Volume 44, Issue 11 - November 2009



Build Your Online Brand
Find People and Places That Can Grow Your Business
by Mike Jones

The recession is prompting more focus on online marketing strategies than ever, particularly on figuring out which options offer the best return on investment.

Leveraging search engine advertising can help snag people who are already doing research for your kind of business, but remember that many people aren’t necessarily yet aware that they need your products and services. It isn’t enough to solely leverage search engines to direct the customers who are already seeking your products. You also need to build up your brand in other channels so that new customers are compelled to start searching for your company’s offerings.

Having search engine ads alone means that you will only get customers who already are seeking your product. Having online branding ads alone means that you’ll get only those customers who are persuaded they need your product through those ads. However, both together can create a powerful marketing tool.


Finding the Best Places to Leverage Your Brand
Your ideal customers obviously need the glass services your shop provides. But what else do they need?

If they’re architects, they may spend a lot of time on websites related to design and materials. If they’re corporate types, they may be reading Forbes and Inc. online. If they’re independent contractors, check out sites devoted to the trials of running your own business.

Once you’ve figured out where your customers spend a lot of time, you can start putting your ads in the places they’ll do the most good.

A great place to leverage your brand is on information websites where your customers go to get reviews and information on new products like yours. By putting your business in front of potential customers when they’re already in the right mind frame to think about your services, you’ll have a much better chance of catching their attention.

Look for forums where people discuss using products and services like yours, or buy ads on information sites such as About.com when the articles directly relate to your company’s offerings.

"Once you’ve figured out where your customers spend a lot of time, you can start putting your ads in the places they’ll do the most good."

Building a Brand for Each Customer Niche
You may have built your business around the idea of fast customer service, but that brand means different things to different kinds of customers.

If you’re targeting a customer who has never used a glass services shop before, fast customer service means all of their beginner’s questions will be answered quickly and professionally, allowing them to get their project done with no mistakes.

For professional contractors, fast customer service means any issues that crop up will be resolved swiftly, so the problem never gets so far as to affect their own clients, potentially costing them business.

Consider what your brand means to each of your potential niche markets. When you’ve decided to place an ad on a website that specifically speaks to one of those niches, be sure to explain what benefits your brand has to those customers.

If possible, add a catchy tagline or phrase that epitomizes your brand. When customers begin to associate your brand with the things that they most need in a glass services company, you’ll have earned their business.


Using Your Brand in Search Engines
If you’ve come up with an effective tagline to communicate your brand to your customers, be sure they can find you via that tagline in search engines.

The customer may not remember the name, but they will remember your catchy tagline, and they’re likely to search for you with the one piece of information they remember. That lets you know your branding was effective.

However, if customers can’t find you using that phrase, you’ve just done some great branding to no effect. At the very least buy up the search engine ads for that phrase. You may not be the first search engine result, but you will appear in the sidebar ads when a customer searches for you. When they see your name, their memory will trigger, and they’ll likely click your ad.

After all, you’re the brand they want.

Mike Jones is the president of GTS in Portland, Ore. Mr. Jones’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.