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Indelible Impressions

[ 0 ] Feb. 18, 2011 | SBO Editor

Use your web page & social media to build loyalty for your brand.

By Heather Lutze

Heather Lutze has spent the last 10 years as CEO of The Findability Group, formerly Lutze Consulting – a Search Engine Marketing firm that works with companies to attain maximum Internet exposure. A nationally recognized speaker, she is the author of “The FindAbility Formula: The Simple and Non-Technical Approach To Search Engine Marketing” (Wiley and Sons). Heather is a lead speaker for Pay Per Click Summit, and previously spent two years speaking for Yahoo! Search Marketing. For more information, visit FindabilityGroup.com.

Companies spend millions each year asking agencies and marketers to brand their companies in order to reach more prospects. But, how often do these same companies look carefully at the brand that is already built for them by their loyal, current customers? Like it or not, your “fan base” already has built your brand and holds your company’s reputation in the palms of their hands through an aggregate of blog posts, review sites, videos, and social media platforms stating what they love and hate about your brand.

In the event that this is prominently positive, how do you get everyone to collectively support your brand as a community of evangelists for your company? The answer is to start loving your devotees, and to give them what they want, a place to network, talk, share advice and continue to preach about your brand. In the end, this is what large corporations pay the big bucks for—reverse marketing by and for your already loyal customers, and it’s something you can do yourself.

Take, for example, a small company in a predicament. Company founders had built a tremendous brand and had a huge following; however, the brand was fragmented and un-controlled online. For years the owners had been known for their passion and love of their business, but they had struggled to produce a website that would support their loyal fans as well as perpetuate a brand that would speak to new prospective customers.

Their problems sat with an incomplete vision of their online audience and potential reach. Their website spoke to current brand enthusiasts; however, could not provide enough of a forum for their fans to express their devotion. As such, YouTube videos, blogs, unofficial Facebook fanpages, etc., were appearing across the web and were, in many cases, pulling away from the core values and mission of their business.

Additionally, unless a prospect knew to search for their specific company name or slogan they would not find any official webpages in search results.

How do you build and “feed” a community of loyal customers to continue to build your brand from the inside out as well as open the market and build brand awareness to new, valuable prospects?

Sometimes you need to go big or go home! So in an effort to establish your online brand, sometimes you have to decide to redesign your website, rewrite all the content for SEO (search engine optimization) and start aggressively utilizing social media to congregate followers! It can be a big job with a big payoff.

Tip #1: Love Your Domain Name & Show the Search Engines You Care: Select a Domain Name For Findability – It Matters! What is your current domain name? Does it reflect who you are and what you do? Does it reflect how your customers are trying to find you? Does it include any of your key words for SEO?

Tip #2: Build New Website Look and Feel Consistent with Mission Does your old site lack focus with too much going on? The example company included over 60 “options” immediately of what the user could do—so essentially the clear action for a user to take was “do everything … now.” Also, their home page would be used as a clearinghouse for products on sale, giving them the image of being the Wal-Mart of their industry.

People who came to the home page who needed help with a specific subject would have to search over several pages to find the answer. A very confusing messaging overall and not consistent with their message.

Their new site has cleared out the clutter and cuts to the chase. Four primary conversion opportunities are presented on EVERY page of the website. Additionally, their background is consistent with their other product lines on the home page and every interior page. The goal is to present a cohesive user experience that appeals to both the long-time devotee, as well as the first-time visitor looking for guidance.

Tip #3: Set up Social Media for Huge Community of Followers Waiting for Your Lead. Post often and Grow. Have you established a social media presence? Large communities of devoted followers are building their own Facebook pages and are looking for someone like your company who already has a presence.

Establish “THE” credible, official place on social media sites your followers can trust.

Taking the dive and reinventing yourself or your business is scary, but even scarier is the inability to adapt and change over time. The Internet is a very fast-paced environment and you must stay in touch with mistakes you may have made in your branding and be willing to make it right. Ultimately, you’ll see big payoffs and great findabilty for being bold and taking a stand for who you are as a company. •

50 WEBSITES TO HELP BUILD YOUR BRAND

Reinvent your relationships with your current customers and build new relationships by using social media. Check out the following 50 news, biz, tutorial, special interest, design & graphics and social media sites and see how you can use them to promote your small business and build your brand.

1. youtube.com
2. clipmarks.com
3. ping.fm.com
4. activerain.com
5. blinkbits.com
6. linkedin.com
7. good-tutorials.com
8. faves.com
9. nowpublic.com
10. newsvine.com
11. linuxquestions.org
12. stylehive.com
13. pixel2life.com
14. gather.com
15. ballhype.com
16. shoutwire.com
17. furl.net
18. dealigg.com
19. photoshoproadmap.com
20. autospies.com
21. CafeMom.com
22. showhype.com
24. dzone.com
25. blogspot.com
26. flickr.com
27. digg.com
28. metacafe.com
29. stumbleupon.com
30. technorati.com
31. scribd.com
32. blogcatalog.com
33. del.icio.us
34. propeller.com
35. twitter.com
36. fark.com
37. mister-wong.de
38. mybloglog.com
39. indianpad.com
40. kaboodle.com
41. startaid.com
42. i-am-bored.com
43. tutorialized.com
45. slashdot.org
46. care2.com
47. blinklist.com
48. megite.com
49. myspace.com
50. killerstartups.com

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities May 2011