Your baby is ugly, and other things people won't tell you about your branding

I got my hair cut recently. As I walked out of the salon, the receptionist said, "Terri, your hair is ON POINT!" I assumed that was a compliment from a hip millennial. The whole day people said to me, "You look great! What a smile!"

Guess what? No one says anything when you're average or your baby's ugly. When you look fantastic personally and professionally, people notice. They say something, buy something from you or refer you. You are more confident in what you have to offer. It is the same for your brand marketing.

WHAT IS BRANDING ANYWAY?

"Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be."  - Entrepreneur.com

Let's face it. Most business owners had a logo designed, a website developed and social media platforms set up...in 2008. Their website is not mobile friendly, the logo is dated, and their social media hasn't been touched since 2012 when their intern left. They don't realize the repercussions of non-existent or weak branding.

Our branding is fine. We have a logo, website and Facebook page. I took our head shots with my iPhone, and it takes GREAT pictures.

"It takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand once they've perused your company's website."  - Missouri University of Science and Technology

Today, the first impression of your company is predominantly experienced via your website, social media or online searches. So, if it takes less than 2/10 of a second for a potential client, investor or future employee to form a first opinion of your brand, how do you look to them? Think about it, why would a customer invest money into a business that hasn't invested in themselves?

If your photography is dated, your head shots don't even look like you anymore and clip art/stock photos cover your website, you need to update your image.

Try this: Search for your company name or keywords relating to your business online. Do you come up before your competition? How does your social media rank on that search? Is your website mobile friendly (look at it on your phone or tablet) or is it flash based, meaning you cannot access the site from a mobile device? Is your company information correct on Google Maps, Search, etc.? What is the description under your website name/listing? Visit all your social media pages and do an honest assessment of how they look.

I'm not missing out on sales with poor branding. My customers know how to find me and interact with me.

"Misaligned marketing leads to missed opportunities." - Dawn Nicole Thompson

Most businesses owners tell me, "I'd love more people to know about my XYZ service. I could always sell more tickets to...I'd love people to think of me first for..." So, yes, you might be doing 'fine', but you could always do MORE. It's my job, and other brand marketers job, to make you look as epic online as you are in person! Great branding ensures that your ideal customer - and that's important - your IDEAL CUSTOMER - comes to you and not your competitor. When your online presence is poor, people cannot find you, and you are missing out on sales - each and every day.

In the study referenced above by the Missouri University of Science and Technology, it showed that participants focused on social-media icons on the websites they visited for 5.95 seconds revealing just how important it is for your business to offer opportunities for customers to engage with your brand. Talk to your customers on social media, survey them, thank them personally and offer discounts, loyalty and referral bonuses. Always make sure your social media icons are easily found on your website, and the links work.

Many business owners forget that when you are not prominent online, you will not be approached for things like community events, round tables, speaking engagements, interviews for publications - all FREE ways to market yourself and your business. If your online brand presence is poor, there is little social proof of your reputation (or greatness!), no slick website or images to link to; just stale social media that you stopped updating a year ago. Who wants to promote that?

Revisit your branding about once a year as you evolve and change. Use the first day of Spring to do some 'brand' cleaning and evaluation.

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