Branding essentials for online businesses on a budget

Branding is likely something you're feeling the pressure to do if you're an online business.

Because, in all likelihood, you're probably feeling the pressure to stick out in a sea of sameness.

Branding: what is it?

The goal of your branding is to celebrate all of the characteristics that make your business yours rather than someone else's'.

And there are literally hundreds of different ways to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to your customers.

So what ways are the most effective, and how can you do something about it without spending a ton of money? 

Here are the top five branding essentials that will come in handy in your business.

branding basics

1) Website layout & online copy that sounds like you

Regardless of what kind of business you have, people are probably going to look you up on Google.

In fact, according to a Hubspot 2017 study:

81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.

So, if you either don't have a website or your website isn't in the best shape, you need to do something about it.

More importantly, you need to make your web copy sound like you, rather than a carbon copy of your competitors. 

Because, as you'll likely hear over and over again, people buy from people, not businesses. 

In other words, likeability of the person you're buying something from to is more important than you think.

And, if you've ever had a bad customer service experience, or purchased a product just because the employees seemed really trustworthy, you probably know how true this is.

What to do about it:

Write like you talk, and focus on selling the service or product in your own words.

And, if you wouldn't describe the service or product in a certain way to a close friend, don't write it that way.

Selling something isn't a passive experience anymore for the people you're selling stuff to.

So give them the tools they need to decide if you're a good fit for their needs.

Because, honestly, the reality is, that this won't always be the case.

Your ultimate goal with web page copy is to scare away potential buyers that aren't a good fit and get the attention of the people who are the ideal fit for what you have to offer.

In other words, don't be afraid to show the "real" you.

You can do this by either DIY'ing your own web copy or hiring a consultant, like me to write or edit your content for you.

2) A Consistent Message

If you really want to convince people that you're "for real" you need to communicate your message in a consistent fashion.

And this consistency should be a part of everything from your offline interactions at parties and networking events, to the logo, photos, message, and values that are a part of every business card, brochure, blog post, etc. 

Your ultimate goal is to build trust and make people always associate a specific, custom look and feel with what you have to offer.

Because, if you think about it, your favorite brands probably aren't your favorite brands because of what they sell. 

Often, what interests people the most is how brands transform their work into an essential part of people's lifestyles.

3) Where, When, and how you put yourself out there

The where, when and how of your marketing tactics is what will build loyalty amongst your customers, and online followers.

Ads can only do so much, and aren't customized enough.

The one thing that's far more difficult to ignore is routine because that's the most relatable tactic you can possibly have up your sleeve.

If you stick to a routine, people will get used to it, and adapt accordingly, because they'll also know where and when to pay attention.

Find out where your audience is hanging out, create a marketing plan, and adapt if and when it changes over time.

4) Passing the "three-second" test

If someone were to read your business card, check out your website or have a conversation with you about what you do, what would they learn, if they only paid attention for three seconds?

Especially in the age, we're currently living in, you have to know how to get peoples' attention, and stick in the reader's mind, in only three seconds.

Because the reality is, they're likely paying attention, while on their way to somewhere else, or doing something else, at the exact same time.

So, if you haven't already done so, you need to figure out how you can communicate what you have to offer, in the same amount of time that it takes for you to read a tweet.

Otherwise, you'll be a lot less likely to convince people that learning more is worth their time, despite the fact that there are so many other things they could be doing, and so many options to choose from.

5) Being Helpful, Without expecting anything in return

I totally get it:

We're all doing this whole "online business thing" to make money.

But before they whip out their credit card, people want to feel like they're making the right choice.

A great way to do that is to offer free content, either via blogging, youtube videos, social media, or all of the above.

Make sure you offer free advice, that puts your expertise into an audience-friendly context.

This is a great way to build followers, and make people feel convinced that paying attention will make their lives better, or maybe even easier over the long-term.

The best part of all this is that all the branding that you've worked so hard to maintain will stick in peoples' minds.

And, if you stick in the back of peoples' minds they'll be a lot more likely to either buy something from you when they need your help or recommend you to a friend or family member.

Notice how I didn't tell you to spend "X" amount of dollars on ad space?

The cool thing about trying to market your business in the digital age is that it's more accessible than it ever has been to the average person.

And, on average the cost of putting all these strategies in place is that you don't need a huge, corporate-style budget to take action.

On a related note...

If you don't consider yourself a good writer don't be shy about outsourcing either the writing or the editing part of the process to a contractor.

I offer my online content creation, editing, and strategy services, both in package deals and "a la carte" as well. For more info click here.

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rosemaryrichings

Hi, I'm Rosemary, AKA Rosie, and I'm a web & blog content creator, editor, and manager that creates and edits online, B2C and marketing content. I help small business owners & marketing professionals like you transform your brand into a relevant & worthwhile part of your customer's everyday life. Publication credits include Stories By Buffer, ProBlogger, and Weebly Inspiration Center, and more.

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4 thoughts on “Branding essentials for online businesses on a budget

  1. I love this one. I’ve been preaching about being yourself in all other areas of life (relationships, style, career, etc) but OF COURSE it applies to business too, especially when the product is basically…me.

  2. Thanks for the tips, I work in digital marketing also and I always find it tough to focus on my own branding for my blog. Great to see you doing so well with the information!

    1. Yeah that’s a tough one for sure because it requires a slightly different approach than something for a big business or whatever. Glad to hear you found it useful.

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