It’s January again, the holiday spending spree is over for most people, and it’s time for marketers to do some re-evaluation as we start gearing up for the spring. In the midst of the holiday hullabaloo, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in terms of branding and purposeful marketing. So now is the time to take a deep breath, look at your brand image, and determine where you need to step up your game. If you’re ready to kick off 2014 with a smarter branding strategy, start with these five resolutions:
1. Get to know your ideal customer better.
One of the most important aspects of brand strategy is to market to the right audience. If you don’t know who your target audience is, it’s time to get down to business and do some serious research. However, if you’ve already done that, the next step is to develop customer personas that give you a glimpse into the minds of your target audience. Remember, your target audience isn’t just a homogenous group of people. There are different shopping personalities and different buyer styles represented within the demographic group you’re targeting. As a marketer, you want your brand to resonate with both emotional shoppers and analytical shoppers. The best way to do that is to create personas that help you identify what matters to the different types of people who might visit your store or website. Accurate personas can help you address the needs and concerns of a broader range of customers within your overall branding strategy.
2. Resolve the conversion leaks in your website.
A shopper enters your website, clicks your call to action, and maybe even adds some items to his shopping cart. But he’s gone before he reaches the check-out page. Why? A close look at your key performance indicators can help you determine where, and more importantly why, your website may be failing to convert visitors. Start by:
- Watching KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) closely (bounce rate, exit rate, time spent on page, visits to order, etc.).
- Examining problem pages for clarity, functionality, and usability.
- Looking for inconsistencies between your branding message and the actual on-site experience.
- Testing, testing, and more testing.
- Resolving leaks by correcting the problems you encounter.
3. Revisit your networking strategy.
If you’re still relying on handing out business cards at a conference or meet-and-greet, chances are good that your networking strategy isn’t paying dividends as quickly as you’d like. In order to gain brand recognition and build credibility as an industry expert, you need to invest some time in new networking opportunities. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Engage in conversation—Don’t just talk at people; talk to people. Comment on industry blogs, follow relevant groups via social media (and participate in them), and engage with both customers and colleagues on your own blog.
- Build a better LinkedIn presence—You’ve probably got a profile already (if not, go create one pronto!). But in order to meet the right people, you need to join groups, participate in conversations, and post regular updates.
- Get more out of conferences—Don’t just attend and swap business cards. Instead, position yourself as an expert by choosing conferences where you can present a workshop or participate in a panel discussion.
4. Consider a new social media venue.
Many businesses dive into the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) but fail to consider other popular social media venues like YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, or Tumblr. Maybe you have an account but you’re not active. Or maybe you haven’t even given these channels a chance. Either way, it’s a good idea to consider a new platform and find new ways of engaging with your customer base, creating points of contact with your brand, and driving traffic to your website.
Pinterest is a great place to start. Many brands have seen a huge spike in traffic by maintaining active Pinterest accounts, especially if your target audience includes women (approximately 80% of Pinterest users are female).
5. Change…but not too much.
If your business has been around for a long time, it may be time to take a fresh look at your brand image. Does it still resonate with the audience you’re trying to reach? Are you experiencing a generation gap? Does your brand need an update? If so, take a cue from Old Spice, and try a new message for today’s audience. Don’t scrap your brand image altogether (remember New Coke?); just look for ways to make your message resonate with a new generation of shoppers.
2014 will be just like the last year if you keep doing the same old things. What business resolutions are you making so that you breathe new life into your brand marketing strategy? Please sound off by sharing your suggestions, feedback and thoughts in the comments below.