Why are you in business? Is it to serve the greater good and help mankind? Is it so you have something to do between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.? Is it to avoid boredom? The truth is, no matter how good (or bad) your intentions are, there’s one big reason why most businesses exist: to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that. We live in a capitalist nation that embraces the free market. The American Dream is all about having a good life: house, family, car, etc. And all of those things cost money.
When we talk about inbound marketing, we talk about attracting customers to your website with content, following up with leads and the like. And we’re doing all those things to drive sales, which once again comes back to making money. This isn’t a secret. But today, I want to flip the conversation a bit. Instead, I want to talk about when it’s perfectly fine to forget about money. Sometimes, you need to do things that simply improve your image and delight customers. Things that build up your brand.
OK, so in fairness, a great image and strong branding will ultimately help you make more money in the long run, too. But in the short term, you probably won’t see any monetary gains from your brand building. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, though.
The importance of association
If I ask you what you think of when I say the words “hump day,” what comes to mind? I bet it might be a GEICO commercial (If you’re one of the few people in America who hasn’t seen one of these popular ads, go and take a look). GEICO has spent years making commercials that have very little to do with car insurance, but in doing so, they’ve strengthened their brand tenfold. Because now, whenever you see a camel or hear Wednesday referred to as “hump day,” there’s a good chance you’re thinking about GEICO.
What can we learn from this example? That you need to associate memorable imagery with your company. Invest time and energy into creating a strong logo and consider things like a mascot that you can always include with company materials. You want to encourage people to associate your company with something they will see in the outside world, like GEICO’s camel. Finding ways to stay in people’s minds is a great way to get their business later on.
Utilizing Social Media
Your business might not have the resources to engage in such a broad campaign like GEICO’s, but you have excellent brand building tools at your disposal with social media. For the average business, social media can be an excellent place to delight customers and provide value.
First things first: you should have a presence on all of the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest). Additionally, your pages/accounts should have properly-sized photos, logos and graphics, as well as information about your business.
When it comes to how you use social media, keep the self-promotion to a minimum. Sure, you should post links to new content and promote special offers and sales there, but do it sparingly. Most of your posts and content should be about things that interest your followers or might entertain them. Provide links to informative and interesting articles from outside sources, or post YouTube videos that you find amusing (within good taste, of course). For example, during the holidays, one of my favorite annual traditions is to watch Mariah Carey performing “All I want for Christmas is you” with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots. That’s a perfectly appropriate video your followers might enjoy.
Also, include photos from your office and employees that help followers see the people behind the brand. Did someone wear a special St. Patrick’s Day outfit for the holiday? Post a photo (with their permission) to Facebook and Twitter. I guarantee it will be one of your most popular posts.