You may have heard something about branding in regards to marketing, but perhaps youve wondered what that means exactly.Sometimes it is better to explain something in relation to something else. Thats what I am going to do so first I will start with positioning. You also may have heard that term, but also did not really know what it meant. Positioning is a marketing term that means to take a product or service and position it in the mind of your prospects/clients by comparing it with or against something already familiar in their minds. Al Reis and Howard Geltzer first published a book about it in the 1970s.To give you an idea of positioning, take Avis. Hertz car rental already had first place in the market. By being first place, they preempted that position. Everyone knew that they were #1. So, Avis, to get any recognition at all, had to position themselves with Hertz, but actually couldnt take their spot. Do you recall what they did? You got it Avis. We try harder. By positioning themselves as the best second runner up, they were able to capitalize on a larger portion of that market.Some people think branding is like positioning, but it is different. The main difference is that positioning is a fluid concept. In other words, you can position yourself at different times in different markets as different things. Branding is more set in stone- its a hard-core recognition factor.To give you a better idea, the other day one of my subordinates saw a cup of mine with red circles on it. He said it looked like a Target cup. That is branding. That red target logo is branded in that persons mind. He saw it and immediately thought of the chain store.However, Target is positioned differently its discount chain with good style. Some people even refer to it as Targ that is positioning. It positions the store with some hoity-toity posh boutique but everyone knows its right there with Walmart price wise. Good position.Branding is more about the following of rules because if you dont follow those rules, things dont look the same and people wont remember you. What if you changed your body periodically I mean really changed your body. Oh, today, I think Ill be Asian straight black hair, slanted eyes but yesterday you were Caucasian; how do you expect anyone to remember who you are when they see you on the street? It is kind of the same. When you put out your marketing pieces, you want to create a similar look and feel so that people remember you. And you want that similar look and feel on every thing you put out.The good thing is that you get to make the rulescolors the same, style of lettering the same, logo etc. And there is some flexibility as long as you follow the rules. You cant go too far out of bounds, but you can change some things within the frame of what others can still recognize.There was an actual study done by GE (General Electric). They found out that it only takes 22% of their logo for people to recognize. Only 20% of their logo needs to be seen before people recognize it.So, it sort of is like the Western concept of branding your cattle making sure people recognize what is yours.Remember I said the same look and feel? Well, the other side of branding is what it makes you feel about it. Chevrolet used to say it was Americas vehicle baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Now it is like a rock. That makes you feel a certain way about it. It still is in line with the old idea about Chevrolet. Americanism = loyalty = dependable = Chevrolet. That song that comes on is their brand. Being Americas vehicle is their position. Both give you a certain feel.Branding in your marketing has to make you feel something. A technology company cant have an old style font you might not think they were very far advanced.Take PostcardMania. Our colors, bold style font and humorous quips give you the feeling that we are happy and lively. We make sure that our prospects and customers get that same feeling every time they see our mail, emails, packages, logo, etc.. Therefore it is important to look the same every time.Take a dry cleaner for example. His postcards, packaging, hangers, etc. need to have his logo, colors and font all the time all the same - on everything. That way when people receive his postcards in the mail, they look for what specials that he has because they already like him and have him identified in their mind as something they are familiar with. If he is constantly changing what he looks like, when they get his postcard they dont know whether they are looking at his specials or what some dry cleaner in general is offering. If they are already familiar with him, they are most likely going to pause and look at what he has to say.Branding is just like the old coat of arms that families used to have connected with their name. It would instill respect, fear, and wealth - whatever. Likewise, a countrys flag gets people to feel a certain way about their country. Heck, Stalin even used branding! He used the same picture to portray who he was to his people - I am this, I am this, I am this he wanted them to think a certain thing. Its really not a new idea Im trying to get you to see it has been around for quite some time.At PostcardMania, we want people to recognize that we know how to get their attention bright colors, loud type shows that we know what were talking about in terms of marketing. But Postcard Marketing Experts is our positioning. Does that make sense? You can see how the two tie in together. One is our position and one is our brand. Were hoping to create a feeling of being expert, the best in the business, etc., but also friendly and easy to confront.Think about what message you want to portray. What do you want recipients of your promotion to think about you? What image of your company do you want to put out there? That is your brand. When people see you continually as one thing, they begin to expect the same from you and they get used to you.Remember when Pepsi came out with clear Pepsi? People freaked out. They didnt want to drink it. It was a flop. It wasnt what they were used to so it didnt even taste the same to them.Branding in marketing is recognition color, font and logo keep it the same.If you can get them to remember what it is you are selling, the more likely they will come in and get itif not, you are depending on drive by traffic and are wasting your money in marketing. And dont forget this very important marketing truth if youre only planning to promote merely one time then branding is not going to help you. Branding is only for marketers that already understand the concept of repetition.(For more information on repetition and how this works in marketing, read What the Heck is a Campaign and Why do I Need One by Joy Gendusa at www.postcardmania.com.)
Over the years I have discovered exactly what derails an ad. More often than not, when an ad fails to produce results, the problem isn't with the ad. The problem is with WHO the ad reaches.Before you start blaming lack of response on your ad, stop a moment to consider who it is TARGETED to.Let's take a moment to look at Internet advertising. First off, let me say I dearly love advertising on the Net. The advertising rates for search engines and ezines are far, far lower than advertising your business on traditional media like TV or newspapers. For what one TV commercial would cost, I can advertise a business extensively for weeks, even months.But, as I'm sure you've realized by now, the Internet is no magic advertising medium. Just as often as with anywhere else, your ad can pull less than expected response. The problem is with lack of targeting.If most or all of your customers live in the geographical area of your store, using a search engine to reach people all over the world doesn't make much sense. You can consider your money wasted when somebody who will NEVER walk into your store reads your ad.The solution is to advertise on sites or ezines that reach YOUR customers at a very high rate. This could be a local site that provides sports scores for dozens of local sports teams. Or a site that lists a great many local building contractors. Very specific information needed by people in YOUR area will draw just the kind of local crowd you can capitalize on.We're seeing a sudden rise of local pay-per-click search engines. These use the same popular technology as Google and Overture, but limit their reach to businesses in a particular city, state, or region.Often these local pay-per-click sites have very low rates, a little as one cent per click. Many offer as many as 1,000 free clicks to any business that signs up. Be sure to check if the pay-per-click site has plenty of businesses listed in their database. An empty site won't attract many visitors and you may not reach enough audience to have any effect on your sales. Also watch for a pay-per-click that is promoting in your area. If they are visible to you, they are probably getting the attention of lots of your customers.
With the many ways to advertise, it is easy to sometimes be in a rush to just get something out somewhere. But, no matter where you plan to advertise, there are several basic fundamentals that will help create advertisements that are effective and profitable. Here are three that will get you headed in the right direction.1. First on the check list is; is your unique selling position (USP) clear and provoking?You need to find out what makes your business different from that of your competitors. From that, you can develop a strategy based on the strengths or even weaknesses of those differences. Actually, good marketers identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) and develop their strategy from those factors. Here is an example of a USP that stems from a companies weakness:Were not #1, so we work harder to get the job done.In this example, a weakness was used to let customers know that they will do what it takes to get the job done. Customers know that they are not #1 so the service and pricing will be competitive.Having a USP is extremely important in setting you apart from your competitors. It is what gets you into the minds and eventually the wallets of your customers and prospects.2. Effective Headings and Ad CopyIn developing effective headings and ad copy, it is essential to live by the adage, Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Better know as AIDA.This simply means that you grab the attention of the prospect or customer with an compelling headline or graphic, you keep them reading with an interesting ad copy which creates a desire and ends with a powerful call to action .When developing AIDA it is important to keep in mind that all purchases revolve around basic human wants and they fall into two categories; the desire to gain, and the desire to avoid lose. The latter which is usually the most effective. This is an entire article in itself, but if you focus on those two principals, you will be on your way to an effective ad campaign.3. It doesnt matter what you say if your not saying it in the right place.Just as important as what you say, is where you say it. Where and when you place your ads will have a tremendous effect on the results of those ads. Knowing little facts, such as, the following will give you a much more effective campaign:Full page ads get better response on the right hand pages.Larger ads work better than smaller ads.If placing smaller ads, they are generate more response if lower on the page and closer to the outer margins.In direct mail, buyers are more responsive to mailings received mid-week than on Mondays, Fridays, or weekends.Seminars and lectures work better during the second and thirds weeks of the month.Those are just a few simple facts that will create better response for you. Being a student and learning all the intricate details of advertising will be time well spent in regards to the success of your campaigns.Ok, so those three simple steps will help you create more effective and more profitable advertising campaigns. Advertising can be costly if the little details are not given proper attention , but highly profitable if you do your homework and create the most compelling ad and place it at the right time and place.
Make sure that the words you use on your Web site arebenefit-oriented rather than feature-oriented. Insteadof telling your potential customers what your productcan do (features), tell them what it can do for them(benefits). In other words, describe the product in termsof the result it offers rather than the product itself.
Here's a simple way of writing benefits, which I've usedvery effectively for myself and for clients.
Whenever you write a benefit, you can test whether it's areal benefit by imagining your reader asking the question,"So what?" If it's a feature or a weak benefit,answering that question can give you a stronger benefit.
Here's an example ... Suppose you're selling a digitalcamera that has a resolution of 24 megapixels.That's obviously a feature, not a benefit, but you'dbe surprised how many camera Web sites advertise theirproducts that way.
Imagine a conversation between you and a customer who hasonly ever used non-digital cameras in the past:
YOU: This camera has a resolution of 24 megapixels.
CUSTOMER: So what?
YOU: Well, that's the highest resolution of any digitalcamera available today.
CUSTOMER: Yeah, but so what?
YOU: It means your pictures have very littleloss of quality.
CUSTOMER: But what does that mean?
YOU: Your photos will be as bright and clear as if youwere using ordinary film.
CUSTOMER: Ah, now I understand!
Can you see how that process of asking the "So what?"question leads to strong benefits? What we started with("24 megapixels") is vastly different from the result("as bright and clear as ordinary film").
Note that I framed the example in a particular way.You were talking to a customer who had a history of usingtraditional cameras, so the benefit was relevant to them.If your customer was, say, a professional photographer,then you might end up with a different benefit - e.g."This is the only camera resolution that is acceptedby National Geographic".
Here's a quick way to get the "So what?" answers ...
Start by listing all the features of your productor service. Yes, that's right - start with the FEATURES,which should be easy for you to do.
Then take each feature in turn, ask the "So what?"question, find an appropriate answer, and add it to the endof the feature with the words "... so that".
An example will help ...
In the example above, the feature:
* It has a resolution of 24 megapixels
* It has a resolution of 24 megapixels ... so that yourphotos are as clear and bright as with your old camera.
OK, now it's your turn ...
Look at the products and services you're advertisingon your Web site. Are you talking about benefits,or only features?
Go through the process I've just described to (a)list all your features, and (b) convert thesefeatures into benefits.
In the context of search engine optimization, many people equate an optimized site to a site with impressive search engine rankings. Sprinkle a little fairy dust over here and waive the magic wand over there and wallah... a magnificent dish of first page rankings for the Internet's most competitive keyword terms. [enter annoying alarm clock signaling the end of euphoric online marketing dream sequence]The fact is, if you think you are going to achieve rankings for competitive keyword terms simply by adding a few keywords to your website, you need to pinch yourself because you're dreaming. Perform a search for your primary keyword terms and you will see a descending list, several pages deep of websites that have been "optimized" with varying degrees of success. The key is to understand the factors that differentiate those that rank on the first page from those that don't.The attributes that determine search engine rankings can be classified into two basic categories; "on-page factors" and "off-page factors". In the most basic sense, on-page factors have to do with attributes within your web site and off-page factors have to do with attributes that occur outside of your web site. In a way, on-page factors tell the engines what you think of yourself, while off-page factors tell the engines what the Internet at large thinks of you.Lets tackle the on-page factors first, shall we? The first step is to determine the keywords that people search for when they are looking for the products or services you have to offer. Keyword tools such as WordTracker and KeywordDiscovery let you know how many people search for a particular search term and provide suggestions for related keyword terms. Use the tool to match two to three appropriate keywords to each of the web pages within your site. Once youve selected your keywords, incorporate then into the various html elements of your web pages including the title tags, meta tags, header tags, ALT tags, and body content. This will ensure that the search engines categorize your pages for the keywords you are targeting.OK, so now we've got all the "on page" stuff hammered out, your site should start its meteoric rise to the top of the engines, right? Well, not exactly. It depends on how competitive your keyword terms are. [enter off-page factors] Off-page factors have to do with the quantity and quality of incoming links from external web pages. The algorithms that determine search engine rankings depend heavily on external linking in assessing the authority or trustworthiness of web sites. In turn, sites that have achieved "authority status" end up ranking higher than those who have yet to achieve such status.A quality backlink is a link from a subject relevant web page that contains the keyword you are trying to rank for in the anchor text of the link. There are many ways to obtain quality backlinks. Submit your site to Internet directories such as Yahoo or DMOZ.org, ask your business partners or other friendly websites to link to you, or consult with a professional search engine marketing firm who is credentialed in the art of link building.