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Marketing Tactics

Balance Product Development and Branding in your Budget

Entrepreneurs need to strike a balance between perfecting the image and impression of  a company and developing its infrastructure and product. 

Gideon Kimbrell

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In short, branding is what people say about your company when you’re not in the room.

Whether that message correctly communicates your image is where ‘branding’ comes in and it’s all about what you want people to think of your company. Perception is reality.

Entrepreneurs need to strike a balance between perfecting the image and impression of  a company and developing its infrastructure and product. Branding efforts employ the use of marketing, public relations and promotion to achieve the right image, which should match the desired positioning laid out in the business plan.

Is there a more misunderstood expression in the corporate world than ‘You need to spend money to make money’? Inexperienced entrepreneurs often use this line as an excuse for excessive spending, interpreting it to mean ‘if you’re spending money, then you’re making money’. In fact, the opposite is true.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to budgeting at a start-up. Sure, there are benchmarks to watch and baseline needs to address.

The most important place to spend money is on developing a quality product, but that doesn’t mean ignoring branding. Without it, a quality product could easily go unnoticed.

Roger Michael, founder of the I AM ROCKSTAR agency and a brand ambassador in London for my company, InList, knows branding’s power. “Perception and image are key components of a business’s future expansion,” he told me. “But they have to be targeted according to the profile of the business. Effectiveness and efficiency is what we’re aiming for – not a slapdash percentage or chunk of capital.”

The following are three key areas that an entrepreneur can’t afford to skimp on when it comes to creating a branding budget:

Related: Building A Brand On A Budget

1. The name

The wrong name can kill a company virtually before it has even launched. Spend hours of brainstorming and gather feedback from customers and colleagues to determine whether the name is conveying the intended message. Make sure the proposed name isn’t being used by another enterprise and that you can get the related URL.

Today the Coca-Cola name is the second-most understood term in the world as Mark Pendergrast pointed out in his book For God, Country & Coca-Cola. That’s power.

2. A brand identity

Fashioning a brand identity for a company includes shaping a logo and a style guide, which will dictate the design of its website, business cards and letterhead. You’ll want the business to be taken seriously, so when designing imagine what a client’s, investor’s or customer’s first impression would be.

Two years ago, I created an app, InList, without giving much thought to branding. The result was a complete failure. I invested in high-quality designers to redesign the company from the ground up and this changed everything and resulted in significant numbers of membership applications and investor interest.

Related: 6 Steps Of Financial Planning

3. A social media presence

There’s no need to sink a lot of money into social media initially, but it’s important to have points of reference to let investors and customers see what the company is all about. A social-media presence lends some legitimacy. If the content is engaging, it can serve as a gateway for new customers.

PetFlow, for example, has cultivated Facebook traffic. The pet-food delivery start-up curated the web’s cute and funny animal  photos and videos.

So how much should be set aside for branding?

If your company needs to turn a profit early, the advertising budget should be based on a percentage of sales and gross profit.

But if your primary goal is building a user base, explore a cost-per-user model. That way, you can track spending and determine whether the branding is effective.

And evaluate referral sources. The more targeted your advertising is, the more effective it will be. Track the customer-referral sources to determine which avenues are scoring new clients and which are wasting money. Closely monitor what’s spent on branding to determine whether it’s effective and adjust accordingly.

Of course, it’s necessary to spend money to make money, but be sure to spend it in the right places.

Related: How Social Media Can Give You the Edge on Competitors

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Gideon Kimbrell is the co-founder and CEO of Miami-based InList.com, which provides an app for booking reservations at exclusive nightlife, charity and entertainment events. He is also the founder and owner of Syragon, a software development and engineering company in Miami.

Marketing Tactics

Top Marketing Trends For 2019

When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?

Emma Donovan

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2019-marketing-trends

Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or  influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.

The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:

1. Say hello to the social CEO

Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.

Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.

Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.

2. Initiate conversations

While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.

For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.

Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.

Related: Pay Per Click Advertising. When, How And For What?

3. Keep it local

Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit. 

4. Try Instagram ads

As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.

Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.

5. Personalise email communication

Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.

Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.

Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Post in real time

In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.

In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.

This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.

Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.

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Marketing Tactics

4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From

Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.

Jonathan Long

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Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.

Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Marketing Tactics

The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.

Kyle Rolfe

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The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.

In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:

  1. What products do they want?
  2. Where should you make them available?
  3. How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
  4. How and where to promote your product?

The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.


Airbnb example

Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb


1. Product

Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.

2. Price

While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.

Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.

3. Promotion

In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,

“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.

Related: How To Drive Customer Referrals (When You Aren’t Airbnb, Dropbox or Uber)

4. Place

Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.

In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline

“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),”  adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.

“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”

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