Build your Brand with a Blog

Blogging is a great way to build your brand and market your products to the masses. Writing a blog allows you to demonstrate your expertise through writing. Blogging helps to provide prospects and customers with valuable information. Providing valuable information helps to position you as an expert and a resource.

Popular blog posts formats are: How to’s, book reviews, interviews, analysis of trends in your industry and best of’s. I was approached by many people as a result of my blog. Now you are asking the question, “How did you get the idea to blog?”

I decided to write a blog while working on an assignment in the education field. This assignment required me get other people to work on their writing. One of the prompts I used asked the question, “What do you know a lot about?”

Make a list of topics, choose one and write a research paper on this topic.

This writing prompt made me think about the topics that I knew a lot about. The topics were Sales, Marketing, and Social Media. As a result, I decided to put my thoughts on these topics in writing.  I launched Dan Galante’s Sales and Marketing blog in November 2011.

A blog is very easy to set up. The major blogging platforms are WordPress and tumblr. Both sites allow users to register for free. If you want to choose a custom domain name there is a fee. WordPress directly offers domain names for sale on their site. With tumblr, you will need to go to an outside provider and redirect the site to tumblr.

The WordPress and tumblr platforms have many features of Facebook and Twitter. You can re-blog an article. Re-blogging is sharing someone else’s content on your blog; similar to a retweet. Your fellow bloggers can also like your post and comment on it, similar to Facebook.  These features are great for engagement. Articles can be tagged with relevant terms. You can then search out these terms to see all posts on that topic. This is similar to a hashtag on Twitter or SEO.

WordPress and tumblr allows bloggers to share articles on various social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. You can use badges and plugins from your social networks to build a following and community. I have used this method to expand readership.

Guest blogging and syndication is another way to share your content. I am now syndicated on The Strategic HR blog.

Once you decide to start blogging, stick with it and publish quality content. Try to set up a writing schedule to maintain consistency. I shoot for once a week.

Blogging is a great way to get your message out. This is how you can build your brand with a blog.

Selling and Marketing Brand X

When you are selling and marketing a brand x product, there are many challenges that you face. These challenges range from questions on product reliability to a lack of brand recognition.

One of the first things that I would handle is product reliability. This comes from the product development and engineering side of your business. The product has to be developed and tested to insure that it works properly. Nothing will destroy your credibility like under delivering on promises that you make about your product.

In terms of addressing questions on product reliability, I would offer a free trial of your product to both the end users and industry experts. If your product delivers on its promises you should be able to earn testimonials and endorsements. This will not only address product reliability but will also go a long way toward creating brand recognition for your product. Remember one of the most important things that a brand can cultivate in its customers is trust and advocacy. It is your job as a brand to turn your customer base into advocates.

In terms of building brand recognition, I would create a story for your product. This story should demonstrate how the product helped to solve a problem. As I said earlier, using testimonials from industry experts and end users alike will help build trust and get people to take that first step to try your product. One of the most valuable marketing tools is word of mouth. Social Media channels such as blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Pinterest and others help to spread your products story to the masses. I would also have a company website that integrates all of these channels. Exhibiting at industry trade shows and conferences is also a great way to get the word out about your product.

I was an outside sales rep in the dental industry with an equipment distribution company. Many of the product lines that I carried were not name brand. In the beginning many people I called on were reluctant to try products that they did not know. They would waver and say things like “I don’t know, I have never heard of this product”. After assuring the customer that it was reliable and comparable to their name brand product; I took on the role of brand ambassador by convincing customers to try just one or two items. After these customers tried the product, they switched from a name brand product to my off brand product! I turned skeptics into believers. I was able to use these customers to tell the story about the off brand product through testimonials and referrals.

I had an impact at the distributor level. For a really big impact, all of this needs to be done by the manufacturer. Product development, engineering, Sales and Marketing teams needs to work together to make sure that the product launch and market adoption take place. If you work with distributors you need to provide them with support to help them succeed.

This is how to sell and market a brand x product.

Building the Brands of Tomorrow

Previously, I discussed about how to develop and market a product. In this post, I am going to discuss how you can build a brand for tomorrow. While attending the Pivot Conference in New York City, I learned that whether you are a start-up company or a large fortune 500, it imperative that you react and anticipate changes in your customers’ needs. For a brand to be successful today and in the future it has to be customer focused. In the past, brands would create content that consumers had to like. Today brands are co-created through shared experience with the consumers. This co-branding effort is happening on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Customers are sharing their experiences with the use of different products. They are liking their products on Facebook, sharing their thoughts on Twitter and posting YouTube videos. Brands such as Coke and Pepsi are great examples of this. Consumers want relationships with brands, they want to be part of the story.

It is imperative for brands to field consumer issues promptly. On Social Networking sites, every consumer has a voice. Social Media had enhanced the power of local word of mouth marketing and turned it to Global Marketing. With a few keystrokes, a message could be spread to the masses as the speed of sound. It goes without saying that if you a building a brand, you need to be where your customers are. So where are your consumers on social media? Social media is a place to share ideas and find information. The first generation of the internet was the era of the search engine. (Google) This generation of the internet is going to Facebook. When people make buying decisions, they are asking their network for advice. People also post product reviews on these sites and ask for advice. Another thing people are doing is friend sharing. Friend sharing is when people take pictures of products and ask their friend’s opinion. Friend sharing can also take the form of just asking your friend’s opinion about whether to buy a product. Earlier this evening, I purchased a book on Amazon.com. After I checked out, the site asked me if I want to share this purchase with my network on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are a brand presented with this information, you might be thinking this is great but how can I capitalize on this information? Here are the steps that every brand should take.

1 Do research on your target market. How do they buy the products that you are selling? How do they interact with brands? I spoke about this in my last post. Is this group using social media?  If yes, then how? What purpose are they using it? Where are they dominant, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc…?

2 Make sure that your products and services are top quality. Nothing will sink you faster than products and services that do not deliver what they promise.

3 Have your products tell a story. The brands of today and tomorrow are co-created as I said earlier. In other words brands no longer own the content created. Your brand has to be focused on the needs of your customers.  Make sure to engage your audience and have them create the content with your brand. Customers are engaged through experiences. Your brand has to be focused on the needs of your customers.  When content is co-created, there is more engagement. This higher level of engagement will lead to more sales of your products and services.

4 Be sure to engage industry influencers of the products and services you provide. Provide these people with free sample products. Allow these people to try them out and share their thoughts with their networks.

5 Make sure your brand is on Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter, YouTube and Google+ allocating your advertising budget based on how your target market uses these sites. Have multiple pages on these sites that are culturally relevant to each country and part of the world your brand does business in. Your brand should also have multiple websites with blogs that are informative and user-friendly. These sites and blogs should provide links to social networking sites.

6 Handle any customer complaints and issues immediately. If the complaint is voiced on a social networking site, address it and do not ignore the concern. As a brand online, you can set your reputation in this new era. Local Word of Mouth Marketing has become Global Marketing. Content can be shared on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook. What is your brands reputation online? You can use reputation management tools such as Google alerts to see the kinds of things people post about your brand.

7 Consumers see brands as one entity and not a series of department. Sales, Marketing Customer Service, Engineering and Product development need to be structured into specific product task-forces to be able to meet customers’ needs and ultimately anticipate future needs. Members from top management need to be a part of these task forces.

Anticipating customer needs and wants is what will determine what brands survive this era of Social Darwinism. This is how to build the brands of tomorrow.