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November, 2009

Tips for Marketing Your Brand

This article is to help you get a better understanding of what’s going on in your marketplace.  How to turn around a sinking ship and how to position your product in the mind of the consumer.

Do not focus on price

It’s basic economics, the more you lower your price the more you increase your quantity demanded.  So what companies tend to do is fight their battle over price.  This will only lead to one inevitable conclusion, you will end up either selling your product with very little profit margin or you will be out of business because someone else can make it cheaper.  Do not focus on the price of what you are selling.  Lowering your price is not a marketing strategy.

Market your idea not your brand

It is important to market your idea and not spend time or money marketing your brand.  People are not stuck to your brand.  As soon as the next cool thing comes along, they will dump you for that alternative.  The theory is that by getting your name out there you will get people to not only recognize your name, but buy your product.   This theory is flawed.  People do not buy on just a name, they buy to supply a need or a perceived need that your product solves.
In order to make a extreme point of this, take a look at what is now known as The Bubble Bowl. This was the Super Bowl of 2000. Not many people remember the actual game, but what they do remember is the ads that seemed to doom the companies that ran them. These companies spent millions of dollars on thirty-second time slots only to see their business fail. Some lasted a few months (Pets.com & Computer.com) and some are still holding on today, but are falling fast (WebMD). So what happened? These companies clearly go their name out there, but we unable to capitalize on these views.  They marketed their brand and didn’t market a clear message of why you should buy from them and not someone else.

Distinguish yourself from your competitors

Often labeled brand positioning, this is finding your place in the market.  The more you try to become the Jack of All Trades, everything for everyone, the more you become the master of none.  It is important that you focus on your key differentiator.  What makes you unique?  As others have put it, what is your unique selling proposition? In simple language this is why someone should buy from you and not someone else.  What makes you unique.  For Volvo, their unique selling point is safety.  For Nintendo, their unique selling point is games for the entire family.   These factors distinguish them from the competition.  If you want to buy a cool MP3 player you get an Apple iPod or iPhone.  They have clearly distinguished themselves as a cool elite product.  You need to find out what separates you from your competition in the mind of the consumer.  Not in reality.  The only thing that matters is what your customers think of your brand.

I recently ran into this as a partner for a CCIE Rack Rental Company.  We had been in business for a few years as solely a rack rental company.  We then tried to take our brand as a rack rental company and extend that brand to a new line of training products.   This venture was a failure.  It seemed that people were unwilling to see a Rack Rental company as a training company as well.  The product was solid and was from top trainers in CCIE, but the perception of our company was a rental company and not a training company.  This is a very telling of extending your brand further than your customers will allow it to go.

Remember to hold true to what makes you unique.  The more you try to become the competition the more you will lose yourself and become nothing in the mind of the consumer.

Phrase your offering in plain English

People are bombarded by the minute or even by the second with ads for one thing or another.  Don’t be afraid to keep your advertising simple and direct.  You don’t need to have an elaborate commercial with fancy CG.  You just need to vocalize your unique selling point.  Let people know why they should buy from you.

Spend your time selling not entertaining

Leave entertainment to entertainment companies.  Marketing is an investment.  If you are expecting a return on your investment, then you should steer clear of wasting money on entertaining.  I’m not saying that ads can’t be funny, dramatic, emotional, or even scary.  However, you are not in the business of entertaining you are in the business of selling.  You have a very limited time to get your message across.  Start your message by selling to your audience.  If people are interested in buying your product, they will listen.

Use common sense

The best advice I can give on the subject of making the most of your brand is use common sense.  Don’t try to over think simple situations.  All the data and analysis in the world can’t overcome the simple fact that if your product or idea doesn’t make sense then no one will buy it.  There are to many alternatives out there, and  probably at a cheaper price.  Don’t let any one talk you into something that doesn’t make sense.  Walmart selling a 2009 Porsche, or a $150 Kitchen Knife?  This is an exaggerated example but you can see it doesn’t make sense.

You are only as good as your customers will let you be.  Their perceptions about your business are all you have.  If you understand these perceptions, then you should conform to them.  Don’t waste your time trying to change their mind.  Sell to what they already know.

Six DIY Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is an industry buzzword that  basically means the process of organizing, writing, and editing your sites content to get more traffic through “organic” or unpaid searches.  Basically, it’s making your sites content more accessible to search engines, like Google, to increase your site’s natural appearance on search engines.  Most of these services offering SEO are actually quite simple, and some are a bit more complex.  However, most of the techniques used can be done by you quite easily.  Let’s look at some of the more important techniques to increasing your search engine optimization.

1.    Be specific - If you are a company selling a service, chances are you aren’t the only one.  Most companies are in a “red ocean” of competitors and these competitors live on the web as well.  So when it comes to building your website, you need to think about three or four key phrases or words that you are set on.  It’s impossible to be number one on Google for every key word you can think of about your product.  You need to Be Specific.  If you sell, rent and trade musical instruments in Dallas, TX.  Then you should think about trying to increase your ranking  for one of these services.  Perhaps, the one with the highest potential income.  This will help you to concentrate and capture this audience.

2.   Key words & descriptions aka Metadata- Some people will tell you that these are the key elements to your site.  Don’t listen to them.  Most people will agree that major search engines disregard these tags.  They are to easily manipulated to be given worth.  The most important one of these tags is your title tag.  This let’s the user know what page they are currently on.  It also shows up on the link for your search results. You shouldn’t disregard these metatags, but don’t spend to much time trying to optimize these words.  Here are a few pointers when it comes to metadata:

  • Title: Remember that your title is what your visitors see and what is usually placed on search engine results.  It is advisable that you keep your titles short around ten words or so.  Also, your titles should be different for every page.  Keeping your page titles unique helps distinguishes them on result pages and if your customers book-mark that page.
  • Description: This is to describe the purpose of your page.  This should be kept concise.  It’s suggested that you should keep this to around two sentences and incorporate the key phrases that you want your site to be ranked for.
  • Keywords: Use words that are around the same key phrase that your customers are searching for and that match your key phrases that you want to be ranked for.  It’s important to include alternate words that are similar to your key words.  If you are looking for similar searches that your customers use, Google has a tool for that. [link]  The cap for keywords is said to be 25.  However, best practices suggests to keep these around 10.  Also, make sure your keywords match the content that is on the page.

3.    Sitemaps - Sitemaps are XML versions of your website that define the structure and content of what is on your site.  If you are not familiar with sitemaps, don’t worry there are plenty of tools out there that will assist you.  xml-sitemaps.com is one such free service [link].  After you get your xml sitemap, it’s time to submit these to all the popular search engines.  Here are some handy links to help you with this: Google, YahooBing.

4.   Blog - Put a blog on your site.  You should have a blog that keeps your customers updated with what you are doing.  You don’t need to blog everyday, twice a month is sufficient.  This will be a great outlet to engage with your customers and increase your page rank for your key phrases.  Articles with content can be easily outsourced with services like Articles-Written if you cannot think of what to say.  Note: this article was written by Mariche, not articles-written.  However, we have used them before and their quality is good, and they didn’t even pay us to say that.

5.   Links - Links are one of the most important ways that your site gets higher ranked.  Take Google for example, each page it indexes has an associated page rank.  This page rank is a number between 0 and 10.  If you have a page rank of 3 and several sites link to you that have a higher page rank, then your page rank will increase as well.  This works the same for lower ranked sites, but don’t worry about this too much, this penalty is mainly for submitting your site to known link farms.  Here is one site to check your page rank as well as your competition [link].

6.   Code Structure & Readability - Another way to make your site search engine friendly is to ensure that the source code behind your webpage, the actual html code, is correctly written.  That is, make sure that your code is valid based on it’s declared document type.  This is easy to check since the w3 schools has a nice validator here.

Conclusions - These are some very simple ways that you can adjust your page rank and increase your website traffic.  Remember that you want to concentrate on just a few keywords or phrases.  Don’t try to be number one on Google for all search queries, you will fail and be number one for none.  One good check for your site that we’ve found useful is the free Website Grader.  This tool will help you get a concept of what you need to change. [link]

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