Why your online brand is essential for success

Word Count: 1,177    Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

You need real people to engage with your material and share it around, you need real customers to buy your services and products.

In this day and age, if you don’t have a presence online, no-one is going to be knocking on your door.

Unless your service is totally unique that is, I mean actually a one of a kind, and lots of people want it!

 

You need to think about online branding and why it is essential for success

 

What is a brand and how does it apply to your situation? We’re going to explain that here and hopefully make it easier to understand.

As Kotler, Bowen and Makens define in ‘Marketing for Hospitality & Tourism‘;

A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, design, or a combination of these elements that is intended to identify the goods or services of a seller and differentiate them from competitors.

Branding is the process of endowing products and services with the power of a brand. It’s all about creating differences between products. This process must be carefully developed and managed.’

 

Before you are ready to start promoting yourself you really should put a lot of effort into creating this discernible and unique identity, using it to create as recognisable an online presence as possible.

What’s more, it’s a very good idea to create a brand that people can relate to, especially the audience you want to attract.

As Briana Ford points out over at SocialMediaToday,

You’re being Googled: Maybe not just Google, but if someone is hearing your name, it’s (sometimes simultaneously) being typed into a search engine. No website? No profile on social networks? More than likely, no customer for you.

 

At this point if you’re one of our clients, a therapist, retreat venue, ecotourism destination or an environmental cause, you may be recoiling in disgust.

This sort of thing is probably the antithesis of what you’re about. That’s understandable, it’s the same for us.

But we’re putting this info before you because we all must understand, that while the bulk of humanity is to be found online, getting their information there, connecting with people there and making their purchases there, there is where we need to be.

So, if we’re going to try to connect with people, show them more skilful ways to live, other ways to heal themselves and other ways to make them aware of nature and conservation, it’s in all our best interests to do it well, so we can minimise the energy we spend on it.

Word Count: 1,177    Reading Time: 6 minutes 


 

 

You need real people to engage with your material and share it around, you need real customers to buy your services and products.

In this day and age, if you don’t have a presence online, no-one is going to be knocking on your door.

Unless your service is totally unique that is, I mean actually a one of a kind, and lots of people want it!

 

You need to think about online branding and why it is essential for success

 

What is a brand and how does it apply to your situation? We’re going to explain that here and hopefully make it easier to understand.

As Kotler, Bowen and Makens define in ‘Marketing for Hospitality & Tourism‘;

A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, design, or a combination of these elements that is intended to identify the goods or services of a seller and differentiate them from competitors.

Branding is the process of endowing products and services with the power of a brand. It’s all about creating differences between products. This process must be carefully developed and managed.’

 

Before you are ready to start promoting yourself you really should put a lot of effort into creating this discernible and unique identity, using it to create as recognisable an online presence as possible.

What’s more, it’s a very good idea to create a brand that people can relate to, especially the audience you want to attract.

As Briana Ford points out over at SocialMediaToday,

You’re being Googled: Maybe not just Google, but if someone is hearing your name, it’s (sometimes simultaneously) being typed into a search engine. No website? No profile on social networks? More than likely, no customer for you.

 

At this point if you’re one of our clients, a therapist, retreat venue, ecotourism destination or an environmental cause, you may be recoiling in disgust.

This sort of thing is probably the antithesis of what you’re about. That’s understandable, it’s the same for us.

But we’re putting this info before you because we all must understand, that while the bulk of humanity is to be found online, getting their information there, connecting with people there and making their purchases there, there is where we need to be.

So, if we’re going to try to connect with people, show them more skilful ways to live, other ways to heal themselves and other ways to make them aware of nature and conservation, it’s in all our best interests to do it well, so we can minimise the energy we spend on it.

How a strong brand leads to successful customer relationships

 

There are many aspects to a successful online brand strategy, we’re not going to cover them all here, it’s beyond the scope of this article.

Some key aspects are logos, fonts and colours, websites and social media profiles.

Furthermore, the types of content, styles of communication and emotive influence play a huge role. There is way more to it, so it is s good idea to read that check list!

 

Click to unlock the Complete Branding Checklist here.

Generates Trust

 

If you present yourself and your business in a professional manner, and there are social platform proofs speaking highly of your services or products, people are more comfortable engaging with and paying you.

 

Enhances Recognition

 

Of course you are more than your logo and certainly a logo is only one aspect of any branding strategy. That said, you should still invest time and energy into a professionally designed logo.

It should be memorable and create a desirable impression of your business. It should invoke the emotional response you want people to feel.

 

Foundation of Your Marketing

 

We all must engage in marketing to some degree, whether that be all-out advertising or simply publishing relevant content in appropriate places.

Developing a clear picture of your service/product and quality/reputation underpins any marketing efforts, it’s the first step. Using appropriate channels of marketing for your goals is important.

Too narrow or too broad an approach can dilute the impression of your marketing in potential client’s minds.

 

Motivates Colleagues and Collaborators

 

When you have an unwavering vision and a mission statement that conveys that clearly, people want to work with you. Your branding efforts should serve to communicate clearly.

People are emotional beings and are inspired to contribute to and support something when they understand it clearly and can identify strongly with the mission.

If you want to attract self motivated, empathetic collaborators you need to demonstrate you are worth investing their time in you.

 

Creates New Revenue

 

The ideal ratio of new to existing clients/customers depends on the sector you are in. There is no rule of thumb that fits all, but it should be clear that any business venture is not likely to succeed in the long run without generating new clients over time.

You can not rest on your laurels with no clear brand identity or marketing strategy and expect to attract new business.

As we say to our customers, “in this day and age, word of mouth simply isn’t enough to sustain you in the long term.”

Unless of course you are that absolute one of a kind service or product, and everybody wants it.

 

Some Strong Branding Advice

Online branding essential social media metrics dashboard.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

 

Simply put, all your efforts to generate engagement and business will be wasted if you do not embrace SEO.

Direct marketing channels are great but are short term options, their influence diminishes rapidly once the campaign is finished.

Creating relevant and valuable content is a valuable investment in potential future business and clients. BUT, all your cool content will find little of an audience online without being optimised for search engines and indexing.

You’ll simply be treading water and will find it difficult to go with the flow.

 

Online branding essential social media metrics dashboard.

Always Have Your Customer in Mind

 

To be successful you must align your image and services with your existing and potential customer’s needs and desires. Therefore any branding and marketing strategies should always have your customer in mind.

 

 

Clear Message Illustrating Your Value

 

Human attention spans are very, very short these days. Most people have too little time or interest to decipher complex or unclear messages.

To generate real interest you must communicate clearly WHY your brand matters more than any other to your customers. This is best served by creating a story that demonstrates “why you?”

But you need to achieve this very quickly or people lose interest and move on.

 

 

Evoke Emotional Responses

 

It’s no secret these days that most people engage services and buy products based on emotion rather than logical reasoning. If you look at all the most successful brands you will note the enormous emphasis placed on creating emotional responses.

In many cases this is manipulative and pervasive. BUT, to ignore the role of emotional response in any brand and marketing efforts is misguided and virtually guarantees no beneficial result.

The same methodology can be used to convey your message if your emphasis is ethics, empathy, equality and transparency.

All we mean is to take a leaf out of the marketeers book and remember the role of emotion in all human decision making processes. It can not be denied.

 

How to achieve your goals and dreams

Word Count: 1,946    Reading Time: 11 minutes

 

Do you know what you really want from life?

Do you know where you want to go, who you want to be?

Is your idea a ‘life project’, a business project or a creative expression?

Will that project, business or creative outlet get you to your vision?

 

Visioning and Goal Setting

 

Answering the above questions are vital before you start any project or make any significant life choice. For the sake of this discussion let’s group them all together under the term ‘project’.

As such this can also be a way to approach a project management task, except your bosses might not be too keen on the intuition part of this post (below)!

Visioning and goal setting are extremely important first steps in assessing, planning and developing a project.

First, imagine the project complete, up and running successfully as it were, identifying all the realistically achievable parts of it.

Then define steps or goals that can bring you closer to your vision, helping you to see where you are at, relative to your vision, and what steps to take next.

Everyone involved in your project should contribute to these two steps, the more inputs you have, the clearer your picture will be!

Word Count: 1,946    Reading Time: 11 minutes 

 

Do you know what you really want from life?

Do you know where you want to go, who you want to be?

Is your idea a ‘life project’, a business project or a creative expression?

Will that project, business or creative outlet get you to your vision?

 

Visioning and Goal Setting

 

Answering the above questions are vital before you start any project or make any significant life choice. For the sake of this discussion let’s group them all together under the term ‘project’.

As such this can also be a way to approach a project management task, except your bosses might not be too keen on the intuition part of this post (below)!

Visioning and goal setting are extremely important first steps in assessing, planning and developing a project.

First, imagine the project complete, up and running successfully as it were, identifying all the realistically achievable parts of it.

Then define steps or goals that can bring you closer to your vision, helping you to see where you are at, relative to your vision, and what steps to take next.

Everyone involved in your project should contribute to these two steps, the more inputs you have, the clearer your picture will be!

Step One: Visioning

 

Here you develop a vision of how you would like to see your project (a business for example) in a few years time. Choose a time frame of five or ten or twenty years in the future, trying to be realistic.

Do not spend too much time thinking about how you are going to get to the goal right now, but form a positive picture, making sure to keep it realistic.

Combine the most desired and valued outcomes of all the stakeholders involved with the project, creating a vision that addresses everyone’s needs.

This exercise can be done in writing as well as ‘mind maps’ or similar diagrams to help visualise the successful project and all its component parts. Feel free to draw and sketch your vision to make it lively and ‘real’.

The diagram can then form the basis of a written plan or project flow chart, each step now more easy to identify, and then the next, and so on, creating what becomes a coherent project plan.

Step Two: Goal Setting

 

In this step you identify concrete objectives of your project with the view of creating realistic waypoints to navigate towards.

These can also be used to help assess your project’s progression, and more easily recognise needs for adjustments and adaptations along the way.

Maybe even major changes in course, as visions and goals have a way of changing over time as you change and your project evolves, or does not.

Tip: Describe at least two goals in each of the major sections within your overall plan. Take for example an ecotourism development, it is helpful to have a balanced weighting between goals of the economic, social/cultural and environmental aspects of your project.

These should be detailed, making sure they are realistic, relevant and that can be measured. Then add these goals to your Visioning diagram and respond by adjusting your overall project plan if necessary.

Step Three: Strategies

 

Next you establish strategies to achieve each of the goals you have identified.

These are best devised by breaking down each goal into all its component parts and evaluating each of these in logical order, step by step.

Once you have mapped each step, group the steps together in logical flows and voilà, now you have a very detailed strategy.

Now For The Hard Part – Action!

 

At first, perceiving a vision and then devising a plan to achieve it can seem daunting, but once you get into the swing of it, you’ll find it becomes a creative process that can be highly stimulating and rewarding.

Sure it takes a lot of work to come up with a clear and concise plan, but in relation to the road that lies ahead, it’s a relatively short exercise and doesn’t require so much energy.

Seeing the plan through to the end and achieving your goals is by far the bigger challenge.

It requires you to work towards your goals every day, day in, day out, week after week, year in, year out.

It requires diligence, stamina, self belief and discipline. These are the biggest challenges in any journey towards a long term goal.

Especially when things are not going so well or according to your well thought out plan!

Holding the clear and unwavering picture of each waypoint you have mapped out, and the end goal in sight, as you work your way along slowly to your end goals is a challenge, a far bigger challenge than setting out on the road in the first place!

You are going to be tested often by difficult circumstances, perceived failures and unforeseen bumps in the road.

You may even come to sense that what seemed like the reason for commencing the journey towards your goal ends up being secondary, that the experience of the journey itself, and how it changes you and your perceptions, becomes primary.

Making Difficult Decisions

 

We are very selective in what information we filter out from our consciousness stream, making our awareness highly subjective.

Furthermore, most people are only able to hold a relatively small number of data points in the conscious mind at any given time.

There is far too much data streaming through your total awareness for you to be aware of it all, through all of your senses and senses most people are unaware of as yet.

In this way it is pretty much impossible for us to ever accumulate sufficient data to satisfy the rational mind that we are making the ‘correct’ decision in any given situation.

The rational mind seeks security, needs to know it is okay and that everything will be okay in the future.

It seeks safety and isn’t normally comfortable with risk, especially if it perceives risk as being threatening to its comfort and physical well-being.

So when trying to make big decisions, because we can never accumulate enough data to satisfy the rational mind that everything is going to be okay, no matter how things turn out, we have a tendency to overthink the situation, or procrastinate.

Procrastination Sucks Your Energy Dry

 

Overthinking and trying to rationalise everything out will drain and deplete your energy. It is the rational mind’s way of avoiding decisions it finds scary and potentially threatening.

You could say that this procrastination is actually self sabotage, that is, it is getting in the way of your progression towards your goals. Don’t get me wrong, considering all the angles and thinking things through is of course important and responsible.

But when you consider that there are far too many data points and streams, or to put it another way, there are just too many angles for you to be able to see them all, well you have to accept there comes a point where you have to rely on something else…your gut.

Don’t Underestimate Your Intuition

 

In the end your feelings play a huge role in all decisions, much more than many people realise or admit. The gut feeling, that inner knowing that something is right, or isn’t, or which fork in the road feels right, and which doesn’t. We’ve all been there.

If you’ve put yourself in enough situations where you’ve tested that gut feeling out, tested that inner voice or feeling, you know it plays a huge role. You begin to trust it.

When you’ve been through enough situations where you put your trust in that inner radar and things worked out okay, you know it’s far more reliable than the procrastinations of the rational mind.

You also know that how things appear on the surface are rarely how they are once you get through a situation and have the perspective of hindsight, can look back and see what ACTUALLY happened.

You know how the facts APPEARED to be, you know what choices you made and what the outcomes were.

Do this enough times and you will know that your intuition is your strongest ally, and a fearless guide.

Sure Make Plans, But Don’t Be Too Attached To Them

 

You’re planning a project, a business venture, a startup, you’re changing your life direction.

You’ve got a plan, or maybe even several. That’s cool, as we said, it helps big time to have a clear picture of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. It stimulates action.

A BIG word of advice though!

Have you heard the saying “The best laid plans of mice and men”?

“Often go awry!” is the end of that saying, adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns.

Essentially it means, that no matter how much you plan and scheme, you can NEVER know everything life has in store for you. There can be pitfalls, there can be failures and there can be catastrophes.

Guess what? There can be amazing windfalls, incredible turns in events that far exceed your plans and expectations too!

So try not to get too attached to all those plans you made, in all likelihood you are going to have to change them at some point. Adapt them, rearrange them, turn them upside down, expand them or drop them altogether.

Don’t be too rigid or too attached to your plans as rigidity and stubbornness may prevent you from realising your dreams, or recognising when your priorities have changed or when something even better has come along.

Allow For Contingencies

 

As we said you can not possibly know everything that is going to happen, you can not see around all the corners, no way. Sure, life would be really boring if you could now, wouldn’t it!

So, if you are starting a new project, something significant, making a major life choice, and you’ve got a plan devised, one word of advice is to allow for contingencies, lots of them!

For all the reasons we were just discussing above, you can’t see everything that may happen. If it’s a major project or decision, there’s going to be many potential waypoints, decisions and choices to be made.

So, when working out time frames, projecting costs, forecasting energies required to make it all happen, add extra on top for contingencies, those things you are currently UNAWARE of.

Those unforeseen things that you couldn’t predict.

But how do you allow for things that are unforeseen, you may ask?

Good point!

If you can not allow for everything, if you don’t know what they are, how can you cost them, how can you time frame them?

More good points!

You can’t, BUT you can make some guesses and you CAN decide on how much you are prepared to allow for contingencies.

As an absolute minimum, we always factor in 15% on top of whatever it is we’re planning.

That’s 15% more time, more cost, more energy required. Depending on the project, the location, the complexity, even as much as 50% contingency.

If your project doesn’t stack up financially or energetically with that contingency added on top, our advice is seriously reconsider the risks! But that’s all still being rational now isn’t it..

SO, don’t forget your intuition, even when considering your contingencies!

IF it’s telling you add 50% contingency, our advice would be go with that.

IF it’s telling you it’s too risky, no matter what the rational data looks like, then go with that.

IF it’s telling you to hell with all the risks, well……

We think you know our answer!

 

Remember this acronym:

False Evidence Appearing Real

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