Branding is possibly the most important aspect of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets.
But what the hell does "branding" mean?
How does it affect a small/medium business like yours?
Quite simply your brand is how you're perceived by others. Not what you think your brand is, not what you want people to think your brand is, but what people actually think of your brand. It is what they say to their friends, how they feel when they interact with your business, it's everything that reminds them of your business.
It's their expectations of your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be but in the end is what people perceive you to be.
Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be. Become a problem solver for those people, offer them value and you'll be on the right path.
The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials--all of which should integrate your logo--communicate your brand. Now a logo and the colour choices you make can draw on emotions and feelings deeply ingrained within people, ignoring that fact will limit the value of your logo.
Brand Strategy and other BSLet us look at Brand Strategy as the branding and marketing experts will want you to hear it.
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too apparently.
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company's products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product--and customers will pay that higher price. Bored yet? i know I'm falling asleep[p writing this nonsense.
Let me rip open BS Brand Strategy and tell you how it is. You need to know the following:
Simple. Find out who you're targeting (don't guess or skim over that part!!! It's key) Connect with them and find out what they need and want to make their life easier. Then find a way to deliver that service/product to them in a way that surpasses their expectations. Then you have created a solid brand. You're offering more than a product or service, you're offering a feeling and friendship.
We are all human, connect with people on a human level and they will appreciate that, drop all the fluff and get real with people, they'll love you for it. And when you stop pretending and start being yourself, you'll be happier too.
Defining Your Brand BSNow, let us look at Defining Your Brand as the branding and marketing experts will want you to hear it.
Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
I think I just blacked out again. More waffle and keywords to confuse baffle and put it our of reach. Sod your companies mission, the companies mission is your mission. You have goals, desires and beliefs of your own, and that's what is driving your company. You are your brand, sod the companies mission it's YOUR mission, what do you want to do? Can that business achieve your goals? If not consider other options.
The benefits features of your products or services?! I'm not sure that's for you to decide. Your customers will decide the benefits of your products and services, not you. You can make all the claims you want, but if the customers don't feel the same way then you're flogging a dead horse my friend. Taylor your services and products around the customers you want. Adapt change and bastardise them until they fill the gap that you're trying to fill.
What do customers and prospects already think of your brand? Well that one I will give them. That's basically asking what is your brand at the moment? How will you know if you've not been connecting with them on a human level? You wont, so get yourself out there and engage them people like they're your best friends or loyalty will be nothing but a distant memory.
What qualities you want them to associate with your company is a bit of a hopeful approach if you ask me. It will help guide your initial dealings maybe, but surely the compass is your mission, that's the address you've tapped in to the Sat Nav, and like a Sat Nav, it don't always take you the way you want to go but you still have to embrace it. The customer will decide what qualities they associate to your company.
Let's take Red Bull for instance. They came out on the market to be an energy drink, something athletes would take and compete with the likes of Lucozosade. But when you say Red Bull people think Vodka, or at best extreme sports where lunatics try to kill themselves on motorbikes for a laugh. The second one is only because they use their huge revenue to sponsor these events, the first one is what it has become to most people.
Red Bull have used this and embraced what customers think of their brand rather than fight it off. After it doesn't prevent them from achieving their goals and arriving at their destination. Their mission reads:
Red Bull are dedicated to upholding Red Bull standards, while maintaining the leadership position in the energy drinks category when delivering superior customer service in a highly efficient and profitable manner.
So they simply want to maintain their position in the market while delivering superior customer service, be highly efficient and profitable. So by allowing the association with alcohol and making a large profit from this area, they have been able to pursue the extreme sports avenue and invest in becoming synonymus with it thanks to the profit made elsewhere.
Don't lose sight of the destination to get lost by the journey. Let your customers drive as long as you know where you're going.
Great place to start your branding journey:
If you’re just getting started with optimising your new website for search engines and are wondering how long it takes from start to finish to take your site to the top of search engine results, here’s the truth:
New SEO vs old SEO
You’ve probably already read loads of articles and advice on how to get your site ranking high in Google and other search engines. But here’s the thing: with everything in the search industry continually changing, with Google rolling out new algorithms and updating old ones, if you think SEO will get you quick results, think again. A while back, having more backlinks to your site than your competitors would have been enough for you to out-rank them, now it’s about much more than that. There are many more factors that influence rankings these days and it takes time to build a good SEO strategy that can increase your rankings over time. Creating unique, quality content that your audience is interested in takes effort. Plus, it’s no longer just about creating a page of content and optimising it with the right keywords. You now need to add to that some interlinking, backlinks, engagement and social interaction in order to make that page count for search engines and get it to rank higher.
Let’s explain. Years ago the key strategy was to cover the strongest keywords in your niche and to optimise the entire website using them. That was the old SEO. The new SEO focuses first on optimising a site for highly targeted keywords (also known as long-tail keywords) to help it build enough trust and authority so it can then compete for more generic keywords with a higher search volume. Individual pages on a site should cover a particular topic in-depth, so it can rank well for a variety of these long-tail keywords. So, if you’re a new business, forget about stuffing your content with generic keywords like “professional hairdresser” and instead go with more specific phrases and words that your potential customers will be searching for. Use variations of your main keyword, synonyms, related terms and long-tail keywords. You should also consider mentioning your location as competition will be lower for keywords that include a specific city or neighbourhood. For example, if you’re hairdresser in London, make sure to first target long-tail keywords like “London hairdresser” or “London wedding hairdresser” instead of just “hairdresser”. No one will search for “hairdresser” and expect relevant results, your users will most likely include details such as the location so they can find a nearby parlour they can get to, or the event they had in mind (such as a wedding) so they can find a hairdresser that does what they need. The more specific you are with your keywords, the better the chances of attracting the right audience who is actually interested in your content and your business. However, it’s important to ensure that any content your create for your website includes copy that is targeted at a potential customers needs, and not just stuff with keywords. Get in touch for a FREE SEO health check and advice.
Why small businesses should consider SEOBut why do you need to invest in SEO anyway? Is it really necessary if you’re a small business?
The answer is a resounding “yes”. SEO helps your audience to find you online and it also moves them through each stage of the buying cycle:
SEO delivers a better return than any other form of online marketingIf it doesn’t deliver, it may be because you or the SEO professional you’ve hired isn’t doing it right. When done correctly SEO can deliver nonstop organic traffic to your site. But don’t take our word for it. Here are some SEO statistics to prove it:
Your competitors are doing itEven if you put in the work and manage to get at the top of Google’s search engine results, don’t stop there because your competitors won’t either. They’ll continue to invest time and resources into improving their rankings, and so should you.
Your prospects are searching for your business online93% of all Internet traffic comes from a search engine. In other words, if you want prospects to find your business online, you need to show up in results so they know you exist. If you’re a small business, you can’t afford to be missing out on so many potential customers, can you?
How long does it actually take to start getting SEO results?SEO isn’t rocket science but it is a continuous process. While the basic principles of good SEO will remain the same, it’s important to also keep up with the latest algorithm changes and adapt your SEO strategy accordingly. Your competitors are on top of it, and you should be too if you want to stay ahead. Now, if you want to get good results, you need to invest in quality work. This means:
After you put in the initial work, while continuing to develop quality content and to improve your website, you can expect these results:
Wrapping upAlthough SEO is an ongoing process, if done right the results will outstand any updates, and organic will become a reliable and constant source of traffic and sales.
By Alexandra Gavril
In life, but especially in business, time is a precious commodity, and marketing your brand can take up vast amounts of your time. You may be reading this article, because you have thought about outsourcing some of your marketing tasks already. When you decide to outsource your marketing to an agency, you’ll gain a range of benefits. Here are 10 advantages of outsourcing your digital marketing efforts we found on Entrepreneur Magazine:
1. Your marketing won’t suffer as a result of staff problems or annual leave - One of the keys to successful marketing is consistency. The problem, of course, is that marketers aren’t machines, they’re people and people need to take breaks. When staff are sick or on leave, or when a massive, all-hands-on-deck internal event throws everything else off track, marketing suffers. A great example of this is content production. You can’t suddenly stop blogging for a few weeks over the festive season. If you do, Google will notice and your organic rankings will take a hit as a result. Opting to use an agency means that you never have to worry about staff leave or gaps in delivery. To put it bluntly, that’s their problem.
2. You get the services of a team of experts - Your employees have salaries, so instead of coming up with a payroll for one person, you will be paying a team of experts in marketing who will research, create and implement marketing strategies that work. Essentially, you are paying for results and way more affordable than an employee.
3. You get outside insight on your business - Working on your company day in, day out gives you the chance to understand your business more, but there is always something that is lagging. For instance, figuring out what brings your site visitors, and knowing what to optimise for your business to grow might be blurry to see. Hiring an outsourced marketing expert can give you a new perspective of how to approach your marketing today.
4. You are assured of a return on investment - When you hire a marketing expert, you are sure your funds will be invested properly. Since the marketing specialist’s focus will be on leads, they will certainly spend time making sure you get the results you paid for, plus more. This helps you save time and money, while growing your business with experts.
5. You are attuned to the latest industry updates - Since marketing experts spend most of their time learning new skills and improving on existing techniques and strategies, it's fair to say they keep up with the ever changing and growing digital marketing arena. With industry connections like these, it's easy to get help when a big and important change is about to take place in the industry at large.
6. You get to focus on the core of your business - The outsourcing of marketing is mostly considered by companies who wish to keep the process independent from the core of the company. This helps them throw ideas around and develop better strategies that are not clouded by the company itself. With the right information and access, your marketing agency can plan, develop and execute on strategies that yield results. The key here is to trust the company you hire and making sure you receive reports and live status updates on projects.
7. You can count on ongoing optimisation - This is true, because, well, your marketing agency needs to constantly prove ROI by delivering on proposed end goals– or you might cancel your retainer! They’re genuinely interested in, and committed to, continually optimising your strategy for best results. Outsourcing your marketing means there’s less risk of stagnation or neglect.
8. You get to do more with less - Handling your marketing in-house might make it tough to use all the channels available to grow your business. You might need help with campaigns, email lists, social media campaigns, but with one in-house employee- it's practically impossible to create all this content. Outsourcing can let you use multiple marketing channels with ease. You can hire a graphic designer to update your website, a copywriter to handle your blog or email newsletter, and a social media expert to automate your platforms. With a variety of outsourcing services available, you can turn over single campaigns, specialised services, or even entire marketing functions to a capable third party.
9. You’re working with people who’ve been there, done that - Marketers have experience and are experts in their field. Most agencies specialise in marketing for certain industries, types of clients, or specific locations, and have a resource section full of case studies to prove their expertise. What’s better than working with people who already know the best way to achieve results for your business?
10. You get access to the latest technology - Marketing departments are often technology-deprived, or they have a mixed assortment of incompatible marketing technologies. While companies have access to over 4,000 marketing technologies available to them, how do they know which ones to pick? And it’s often the case that marketing organisations are at the bottom of the IT department’s priority list, so there might be a lack of support and guidance. A performance-based marketing agency that can provide you guidance as well as implementation service and support are extremely valuable.
105 MILE SOUTH WALES RUN COMPLETED!!!
WELL DONE LEIGH!!
Leigh Searle, from Treorchy represented Highstreet Media last weekend competing in the 'Run Walk Crawl' event throughout South Wales. He completed the endurance task in a phenomenal 37 hours, raising money for the 'Lucie's Dream' charity.
ABOUT THE SOUTH WALES 100
The SW100 is a 105mile ultra-trail footrace starting and finishing in Cardiff, crossing the South Wales Valleys and the Brecon Beacons! It is a demanding test of endurance over varied and challenging terrain and is only suitable for experienced and competent ultra-trail runners. The route has approximately 6400 meters of ascent and is over 90% on trails. This is a tough course, with only 25% of participants completing the course in 2016! It is a UTMB qualifying race eligible for 6 UTMB pionts.There is also the SW50 which is the second half of the SW100 route.
The SW100 course started at 1900 on Friday 23rd June 2017. The SW50 started at 1030 on Saturday 24th June 2017.
New for 2017 we have a SW100 Walkers/non-competitive start time which starts at 1500 on Friday with an overall cut off time of 44 hours.
"that race is simply "insane" and must be one of the hardest 100 milers in Europe if not further afield".
for more detail visit
“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Most people think that branding is simply a logo or a slogan. And while these two elements do form a part of your brand, branding itself goes far beyond these two elements. When we talk about branding we are talking about every aspect of customer experience, across multiple touch-points. Whether it's your logo, website, social media, staff uniforms, advertising or even the way in which you interact with your customers.
Branding is how you are perceived by your customers. It's what they think when they hear your company name, service or product. They'll consider the factual information but also the feel of your company, emotive things, like if they consider you a luxury brand or a low end copycat.
So why is branding so important to businesses? And how can you build a strong brand to withstand the test of time?
Today branding is more important than ever. But good brands don't emerge overnight - they are a result of sustained planning, development and growth, which involves numerous steps and a desire to push the brand forwards. Many small businesses completely neglect the idea of branding without realising the power it can have. Good branding does more than increase the value of the company, it motivates employees, guides the employees and aids in acquiring new customers.
Today's blog takes on a slightly different approach. today we're going to talk about investing and my recent foray into stocks, shares and investment funds. This may appeal to many business owners who want to find the best ways to look after their profit and maximise their earning potential. So this week after much research into investing I have decided to take the plunge, the only way to truly learn is to immerse yourself in the subject.
So with no experience and little guidance I jumped right in spreading my money evenly over 4 separate investments. One cautious, one positive and one adventurous fund with the rest being invested in shares of a well known UK company. Now as we have all seen on TV the excitement of the stock exchange and films like the wolf of wall street etc, I'm sure you are all expecting some exciting ups and downs and buy/sell actions on a regular basis. This couldn't be further from the truth unfortunately.
In real world investing, when you are only leveraging modest amounts of money, it is more of a buy and forget policy. To get any realistic return on investment, the funds will have to mature for 5 years or more and the shares? Well they won't provide me with any tangible profit for at least 18-36 months, so not the excitement the TV promised. Another thing to be clear about is the "profit" claim, this is of course only if things go well, there is a very real risk that I could lose all of my investment, such is the nature of the game. However, what little knowledge I do have through the research I conducted, guided me to diversify my portfolio and encouraged me to spread my risk in four areas of differing risk levels.
It is of course early days and this investment strategy will take time to prove itself. If there are many major updates in this area I will gladly share my insights, or if you have experience with investment and would like to share your insights, then I would love to hear from you.
Highstreet Media Corby (HSM) announced today that it will be attempting to drive reform among business in the East Midlands. Company officials are expected to meet with Maplefields Circle of Friends officials later this month to discuss providing free support to the charity and help raise their profile.
HSM officials expect this to improve the charities support in the local area and raise money for the great work that they do. In addition to free marketing, HSM are offering free graphic design services to the charity which will hopefully generate a solid brand around which they can secure a stable future.
The purpose of this is twofold, first and foremost it is the ethos and beliefs of the HSM brand that simply being successful in business is not enough, everyone has a responsibility to look after each other in the community. Many businesses find themselves in a good position financially, however do little to display social conscience. HSM hope by doing work for such good causes, they can spearhead change in local business, encouraging them to give back to the community and thus improve the lives of everyone within it.
More information is expected to be released following a meeting later this month (June 2017).
About Maplefields Circle of Friends
Maplefields Circle of Friends is an award winning nonprofit organisation. Their aim is to enhance the lives of those living with additional physical and mental health needs and their families. Specialising in complex social, emotional, behavioural needs but inclusive to all.
For more information, please visit http://www.maplefieldscircleoffriends.co.uk
About Highstreet Media
Highstreet Media is a graphic design and marketing company. It specialises in web, print, design and marketing services for business’. We are committed to integrating ourselves in the communities where we are based, by helping grow the communities for the good of all within them. We currently have 2 branches in the UK, both in hard working areas that have been hit by the fall of industry (Steel and Coal). For more information, please visit http://www.highstreet-media.co.uk
REJECTION, we have all experienced it right? It is a painful experience for some, acceptance or affirmation that what they do is never good enough. For others, rejection can be seen differently, a mechanism to learn and move forward positively and realise the previous efforts did not work. It can evoke huge emotions and affect confidence.
To reject, we consciously dismiss another person’s thoughts, ideas or experience. Within life we experience rejection all the time, no more than when applying for jobs. How then do we best deal with rejection and overcome that fear of failure? Before I answer this, I provide a little personal story.
I remember applying for the RAF back in 2003 and being rejected via a letter for having a welsh accent and nasal inflection that reduced my ability to communicate effectively (would not happen today). This was a huge blow to me as I had a dream of becoming a pilot in the RAF since I was 13. Initially I was distraught and could not accept that the RAF did not want me. I was in denial of course, frustrated I questioned my whole being and in retrospect I was realised I was highly sensitive to rejection.
There are people who actively avoid any type of rejection and will only do jobs or activities that sustain their comfort as to avoid the thought or potential realisation of rejection, as it is just too much. There are also individuals I will call ‘strivers’ who continually strive for excellence and become so obsessed to avoid making even the simplest of mistakes to avoid any critique and fear failure. These people ‘strive’ past their successes and never actual acknowledge their success and ability for fear of complacency and ultimate rejection!
I was once a ‘striver’ and the stress and fatigue I experienced in attaining standards that I could not sustain in the long term led to a bout of depression. I now realise that in life we must enjoy the journey or path that lead us to success. Failure is part of that journey, to learn and adjust and become more competent in our abilities. The reward of success should not just be a 30 second adrenalin rush or brief pat on the back that usually results in an anti climax, but the journey to that success should be have fulfilment and joy, bringing others with you, making success even richer when it comes.
Once you recognise that you fear either rejection or failure then you can overcome it, avoiding it will stop you achieving your goals and ambitions. Here are 5 steps to think about which may help:
We must remember rejection and failure are normal, we must experience it to move forward, however do we choose to look at it negatively and avoid moving forward or embrace it and build a stronger and more confident me! I am now in the RAF and used my rejection to focus on strengthen my weaknesses but importantly now enjoy the journey!
Nick Carter MA LL.B MCIPD
HR Consultant & Leadership Specialist
When we get into the office in a morning many of us have the same old routine, get our lunch in the fridge and grab a brew before logging on and checking our emails. So rather than getting into the office and hitting the ground running, we are all checking our emails, waiting to be dictated to by the requests that have manifested in the form of little electronic time thieves.
I invite you to challenge the norm, and fight this heavily ingrained routine. The problem with opening your emails first is that you're allowing others to set your agenda, establish your priorities and determine what you spend your energy on first thing in the morning. By being drawn into this way of operating you may be really busy all day, and even please some customers with your service and productivity. The problem is, you haven't prioritised your business and worse still, you've done nothing to actually drive it forward.
I challenge you to live by a different law, come in and don't check your email for the first hour of the day. Instead use this time to tackle the things that are your real priorities and to drive your business forwards. Trust me, anything that comes into your inbox can wait an hour. Live your work life by the following motto 'today isn't over, until tomorrow is planned' and you won't go far wrong.
What on earth does that mean I hear you asking. Well, I'm saying for you to set your priorities for the next morning before you leave work, while it's fresh in your memory and you can be objective about the importance of your tasks. By doing this you save time in the morning, rather than trying to reacquaint yourself with the tasks you have outstanding, enable yourself to hit the ground running by preparing adequately. You'll avoid having your priorities dictated to you, meaning you can focus on what really matters, and drive your business to the next level.
There is nothing more precious to a business owner than time. You can earn more money, you can't earn more time. many people say that if they had more time they could build their business into an empire, or how they could do this and that. Well the time to stop dreaming and start achieving is now. You can have a brilliant business in just 60 minutes per day. How? let me tell you.
First you need to highlight the single most important aspect of your business. If you think it's attracting and keeping customers, then you're bang on the money. The most important part of any business is selling the products/services to the clients and building a relationship with them. This doesn't mean take their money and run, invest time in your customers, have meaningful relationships where you meet their needs and in return earn the profit you yearn.
Now you know the single most important aspect of your business, all you have to do is set aside 1 hour per day where you devote all your attention to that goal. Don't get caught up in the humdrum busyness of your day to day business, dedicate yourself to the primary goal. Sure the other work needs doing to, but for one hour a day give your 100% undivided attention to finding new clients and improving relationships with existing clients. This will boost your business and keep driving it in the right direction, learn to delegate and prioritise your workload in such a way that you spend more time ON your business and less time IN your business.
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