Content Marketing

Businessmen are busy people. Especially those who run small businesses. They wear many hats. Sometimes, they have to handle sales, accounting, operations, customer service, and EVEN as a chauffeur. And now, in the digital marketing age, business owners still need to do content marketing. Small businesses owners are often caught in the trap of working IN their business, instead of working ON their business. Content marketing is one way to work ON your business. It gives you long term rewards. If you’re still thinking whether you should spend the time and resources maintaining a blog, take a look at the latest content marketing statistics. You don’t need to spend hours coming up with a content development strategy, wrecking your brains to come up with content ideas, planning your infographics and all that. Even if you’re strapped for time, there are ways to make writing blog posts a breeze. Here are some tips for the busy business owners:

New website

Did your web design company just launched your new site? Announce it to the world! Brag. Show off. Write about how and why you decided to go with a new website design.

Look at your customers’ complaints

Received a complaint like that?

Turn it into something good by writing about the kind of music you’re going to play next. Talk about how the meaning of the song lyrics tie into your brand/business (this way you can cheekily slot in some marketing messages ;)). You can find out your customer complaints through social media, emails, your receptionist, surveying your customers, and also using live chat function on your website. Check out zopim if you want to implement live chat.

Ask your receptionist

Your receptionist is the first point of contact between your prospects/customers and your business. Ask her what is the common feedback that customers give. What are the frequently asked questions? Those are some topics for you to blog about.

Take ideas from recent news

Example: You sell air purifiers and everyone is complaining about the haze. Blog about how your air purifier cleans up the air in the office/room and how it can help prevent allergies to dust mites even during non hazy periods.

haze

Social media milestones

Your facebook page reached a milestone? Buy some food, props, take a picture, and celebrate with your followers! Jayesslee reached 1 million subscribers and they posted a video about it.

jayesslee

Take notes

Take notes as you go about your daily life. Think about random things. Let your thoughts go while. You’ll naturally find ideas worth writing about. Here’s one of my notes at the end of a day.

blog post ideas

Interview influencers

Are there any influencers in your niche? Drop them an email or message. Get them to be interviewed. It’s a win win situation. You get valuable content from a pro, and he gets more exposure.

Curate content

Find topics that are already buzzing in your niche. Try Buzzsumo, niche related forums, Reddit, and Quora. These are some places to start.

Share about your experience

You don’t need to write big, significant ideas every time. Blog posts can be about your daily experience. That’ll give your brand a more personal touch. Take a look at Fipin.

 

Interruption Marketing has been around for such a long time it may be tiresome to some. It involves the notion of pulling the targeted consumers’ attention away from whatever it is they are doing, such as a Television show or a radio show, or even those annoying little internet pop-ups that practically no one bothers with. Enter ‘Permission marketing’, a term coined and developed by Seth Godin in his book of the same title.

The idea of Permission Marketing is to act as a polar opposite of interruption marketing. You do promotions through the use of blogs, videos, SEO, eBooks and many other myriad forms of content marketing. A ubiquitous example is YouTube, a public free-for-use video-sharing website which allows users to upload, share and view videos. Many firms by now have gone into the use of YouTube as part of their social-media marketing, from French luxury brand Dior to Japanese Pearl Drums Company. Huffington Post is another one that has a clear permission marketing approach. One of the main benefits of blogging is that it is simply cost efficient, as you are able to tap on low cost online tools, search engine optimization and the social media. It also has a higher conversion rate since your target consumer has already expressed interest by searching up and reading your blog.

The potential benefits for start-up and small businesses are indeed extensive, but it is also common for businesses to fail to reap the rewards they were looking for when they started blogging.

Here are 7 ways how your Permission Marketing through your business blog can reach full potential

  1. Content Saturation

One of the first reason that comes to mind is the fact that there quite possible hundreds or thousands of other blogs out there doing marketing in the same area that you are. There is so much noise it puts in a position where you have think hard about the marketing terms you use and content saturation. CSI stands for content saturation index and it is the reason why so many blogs are not reaching their full potential. In other words, the content saturation is one key factor that affects your blog’s search engine visibility [SEV]. SEV leads to at least two corollaries.

  1. Choice of Words to Include in the Title

Here is the second, how optimized is your Blog title? The blog title is one of the first thing search engine users will see. This means there is a choice of words in your blog title involved, choice implies that there is something you can choose with regards to a goal you want to achieve. That goal is greater search engine visibility. Search engine visibility means that using catchy phrases are less important than an efficient one that will get the blog link up to the first page of the search result. Remember also that search engines place more emphasis to the first few words in the title. The first word is given more emphasis to the second, the second more emphasis to the third and so on. Strategic placement of your keywords is thus important for your title optimization.

  1. Knowing your Prospective Target Consumers

How well do you know your prospective target prospects? It is one thing to have a good and well written content with regards to interesting topics, but as far as marketing goes, there will not be much success if they do not appeal to the intended consumers in the first place. Some useful elements in building an accurate profile of the prospect is their problems and their goals, what means they have, and the keywords they are likely to use in a search engine.

  1. Establishing Objectives and Setting Realistic Goals

Perhaps this is an important caveat. Having a business blog will not have any radical impact on your business’ performance or improve revenue overnight. It is a slow but gradual process. It takes patience, and effort to reap the benefits of having an online presence through regular blogging. Having realistic expectations will prevent the mistake of jumping into the world of blogging without realising that it requires vast amounts of hard work, knowledge, dedication and perseverance. Ask yourself some key questions as to what you want to achieve with your blog. Are your goals realistic? Learn from other blogs; take note of what they did to be successful, or what they did not to.

  1. Presentation and the Layout of your Blog

Layout of the format is an important aesthetic point that you should also look at. Many people struggle with the organization of contents on blogs and websites. A clean and simple presentation format of your blog is worth considering. While it is true that a blog should have sufficient content, some research has also pointed out the paradox of choice. Too many choices, too many links, too many destinations may be off-putting to a reader. Simplicity and relevance should have precedence over style and shock factors.

  1. Utilize the Power of Networking

Having a good network and good networking skills may not be essential for successful blogging and permission marketing. It can still give you a significant amount of leverage though, especially if your area or industry already has a very high saturation content. We have, by now, seen a small businesses that launched from obscurity to prominence in a relatively short time through the use of networking. Even a school or a faculty within a large university can be a platform in which the power of networking can be realised. Networking helps to develop a feeling of trust and it could be one key factor that propels your blog above the common chatter.

  1. Acknowledge and Value Comments

Finally, constructive criticisms can be infinitely helpful in improving your blog and propelling it to reach its potential. Your blog should be giving consumers and clients some means of providing their own opinions. This could be in the form of public commentary sections, or an online feedback form. Of course, you will not be looking forward to negative and hurtful comments, but encouraging a supportive culture of giving helpful comments, shows that you not only recognize, but value the contributions of your clients. This acknowledgement and cherishing of comments extends to the contributors of your blog, both internal and external. A little acknowledgement goes a long way in building your community.

 

So I went to Levis to buy some jeans the other day.

I walked into the store, headed over to the jeans section, and started browsing. After looking through most of what they had on display, I pinpointed 2 pairs that I really liked.

I tried them on.

And my god, I looked stunningly handsome in them (yes I am super confident and have no humility). So I ended up buying those 2 pairs of jeans.

After my purchase, the lady at the cashier gave me 2, limited-time, $25 coupons for shirts and shoes. Instinctively, I went to check out some shirts and shoes.

The shoes were not great, but a few shirts caught my eye so I tried them on. And yes, I looked good in them yet again, but this time, not as good as I would like. This time, it wasn’t good enough for me to pull out my wallet again (hey even celebrities look average in some clothes).

So I thanked the sales staff for their service and left the store. Sounds like a normal shopping day right? Well, almost.

A few days later, as I looked through my wallet and saw the limited-time coupons from Levis, something hit me. That fine day in the Levis store, I almost ended up buying something I didn’t need (shirts) just because of those coupons!

If it wasn’t for the fact that I didn’t really like the shirts after trying them on, I would have probably spent extra money. In other words, if I happened to look like a million dollars in the shirts I tired on (happens quite often), I most definitely would have bought them.

The coupons were a non-salesy upsell strategy, and I almost bought into it. Of course, handing out limited-time coupons or vouchers to customers is nothing new.

We all know about them. However, I don’t think people truly understand the persuasive powers of limited-time coupons. The persuasive power of limited-time coupons is two fold.

The first one is obviously scarcity. The fact that the coupon will not last forever is a great reason for customers to act fast because they’ll be thinking they won’t get a chance to save money on your products again. And if they don’t use the coupons, they’ll think the coupons will “go to waste.”

The second is less obvious.

It’s the reverse psychology of letting you think that you’re saving money, when in fact, you’re NOT. Why? Because you could be spending more on things you weren’t intentionally looking for in the first place. When I went to Levis, I was only looking to buy jeans.

I was not looking to buy T-shirts. But just because I received a couple of coupons, I was compelled to buy something extra. With the combination of these 2 persuasive elements, my mind was framed into thinking…

“Hmmm… since I have this coupon, not using it would be a waste wouldn’t it? Having more shirts to wear is always a good thing, and it could go well with my new jeans! Plus I can save some money when I buy the shirts! Yay! Think I’ll go look at some shirts…”

Persuaded. And the best part?

The whole process is not salesy at all. It’s almost like stealth persuasion. People don’t feel any form of sales resistance when they are given coupons.

They don’t have the feeling of being “sold to.” In fact, they have the feeling of being “GIVEN to.” Sales resistance is almost zero. When people’s sales resistance is low, they are more likely to buy.

Compare receiving coupons to having a salesman persuade you to buy more stuff and you’ll see my point. So this has got me thinking.

Why aren’t more people doing this online? Instead of sending people to a totally hyped-up upsell page, why not just send people a limited-time coupon code for other related products after their purchase?

Giving out coupons doesn’t scream, “Come buy this now or you’ll freaking lose your house!”

It’s not salesy, it’s not hype. It’s giving your prospects a chance to sell themselves. And that’s what I like about it.

The key is to give out coupons for related or complementary products to the product they’ve just bought. Doing so would make the coupon even more persuasive because a related product helps them solve their problems further, and they’ll be thinking, “Since I have a coupon, I might as well use it. Not using it is a waste anyway!”

So persuasive, yet so stealthy. To be sure, I have never tried this before online. I’d have to test it out to see it’s effectiveness on the overall bottom line.

Till then, I’ll follow up with another blog post to tell you about the results. For now, I’d love to hear your comments on this. What do you think? Do you think more online businesses can take advantage of using limited-time coupons as an upsell strategy?

Imagine going to a party and meeting a new friend.

He’s a smart, knowledgeable, and an overall nice person.

So you’re talking to this new friend, but then after a few minutes, you feel like you want to run away from him if you could.

He’s not enthusiastic. His voice is monotonous and dull. He’s just plain boring!

Doesn’t matter if he’s super smart.

Doesn’t matter if he’s super knowledgeable.

Doesn’t matter if he’s a nice guy.

You wouldn’t want to talk to him again because he’s just super boring. So what does any of this have anything to do with content marketing?

Everything. Content marketing is a form of communication, just like talking. When you do content marketing, you’re talking to someone. And when you’re talking to someone, you simply cannot be boring. It’s the biggest sin you can ever commit. It doesn’t matter if you have good information to share.

As long as you’re boring, I guarantee that your content will fail. Many marketers and business owners think content marketing is all about pumping as out much content as possible.

They just write content for the sake of writing content, thinking “Oh I just need to give free good info, then prospects will come.”

Wrong.

Content marketing is ultimately about building relationships. When you building relationships, it’s not good enough to be good. You have to be interesting too. Being interest is the thing that will actually make people pay attention to what you have to say, and keep coming back.

Ever wondered why almost every website is doing content marketing, but few ever gain a huge readership with their blog posts “liked” and tweeted thousands of times?

You have your answer.

Anyone can provide information. Anyone can just “write content.” It’s boring. And boring is sin. How to not be boring? Here are a few ways.

Tell stories. Inject attitude into your writing. Write casually. Write conversationally. Don’t be like a formal robot with a script (in case you’re thinking you have a brand to maintain, maintaining a branding doesn’t mean you can’t write informally. With so many companies writing like corporate robots, writing casually and conversationally will help you seem more human and stand out).

State your opinions. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. Go against conventional wisdom. Provide a unique perspective on things. Find a different angle to cover a common topic. Provide insights that few people know of. Just be interesting. Your online success could very well depend on it.

Here’s a something that not many marketers know about. The most important thing that gets your email opened in the long term, is not the subject line. Don’t get me wrong though. Subject lines are still important for sure.

After all, a good subject line will definitely lead to a higher open rate.

But in the long term, the subject line is not the key factor that will get your email opened consistently. Want to know what will?

The thing that will get your emails opened consistently is the sender’s name. Yes, that’s right. The sender’s name is the most important factor in getting your emails opened. Don’t believe me?

Well, think about the emails that you always open. Chances are it’s not because of the subject line. It’s because you saw the sender’s name! You knew that you would get useful information in the email when you saw the sender’s name. That’s why you opened it.

Here’s the fact: Effective email marketing is all about building relationships.

Email subject lines matter more at the start of a relationship (when your prospects just started receiving emails from you), then later into the relationship (if you know what you’re doing from the start).

If you establish a relationship with your prospects when they first sign up to your email list and maintain that relationship, then email subject lines become less important.

The only thing that makes them open your email is YOUR NAME, because they know, like, and trust you. So the goal for all businesses is to achieve this level of relationship with their emails. You want to make people open your emails when they see your name. How do you do that?

There are 2 principles you need to follow:

  1. Email regularly
  2. Provide valuable and interesting content, not just straight product pitches.

Email Regularly

This first principle is to email regularly. Now, there is no fixed rule to what “regularly” means, but I would suggest emailing at least 3-4 times a month.

Here’s why.

Unless you already have a brand, if you don’t email regularly, your subscribers will forget about you. Many companies email only when they a promotion to announce or when they have something important to say. This could be anywhere from once in 2 months or 3 months or more.

So stupid.

Imagine signing up for a newsletter and not receiving any emails from that newsletter for 3 months. Then suddenly, you receive an email that sells you something.

Don’t you think your natural reaction would be, “Who is this? A spammer?” Even if you remembered you signed up for that newsletter, what are you chances of buying from that email?

There’s no relationship and no trust. By emailing regularly (assuming you provide useful and interesting content, which we will cover later), you’re constantly reminding people to take note of you worth taking note of, and building a relationship in the process.

But it doesn’t end there. There’s actually another reason to email regularly. The other reason to email regularly is that it causes unsubscribes.

“What? Unsubscribes is good? Are you crazy?”

No I’m not, dear reader. Getting some unsubscribes is good. And don’t you ever call me crazy. (Well, sometimes I am, but always in a good way.) Anyway, getting unsubscribes is good because the people who unsubscribe after constantly reading your emails (or not) are the people who are not your ideal prospects.

Assuming you already provide good content, you don’t want people who are not interested in what you have to say, lingering on your email list. Let the uninterested go. They won’t buy from you.

You save money with your email service provider, and you build a more responsive email list overall. A contrarian tip, I will admit. But very good for your bottom line.

Provide valuable and interesting content, not just straight product pitches

The second principle is to provide valuable and interesting content, not just straight sales pitches.

Remember, the aim here is to get prospects to consistently open your emails. You can only do that by providing value to the prospect.

Now think to yourself – do you think your prospect will continuously open your emails if he knows that every email contains some hyped up pitch about a product? If every email you send out are straight product pitches, I guarantee you’ll lose customers.

Your prospects didn’t sign up to your email list to be bombarded with product pitches. They signed up to receive value. You have to deliver some form of value in your emails.

Now, value comes in many forms. Practical and actionable content can be valuable, humorous content can be valuable, an insight you learned from your life can be valuable. The point is that you have to bring some value table, or else there would be no reason for the subscriber to stay.

Think about it – why would you stay on an email list that provides you with nothing but useless or common information? And it doesn’t end there.

Your emails not only have to provide value, but also have to be interesting too. If your emails are boring, you will lose the subscriber, and this time it’s not because they are not your ideal prospect.

It’s because your emails boring. It doesn’t matter if you have something valuable to share. If they are boring, you will lose their attention, and thus potential sales. Never ever be boring. Write interesting content. Now before you think, “Aww! Why are you so scared of selling?

You need to grow a pair maybe.”

I want to clarify: I’m not saying don’t sell in your emails. You must sell. That’s how you make money. There’s nothing wrong with sending out straight sales-pitches.

You just can’t do it all the time.

Your prospects or customers will get tired of it. Eventually, they might even grow immune to it. The solution? Wrap your sales pitch around useful content or interesting stories.

Here’s an example of an email I wrote for a client that pulled in a few sales right off the bat: See how that works? I didn’t just straight sell. I provided some value, and then linked to the sale.

This type of emails works great because the reader doesn’t see the email as a sales pitch. His sales resistance is lowered, and as a result are more inclined to buy.

And here’s the thing. You don’t have to sell in every email! You can mix your emails up by providing free, valuable and interesting content on some days, and sell on the other days.

This creates unpredictability, and makes your customers look forward to your emails. However, I would not consider being unpredictable as a “principle” because I’ve seen marketers do well by selling in every email they send. But one thing’s for sure – in every email in which they sell, they don’t just straight out pitch their product.

They provide valuable and interesting content and link it to the sale, which is the principle we’re talking about now. So! If you follow these 2 principles, the chances of getting your emails opened regularly are higher.

You might even get away with a bad subject line or two. But you didn’t think I’d end here did you? No no, my reader, I shall over deliver, as always. I have another bonus tip I’d like to share to help you establish a relationship with your prospects more effectively right from the start.

Many of you should already know about this, but I’d still like to share it and tell you how I think it should be done.

Bonus Tip

Depending on the business you’re in, one thing you can do to increase the chances of building a relationship from the start is set up an autoresponder email sequence that your prospect receives daily when he first signs up to your email list. Why daily?

Because when your prospect first gets in your email list, he doesn’t know you. You want to constantly remind him that you’re there and that you’re worth taking note of. You want to set the stage for him to open your emails regularly.

“But won’t I be sending too many emails? I don’t want to seem like a pest you know!” You won’t.

Not if you follow the second principle of sending out valuable and interesting content. When you write your email sequence, think of the core content – the things that you want to educate your prospects on, tell him about your brand, and demonstrate that you’re an trustworthy business in the market.

Think of how you can “wow” him from the start and win his trust right away, while being interesting at the same time. This will serve as the foundation to build a relationship with your prospect at the start.

I suggest setting up an autoresponder email sequence of 7 to 10 emails (or more), delivered everyday. (In case you’re wondering which email marketing software I recommend for this, I recommend Aweber and GetResponse. They are the only two I’ve ever used and both are excellent.)

The bottom line: Build that relationship with your email list from the start and maintain it over time. Capture their attention from the start, then provide good and interesting content consistently.

Don’t just email your subscribers when you want to pitch your product or announce a promotion. Subject lines are still important, especially when a prospect is new to your newsletter.

But more importantly, subject lines can increase your open rate (although open rate is not the important metric to measure). But the more important thing to do is build a relationship. You do that by emailing regularly and sharing valuable and interesting content.

Soon, you’ll find that people open your emails not because of the subject line anymore, but because they treat you as their guide, their leader, and sometimes even their friend. 

So let me guess.

You probably own either a Mac, iPhone, or iPad right? No? (Whispering under my breath, “LOSER!”) Just kidding, Microsoft fanboys. I’m not part of the Mac cult. I just use products that serve my needs best (I currently use a Macbook and an Andriod phone).

Anyway, let’s get back on topic before I find myself getting into the whole Mac vs PC thing. Where was I? Oh yea, chances are most of your own either a Mac, iPhone or iPad. (If you don’t own any Apple products, please read on. This article will help you whether you own Apple products or not).

So let me ask you Apple product owners a question: Why did you buy an Apple product and not a product from another brand like say, Samsung? For most people, it’s probably down to these 3 reasons:

  1. It’s cool to own an Apple product.
  2. Apple products are fun and easy to use.
  3. Apple products are beautifully designed.

All valid reasons of course. But did you notice the common theme among the reasons above?

None of them has of anything to do with the technical aspects of the product.

Whether you realise it or not, all the above reasons converge at one simple fact – We buy Apple products mostly because of the EMOTIONS associated with them.

Because let’s face it … most of us are not tech geeks. We might know about some tech stuff here and there, but honestly, most of us didn’t buy Apple products because they have better functions.

In fact, if you look at reviews of smart phones by real tech experts, you’ll find many of them conclude that Samsung phones are actually better than iPhones in terms of specs. (I know some passionate Apple fans will disagree, but for the sake of explaining my point in this blog post, let’s just assume the tech experts are right).

So… Why despite the fact that Samsung’s phones are technically better, does Apple still achieve massive sales figures EVERY time they launch a new iPhone, or in fact ANY of their products, even though they are always more expensive?

Why do we feel such strong emotions that compel us to buy Apple products over products from other brands? Branding man, branding. While many factors account for Apple’s success, there’s no doubt that Branding is one of the most important factor. You didn’t really care if Samsung was better value for money, or if Samsung has slightly better specs.

You just wanted the iPhone because it’s “programmed” into your mind that the iPhone is cooler, better, and makes you more classy. Apple’s brand wins.

That’s the power of a good brand, which Apple has spent a lot of money building over the years.

So what if I told you that you too can build an irresistible brand, without even spending anywhere close to the amount that Apple spends? Don’t believe me?

Oh how little faith in me you have, my dear reader. Building a brand on the internet on the cheap IS possible, if you know how. Of course, I’m not suggesting that all businesses can reach the level of influence and impact that Apple has achieved. But…

That doesn’t mean you can’t still build a strong brand nonetheless, and at a low cost too. All you have to do is translate some of Apple’s branding secrets to the online world.

Let me show you how, you skeptical person. Apple’s 5 branding secrets and how you can apply them online.

Secret #1: Create a unique business persona – Declare your beliefs, make enemies, and attract loyal friends

Apple created a “person” to represent their brand, and this “person” is portrayed by the young, cool guy who is savvy and smart. The PC on the other hand, is portrayed as someone who is nerdy and uncool. When you buy an Apple product, you buy into their identity.

You identify yourself as the savvy and cool guy. Creating a business persona for your brand helps you attract loyal prospects who share your values, beliefs and opinions.

How to apply it online: 3 words – Personified Content Marketing.

I know you’ve never heard of this term before. That’s because I made it up like a boss. I’ll explain. Never has there been a time where one could create a piece of content and distribute it for the world to see. What better way to show people what your business is about at a low cost?

Content marketing is the foundation of branding online. It is the voice of your brand. It shows people who you are and why they should buy from you.

Merely writing content for the sake of writing content is stupid. VERY stupid. Everyone is “just writing content” thinking it will bring them more business.

If it were really that simple every website would be successful by now. But you, being the smart guy you are, can use content to brand yourself online.

I call it Personified Content Marketing – content marketing that displays your beliefs and values, creates enemies, and attracts loyal fans. So how do you do Personified Content Marketing?

If you want to show people what you brand is about through your content, you must first understand who your target market is, analyse your competitors, and then decide on the unique positioning you want to take.

Here’s why. Your brand is the emotions, thoughts, and visual memories your prospects have of your business. Your brand resides inside your prospect’s mind. ALWAYS remember that.

It doesn’t matter what you think or feel about your business. It’s what you prospects think and feel that counts. That’s why if you want to build a good brand, you have to start from your prospects mind! What is your prospect thinking about you, your competitors, and the market in general?

How can you differentiate yourself, and show them through your content? Once you understand this, you can create your “business’ person” and drive your sales through the roof by attracting a horde of loyal customers.

Write manifestos, blog posts, create videos, and etc, to declare your beliefs, values, and educate your prospects about your brand. Don’t be boring.

Don’t be afraid to state your opinions and show your attitude about things going on in your market. Don’t be afraid you show what your brand stands for. Talk to your prospects only, and ignore the rest. When you do that, you WILL repel some prospects.

But on the other hand, you WILL also attract raving customers. And once momentum builds, the less appealed people might just join the gang. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to appeal to everyone. Appeal to everyone and you will appeal to no one.

Secret #2: Sell experiences, not products

Apple doesn’t sell products. They sell experiences.

They constantly reinforce how easy and enjoyable it is to use their products, how their software is beautifully designed for the best user experience, how their hardware is beautifully designed so it feels cool to own a Mac. They don’t talk a lot about the technical aspects of the product.

They talk about experiences. And it’s not only about the product. Apple is also well known for outstanding customer service. They consistently rank top for customer service in the industry. All these contribute to the ultimate Apple experience. When you buy an Apple product, you feel good about it.

You have a great experience.

How to apply it online: Create superior user interfaces, user experiences, and infuse copy with emotions. Make your web interface easy for people to do what they came to do.

If you’re an eCommerce site, make it easy for people to find the products they want, order them, and then checkout smoothly.

If you’re running a blog, make the reading experience superb by having good typography and by making good use of white space.

If you sell software, make the interface is easy and enjoyable to use. When customers email you for support, ensure your customer service serve their needs quickly, politely, and efficiently. When you write copy for your products, infuse an emotional component in your web copy to portray the experience your prospect will get after he buys your product.

Sell the experience.

Secret #3: Design for brand identity

Apple products are sleek and beautiful. That’s because they want to differentiate themselves from the typical nerdy, technical look that most other products had. I can confidently say that design alone can be the sole buying factor for some customers.

It’s true.

I have friends who buy a Mac just because it looks better than other computers. How to apply it online: Invest in design that portrays your brand.

If your brand is rebellious and bold, then you probably want your web design to have striking colors and bold fonts. If your brand is all about simplicity, then you probably want a more minimalistic design.

A great example of design that matches brand identity is the hugely popular blog, ZenHabits, run by Leo Babauta.

Since the blog talks about finding simplicity in our lives, focusing on things that matter, and finding happiness, it’s design is extremely minimalistic, and only allows you to view one post at a time.

ZenHabit’s web design is in line with its brand and this alignment contributes to the overall identity of the blog. Good design is an INVESTMENT not an expense, on your overall brand identity. Design sells. Pure and simple.

Secret #4: Tell your story and give your “reason why”

Do know the story behind Apple’s “Think Different” tagline? You don’t? Shame on you! Anyway… it is about Apple’s belief that people who were crazy enough to change the world are the people who actually do.

Apple honoured people with passion and wanted to create the tools to help passionate people change the world. Therefore, they advocate the notion of “Think Different.”

Inspiring isn’t it?

Compare Apple’s story to another company without a story, and that only says things like, “We have more megabytes than you, so we are the bestest of the bestest best.”

Yucks.

Telling a story is inspiring. More importantly, it tells people the “reason why” for your existence. Providing a “reason why” for your existence draws people to you. The people who believe in your purpose will like you and become loyal customers.

How you can apply it online: Find your “reason why” and tell your story on your ABOUT page. Not many people realise this, but the about page is a very important piece of internet real estate.

In fact, it’s probably the most underused page I’ve ever seen. A lot of your visitors will click on your About page to find out more about you.

Use your About page to state the reason why your company exists. Don’t just tell people about your features and benefits. People want to be part of a higher purpose, and connect with people of similar values.

Tell your STORY. State your PURPOSE. Be INSPIRING. Your ideal customers will come flocking to you.

Secret #5: Stay consistent

No matter where you experience Apple, they are always consistent with their brand. They reflect the same values in their ads, marketing campaigns, customer service, products, design, and etc.

The result?

Their brand gets STUCK in our heads. When we think of Apple, we immediately feel all the emotions associated with them. It’s all instant. That’s the power of consistency.

How to apply it online: Ensure that you stay true to your brand values across all touchpoints.

Your entire web presence is a form of brand communication online. Everything from social media, customer support, emails, landing pages, web design, logo design, and all other touchpoints matters.

Stay consistent.

After some time, your prospects will “get you” and know you for who you are. Staying consistent is the way to penetrate your brand into your prospects’ mind.

And… That’s it. Whew. This one was a tough blog post to write, but I’m glad I wrote it because I think more businesses need to put more emphasis on branding, especially since you can do it at a fraction of what it would normally cost for traditional advertising. Now go. You now have the techniques to create a great brand at low cost.

Create your brand and win.

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