As I write this, I just got off of an exciting phone call with a current client. To say this entrepreneur is passionate, determined, and inspiring is such an understatement! Her business is a non-profit, that has transformed from an “off-the-cuff” inkling of an idea, into something that we both envision having such a high potential and power. While her non-profit is up and running, and already impacting lives, she has found it difficult to partner with bigger named organizations.
She keeps hearing the same encouragement that they believe in her vision, and would love to partner together, yet she continues to hear the same feedback: “come back to us when you are more established.” While it is encouraging to hear positive feedback, it can also be discouraging to see that somehow your business doesn’t appear as professional as it truly is.
Here is where I enter the story. Rather than wait years to “get established,” and continue to treat the non-profit as a side project, my client has decided to take her business to the next level and invest in professional branding. Although I may be biased, I truly believe that a quality brand identity builds trust, and immediately establishes your business as professional.
But how do you go about building that strong first impression, and start getting noticed online? Today, I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me build a strong reputation + brand, attracting my ideal clients and readers.
Start with your vision
The old phrase “fake it till you make it” holds some truth in that you should present your business as professional as possible, even if behind the scenes it is a side project from your basement. Meaning, you might not have “made it” yet in your business, but you should always value presentation, and especially make it a priority in the beginning stages in order to gain traction.
Where this phrase falls short for me, is the the assumption that you can “fake it,” which implies that you don’t actually have anything of substance to offer. Before jumping into the design phase, marketing or next steps for your business, I recommend taking a deep look into your brand and first understanding your vision. A brand is only as strong as the vision + mission that defines it. I can’t stress this enough! Understand the vision behind your business or blog first, then you can take the next steps to “fake it till you make it!”
Good design builds trust
One of the first investments most businesses make, beyond the necessary equipment, is to put a face to the name of their business. Good design builds trust. Through focusing your efforts on quality design, you will instantly build recognition + trust with your clients, customers or readers.
If you are a blogger, this principle holds true for you as well! Subconsciously, when we click through to a website, we instantly gauge whether the site seems professional or DIY. You’ve experienced this as well, I’m sure. When looking for a hotel or B&B to stay at when on vacation, if the photos or low-quality, the website seems like it is from the 80’s, or the design is off-putting, you will most likely quickly click “close window” without even thinking about it, and move on to the next hotel. This is just one minor example to emphasize how good design builds trust with your readers, customers or clients.
Spend the time developing a brand design that uniquely portrays your business, as well as one that you can be consistent with across all platforms: website, printed collateral, social media, blog post designs, etc.
If you are an online business, like myself, then you are most likely questioning how you can get your business noticed online, and start attracting your ideal clients + readers to your blog. I came into this year, with a fresh new business, and an overwhelming curiosity of how I was going to reaching my ideal clients. I opted to focus my efforts on my blog, and specifically designing the post images to entice readers who browse on Pinterest.
Though my business has grown drastically, Pinterest still remains my #1 referral for my clients. (Thank you modern business marketing!) The thing is, I didn’t have a specific strategy for Pinterest, hundreds of thousands of followers, or sponsored posts. Instead, I simply focused my efforts on my blog, and ensuring that my images were well branded + built to be shared on the Pinterest platform.
Pinterest accounts for 90% of the social media shares online today. Let that sink in. See why I’m so jazzed about Pinterest? I’m not implying the other social networks are useless, I only mention this to emphasize why I prioritize my energy on my blog + blog images for Pinterest. Pins live way longer than any tweet, facebook post, or instagram image. So whether you are just starting a business, or have already got years under your belt, I highly recommend investing your efforts on pushing your content + images to Pinterest, so you can start attracting your ideal clients + customers.
As always, consistency provides a strong foundation for your brand. Trust doesn’t come with one announcement, interaction or blog post. Time + consistency help build trust with your audience. If you are a blogger, create a realistic schedule you can stick to for new blog posts, and put it in your calendar so it is a priority. If you opt for a different form of marketing besides a blog, get consistent with that marketing. This could be in-person networking, social media, or advertising. People need multiple interactions with your brand, in order for it to stick, as well as build a lasting impression.
Pick a platform + marketing strategy, and prioritize it for your brand. Don’t let the overwhelm of multiple strategies set in, instead focus your efforts in one area, and build a strong presence there.