It’s a new year, and with that comes new challenges for small business owners. One area that most businesses struggle with at one point or another is brand awareness. It’s certainly easy to get a few customers. But what happens when you want to be recognized beyond that small scope?
Even if you have a tiny marketing budget, there are ways you can increase awareness of your brand.
If you run a local business like a restaurant or retail shop, it’s important for you to be a visible member of your community.
Attend business networking events. Volunteer for community activities. Participate in special events. But don’t just be seen, create value.
Some ways to achieve this include connect two people that can help one another, donating food or products to a good cause, or educating people by sharing your own experiences as an entrepreneur.
Have a professional website
Having a website might seem like “duh” advice, but a whopping 46 percent of small businesses don’t currently have a website. By creating a professional website for yourself, you’re getting a leg up on that 46 percent.
And before you assume that you can’t afford to hire a professional website designer and therefore can’t afford a website, know that there are many DIY website creation tools you can use, even with zero design skills. The result will be a site that people can visit to find out more about you, as well as one that search engines can find, introducing even more people to your brand.
Beef up your marketing strategy
Brand awareness is virtually impossible without marketing. It’s important to know which channels your clientss spend time on (Facebook? LinkedIn? Snapchat? Email? Mobile?) and investing resources into marketing through those channels.
To do this, you’ll need an omnichannel approach to marketing, meaning that you’ll need to strike from different angles to let your message sink in. If you use social media, focus on just one or two sites where your clients are most likely to be found rather than trying to be on all social sites. This helps keep your message clear, consistent, and is overall easier to manage.
Consistency is key for a successful social media strategy. You’ll need to communicate with your audience throughout the week, if not every day, depending on the channel. Consider setting up an editorial calendar to map out your posts and topics week-by-week.
Make sure you also have a solid marketing plan that analyzes the specific aspects of your marketing strategies, such as your target audience and key goals. Having an outline of your marketing efforts can be useful for both internal purposes and communicating with external parties.
Establish your expertise
Another way to build brand awareness is to go public with your vast knowledge of your industry. Contribute guest posts on blogs that target your audience to educate them on areas you’re an expert in. Then, be sure to include a link to your business in your author bio so readers can click it to learn more about you and your brand.
Another option is to produce YouTube videos or go Live on Instagram and Facebook to showcase your expertise. Consider hosting a “How to” video series every week, where you break down the steps to something related to your product or service, or answer frequently asked questions.
You can also speak at public events to get even more visibility. Acting as the face of your brand helps humanize it and attract people to it.
Create a conversation
The days of talking at your clients are gone. Today, you need to engage in dialogue to capture people’s attention and get them to engage with your brand. That means you need to listen to what they tell you—whether through a comment on your Facebook page or a not-so-great review on your Yelp profile—and act accordingly.
If you get feedback that your client service is lacking, use that opportunity to make improvements. Circle back with your client, letting them know that you have taken their feedback to heart, how you intend to improve it, and invite them to experience your brand again. Word will get out that you’re a company that pays attention to what people think, and that’s great publicity!
Social media is a great place to foster conversation. Respond to any comments or messages you get. Amplify what your followers are sharing. Highlight clients. Answer questions. Be available.
Deliver the solutions your clients want, not what you think they want
When thinking about how to build your brand, you should be thinking about the products or services that resonate with your clients. However, what you think your clients want might be what they want. To bolster brand awareness, listen to your clients to understand their needs.
Feedback from surveys or talking directly to clients can provide a great understanding of how well your solutions hit the mark, or where you have room for improvement. Take all feedback to heart and work to constantly improve what you sell.
Be everywhere constantly
Creating and managing brand awareness isn’t a one-time activity. It takes constant effort on multiple channels to not only get in front of people but also to pique their interest in your brand. Measure your efforts so you know which channels work best for you, and streamline your focus onto those channels.
Christine Soeun Choi is an SEO associate at Fit Small Business) specializing in digital marketing. Currently based in NYC, she has a background in business studies and math with a passion for business development. When not helping small business owners, Christine enjoys taking photos, exploring artwork, and traveling.