budget to start building your brand momentum, but you should be paying attention to what the big guys are up to. If you’re running a small business and looking for ways to get in front of more people, building your brand should be a top priority. Oh, and it’s free to get started.

Post-COVID Marketing

People are now making plans to reopen and deciding how they’re going to tell customers about it. Making post-COVID marketing plans feels like being asked to put runners on for a marathon and I don’t know where my shoes are. There’s a lot to do, but it’s hard to get moving again.

How do we move forward now? ⠀

Some of the post-COVID marketing tactics have changed, but most of the strategies have stayed the same. The way we communicate has changed, but what we need to say isn’t all that different.

What does that mean?

Although businesses are suffering from COVID19 and you should still be pushing forward with marketing (and selling). The tone of your message should shift a little bit to recognize what’s going on with your customers, but overall, things should still be moving forward.

What you say and how you say it will be different; a lot of other marketing stuff will stay the same.

How should your marketing strategy change?

You don’t have face-to-face interactions, so your post-COVID marketing plan needs to include a heavier focus on using digital channels. I’d consider posting more on social media and in more places online. There are new communities taking shape and they could be the substitute you were looking for. ⠀

Not up for making more posts? Me neither. 😅

One solution is to consider partnering up brands you align with and cross-promoting each other. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to stay in front of people and by working with other groups you can expand your reach (while doing less work).

Here’s a question that’s come up in marketing recently:

Do people want to hear from me right now? Won’t we sound out of touch or even off-putting.” 😳

It’s a tricky line to walk. The uncomfortable answer is that forward is the only direction to be looking at right now.

Marketing/Sales teams are a bit lost

The underlying question seems to be:

How do we move forward when we’re not sure where we’re going?

When in doubt, look to data for guidance. Back in March, Kantar surveyed 25,000 people to find out a bit more about people’s attitudes and expectations.

Here’s what they learned:

Just 8% of consumers expect brands to cut advertising, so there’s little risk of it being read as insensitive.

Said differently, people still expect to hear from brands.

The approach might need to look a little different, but yes, people want to hear from you.

What are the next steps?

This is the question is being asked over and over in many iterations.

It doesn’t always feel like we’re heading the right way, does it? ⁠⠀
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When I first started out I was eager to take on any opportunity that came my way. After a lot of learning (mostly trial and error), I learned that chasing every opportunity was a terrible strategy overall. ⁠⠀

Why?

Because when you’re chasing after every shiny thing, you often overlook the basics of what you should be doing.

How does this apply to your post-COVID marketing plan?

If you chase after everything, you’ll end up with nothing. I’m seeing a lot of businesses struggle to move forward because they’re worried they’ll make the wrong move or that they’ll miss something. ⁠⠀
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Indecision isn’t an option. ⁠⠀
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A scattershot approach isn’t recommended. ⁠⠀

What should you do instead? ⁠⠀

You need to take a few minutes to frame out a strategy before pivoting in different directions. When you don’t know how to ask the right questions and approach things with a clear business perspective, you’re at a disadvantage.

Start learning how to do that now. ⁠⠀⠀

Strategy > Tactics ⁠

Solutions aren’t clear, and you need to be okay with that

The solutions we need to make sure our businesses continue to thrive aren’t clear cut and it will feel overwhelming trying to make the right move. You can’t make flashy marketing campaigns like before, but you still need to make a move.

How you choose to do this will impact your ability to grow in the future.

We’ve had some time to regroup. Time to get going before it’s too late.

The Buyer’s Journey

Have you ever sat down to write out a post on social media and felt like you didn’t know what to write?

Or, you knew what you wanted to say, but you weren’t sure how to say it? 🙋🏻‍♀️

It’s a really common challenge a lot of small businesses and marketers have faced before.

To help manage this problem, one fail-proof approach is to map out what your customers go through before they buy something and make a strategy aimed at people who are in different stages of making a purchase.

Instead of making a bunch of posts and wondering why some worked and some failed, you’ll be able to focus your efforts and goals on what your customer needs.

In turn, this helps you understand what kind of content you need to be creating. This can be achieved by mapping out your content to the buyer’s journey.

What is it? ⁠⠀

The buyer’s journey is what your customers go through before choosing to buy from you.

When you know how your customers think, you’ll understand how to reach them.⁠

It’s a powerful asset that will set you apart from the wannabees and puts you in with the heavyweights.

How does it work? 

There are three phases: 

  • Awareness — they don’t know what to call their problem but know they have one.
  • Consideration — they’ve named their problem, aren’t buying, but are thinking about options.
  • Decision — they’ve decided on a solution and are ready to buy.

At each phase, your customers require different types of info about your services. 

Why is this important to understand?

If you try to sell something before someone is ready, you’ll fail.

How can you use the buyer’s journey for your business? 

When customers aren’t ready to buy from you, you should still be marketing to them. 

How? 

By creating content that speaks to the different pain points of the buyer’s journey.

If you understand how each phase works, you can map out a stronger marketing plan that will nurture leads and generate more sales. 

Here’ a visual rundown of what we’ve covered:

The Awareness Stage

Ever had a problem, but you weren’t sure what to call it?

Say you get an intense headache and you’re not sure what’s causing it or how you can fix it. The first thing you’d do would be to run through all the things that could be the source of the problem.

Trying to medicate beforehand won’t work.

If you don’t understand the source you’re not ready to shop for anything. As a business owner this matters because, at this stage of the buyer’s journey, your customers aren’t ready to buy.

If you know someone is at this stage of the buyer’s journey, the best thing you can do to market your business is to position yourself as an expert and provide educational material that will help build trust.

It’s the long game you need in order to build an audience that will buy from you. It might sound crazy, but I promise it’s the missing key to your marketing strategy and growth. 🌱

How does the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey work? 

Let’s go back to our headache example. When the suffering starts, you’ll start asking yourself questions to trace what might be causing the pain.

For example:

…Did you get enough sleep?
…Did you have too much wine last night?
…Are your eyes bothered by the light in the room?

…Did you skip breakfast?… Ohhhhh yeah, you’re hungry!

Why is this important? 

When you’re not sure what to name your problem, you’re not ready for a solution. In this example, you wouldn’t take a nap, take an Advil, or change the lighting because you’d still have the same problem (being hungry). 

How does this apply to your content marketing strategy? 

If you know that your customers have a problem before they’re ready to hire you, then you can speak to their pain points. You can’t ‘sell’ a solution, because the customer hasn’t defined the problem. 

How can you do this?

The key in this stage is to focus your content on educating people and not talking about what you’re selling. 

Why? 

Because they’re not buying. 

What should you do instead? 

Keep it educational and position yourself as an expert: 

  1. Share your knowledge
  2. Talk about your experience & insight 

What would that look like? 

Blogs, infographics, or IG posts about your industry.

Here’s a visual to help reiterate the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey:

The Consideration Stage

Have you ever tried to sell your product or service to someone who sounded interested, but, at the end of very lengthy sales pitches they weren’t really shopping?!

They were probably still in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.

People aren’t ready to buy at this point, but you should still be marketing to them.

How?

By planning your content around problems that you know your customers have.

Position your business as one ☝️ option to consider. Then, you need to provide info that helps them understand the benefits of different options.

Doesn’t that mean I’ll highlight my competition?

Yes.

But, they already knew about those guys. You can’t roll into every sales pitch like you own the place. You’ve got to earn their trust and respect before people will buy from you.

This is where your Sales and Marketing teams need to work together to make magic happen. ✨

How does the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey work?

Let’s say you know you’re hungry. You’ve got a defined problem (hunger) and a goal (eating food)…Now what? 

It’s time to pick something to eat!

Should you: 

  • Head for the nearest drive-through? 
  • Eat an old granola bar in your backpack? 
  • Go to the grocery store?

There are pros and cons to each solution:

  • Fast food might be the tastiest, but it’s not a healthy option. 
  • The granola bar is the most accessible, but least appealing.
  • The grocery store is the best food, but takes longer to get. 

There’s a lot to consider in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.

At this point, you’re not ready to buy anything because you’re still deciding what will be the best option for you!

How does this apply to your marketing strategy? 

When you create content for this stage, your focus needs to be on defining different ways someone could solve their problem.  

Many companies struggle to identify when their customers are at this stage of the buyer’s journey and they don’t understand how to create content for people who are stuck

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Plan your content around solutions you know your customers have 
  • Position your business as one option to consider as their solution 
  • Provide information that helps them understand the benefits of different options 

Here’s what people ask themselves when they see content like this:

  • Is this brand an expert?
  • Can I trust what they’re saying?
  • Is this product something I should look into?

What format would this look like?

  • Podcast 
  • Calculators 
  • Videos 
  • Comparison guide 
  • IG live 

Below is a slide deck to help visually explain how this works:

The Decision Stage

The decision is where your Marketing team is just about ready to hand over the prospect to the Sales team. This phase is what most people think of as traditional marketing and make the error of focusing here too much.

In this example, we walked you through a process you experience all the time (being hungry) and applied it to your marketing strategy.

You’ve got a defined problem, have weighed out the pros and cons of different solutions, and are ready to make a purchase.

To market to people at this stage, you need to prepare material that will help close the sale. I’m talking about demos, discounts, and pitch calls.

How does the decision stage of the buyer’s journey work?

In a nutshell, it’s the beginning of the sales cycle. 

By the time you get to this stage, you’ve done the following: ⁠

  • Defined your problem (ex. you’re hungry)⁠
  • Analyzed different solutions 

You’ve considered the pros and cons. Now it’s time to make a decision between the following options:

  • A stale granola bar
  • The grocery store
  • A fast-food place

Like in any purchasing decision, you’ve got to work within some constraints. In this example, let’s say you only get 30 minutes for lunch.

That rules out the grocery store. The granola bar is looking kinda blah. ⁠

Solution: Fast food it is! ⁠

Now, you’re ready to make a purchase. You’re comparing different drive-through options to see which one will be the best choice for lunch. ⁠

You need to decide between getting a burger, sandwich, or salad. Turns out, you aim for the middle and get a sandwich. ⁠

How does this apply to your marketing strategy? ⁠

This is the sweet spot where Marketing and Sales need to work together. 

To connect with people at this stage of the buyer’s journey, content should be developed to help convince these prospects that your company is the best place to buy exactly what they need

In this example, it would be to show you that a sandwich is the best option to help satisfy your hunger and give you something kinda healthy. ⁠

As a consumer, this buyer’s journey probably took you about 2 minutes to figure out. However, the bigger the purchase, the longer this process generally takes. For example, shopping for a car or investing in B2B SaaS product would take you 1-2 months.

To round it out, here’s a slide deck to help summarize how this works:

Summary

It’s important to create marketing material for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

If you can get behind this methodology and start applying it to your marketing content, you’ll start to see fairly different results right away. You can apply this strategy to your blog, social media schedule, and paid ads.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’m putting together a course that will walk you step by step on how you can do this for your business. Contact me if you’d like to sign up or learn more.

How to get your small business noticed on social media

Regardless of what you’re selling, deep in your heart, you know that different crowds gravitate to different social media platforms. If you want to get your small business noticed on social media, you need to understand where your customers are spending time online.

If you want to get your small business noticed online by using social media, you need to be strategic.

Facebook doesn’t make sense for everyone; neither does LinkedIn. 

At a minimum, claim the vanity handles on all major social platforms and fill in the basics of your business profile. Focus on the contact info, business overview, and operating hours.

Social platforms have powerful SEO, and your profile(s) will show up when people google the name of your business. 

Here are the five leading social media platforms you should be looking at: 

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram 
  3. Twitter 
  4. LinkedIn 
  5. Google My Business 

The last two on the list, Google My Business & Linkedin, tend to be the least popular of the top five. But from where I stand, they have the potential to bring you the most value.

Christine Johnson, Director of 250Marketing

Will I generate more business once I get this up and running?

No. Setting up these accounts does not guarantee that it will help you generate business…but, you knew that already. 

Why do it?

Because if people don’t know who you are or how to reach you, then they’re not going to think of your business as a solution to a problem they’ve been challenged with.

This is why your business needs to be social.

Okay, what’s next?

There are a few more steps you need to take before you invite everyone to ‘like’ the page. 

You need to prep the first few posts you want to share. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but I recommend having at least 3-5 relevant posts already set up before launching the account.

Stuck on ideas? Try showcasing your workspace, share a bit about your product, or talk about your vision for your business.  

Now what? 

It’s time to get social and invite people to your page. Use this as a way to distribute your marketing material. Encourage your friends and employees to check it and share it with their networks.

The best way to make real connections is through word of mouth, aka referrals. 

Phase I: Finding your groove

You don’t need to know every platform inside out before you can get started posting. Here are three basic steps on how to get your small business noticed online when you’re first starting out: 

1) Step one

If one customer helps you bring in your next ten customers, it’s worth being generous. 

If you can, offer an incentive to existing customers. It doesn’t have to be a contest or discount code. Try to think of something that you can give people that will provide value. It could be an introduction or a freebie.

2) Step two

Don’t abandon your accounts after a few posts. Plan a posting schedule and try to ‘make an appearance’ 1-2 times per week.

You want to leverage the power of social by connecting with different communities. Spend time researching different groups. It can take a bit of trial and error, but this is what will help you get in front of more people.  

3) Step three 

Once you find online communities that align with what you offer, the next step is to participate. A lot of people lurk on social media, but that’s not what will help your business.

Ask questions, solicit feedback, make friends.   

Phase I Recap 

1) Be generous–reward people who help refer your business. 
2) Network–Connect with other companies & find online communities.  
3) Participate–Lurking won’t help you get attention online. Use your voice.

Remember, it doesn’t need to be perfect right away. I promise you will get better (and feel more confident) over time. Get creative and keep going, this is key to finding your grove.   

Phase II: Setting goals

The main ingredient in any marketing campaign is having a strategy in place. Posting for the sake of posting might be fun, but it isn’t what’s going to help your small business get noticed on social media. In order to understand what you should be posting, you need to define why you’re posting.

Every business is different, but generally speaking, most have common goals when it comes to social media.

You might be trying to achieve one of the following goals:

  • Get people to know who you are (increase brand awareness)
  • Convince people to give you their contact info (generate new leads)
  • Close sales (grow revenue)
  • Chat with people (boost brand engagement)
  • Help customers who bought from you (provide customer support)
  • Encourage people to learn more about what you offer (drive traffic to your website)

Many brands use social media for a variety of reasons. Different social media platforms may serve different purposes from a business perspective.

If you’re running a bigger brand, you may even have different teams dedicated to supporting different goals. For example, at a larger company the Customer Support team would help customers by replying to questions and listening for brand mentions, the Marketing Team would use social to promote the content on different Instagram, and the Sales team would network with prospects via Linkedin.

Without a strategy, you might be posting on social media platforms for the sake of posting. Without understanding what your goals are, who your target audience is, and what they want, it’ll be hard to achieve results on social media.

Alfred Lua, Buffer Product Marketing

Pick out three business goals for your social media accounts. Write them down somewhere.

These are what will help guide you when you’re feeling like you’re wheels are spinning and it’s going nowhere. Stay the course.

Phase III: Deciding where to post

Marketing strategy is probably one of the hardest things to do because it requires you to step back, shift your mindset away from daily tasks, and think big picture. You need to have your head wrapped around this before you can decide where you’re going to post on social.

If you’re not sure why you’re doing something, then your probably doing it wrong. ⁠⠀
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Do you know why you want to run a contest through Facebook or an email campaign through MailChimp? No? Then you missed a few steps. ⁠⠀
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When you don’t have a clearly defined path, you can end up looking back a lot and wondering what the heck happened. You won’t be able to repeat the same thing again and the momentum will get lost.

Before deciding where you’re going to post, you need to spend time building a foundation for your marketing campaigns. ⠀
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How do you build that? ⁠⠀
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By creating a plan and a process.⁠⠀
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Why? ⁠
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Because as you grow, you’ll need others to be able to follow (and later repeat) the process.⁠ We’ll break it down in three steps⁠:⠀

1) Step one⠀

Doing your industry/competitor research is crucial. ⁠I can’t tell you how many business owners who have told me they have no competitors. 🤦🏻‍♀️⠀

If you think there’s no one in your arena that is offering the same product or a similar service, then you’ve overlooked something. ⠀

The competition can be tough. You need to be tougher. This doc will help you better understand your strengths and how to use them.

2) Step two

Who is your customer? If you haven’t spent a bit of time thinking about this, you need to. A lot of marketers will call these ‘personas’ or ‘avatars’. It’s a way to help you visualize who you’re trying to connect with before you publish something.

This resource will help you determine who your campaigns are designed for and will serve as a building block for the rest of your marketing.

Once you’ve developed customer personas, you’ll have a stronger inkling as to where this group might be spending time online and how you can reach them. This is the second clue that will help you decide on where to post.

3) Step three

Ever wondered how your product or service is perceived? This analysis doc will help you find unique selling points to formulate your product’s story/pitch.

You won’t be selling much on social media initially, but it’s a good exercise to complete for when a surprise prospect reaches out. Get crystal clear on how you’re different.

Phase III Recap

You’re not going to get better at something by thinking about it. You need to start doing it.

Maybe that means blogging or maybe that means promoting your business on LinkedIn. Before you decide where you going to start posting, you should do the following:

1) Analyze your competitors–you definitely have them.
2) Develop customer personas–it’s a building block you need.
3) Determine how your product or service is perceived–get clear on what makes you unique.

Once you’ve completed the three exercises outlined above you should have a better idea on which social media platforms will make sense for your business.

Knowing where to post on social media involves a bit of self-reflection, analyzing the competition, and framing out your ideal customer. Without setting this up, you’ll be doing a lot of guesswork.

Phase IV: Finding your brand voice

Brands can use social media to jump into people’s lives in an unexpected way with humour and creativity.

This connection is what will help you make sales and grow your business.

Today, we don’t have the same opportunity to connect in person. This is a big shift for many businesses and can be really challenging if you’re not doing the whole ‘marketing online’ thing.

One way to change this challenge into a new strength for your business is to develop a clear brand voice. By keeping consistent branding throughout all of your marketing, your audience will get a better sense of who you are and will be more likely to remember how you can help them.

Brand voice is what will help you achieve this.

The messages you want to deliver will have a different tone for different circumstances, but the voice you use needs to stay steady and distinct.

There’s a lot of ways to use your brand voice to help get your small business noticed on social media. Here are four free exercises and a thorough overview of how to get started.

Pase V: Creating a posting schedule

In the first four steps, we walked through the basics of setting up your social media accounts, setting goals and strategizing on where to post, and then using your brand voice to better leverage the new connections you’re making.

The final piece of the equation involves creating a posting schedule.

A social media calendar will save you time and allow you to track and test different strategies to see what resonates most with your audience.

This doesn’t need to be complicated at the beginning. Set some goals of how often you want to post and start thinking about what you want to share.

It’s a good idea to supplement your own brand’s content with curated posts related to your niche or industry.

Do this by sharing unique articles that your audience will enjoy.

Once you’re up and running, you’ll start to notice what gets more engagement (comments, likes, shares, etc.). Look for ways to leverage this and incorporate it into your social media posting schedule.

Summary

If you want to get your small business noticed on social media you need to start at the beginning.

Setting up the accounts for a business is a lot of work, but it’ll be a wasted effort if you don’t start using them.

The advantage of having them is that you’ll be able to get in front of a lot of people very quickly. The disadvantage is that they need a bit of time and attention to work; this is something most entrepreneurs are short on.

To make the most of your limited time, you should always start by setting goals. Decide where you’re going to post by analyzing your customers and competitors. Then, frame out how you’re going to say things by creating a brand voice.

Finally, after you’ve found your footings, create a schedule.

There’s still some work ahead, but you’re on the right path.

How to find your brand voice

Your brand voice is how you’re going to convey your brand personality online.

It helps to shape the way your customers feel and what they remember about your company.

As things continue to shift and grow in different directions, it’s becoming clear that online marketing channels have gone from nice to have to need to have.

In terms of branding, this means that developing strategies to support this change needs to be top priority.

If you’ve dipped your toes in marketing online, then you may have already found your footings in building your brand voice. If not, it’s time to get going.

The most enduring brands have a strong and memorable personality paired with a clear sense of purpose.

Their message is consistent everywhere they have a distinct presence. As you set out to strengthen your brand voice, you need to remember that it should be uniform and unchanging.

Sounds, er, good? What do I need to do?

You probably already know this, but you need to set up a website and fill in the basics for your brand’s social media accounts. Once all of that is ready, then it’s time to start using social to connect with new people, nurture existing clients, and convey value to your audience.

Unless you’re an e-commerce site, it’s not likely that you’ll be making sales.

If I’m not making sales, then what’s the point?!

You want your brand to be visible so that when people need a business like yours, you’ll already be top of mind.

Right now, we don’t have the opportunity to connect in person. We still gotta hustle if we want to grow. When you set out to create strategies to market your business, you need to connect with your customers in a way that ads value.

“Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off. The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value.”

Phil Kotler, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

How brand voice will help you make sales

If you’ve already made a few posts, then your brand voice has begun taking shape. To give it more power, you need to define the words you want to use (or avoid), the topics you want to cover, how you want to make people feel, and how you want people to remember you.

I’m sure every single person on the planet can think of a brand on social media who they will remember forever. Here are some examples:

While all these brands are selling different products to very different groups, they’ve connected with audiences by using their distinct voice. They jump into people’s lives in an unexpected way with humour and creativity.

This connection is what will help you make sales.

I don’t have a budget like Apple or McDonald’s–Is this still something I can do on my own?

Absolutely. I’ll show you how.

Four exercises to find your brand voice

Exercise 1) Brain teaser

Here’s a brain teaser to help you wrap your head around how to build your brand voice: If your brand was a person, what would their relationship be with the brand’s customers?

For example:

  • Is the brand someone people can rely on?
  • If the brand were the person answering the phone, how would they greet people?
  • If the brand was in trouble, who would they call for help?
  • Is the brand someone that makes people feel inspired?
  • If your brand was a proud mom, how would they show the world?
  • Is the brand someone who people think of as creative?

I know it’s a bit cheesy to try and personify an inanimate object. Trust your gut and do your best to give it life.

Exercise 2) Your brand in one line

Here’s another: Write out one or two lines that will give a glimpse into who your brand is. Let’s walk through an example from a personal brand statement.

What comes to mind when you read the following:

I’m a caffeine-fueled solopreneur on a mission to change fast-food.

In real life, this person probably isn’t chugging coffee and sitting by themselves typing madly. However, based on the words they chose to use, we’ve started to create a picture of who they might be.

They want us to know that they’re high energy, they work alone, and they’re not afraid to tackle big goals.

Here are the results we got when we gave this exercise a try:

“250Marketing provides the guidance and support you need to build a marketing plan that works. By using proven methodology, we can show you how to deliver a message with impact and make a plan that will scale.”

Exercise 3) Who your brand isn’t

Write out ten adjectives that the brand is not. Depending on your mad-libs skills, this could take anywhere from two minutes to half an hour.

Here’s what we came up with:

  • Sarcastic
  • Unapproachable
  • Tryhards
  • Unexperienced
  • Impatient
  • Revolutionary
  • Boring
  • Pioneering
  • Epic
  • Polarizing

Pro Tips 🤔

Tip 1: You want to avoid clichés whenever possible. Same for buzzwords. They’re overused and won’t help you stand out from your competitors. These can be added to the list of words you want to avoid.

Tip 2: It’s okay if you can’t think of ten adjectives. Jot a couple down and move on to the next part if needed. You’ll be fine.

Exercise 4) Yes or no?

Answer the ten yes or no questions about your brand as quickly as you can. Got the timer set? Okay, go:

  1. Do you swear?
  2. Are you witty?
  3. Do you use jargon?
  4. Do you share stories?
  5. Do you use analogies?
  6. Do you have clearly defined values?
  7. Are you funny?
  8. Are you direct?
  9. Are you bold with your language?
  10. Do you know which brand personality you are?

Here are the results from 250Marketing:

  1. Do you swear? No.
  2. Are you witty? We try.
  3. Do you use jargon? Not if we can help it.
  4. Do you share stories? Yes, it’s a big part of marketing.
  5. Do you use analogies? For sure, it helps people connect the dots.
  6. Do you have clearly defined values? 💯
  7. Are you funny? It depends on who you ask…
  8. Are you direct? Yes, we pride ourselves on it.
  9. Are you bold with your language? You have to be.
  10. Do you know which brand personality you are? Yup, 250Marketing’s brand shows competence through thought leadershipexperience, and our core beliefs.

Pro tips 🤔

Tip 1: Try to tell a story instead of just answering yes/no.

Tip 2: See if you can slip some brand values in there…you know you wanna.

How to define your brand voice in 3 steps

1) Step one

Defining your brand voice starts with who your audience is and who you are as a company.

Spend 30 mins checking the social profiles of real customers and find out what brands they follow. Think about the terms they’re using and how you can use this to build rapport.

If you don’t have customers yet, check out profiles of people who you think would be ideal customers to have.

2) Step two

Next, pick 30-50 adjectives that you want to use when defining your brand. For me, that’s way too many to think of on my own, so you can cheat and work from this list (there are other goodies there too).

Write down the top three that resonate with you the most.

3) Step three

Define your core values. Here’s an example of a company who’s got it down.

Recap:

  1. Research your audience
  2. Find adjectives that align with your brand
  3. Define your core values

If you’ve worked through the first 4 exercises above, done a bit of soul-searching for brand adjectives, and spent time researching what jives with your customer base, then you should have a rough vision of what you’re going for.

Next, it’s time to give your brand voice shape by defining how you want to sound.

Define how you want your brand to sound

The message you want to deliver will have a different tone for different circumstances, but the voice you use should stay steady and distinct.

When defining your brand voice, ask yourself these four questions:

  • As a brand, are you funny or serious?
  • Do you want people to think of your brand as enthusiastic or more matter-of-fact?
  • Is your brand respectful/reserved or maybe a bit cheeky? 🙊
  • Do you write in a way that’s formal or casual?

Top performing brands tend to err on the side of being both casual and enthusiastic. Realistically, we know that not everyone is funny.

While it’s risky to be cheeky, this has paid off in surprising ways for large companies (judging by Wendy’s twitter account).

There’s no wrong choice here, but you need to pick a direction to steer the ship. Use these answers as your compass.

Who are brands that you admire?

If there’s a brand (or celebrity) that you admire, what is it about them that you like? Again, this question will help you to personify what you’re trying to achieve.

You might not have the marketing budget to be them, but you can still pay attention to what’s working for them and try to replicate it in a way that works for you.

Who needs to understand your brand voice?

If you’re a one-man operation then it’s okay if all of this information lives in a scribbled notebook.

But, if you’re building a team or are looking to hire creatives to help grow your business, then you need a way to share this info. Type it out and start building guidelines.

You’ll thank yourself later.

Summary

By keeping consistent branding throughout all of your marketing, your audience will get a better sense of who you are and will be more likely to remember how you can help them. Your brand voice is what will help you achieve this.

Remember, tou’re building something bigger than you might realize. 😉

Feeling stuck on what to post on social media?

stuck on what to post on social?

Ever find yourself getting stuck on what to post on social media? ⁠

It’s really common. ⁠

A way to help deal with this is to map out a strategy that aligns with the buyer’s journey.⁠

Why? ⁠

Because it puts you in the mindset of your customers. ⁠

Why do that? ⁠

Because it makes it clear what the different stages of thinking are before someone buys your product. ⁠

Why is that helpful? ⁠

Because then you can tailor your content and social media posts based on different needs of different customers instead of making random posts and hoping something works. ⁠

Why does that help? ⁠

Because then you have a process and a plan. Even if you don’t have a post written out, you’ll still be able to go back to the foundation you set up and work your way to a solution by following the plan. ⁠

Why is that helpful? ⁠

Because instead of getting stuck or overwhelmed, you’ll be able to post something that adds value. ✌️ ⁠

I’m not selling anything, will this still work for me?

Yes. The same principles apply when you’re using social media to build your personal brand instead of a business account.

Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the buyer’s journey?

It’s a term used to describe the process your clients and customers go through before choosing your business (or product) as their solution. When you know how your customers think, you’ll understand how to reach them effectively.⁠

It’s a powerful asset to have in your marketing pocket. Essentially, it’s what sets you apart from the wannabees and puts you in with the heavyweights. 💪⁠

It goes by a few different names:

  • Customer journey
  • User journey
  • Customer lifecycle

It doesn’t matter what you call it, if you can get behind this idea, I promise your social media channels and marketing campaigns will see stronger results. That means more people will see what you’re promoting, but they’ll also be more likely to engage, share, and spread the word.

When you’re first building your business, you’ve likely got eight different jobs to do all at once and wasting time worrying about your next post just isn’t what you need.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

The thing is, if you’re using social media as a way to promote yourself or your work, it’s not enough just to understand the platforms alone. ⁠

You have to have some fundamental understanding of marketing, brand, creative, and how to pull them all together. ⁠

Understand the foundation

People often get really frustrated because when they invest a lot of time and money on social media it doesn’t always lead to more business. They hire people to help them build their visual brand identity or they spend a lot of money on ads promoting their company. It’s great if it takes off, but it’s the pits if it fails.

If you go in skeptical and it fails, this reassures the cynical side of you that you always knew it would never work anyway.

Or, if it works and it can’t be repeated, then you’re back to square one when you go to promote yourself again.

When it works for a little while and then tapers off, then you’re still sorta stuck at the end of the cycle.

Without understand the foundation, you’ll never be able to build momentum.

Know the cohesive strategy

You need to have a strategy in place before you launch.

New tools, new tactics, and new creative won’t save you from this.

A marketing strategy can (and should) lead the direction of all your marketing efforts. This includes writing copy, building web pages, designing logos, and more.

The exciting part is that today we have the opportunity to get in front of people way before they’re ready to buy anything. In order to leverage this opportunity, you need to make sure you’re hitting your audience with information that relevant to them.

Your product updates or store hours might not be important to people interested in your business. Cute pictures of office pets are heartwarming, but that’s not what’s going to make me reply to your email.

Think big picture. ⁠

If you have knowledge or insight you can share that will help your potential customers with a problem, then you’re providing information they value.

This is what they’re hoping to see when they scroll through your social media accounts.

Deciding what to post on social media

Here are three questions to ask when creating your business strategy for social media:

  • Do people know what to call the challenge that they have before they purchase from you?
  • Are they still considering different solutions?
  • Are they ready to make a purchase?

Once you have a rough idea of how to answer each of these, then it becomes much easier thinking of what to post on social media. 😉

Should my business be on LinkedIn?

Should my business be on LinkedIn?

Well, I hate to answer a question with another question, but are your customers on LinkedIn?

If yes, then the answer is clear.
⁠⠀
When you’re thinking about if your business should be on LinkedIn, here are some things about the platform to consider:
⁠⠀
1️⃣ LinkedIn has more than 500 million users who log in once per month. Right now, that stat is probably going up in the short-term. That’s a lot of people, but they don’t always spend a lot of time on the site. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
2️⃣ LinkedIn knows this and is making efforts to provide relevant and engaging content that people want to see. Because they don’t have a lot of content creators (yet), the odds of your post getting a surprising amount of views is pretty high.⁠ ⠀
⁠⠀
3️⃣ No one really talks about this, but I’d bet money that it’s a more palpable platform to be browsing on at work. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
4️⃣ If you’re putting resources on LinkedIn and your competitors are not, then you’ve stumbled upon a pretty rare opportunity to get in front of people before the other guys. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It sounds like it’s something to consider to me. ⁠🤷🏻‍♀️⠀

Ugh, but LinkedIn feels SO weird. Why are you into using this platform? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
If I’m honest the first time I had to publish an article on Linkedin (for work), I felt so strange about it I had to put my head down out of nervousness. It felt terrible. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
To me, LinkedIn was a platform where you tried to promote yourself but mostly ended up scrolling through cringy power-hungry self-promotional posts about how to ‘do business’. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
People didn’t even specify what kind of business. They were all-star experts about ‘business’ and ‘entrepreneurship.’ Why would you add specifics when there’s no one there who will call out and ask what that means? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Anyways, I did it. I pulled myself together, and I posted something. It got a few likes (i.e. my real-life friends and family gave me a digital thumbs up). But then, after posting about three times, something crazy happened… ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
A post I made started to take off. Within a few days, I’d accumulated nearly 20k views. Now, I know these are vanity metrics. But, the messages, the contact requests, the followers were real. It was non stop for about ten days. I know people who’ve worked on building their blog for two years before seeing results like this. I did it after posting for three weeks. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
The lesson? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
There’s untapped potential here. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I don’t know what this might mean for your business, but it’s something worth paying attention to. ⁠If you’re struggling to get noticed online, this is definitely an area that might be worth exploring.

Should my business be on Facebook?

Should my business be on Facebook?

Should my business be on Facebook?
⁠⠀
Answer: It depends. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Q: On what? ⁠
⁠⠀
A: Well, before you get started building out a new account you need to think about your customers. Specifically, you’ll want to consider:

1️⃣ Your audience; ⁠⠀
2️⃣ How much effort you’re willing to put into maintaining the account;
3️⃣ How much effort you’re willing to put into growing the audience; ⁠⠀
4️⃣ The overall intent of why you’re doing it for your business.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Q: What does all that mean? Should I do it, or Nah? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
A: Write out your goals, take a peek at what competitors are doing, analyze your customers, and spec out what it would take to implement a thorough strategy. ⁠Essentially you want to lay the foundation before pouring the concrete. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
(If this sounds like too much already, then maybe this isn’t the right path to take at the moment.)

Q: But…I need to put my business online ASAP! What am I supposed to do?⁠⠀ ⁠⠀

Make a plan, build a process, scale the results. ⁠👌

Now the question you should be asking is if should you put a lot of effort into a platform that could be totally changed by tomorrow? Hmm…⠀
⁠⠀
At a minimum set up an account and fill in the basics. This will 100% show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages–you know, those links you see when you Google stuff). Then, borrow content you’ve created for other channels (your website, Twitter, Linkedin…whereever you’re posting online) and republish there to see what happens. This is a good way to try and gauge what the level of interest might be when you’re just starting out. If you want to put another toe in the water, then the next step would be to seek out different groups and communities that align with what you offer.

Huh? What does that mean?

Yes, set up a Facebook account for your business.

Don’t assume you’re finished once your account looks okay(ish). Populate the page with a few pieces of content (blogs, images, or anything related to your business). Then, invite people to ‘like’ your page. Use this account as a way to distribute your marketing material. Encourage your friends and employees to check it out and give ‘er a thumbs up. This is a self-serve platform and it’s pretty easy to do the first few steps on your own.

There is no guarantee that this will help you generate business.

If your customers aren’t using this platform to seek out businesses like yours, then it’s not something you should put all of your time into. If you’re not going to fill out all the account details, then it’s going to be a frustrating experience for people who are trying to learn more about your company.

Setting up a Facebook account for your business is a great way to let people in your personal life know more about what you’re doing, but it looks bad when the account gets ignored or isn’t filled out. I’d make it part of your marketing plan, but don’t make it the whole plan. 🙌 

What is a brand breakup?

What is a brand breakup?

Ever been through a breakup? They’re tough.

It’s emotionally draining and can cause tremendous turmoil. In the end, your life might look completely different from how it was before.

Breakups make you reflect and push you to change.

They can happen between people, but they can also happen between a customer and a brand.

While it sounds a bit dramatic, a brand breakup is what happens when a brand does something that upsets a customer so much that they vow to never purchase from them again. They get to a point where they stop what they’re doing and say no more. You can tell a brand breakup is happening when you hear things like:

“…I cancelled my subscription.”
“…I won’t purchase from a company that believes that stuff.”
“…I’m never going to get my hair done there.”
“…I couldn’t listen anymore and hit unsubscribe.”

The message is similar to what you’d hear in a regular breakup: you’re not getting my time, money, attention, or energy every again.

Good-bye. Forever.

I’m sure everyone, at some point, has experienced bad customer service or gotten fed up with a company. This isn’t quite the same thing, but there’s overlap. A waiter who doesn’t refill your water cup isn’t going to cause emotional agony that leaves you tossing and turning at night.

Brand breakups are especially hard when large groups of customers negatively react to a decision made by a company. When people are fueled by emotion and stop spending money with your company, you will feel it quickly.

Recently, Netflix decided to tie its brand to pseudoscience when it released a new show called ‘Goop Lab’. The advice and ‘science’ outlined in the show is as appealing as the name of the show itself.

While it maintained its promise of being entertaining, its underlying message conflicted with people’s values. You can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time, but you do need to be aware of the consequences of ignoring the thoughts and feelings of your customers. They are real.

Angry mobs are scary, but they shouldn’t be ignored.

Don’t hide. It’s possible to do something better. As a brand, you can transform your business when stuff goes sideways; but you need to have the right strategies.

How?

1️⃣ Take ‎ownership;
2️⃣ Be authentic.

When companies make mistakes, people who support them sometimes want to hear ‘…oops, we’re sorry.’

This can be a public apology for an offside email they wrote. Maybe it’s a Zoom meeting from a ‘higher up’ that explains the issue and acknowledges the whoopsie(s).

This week we’ve seen a lot of major companies close their doors because of backlash on social media. It was a decision that will cost companies a lot of money, but staying open was not an option people were going to stand for.

When you make a wrong move today, people will tell you. And they get to choose how. The flip side is that you get to choose how you respond.

If you find yourself on the cusp of a breakup with your customer base, don’t let fear make the decisions for you. Standby your beliefs and explain your reasoning. Being open and transparent is more effective than trying to ignore the problem.

The way we communicate has changed.

the way we communicate has changed

At home, we can’t talk to our neighbours and thank them for their work to keep essential services open. Instead, we leave messages of hope posted in the windows to show them we’re grateful and thinking of them. The way we communicate has changed.

It’s a shift in perspective and an adaptive way to deliver a message.

It’s been a heavy couple of weeks for many people around the globe. I know six people who’ve lost their jobs within the first three days of the COVID-19 pandemic (the Canadian edition).

Today, the world 🌎 is a very different place than it was two weeks ago. It feels uncertain and heavy.

What does that mean for businesses?

This might be a bit uncomfortable to think about right now, but those that are able to adapt and grow are the ones that will succeed. If you can position yourself well and push yourself to keep going, now is the time to do it. It’s time to build your brand, find your voice, and grow your business.

It’s time to step up: ⠀


✅ Provide free services.⠀
✅ Take that complimentary call. ⠀
✅ Go above and beyond. ⠀
⠀⠀
What are the risks if you don’t make this happen?

If you choose to say nothing and sit still, you’re risking a lot more than you might realize. It might not feel that way right now, but I can promise you that the businesses & people who are being quiet are risking their personal reputations and brands. ⠀

Huh …🤔 It’s a lot to think about during a very noisy time.

What assets can you use right now to help eliminate this risk? ⠀

1️⃣ Email;⠀
2️⃣ Social media;⠀
3️⃣ Your phone;
3️⃣ Your website. ⠀

These are all free channels that you can use TODAY to connect with your friends, contacts, & customers. They might not be ready to buy anything today or next week. But, when we get to the end of this, you will want to be the person they call. ⠀

Not sure what to say? ⠀

Talk about what you know, share your experience, wrap it in your own voice. Offer to help.

Corona is serious, but panic is optional. This is not the moment to shut down. If you need a couple of days to recoup, by all means, please give yourself some space for this. But, don’t lose sight of your future because you’re feeling scared.

Companies are scared. Customers are too.⁠⠀

The thing is, no one in their life has ever made a good decision based on fear.⠀

Here’s what you can do instead: ⠀

✔️ Stay informed;⠀
✔️ Stay connected;⠀
✔️ Stay strong;⠀
✔️ Stay home. ⠀

Are you settled in and doing that already?

Good, but that’s only the first part. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen companies earn lifetime fans and others lose customers for life.⁠ The ones that are coming out ahead are the ones leading with strength and compassion. Even if you haven’t started a business yet, this could still be your path.

Here’s what else you can start doing to help make that a reality:

☑️ Call your friends; ⠀
☑️ Support their businesses; ⠀
☑️ Don’t forget to hustle. 
⁠⠀
I’ve personally seen friends take pay cuts to keep their staff and their business alive. I’ve seen senior partners ignore contract clauses to ensure their junior associates can continue getting paid (to feed their newborn babies). ⁠We’re all going to have stories like this. ⠀

Break your rules if needed.⁠ ⠀
⁠⠀
There will be lots of tough decisions ahead. The best way to keep things moving forward is together. 💪⁠