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7 steps to (effectively) brand your business on a shoestring budget.

7 steps to (effectively) brand your business on a shoestring budget.

In marketing, the word "brand" seems to be used a lot - the leading brand, off-brand, personal brand, brand awareness....

But in business there is often confusion about its meaning. What does it entail? Should you hire an expert?

First and foremost - branding is expensive, isn't it?

Not necessarily. As it turns out, there are some creative ways to effectively brand your business without spending a lot of money. And while it may require an investment of time, the ROI won't go unnoticed - in some cases, it can actually help you save money while growing your business.

Building your brand is a critical part of developing your business. It's the foundation for giving your business a voice, identity, value, and awareness with consumers. And thanks to the wealth of resources, tools and platforms available today, building a brand may not be as time-consuming (or expensive) as some think.
So read on and find out how you can use the following 7 steps as a guide for your fire building.

How to brand your business with little budget

You don't have to break the bank to grow and build a brand. In fact, you can even implement most of these tips without spending any money. The most important things to remember when building a brand are to keep your customers in mind and deliver messages that support your company's mission.

Let's discuss a budget-friendly way to grow below.

  1. Create a persona to understand your audience.
  2. Develop an identity and voice for your brand.
  3. Start by designing a consistent social media presence.
  4. Start a blog on your website.
  5. Make customer service a priority.
  6. Take advantage of co-branding.
  7. Host a master class or webinar.

1. create a persona to understand your audience.

You've probably heard that knowing your audience is key to creating marketing messages that appeal to them. A good way to get to know them? Create a buyer persona - a semi-fictionalized representation of your ideal customer's values and characteristics.

Personas outline that customer's challenges and where your company comes in to solve their problems. 
The needs, goals, and behaviors of your potential customers determine how you communicate your product or service.

Understanding these goals will help you determine what type of media your personas consume, what motivates them, and where they "live" online. This information will allow you to develop a compelling, effective brand that reaches the right people.

Create your own buyer persona with HubSpot's free tool. MakeMyPersona, which guides you through a series of questions about your ideal customer. The tool is fun, interactive and designed to get you thinking critically about who you want to reach with your brand and how you want to reach them.

2. develop an identity and a voice for your brand.

Once you've identified your buyer personas, your brand can take shape. Create a brand identity - what makes your brand, your brand - and its voice that sets the tone you use in any publication or public communication.

Developing brand voice and identity is similar to constructing your personas. But instead of answering questions about your target audience, answer questions that are more introspective about your brand: What are your company's values, what do they represent, and how do you want people to talk about you?

When you answer these questions, focus on creating content that supports them. Create compelling emails, blogs, social posts, and multimedia that reflect your company's mission and values and the way you want to appear to your customers.

For example, if one of your values is to be accessible to customers, communicate contact information on social media pages and answer service questions that appear in comment sections.
The development of your voice is expressed in the copy of this content.

Will you use conversational language that relates to customers? Or will it be more beneficial to reach your audience from a technical perspective?

Even if you're not starting from scratch, establishing a strong (stronger) brand voice can be valuable. Take operating system software service Android, for example: their 2019 rebrand was a logo re-up that made the design cleaner and more modern:Re-branding Android

The logo was born out of a need to speak to a change in audience. Originally, Android's target audience was the developer, but instead it has become more consumer-focused. The change was derived from this analysis.

3. plan a consistent presence on social media

So we know who your personas are. And now they have an idea of how and what messages need to be created that connect with them. But where are your buyers?

Now that you have a clear picture of what your audience is interested in, the next step is to find out where they spend most of their time on social media. We've talked about how effective it is to reach people where they already have a presence, and that includes their online behavior.

Don't worry, you don't have to play Inspector Gadget to find out where your audience is spending time online. Look at competitors - find out where they're most active (and how their language may or may not connect with your audience).

Also, look at how your audience interacts with social media. For example, the highest percentage of German-speaking men and women who use Facebook are between the ages of 24 and 35. So if your persona fits into this category, focus your strategy on Facebook.

If you find that the majority of your audience prioritizes one social network, you'll have an idea of where to put your resources. But don't ignore other sites. When you build a presence on multiple social media platforms, you have the opportunity to diversify the way you reach your audience. Diversifying the methods and channels you use to attract new leads will help you connect with as many potential customers as possible.

Maintaining a presence is just as important as building one - for example, have you ever visited a brand's Facebook page only to find that nothing has been posted in the last three months? Chances are, this hasn't had a positive impact on your perception.

This can be avoided by planning and scheduling, in your marketing calendar, social media posts.

4. start a blog.

We've talked about the importance of blogging before, and it can't be stressed enough. It's a core part of the inbound marketing flywheel, especially the first phase of the customer journey that turns strangers into website visitors.

In fact, blogging is a fundamental step of inbound marketing. It helps you reach qualified customers, like your personas, by creating content that matches what they're looking for. That's why it's so important to make blog posts relevant to your audience (and optimize them for search engines)

Customers are definitely looking for the information you can provide. Plus, this content can serve as material to populate your social media networks. To find what your audience is looking for, do keyword research that tells you the most important topics for your audience via search engines.

Blogging is cheap in theory, but it takes time.

The inbound marketing version of this question would ask, "Would you rather spend an hour each day blogging and promoting content created by and for your company, or spend several hours each day sourcing content for your ideal customer from your competitors?

5. make customer service a priority.

If we use the name "Vistaprint", most of us immediately think, "Unparalleled customer service." The online printing company has incorporated this level of service into its core approach to doing business.

Why is this so important? For Vistaprint, making excellent customer service the cornerstone of your brand actually saved money on marketing and advertising. That's because it created word-of-mouth referrals among existing and potential customers.

It's called earned media: the recognition that your brand earned and didn't pay for people to talk about something you did was remarkable.

For example, when I shop on a new website, the first thing I do is read the reviews. When I see reviews that mention fast shipping, friendly customer service, and high quality products, I'm more inclined to buy.

This re-emphasizes the importance of your identity and voice. As you go through these brand building steps, think about the values you want your audience to experience, such as excellent service. These values shape the culture of the brand and influence the voice you convey to an audience.

6. take advantage of co-branding.

If you are just starting to build a brand, you may not have that one huge reach. You can take the steps to build a brand, but it takes time. Until then, one way to get your name out to a wider audience is to partner with a brand that has that reach.

But don't just pick any brand to partner with. Make sure it's a brand that matches yours so it makes sense in the minds of your audience. Here's what we recommend when looking for a co-brand:

  1. Will your partner's audience be interested in your brand? Is this audience difficult for you to reach without this partnership?
  2. Will your audience trust your co-brand? So make sure your partner reaches out to the audience in a way that instills trust.
  3. Do you have something to offer your co-branding? Ask yourself, "What don't they have that I can offer?" The experience should be a win-win-win: for you, your co-branding brand, and the consumer. For example, if you have an international audience that your partner brand doesn't, be sure to point that out when discussing the partnership.

Building a brand may seem like a huge undertaking, especially when resources are limited. But there are many economical ways to not only get started, but to continue the momentum.

And please, have fun with this process. Of course, there has to be a certain amount of strategy and logic involved - that's why there are tools to help you determine the different parts of your brand. But it's a creative exercise, so keep that in mind when you get bogged down in technicalities.

7. host a mastercalss or webinar.

What are some of the talents that the brains in your company show off on a daily basis? Are they masters of email marketing? Are they excellent at coding? 

A fantastic way to grow your brand - and attract leads - is to use this talent in a masterclass or webinar and promote them online.

By tweaking your class with hashtags and witty captions, you'll find an audience interested in the talent you offer classes for. These masterclasses can be a 45- to 60-minute session that provides an overview of your specific expertise, how to do it right, and how to use your own strategies to illustrate.

Hosting a masterclass doesn't have to cost a dime, and hosting a webinar only takes about an hour. The result, however, is getting the word out about a company's talent, providing data that supports credibility, and promoting company values like delighting customers and delivering helpful, educational content to your audience.

Branding on a budget? Absolutely possible. Brainstorming effective branding is all about making the best use of the resources you have. The first step is to keep your audience in mind - then it's about finding creative ways to appeal to those target customers.

Have fun building your brand. After all, this is a creative process and even if not every experiment works, you can always learn to improve. Good luck and have fun building your brand.

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