Saturday, November 24, 2018

7 steps to Create a Brand Strategy




What is a Brand Strategy and how do I create one? 

This definition of Brand Strategy by CarlyStec sums it up nicely. 


“Brand strategy is a plan that encompasses specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand -- the combined components of your company's character that make it identifiable.”

In short your Brand Strategy is what you plan to do with your Brand to grow and/or strengthen your business.




How to create a Brand Strategy



Step 1:  What is your Brand? Ask yourself these questions to find your Brand


  • What are your brand's likes and dislikes... clothes, vacations, hobbies, cares, home decor food, music, colors, seasons.  What is authentically always true about your brand
  • What can your followers expect your brand to be, stand or, sound like?  
  • What five words describe your brand?  What 5 words will never describe your brand?
  • What does your Brand do better, more uniquely & different from your competition: other brands in your industry?
  • Does your current business mission statement match the answers above?

Create a Brand Identity Statement:
My Brand _____________ will always be seen as _________, _________ and __________.  Brand X’s followers expect Brand X to do ___________, be ___________ and never _____________.  Brand X promises its loyal followers to provide _____________ in the time frame of ________________with these qualities: ______________, ________________, and ____________.

You may not be able to or need to fill out the entire Brand Identity Statement.  Take time to revisit this every few months to make sure your Brand is communicating consistently and staying true to itself. 


Step 2: Get feedback from followers and rewrite your Brand Identity 


Email, tweet or message to your customers announcing your Brand Identity
  • What do they love about your brand? What do they expect?
  • "Customer service ", retweets and comment sections are especially helpful with this. 


Step 3:  Create A Brand Location Check List 

List everywhere your Brand is present
Social Media, products, other blogs, customer forums, trade shows, books, webinars, guest blogging, Public Relations, press releases, websites, flyers, online community groups etc. etc. 
Ask friends, employees, & trusted colleagues to help you create this list. 

Step 4:  Using your Brand Location List, check how each interaction matches your Brand Identity

Are there areas that your message or image is not consistent, needs update or rewriting?

This is a great opportunity to create a new logo that works everywhere, identify photography, design elements or writing style that is inconsistent and clean up any communications that stray from what you are trying to achieve as a brand. 


Step 5:  Find your Target Market

Now that you know who your brand is, what your brand stands for and where your brand is located... Figure out who your brand should be communicating with. Who is your target market?
  • What is the perfect customer for your brand? 
  • What problem does your product, Brand solve and who needs that solution? 
  • Who is actively seeking your Brand and loves your brand? 
  • Who else could become part of your target market that isn’t already?
Rewrite your Brand Identity Statement with all you learned from determining your target market. 


Step 6:  Create a list of Goals your Brand wants to achieve

Add these to the Brand Plan if it makes sense.


Step 7:  Create your Brand Strategy

Answer the following in a few words to instantly create a Brand Strategy.
  • What is your Brand?
  • Who is your Target Market?
  • What does your Target Market expect from your Brand?  What does your Brand promise?
  • Where will your Brand be found?  
  • How will you communicate with your target market? (social media, voice)
  • What will your Brand’s communications consistently say?
  • How will your Brand uphold the promises it has made to its target market?


Having a strong Brand Strategy and clear Brand Plan will help you consistently surprise & delight your customers, making them not only loyal users, but also advocates and promoters of your Brand. 

In case you missed it:  Why you need a Brand Plan


Heather is the creative brand coach, a marketing consultant helping businesses & professionals build strong brands to connect with their target market. Her prior experience includes Research & Development and Brand Management Marketing for global consumer products goods companies.  For over a decade, she has helped small business owners focus on their passion and their products, while creating strong brands and solid business plans.

Find Heather via Twitter @creativebrandch or the blog SmallBusiness, Big Brand.

The mission of Small Business, Big Brand is to give small business owners easy to use brand & marketing techniques to strengthen & grow their business. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Calls to Action: A pocket guide to getting your customer to click


What is a call to action? 

A marketing device designed to get your target market to: buy, click or share information immediately.


In social media, a call to action normally refers to
  1. a button that sends them to a page for you to gather information from them and in exchange give them some information or a free product OR
  1. a request for them to retweet, share or like something you posted. 


Why create a call to action? 



To get to know your target market better...
So you can give them the product or service they really want and need.  

All to increase your ROI. 

Create click through by being more relevant, more authentic, more interesting.


The more you interact with your target market in a community setting the better you can anticipate their needs - surprise & delight them with a product they can’t wait to buy & will hopefully recommend to others.  


How to create calls to action that stand out


Use Smart CTAs 

Creates a unique button that is matched to different viewer groups, so they see something they are more motivated to click and fill out.  Smart CTAs can be sorted by lifecycle stage, trigger event, device type, language or other description. 

In the end, by sorting your potential customers ahead of their interaction with your brand you can reduce the number of clicks to a sale. 

Fewer clicks means
  1. less chance they will buy elsewhere
  2. less effort for your customer to get what they want 
  3. much happier customers
Example:  Think of the difference between driving to the store to buy your favorite toothpaste versus knowing a new tube at a great price will automatically be delivered to your front door every 3 months without having to do anything or go anywhere. 





Tell them what they get by clicking

Be completely open and obvious about exactly what they will get if they click through and share their email with you. 

No games, no trickery.  Just the truth.

Otherwise they will not come back and not recommend or give a high review of your product.  

Tell them exactly what to do

Again be completely clear, concise and obvious.  Simple directions lead to desired actions.

Examples:  Click here for a Free eBook, Like, Retweet, Share, comment, reply, type in your email address, click here to buy this product

Talk to them in their own language and follow their rules

If they are on twitter, use a twitter friendly call to action. 
If they are using Instagram.  Use an Instagram friendly call to action.

See the links below in my resource section from Tim Brown on how to do each social media platform right.  Thank you, Tim!

Create a time limit

Give them an incentive to click through now...Don’t let them stray away and forget why they were intrigued. 

Give-a-ways or contests are fine, but use a timed or limited quantity incentive for a long-term strategy.  

Example:  First 15 to send in their email address get access to a free webinar on cutting edge social media marketing tools. 



Go create amazing CTAs:  make your customers happy, make your sales team happy & increase your social media marketing ROI. 





Resources for more information from Experts

7 Tips for Creating a Call to Action on Social Media  by Sam Hurley
Summary: Comparing a game & momentum altering basketball maneuver to a call to action… why yes, I do want to read the whole article.  Sam Hurley is a master at making social media marketing more fun.  Another great check list while creating your call to action. 

How to use CTA’S on Social Media by Tim Brown

Summary:  a basic guide for everyone on what calls to action are, how to do them the right way and what they can do for your brand, company, product
5 Tips to Create an Irresistible Call to Action by Vaibhav Kakkar
Summary:  As always, the team from Jeff Bullas is committed to giving great, consistent advice.  My recommendation for a blueprint to create your call to action. 


Summary:  a few simple tricks to make your CTA more effective.


HubSpot Competitors: 8 Alternatives to the PopularMarketing Automation System  by 
Summary: A terrific comparison of 8 marketing software options





Thank you to Tim Brown for this useful list!





Heather is the creative brand coach, a marketing consultant helping businesses & professionals build strong brands to connect with their target market. Her prior experience includes Research & Development and Brand Management Marketing for global consumer products goods companies.  For over a decade, she has helped small business owners focus on their passion and their products, while creating strong brands and solid business plans.

Find Heather via Twitter @creativebrandch or the blog SmallBusiness, Big Brand.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

To Partner or Not to Partner? Follow these 5 steps to make your decision easier


Small Business Owners:  How to prepare for a partnership 




Thinking of adding a business partner to expand your small business?

What steps will you take to make this important decision? 

Strong research skills are vital to getting the results you want: 

1) a partner that helps you grow your business and

2) a partner that matches your small business' & customers' needs  


 5 Research Steps for a Successful Partnership:


Step 1    Do your due diligence


Investigate the potential partner thoroughly before creating a partnership agreement

  • What is their brand?  What do they stand for?  See my post on Brand Strategy for easy to follow fill in the blank sections.
  • Who are their target markets? Competitors? Suppliers?  See my post on target marketing for more detail.
  • What are the parameters of their business: products, geographic, online/offline?
  • What are their financials:  check general public knowledge before you request company access?
  • Where is their marketing strategy?  Traditional, Trade, Direct Marketing, Social Media, Public Relations
  • Complete a full SWOT analysis:  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats 

Bonus: Here are a few free SWOT templates from Smart Sheet, Business News Daily and Creatly (powerpoint ready).


Step 2 Your turn


Answer the above questions about your own business as if you were an outsider

Step 3 Compare Step 1 & 2


Create a side by side chart for each area.  Use a large white board or multiple poster boards or if you prefer project management software or Excel spreadsheets. 

  • Where are the inconsistencies or differences?  
  • Is the potential partner filling gaps in your portfolio or markets or adding more?
  • Are the differences deal breakers or a solution waiting to happen?

Step 4  Think beyond the initial partnership

Consider how your business will grow
  • Where will the partnership be in a year? 3 years? 5 years?
  • What terms must be included to mitigate risk for both parties?
  • How will the partnership impact the overall market for your business?
  • What changes are you willing to make to make the partnership work?
  • Financials, financials, financials….

Step 5 Gut check


How do you feel about this partnership? 
  • Is it right for your business?
  • Is the timing right for your business?  

 Protect the small business you created

Take time to do thorough research before jumping into a new partnership.  






Start your research and get excited about the opportunities to grow your small business into the future. 


Heather is the creative brand coach, a marketing consultant helping businesses & professionals build strong brands to connect with their target market. Her prior experience includes Research & Development and Brand Management Marketing for global consumer products goods companies.  For over a decade, she has helped small business owners focus on their passion and their products, while creating strong brands and solid business plans.

Find Heather via Twitter @creativebrandch or the blog SmallBusiness, Big Brand.



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Target Marketing 101


smallbusinessbigbrand.blogspot.com

The mission of Small Business, Big Brand is to give small business owners easy to use brand & marketing techniques to strengthen & grow their business. 


Target Marketing 101: 

Basic techniques to find your high value customers

Given that marketing is becoming more personalized, the key to success in business is reaching your high value target market.  So how do you find your target market?     
Use these Basic techniques to get closer to your target market… so you can give them what they want…
and grow your business. 

FIRST List the qualities of your ideal customer

  • Who are your most loyal customers? 
  • What problem does your product/service solve & who needs your product service most?
  • Where can you find customers that use your product/service?  Locations offline/online, geographic, industry
  • Why do they love your brand & who else is similar?
  • Who else could become part of your target market that isn’t already?
  • Think beyond basic demographics of age, location & industry to include life stage, hobbies, & values

NEXT  Create a target market communication plan 


  • What forms of media do they enjoy and use regularly? 
  • What advertising are they motivated by:  types of content, message type & form of media? 
  • What is the cost of reaching your target market for each media type? 
  • Which ones are in budget & likely to succeed? 
  • Use a small sample to test your communication in multiple forms of media & with multiple messages. 
  • Choose the one that works the best. 

FINALLY  Listen to your target market

Now that you are sending out your message...
  • Use comments, social feeds, social media listening, your sales team & customer service to:
  • Hear what your target market thinks of your brand, product/service, & marketing communication. 
  • Adjust your campaign with this input as needed to stay 1) relevant & 2) ahead of what your target market needs.  Anticipate what will make them value your product even more. 

Let these techniques help you find your target market so you can reach them with the products and services they want and need for better business results.


Repeat this process with any new products to make sure you invest wisely in successful advertising, social media and marketing.


“Target Marketing means you are putting your customer and their needs at the center of your focus and attention.  You are making your customer the most important aspect of doing business, so your products/services are the best they can be. “ 
- Heather Bennett, Creative Brand Coach
Here are a few expert resources to keep in mind for more information about target markets. 

The Future of Marketing: 90% ofMarketers Say It’s All About Getting Personal 
My take: Marketing is moving to individualized message,  therefore it is important to know your audience to get the individualized message right.  

Don't Spoil Secrets with Retargeting: 5 tips 
by Bryan Pearson Simply collecting information isn’t the answer to understanding your customer and building a lasting relationship. Marketers need to use this data wisely and keep their customers’ needs and desires at the center of the business. The post shares 5 tips about how to do that.  My take: Clear tips to understand your target market.

Four simple steps todefining and reaching your target market
My take: This group sets the bar high for useful, helpful & practical business knowledge.  A terrific set of steps to help guide you to your target market
How to Use Laddering By Henk Hoets
Quote: "You use laddering to develop unique selling propositions in your ads. "
My take: Using laddering to better understand your target markets, useful to creating content specifically for your audience

Heather is the creative brand coach, a marketing consultant helping businesses & professionals build strong brands to connect with their target market. Her prior experience includes Research & Development and Brand Management Marketing for global consumer products goods companies.  For over a decade, she has helped small business owners focus on their passion and their products, while creating strong brands and solid business plans.


Find Heather via Twitter @creativebrandch or the blog SmallBusiness, Big Brand.






Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How to create a Brand Plan for Bloggers

Bloggers, wondering how to make your blog better?  You’re already creating & promoting great content, but still want to do more to build your blog. 

What is a Brand Plan and how do I create one? 
TIP: Go to if you are short on time. 

This definition of Brand Strategy by CarlyStec sums it up nicely. 

“Brand strategy is a plan that encompasses specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand -- the combined components of your company's character that make it identifiable.”

In short, your Brand Plan is what you plan to do with your Brand to grow and/or strengthen your business, in this case your Blog.


In case you missed it:  Why you need a Brand Plan

Quick guide to creating a Brand Strategy for Bloggers


(I could write 100 blog posts on this process, but will break it down into a few steps, just to get you started.  Please come back to Small Business, Big Brand for a more in-depth treatment of multiple aspects of Brand Management in future posts.)

Step 1:  What is your Brand?


 Ask yourself these questions to find your Brand

  • You:  Imagine your brand's favorite…clothes, vacations, hobbies, cars, home d├ęcor, foods, music
  • Followers:  What can your followers expect your brand to be, stand for, sound like?  
  • Talk show host: What five words describe your brand? What 5 words are the opposite?
  • Competition:  What does your Brand do well, unique & different from other blogs? 
  • Mission statement:  does it match what you have answered above?

→Create a Brand Identity Statement:
My Brand _____________ will always be seen as _________, _________ and __________.  Brand X’s followers expect Brand X to do ___________, be ___________ and never _____________.  Brand X promises its loyal followers to provide _____________ in the time frame of ________________with these qualities: ______________, ________________, and ____________.


TIP: You may not be able to or need to fill out the entire Brand Identity Statement.  Take time to revisit this every few months to make sure your Brand is communicating consistently and staying true to itself. 



Step 2: Get feedback from followers and rewrite your Brand Identity


Email, tweet or message to your followers announcing your Brand Identity. 
  • What do they love about your brand? What do they expect?
  • "Customer service ", retweets and comment sections are especially helpful with this. 

Step 3:  List everywhere your Brand is present

Create A Brand Location Check List

Social Media, products, other blogs, customer forums, trade shows, books, webinars, guest blogging, Public Relations, press releases, websites, flyers, online community groups etc. etc. 

TIP: Ask friends, employees, & trusted colleagues to help you create this list. 

Step 4:  Using your Brand Location List, check how each interaction matches your Brand Identity


Are there areas that your message or image is not consistent, needs updating, or rewriting?

Tip:  This is a great opportunity to create a new logo that works everywhere, identify photography, design elements or writing style that is inconsistent and clean up any communications that stray from what you are trying to achieve as a brand. 

Step 5:  Find your Target Market


Now that you know who you are as a brand, what you stand for and where you are already located, figure out who you should be talking to…
Who is your target market? 
  • What is the perfect customer for your brand? 
  • What problem does your product, Brand solve and who needs that solution? 
  • Who is actively seeking your Brand and loves your brand? 
  • Who else could become part of your target market that isn’t already?

Rewrite your Brand Identity Statement with all you learned from determining your target market.

Step 6:  Create a list of Goals your Brand wants to achieve

Add these to the Brand Plan if it makes sense.

Step 7:  Create your Brand Strategy (Brand Plan)


Answer the following in a few words to instantly create a Brand Plan.

  • What is your Brand?
  • Who is your Target Market?
  • What does your Target Market expect from your Brand?  What does your Brand promise?
  • Where will your Brand be found?  
  • How will you communicate with your target market? (social media, voice)
  • What will your Brand’s communications consistently say?
  • How will your Brand uphold the promises it has made to its target market?

Having a strong Brand Strategy will help you consistently surprise & delight your followers, making them not only loyal viewers, but also advocates and promoters of your Brand. 


Heather is the creative brand coach, a marketing consultant helping businesses & professionals build strong brands to connect with their target market. Her prior experience includes Research & Development and Brand Management Marketing for global consumer products goods companies.  For over a decade, she has helped small business owners focus on their passion and their products, while creating strong brands and solid business plans.

Find Heather via Twitter @creativebrandch or the blog SmallBusiness, Big Brand.

The mission of Small Business, Big Brand is to give small business owners easy to use brand & marketing techniques to strengthen & grow their business.