While branding is a simple word, the meaning of branding is not. Branding is more than a logo, it’s more than visuals, it’s more than content. It’s an all-encompassing experience that connects consumers to a business in a real, authentic way. A way that makes the consumers feel seen, heard, and understood. How you do this is by providing an experience and building a relationship; and relationships take time, much like branding takes time.
Personally, I like to look at it this way: your business is the wiring, the structure, and how everything works. Your brand is the personality of your business, the hobbies, interests, and how it relates to others. Is it quirky and fun, focused and serious, does it enjoy the outdoors or does it prefer to stay in and read novels next to a fireplace with a warm cup of tea/coffee?
Here’s the scoop – if you’re brand new to the game of small business and entrepreneurship, understand that building a brand is something that is not built over night. It takes time; sometimes even years. Why? Because your business needs to evolve and grow and your ideal client might change over time, too. So, where do you start? How do you start? How do you grow and market your brand and business?
WHERE TO START
Have a focus and a plan, Stan. A business or a goal without a plan is just a dream. If you’d like to see this idea and dream of yours through, then sit down and put a strategy to it. The second part to this is to make sure you have a decent idea on who your target market is. While throwing confetti in the air is fun and pretty, using that as a random strategy is messy and frustrating, to say the least. So to start: write down your goals and create your ideal client. Also, if you don’t have a business name or you’re not registered as a business yet, definitely do that.
HOW TO START
Start with your big picture goal. You can start 5 years out, or just put a goal for the year. Then break it down into smaller chunks for each quarter, or for every 3 months. What smaller goals can you accomplish within 3 months that build up to your year goal? Then take it one step further – break down your quarterly goals into monthly goals. What steps do you need to take each month to hit your quarterly goals to hit your year goal?
The second part to this is actually creating a client avatar for your target market. Have a name, an age range, what do they do for work, who do they hang out with, where do they like to shop etc. This helps you create content that resonates with your ideal client, who is a singular representation of your target market as a whole.
HOW TO MARKET
Sweet! You have your goals set, a strategy in place and you have an understanding on who your target market (niche) is. Now let’s implement all of these things so we can work on reaching those people. My favorite way to start is with content and having ‘buckets’ or ‘pillars’. I recommend having 5 core topics to fill these items. Think of things like tutorials/education, behind the scenes, benefits, testimonials and product launches or service highlights as examples.
Then use those pillars/buckets to fit your goals for the month/quarter/year. Shape your content to help fuel the progress to your strategy and goals.
The second part to this is to think about where your target market is at online or in person. If your ideal client is in a nursing home – Snapchat might not be the best place to pitch your services or products. Think about where the grandmas and grandpas hang out at and work on reaching them through those avenues. OR perhaps, you’re more interested in connecting with the children of the grandparents – so what platforms are they using and what type of content are they searching for in regards to helping their parents in retirement or nursing home stages?
Having a newsletter is another benefit to reaching your target market, and one way to do this is to have a freebie. Offer something to help your ideal client that will also set you up to be an expert in the field AND be a great intro into what you do, who you are, and start building that relationship.
Lastly, have fun! Enjoy the process and lean into the mess. I also recommend finding some entrepreneurial friends along the way. Having a team of friends/people who can relate to your struggles, help cheer you on and brainstorm with you is a must. Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey, but you can not succeed or do it alone. You need friends and support.