The medium isn’t the message.
It’s the brand.
Without the right strategy, your digital marketing will fail—guaranteed.
It’s a brutal fact: in the new COVID-19 normal, businesses that haven’t adapted to digital marketing will have to do so quickly or perish.
Traditional advertising—print, broadcast, direct mail—will shrink to a smaller percentage of a complete marketing strategy, as businesses turn to digital methods.
There are advantages. Digital enables us to target our ideal customers with highly customized messaging. We can receive real-time data on whether or not our messages are effective.
So why, with all of this targeting and data, do so many digital efforts fail—and fail badly?
Part of the problem is the noise generated by so-called “experts.” They’ll promise you a flood of new customers through SEO, PPC, or social media marketing. But most of these isolated tactics are ineffective and waste money.
Here’s the real problem: without the right plan, a clear message and a consistent image, you could be wasting up to 80% of your marketing budget.
Because it’s so inexpensive to enter, the digital space is fiercely competitive—and getting more crowded every day. If you don’t have the right strategic plan for online marketing, you’ll get lost in the noise.
Unfortunately, many businesses fall into one of two traps: chasing trends or looking for the perfect tactic to somehow ‘hack’ the latest social media channel. These surface-level strategies are bound to fail, because:
- SEO methods that could once rank your site no longer work—in fact, Google often penalizes them.
- Facebook and Instagram, which previously gave amazing organic (free) reach, now require paid ‘boosts’ to make the same impact.
- Costs are constantly rising, and policies are always changing, making it harder to create a positive ROI.
So how do you get noticed in this jungle of crowded newsfeeds and short attention spans?
You need a solid brand strategy.
If your digital marketing isn’t generating the results you want, rethink your marketing. Start with your brand.
Your brand is how your market perceives your business. As prospects look at your business, they’re already formulating thoughts, feelings, and emotions about what they see. This means that your website, your Facebook ads, your blog and your social media posts are all ways that your prospects perceive and judge your company—a perception you can shape with strategic branding.
Take these four simple steps to determine whether branding could improve your digital marketing efforts.
Position yourself as the solution.
Your brand should always promise to solve a prospect’s problem. Too often we proclaim all the wonderful things our product or service can do—but if you fail to connect with the real value your customers want, they’ll disconnect from your message.
Your prospects are seeking brands that solve their problems and align with their values. So merely flaunting your features and benefits won’t help them.
In other words, customers don’t care about your story; they only care about how you fit theirs.
Instead, look for aspirational values that express who your prospects want to be. Clearly communicate how engaging with your products and services will transform their lives and experiences. Then you’ll be on the right track.
Recent studies show that the average human attention span has dropped to eight seconds. That doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that a goldfish’s attention span is nine seconds. So we must adapt to cut through the noise and reach the right customers. Or, put another way:
If a prospect or client can’t figure out what you’re trying to say in a couple of seconds, they’re gone. Period. No matter how great your products or services may be.
Your audience needs a reason to keep reading or listening—quickly before their attention inevitably shifts. A well-positioned brand needs to communicate its value less than eight seconds.
So when you deploy your digital campaigns, lead with value. Then be crystal clear about what you’re offering, and what it can do for the reader. Clarity is absolutely crucial to get your market’s attention. Once you have it, then you can build a reputation of trust.
Continually convey quality.
The number one driver for engagement is trust. And since brand is a perception, it has the power to create trust.
Imagine you’re driving in the middle of nowhere and your car breaks down. You need a repair shop, so you pull up your phone and find 2 results.
Of the people we asked, 98% said they’d call the Hillmuth version on the right. Why? Because national brands establish a standard for image quality. Clean lines, easy-to-read typography and a limited color palette lead not only to retention but to trust.
As you take a deeper look at your digital marketing pieces, ask yourself: how can I transform your company’s image from a “local” brand to the quality of a national brand?
Keep it consistent.
Lack of consistency is one of the most common issues we see in small business marketing. If your brand isn’t consistent overall, you’ll waste a lot of time and money.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix.
Start by printing out some screenshots of your branded digital materials: your website, social ads, banner ads and landing pages. Gather up your printed materials as well, especially if they lead to online destinations.
Take a photo of all the materials together to get an overview of how you’re visually presenting your brand (even your promotional materials). Does it consistently reflect your identity, message, and values?
Your goal is to make consistent use of the same message and visuals. Make sure:
- Your logo is visible and appears the same on all items.
- Messaging content is consistent across all media.
- Color palette and use of fonts are also consistent across all media.
To sum up:
Be sure to tell your prospects how you’ll solve their needs.
State your case clearly and consistently, keeping high graphic and content standards.
Then your brand will flourish wherever it appears—and particularly in the digital space.