Yet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.
Today’s Q is:
“How did you zone in on your brand and get it to stick with all of the noise online?”
Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:
This is tricky because everything I do changes at the blink of an eye. Each social media site has its own terms of service and special features that rapidly change and SEO has its own special kind of nightmare. The best advice I can think of is to focus on the end result for your customer. If the message you put out there is that you can solve their problem, then you will always stand out, even among all the noise.
Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:
I love learning and I had a tendency to learn without putting into action what I learned before moving on to the next thing. That means I had a lot of starts along the way, with no finishes, good or bad. Sadly, I watched other people take ideas like mine and make hugely successful businesses with them.
But, I’m glad I went in the direction I did. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be a content strategist I would not have believed you. Mostly because I didn’t know such a need existed at the time. So, if not for my penchant for trying new things I would not be doing what I am doing now. This is the first time in my long online business career that I’ve stuck to the same niche for more than 2 years.
Before finding this niche I would build up a website/business then sell it (or worse just let it sit with no activity) and move on to the next thing so I wasn’t really building a brand. I had no direction or idea of what I wanted to do or where my skills and talents could take me. Now that I’ve found content or content found me, I am trying to build my brand — and have now since 2009, even though I’ve worked from home successfully since the mid 1990’s.
As I build this business I have found a few things that are important to do if you really want to make something a success.
1) Keep a Regular Work Schedule
Those of us who work from home are often resistant to this idea. But, the truth is, if you want a successful career it’s important to make it a priority. Of course, since we are lucky enough to work from home — a crying baby, a sick relative, or just needing down time — can happen with a quick shuffle of the schedule.
But, don’t shuffle the schedule so much that you’re not putting in the hours necessary to make your business successful. This is especially true if you provide a service of some kind. If you need a certain dollar amount coming in each month, it’s just not going to happen if you are not proactive about the billable hours you are working. If you aren’t maxed out in clients, spend the free hours marketing.
2) Set Deadlines and Time Limits
Social media is great for business marketing but it can become a huge distraction and time suck. You know it’s true. You get on Facebook for “five minutes” to see what’s up and before you know it you’ve spent 4 hours there. This is not productive use of your time. Even if your work is not deadline oriented like mine is, set deadlines for yourself and time limits for how much time you spend on social media, checking email, or reading things online.
For instance, I get on Facebook each morning while I eat my breakfast. Then I don’t go back until Lunch, and after that not until I am done with my work. Same with email. I do not check it continuously all day long. Disconnecting from technology as much as possible while you perform work is an essential way to become focused. Plus I have a plan of action for work related social media that I follow.
3) Learn & Apply
There is so much to learn. Recently, I started learning how to use HootSuite, a cloud-based social media management tool. I have it set up now, and my plan is to try one new feature each month instead of trying to do everything at once. It does so much that you could easily find yourself spending an entire day using it without any results at all. The same can be said for almost anything today. Learning is and should be a lifelong process. But at some point you must apply what you learned.
It’s important to learn one thing, then apply that one thing until you get a result of some kind. Even if the result is bad, at least you focused and you know the answer to the question: Is this a good fit for my business? It’s too easy to have 10 projects started with nothing finished. It feels productive but it’s not. Make it a habit to start and finish one project at a time to be truly productive.
4) It’s OK to Give Up
This is touched on above but it’s the most powerful thing that I have learned since becoming focused on building my own brand. As a content strategist, I’ve delved into many different niches on behalf of my clients. Some turn out to be excellent money making opportunities , and others just don’t have the monetary potential for which the client was hoping.
But, we saw it through to the end in order to figure out if it had potential. We did the research, learned the things, and applied the things. Only after giving it everything is it okay to say, this isn’t going to work and move on to the next. If you move on to the next thing before the first thing is finished, you’ll never know and you could waste even more time on a bad idea. Giving up isn’t a bad thing. It’s not failure. It’s accepting what you learned and moving on.
Once I accepted these things, I’ve found that not only am I creating powerful brand of my own, but I am able to help my clients come to terms with their own brand and how best to spread their vision.
Branding is like the magnet that allures your customer into dishing out her wallet. So, how do you build a brand online when the market is always changing and consumers are overloaded with options? Many branding experts share their knowledge on this topic. It may be particularly challenging to find “the best” advice when you are still figuring things out. What does seem to coincide with most expert advice is the idea of establishing a brand identity as a way to send a message that you have something valuable to offer. That value may be the key to helping you stand out.
One of the greatest things about being a homepreneur is the idea of thinking big and running big without the extras that larger companies have. However, like any other company, branding should be as important. So as I zero in on my own branding, I was curious to learn how other homepreneurs did their thing since many of us don’t have the elaborate teams that bigger companies do. So I asked the Sparkplugging panel and a couple of things resonated with me – focus on the customer as your main guide and apply quickly what you’ve learned to work out the kinks in your branding.
As a person who is intensely interested in psychology, I am fascinated by how branding speaks to the hearts of customers. When you get into your prospect’s mind, it’s easier to position yourself. I’m not a branding expert but I am insightful into my own buying patterns. For me, I crave time; therefore, I value convenience. Anyone who’s in the business of selling more time is huge in my book.
Becoming a customer of my own brand helps me understand my customer more intimately and brings light to the fact that branding goes far beyond logos and colors. Consistency, reliability and respect have more power than pretty websites and tag lines. All design and no substance stagnates growth. It seems like these days, you have to stand for something in order to make a mark.
Your vision may change and so does the market place. Therefore, brands evolve and are fine-tuned with the changes much like it’s described by one of our advisors. However, one thing seems pretty consistent as I learn about branding and marketing online. Consumers want to be connected and tend to support brands that are meaningful to them.
Your brand builds an emotional bond with your customers and it seals that know, like and trust factor that everyone teaches about. At the end of the day, if you create a brand that matters, you may find it less challenging to stand out in the overcrowded web space.