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When Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank came up with the idea of opening a big-box, discount hardware store, they didn’t have enough cash to fully stock their warehouse-sized stores. Knowing that empty shelves is not a good look, the founders of The Home Depot had the ingenious solution of using empty boxes and paint cans to give new customers the impression that the store had everything they would need for their next DIY project.
I learned a similar lesson on the importance of being visible after finally getting my company’s beverages on the shelves of major supermarkets. Because some of our biggest fans were bulk-buying supplies of our products, there was often an empty shelf where our products should be. While this was great for our sales, the exposure of being stocked in a retailer with significant football is almost as important for a startup brand.
To help our biggest customers get what they wanted without regularly emptying the shelf at their local supermarket, we started an online subscription service. Now bulk buyers get what they need at their own convenience and we get the chance to win new fans as they’re browsing the aisles at their favorite store.
Growing a business is not just about selling more. You also need to build long-term awareness of your product or service so even if someone is not yet ready to buy, you’ll be on their radar for future purchases. Here are five great ways to make sure your brand is always visible.
- Tell your customers about themselves
Every year Spotify sends each of its users a personalized report that summarizes their music listening habits over the past year. You may have noticed over the past month that people love to share highlights from the report with their social media followers. The end result is that for a couple of weeks in December, the Spotify brand and service are even more visible than normal.
Can you use data to tell interesting stories about your customers that they will want to share with others?
- Be seen with your product
Every time I speak at an event, am pictured in a magazine or appear in a video, there is one thing you can usually guarantee: I’ll be holding a bottle of my company’s beverage. As founder and CEO, I’m a spokesperson for our brand. If I’m in the public eye, then our products should also be visible.
Of course, not every product is as portable as flavored water and services are intangible. But you can put your logo on a shirt, cap, bottle or coffee cup to keep your brand in the spotlight wherever you go.
- Produce great content
When graphic designer Joy Cho moved to New York City, she started a blog about her experiences of trying to find work. After her posts became popular, she began receiving inquiries from potential clients who had discovered her via the blog. Today, Cho runs her own design studio working for clients like Target and Anthropologie.
This is the power of giving people more than just your sales pitch. We recently launched a lifestyle blog in order to make our brand more visible to audiences interested in general health and beauty advice. Great content can be a way to reach people who otherwise may not otherwise find you.
- Take a stand
Up until very recently, businesses were advised that taking sides on controversial social-political issues risked alienating potential customers. Today, 66% of people think that brands should take a stand, which is you see a lot more brand-based activism like Patagonia’s campaign to defend national parks in the US.
By pulling no punches in its campaign, Patagonia is not afraid to upset loyal fans of the current president. But taking a visible stand on this issue makes sense for an outdoor lifestyle brand and will help Patagonia reach people who agree with its position.
- Become a top search result
When looking for new products or services, 71% of people start with Google or other internet search engines. It’s not as exciting as producing great content or campaigning about social issues, but online search is critical for visibility. While most people know that using the right keywords is how to feature high in search rankings, they often make assumptions about what those words actually are.
When promoting its ice rink and classes, a New York sports center discovered that most people didn’t search for “figure skating”, the term used internally by the brand. By changing its keyword focus to “ice skating”, the business saw a five-times increase in results. Understand how your target audience talks about what you do and you’ll make your brand more visible in online searches.
Seeing is believing
While watching an Anderson Cooper report on CNN recently, I noticed a bottle of my company’s beverage on the presenter’s desk. This wasn’t a paid-for promotional spot, the bottle just happened to be there. Most viewers wouldn’t have registered it and we didn’t have a sudden spike in sales around this time.
But these seconds of exposure have inspired fresh motivation and enthusiasm for me and my team. It’s strengthened our belief that by being more visible, we’ll become part of people’s everyday life and grow our business further.
December 26, 2018 at 11:56PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs