Most of life’s and business’s axioms are unbelievably simple and self-explanatory, but our innate tendency to complicate instead of simplifying, makes us blind to the obvious.
BRAND is by definition our business’s “identity” as it is perceived by the world. Our BRAND is supposed to convey all we stand for in terms of quality of services or products, consistency and effectiveness in our interaction with our clients, as well as our vision’s dimensions and our focal “promise”.
But there is a Major Step a Business should take BEFORE its Brand Building comes to a top-concern level. Simplistic as it may sound, no matter how great your products or services are, you DON’T EXIST as long as you DON’T Campaign.
It is our opinion -and we constantly advise our Clients to this direction- that as with everything else, there are Evolution Stages related to a Business’s Reputation and Brand Building.
First comes the FETUS-STAGE. Your Business Model lives in the “Fertile Uterus” of your own mind. Yes, you may have performed your “keywords research analysis” and your “competition research analysis” , even your “online behavioral trends analysis” for your target market, BUT nobody knows about your existence. (the same goes for an Offline Business as well)
Then comes the BIRTH-STAGE. Most Internet Marketers refer to it as the “LAUNCH”, but because we consider a Business Model or Project a “Creation With A Life of Its Own” we chose to draw our metaphors from the human-being’s evolutional stages. At this Stage, you have already generated a “BUZZ” about your upcoming Premiere, and there is a psychology of “expectation” among your JV Partners, as well as in Social Media and Selected Communities. BUZZ presupposes the design and execution of a First Bundle of Campaigns. We would include Press Releases, Web 2.0 Ring Building ( satelite blogs on WEB 2.0 Authority Sites interlinked to each other, sending backlinks to your Main Site), Setup of Social Media Profiles, a few “Promotional” 2minutes VIDEOS, FORUMS Postings, Blog Postings mainly with an Interrogative Character inviting visitors to interact with you and engaging them in a dialogue. You don’t know EXACTLY whether your “BABY” will meet Market’s Demand, but you hope you’ll be offering what they’re looking for to a major degree, because you have put your finger on your Market’s Pulse already. Top Priority, to identify with Your Target Group’s Hottest Desires right now practically bringing the answers to their questions.
Next is the TODDLER STAGE. You are accepted by your Market, but there is a long way to go towards fine-tuning your Product/Service to match their needs even better. You learn to “LISTEN” to them, to “GET INTO THEIR SHOES”, to “THINK LIKE THEY DO”, “FEEL LIKE THEY DO” and “TALK LIKE THEY DO”. You have NO BRAND yet because it’s still in the making process. Your Campaigns at this Stage, aim at enhancing interactivity with your “prospects” in order to get closer to them and therefore understand what exactly they want and how it should be “served” to them. Now it’s time for Twitter and FaceBook Marketing. Of course -depending on your Business’s Idiosyncracy- Networks like LinkedIn, Youtube or Skype can be added, but Twitter and FaceBook will be the Basis of your Interactivity Initiatives.
CHILD STAGE follows. You feel more comfortable with your Business Structure, and you can move with ease within your Market’s “whereabouts”. But you’re still exploring and constantly learning about your Target Group’s preferences and buying patterns. Your IMMATURITY keeps you blinded to Market-Voids but you now can certainly see Market’s Hot Spots. Your Campaigns are now revolving thematically around these Hot-Spots but you haven’t the Steve Job’s genius to see the Market Voids and tap on them just like he did with i-phone smashing the “omnipotent” NOKIA. At this stage, your IDENTITY starts forming, and the seeds for your Brand appear. In other words, you now realize how important it is to give a promise about delivering value and keep that promise.
TEENAGER’s STAGE comes next. You think you know your clients better than anyone else, and you believe that any BUZZ around your Brand would be good for you as long as it makes your Offer – product or service- known to a wider range of people. Well, in fact, too many Campaigns are based on this belief and too many Businesses never pass the Teenager’s Stage. As long as they get the client at their virtual or non virtual “doorstep” they don’t care about the process that brought him/her there and quite as many times they don’t care about the After-Sales process either. A typical example of online Campaigns that match this Stage, are the SEO Campaigns. The main idea is to blast around the web as many keyword-optimized content-formats as possible, them being Articles, Videos, Podcasts, PDF’s, images, scripts or whatever, and just get as many backlinks as humanly possible from the Content Distribution Networks. It’s good to attract the Search Engine Crawlers, but what about humans? That’s where this Stage fails.
ADULT’s STAGE closes the cycle. The Business’s Decision Maker/Makers, have reached the level of maturity in their way of approaching their market and thinking about it, that leads them to the importance of developing TRUE RELATIONSHIPS with their clients based on trust and reciprocity. This is the time when BRAND reflects the essense of their thinking and embodies all the components that enhance BONDING with the clients including the MAGIC DUST. What is the MAGIC DUST exactly? Is the RESULT of an enorchestrated Web-Marketing Strategy that conveys to the target groups on a deep psychological level, -talking to people’s core- the FEELING that this BRAND symbolizes their higher-selves and is aligned with their indisputable values and principles delivering QUALITY on a consistent basis, and being their VERY FIRST THOUGHT when thinking about solution to the particular problem. To Set Up the Strategic Sequence of this Stage’s Campaigns, List Building and Email Marketing are the TOP Priorities. The careful drafting of the auto-responder messages, the NEWSLETTER, and the ON-SITE Sales Process become the Center of Attention. Tracking Mechanisms are in place, in order to collect Statistical Data which are necessary for us to improve our Conversion Rate (through split testing), while Landing Pages are designed and re-designed to meet the ideal optimization criteria.
There are many cases of Businesses who successfully ran within a very short period of time from Stage #1 up to Stage #6. But the Vast Majority get stuck somewhere in the middle. These Businesses become mere statistical figures in Reports, depicting the huge waste of money time and resourses when there is not a SYSTEM and a SOLID PLAN in place. The good news are, that today there are many Companies specializing in Web-Marketing and Web-Business Development, and you shouldn’t let your doubts or worries about the cost of their Services keep you from asking their Advice, a Quote or even a Study Tailored to your particular Business’s needs. The benefits will reward you handsomely.
- Best of 2010: The Future of Business is Social (briansolis.com)
- 10 Essential New Year Resolutions for Web Marketers (searchenginewatch.com)
- 4 Ways to Be Competitive in Any Kind of Market (wpromote.com)