Branding is a tricky subject for most small businesses. Historically brand building has been a costly effort that only big businesses could afford. But online marketing has changed that allowing even small business to build a recognizable brand. In fact, when it comes to SEO and website marketing, I see the necessity of helping our client's brand themselves in the search sphere.
In the past, we often felt that some clients just didn't need to be branded in the search results. Maybe because they were smaller clients or didn't have a nationally recognized name. But then how do companies become nationally recognized names? You got it. Branding.
Branding isn't just for big companies any more. With the internet and search, it has become easier and cheaper to for companies to brand their names in front of their target audience. Good branding efforts will always cost you some time, energy and even money, but it's not out of reach of the small businesses.
The benefits of branding your web site
A solid branding strategy is important for any small business and should be a part of your online marketing efforts. If you're like most small businesses you are more concerned about selling products or services than in establishing a name for yourself. Why go through the effort? Simply put, branding helps sales.
Let's say you can get one person to recognize your company name and can immediatly associate it with quality. Whether that be quality content, quality customer service, quality products, or whatever. But right now only one person on the planet knows your company by name and they are convinced you are the it place. Not a huge deal, right? Well, yes, it is.
This one person will choose to buy from you rather than your competitor. Your ability to brand your name, and make it synonymous with your quality, has just earned you a sale. But only one sale? For now, yes, but here's what happens next.
That one person who knows your brand tells a few other people about you. The trust you earned with the one person is beginning to multiply. Let's say that one or two of them try you out based on the brand recognition that was passed on to them, they get same quality in customer service and care, and now you have branded yourself in the minds of a couple more people. And, of course, you just got more sales. This keeps going and going, multiplying with each new brand conversion.
The reason your name gets passed on, is because you have a name that has established trust. When someone finds you with a search they are on their own. They have no brand recognition of you, no history, and no recommendations. When you're able to brand yourself to your customers you can then be passed on to others by word of mouth. That's a trusted recommendation.
With branding, you're not just selling a product, you're selling yourself, and it's you--not your product--that gets passed on to each person down the chain.
The most effective branding is not in the number of people you reach, but in the number of times you're able to reach any single person with your brand name.
Let's say you want to buy an Easy Button. (Yes, I have one!) Do you know who makes them? Do you remember those commercials? If you do, its because of branding. If you don't then you have to search for it.
A quick Google search for "easy button" shows a variety of results; Staples, amazon, youtube, metacafe, and others. By now you might remember who made the easy button commercials. If you do, that's because of their branding campaigns.
As my easy button would say: that was easy.
Branding your business online
Now let's put this into the perspective of search since online branding works a bit differently than offline. Run a search for DVD. In this search I see results for Wikipedia, DVDs, DVD Empire, Deep Discount DVD, DVD File, Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster, and a few others. Note that I'm not just looking at natural results, but paid results also.
I realize that DVD is too broad of a search so I fine tune it to DVD Movie. Huh! Some of these results look familiar. Again I see DVD Empire, Netflix, Deep Discount DVD, Amazon, and DVDs.
I don't particularly like paying full price DVDs so I try searching again with cheap DVDs. Here again I see DVD Empire and Deep Discount DVD,.
Do you see what happened there? In three searches two companies stood out. I now have brand name recognition for each of them for the term DVD.
Every search produced different results, but some sites receive more exposure, and therefore more branding power because they came up in more than one search. Now, without even searching, I have a mental idea of where I can go to buy DVDs: DVD Empire and Deep Discount. The next time I want a DVD, I might just go directly to one of those sites without even searching.
This type of search result branding can work for your business too. It's not about getting into the #1 spot but getting your business on the first page for as many relevant keywords as possible. You don't have to go after highly competitive keyword phrases to get a good amount branding power behind your business.
In my next post, I'll provide information on how small businesses can brand themselves for little or no money.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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