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10 Techniques to Keep Your Brand On Message as You Grow

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Ensuring your messaging and communications stay on brand as your business grows is crucial. But growth, especially rapid growth, may mean you have new staff members who are unclear on what the message is, or how to best convey it.

New clients bring with them the temptation to expand to a broader brand message that, if done haphazardly, can hurt more than help. A muddled brand message may leave your target audience feeling confused about what you represent and what you offer, and may even cost you engaged clients.

So how can you keep your messaging consistent? We asked 10 members from YEC to share their recommendations for growing brands, from creating an internal guide to talking message with every new hire. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Identify Your Strategy Versus Tactics

My best tip on growing and staying on brand is identifying strategy versus tactics for your messaging and communications. Identify your brand’s purpose, positioning and personality. After those are identified, work on the strategy and tactics for marketing. Strategy is the overarching goal that matches the brand and won’t change regularly. Tactics are the things you do that fulfill the strategy.

Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

2. Have a Brand Champion

Every company should have someone who manages all aspects of the brand. That person can then identify the advocates who can be trusted to speak on behalf of the brand to ensure that the proper messages are being sent out. Develop an approval queue so that there are always multiple eyes that oversee all communications.

David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

3. Imagine Your Brand as a Person

You really should try to communicate your messaging with the same “voice,” or write with the same sort of attitude. I find that it helps to imagine your brand as a person: Who are they, what kind of mood are they in, and what kind of word choices do they make? I find brands grow like a character, so this can be a great way to visualize them early on.

Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

4. Create a Content Strategy Document

We have an internal content strategy document that our marketing team put together outlining our goals and everything we want to communicate through our content and brand. We also hold regular management meetings to discuss updates and changes to our company, so our staff can communicate those changes with the rest of the team. This keeps everyone on the same page and reduces any confusion.

Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.

5. Make Sure the Guidelines Are Up To Date

Most businesses create a visual branding guide to help with print and website design projects… and just stop there. But it’s so important to stay up to date on creating guidelines for social media platforms, emails and blog posts, for instance. This way, when you have a new team member take on a particular project within the company, it’s easy for them to stay on brand.

Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly

6. Enforce Strict Guidelines

As your business reaches mass appeal, many brand managers become tempted to update their messaging and communications in a way that connects with a broader customer demographic. However, the irony here is that you alienate more people when your messaging aims to speak to a wider audience. Use strict brand guidelines to stay true to your core values, which will attract even more loyal customers.

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

7. Use Your Brand as a Backbone

Use your brand story as the backbone of all your communication efforts, especially when hiring new employees. Like the game telephone, the brand messages will morph and fizzle away as emphasis lessens. When your team is on top of the brand’s purpose and core ideals, they will also be on top of all incoming and future business prospects.

Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

8. Break Your Message Down to Its Simplest Components

To see a brand through times of growth, it is critical that you are able to describe what it is in very simple terms. If your brand message becomes complex — or worse yet, becomes corporate — your employees will have a difficult time keeping on message as their workload increases. Breaking your message down to its simplest components will give your team tools to extend the brand as you grow.

Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

9. Hire People Aligned With Your Brand

Your people are an extension of your brand and will be doing a lot of the messaging and communicating for your business. Hire people who align with your brand’s attributes, values and essence. If you hire people who live and breathe your brand, being on brand will come naturally. The key is to find people who align before you hire them, not after.

Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard

10. All Onboarding Staff Should Learn Brand Messaging

As your business grows, share brand messaging and voice with new hires as part of their training. This onboarding process should be the same for all new employees, no matter their department. Also be sure to take some time to educate new members of your company about your brand and how important it is to stay unified.

Stan Garber, Scout RFP

Using the Internet to Grow Your Brand and Reach 24/7

 

When the topic of brand exposure and reach come up, blogging and content creation are two of them most common responses. Once you integrates any form of content creation and marketing into your business, your branding and viral reach truly come into play. This is even more true if you put in the time, work and effort throw social media and advanced demographic targeting into the mix. If you don’t currently have a blog representing your personal brand or business, be sure to check out this how to start a blog guide. It takes less than ten minutes to setup and will make for a world of a difference in the longterm reach and branding for your business.

If you enjoyed this expert round up, I recommend you also take a look at some of our previous expert discussions on the power of chatbots, strategies to grow your Facebook marketing and also recommendations on the best tools for growing buzz around your brand.

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Entrepreneurship

First Impressions and Final Words: The Importance of Business Cards in 2019

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Business cards have been around since the 15th century.

They first originated in China as “visiting cards.” The Chinese visiting cards would express one person’s intention to come and meet another person.

Then in the 17th Century, the popularity of exchanging cards began in Europe. Without the right business cards, you were a failure in the eyes of the public.

There were also extremely strict rules and etiquette guidelines for people handing out their cards. Failure to have the right card or follow the rules would result in a social disaster.

As we fast forward to today, people are still using business cards as networking tools. Not having a business card or having the wrong kind can ruin your business relationships.

Approximately 10 billion business cards are being printed on an annual basis. However, almost 8 out of the 10 billion cards printed are being thrown out in less than a week.

Yet, studies show that your companies sales will increase by at least 2.5% for every 2,000 cards you hand out. Even if a prospect doesn’t keep your card, they’ll still remember meeting you.

After hundreds of years, your card is still a representation of who you are and what you’re all about. Read on to find out about the importance of business cards in the 21st century.

The Importance of Business Cards

When you network you’re actively making meaningful connections. Sending out your contact information online can be somewhat effective. Many businesses successfully use affiliate marketing online to generate leads.

However, when you only rely on digital communications you’ll miss out on making a genuine connection. When you give your card to a potential client, they can put a face to the name of the company. You’ll be able to stand apart from all of the other companies they were researching online.

A computer can’t look your customer in the eye and convey authenticity, but you can. The encounter gives you a competitive edge over others in your industry.

Here are a few different online tools you can use for creating your personalized cards:

Allow yourself to be creative as you explore the different designs. Prospects will enjoy sharing your creative cards rather than boring ones. Having people share your card means your brand will reach more potential customers.

No matter what type of business cards you end up going with, consider your options on going with a cool and unique design. After all, these are going to be used for many years and will be the first impression of your own personal brand and expertise.

Effective Business Cards

Making a great impression starts with the style of your card. Many people mistakenly believe that all a business card does is give information. However, they really are tools to make wonderful first impressions.

It’s important to design a card that expresses your companies personality and brand. It can help to ask for outside advice from a friend or family member. Show them the design you are considering and ask them how it makes them feel. If the way they feel reflects your brand, you’re off to a great start.

Show Prospects You’re Ready for Anything

Have you ever asked someone for their business card and they couldn’t give it to you? Chances are you had a negative first impression of that person. Your subconscious mind is always listening, watching and making conclusions.

Even if you’re not consciously aware of it, you’ll judge someone for not having the right tools.

The same will happen to you if you’re not ready to hand over your card when asked. Even if you take the time to write your information down, chances are they won’t be calling you.

Make sure you always carry your cards on you. A simple trip to the store could end up as a networking opportunity.

Always Accessible

When you use a business card, your information is always accessible. In today’s digital world, it’s hard to believe that anyone could ever lose access to the internet.

However, people are frequently in situations where they can’t go online. Imagine, your potential customer is camping in a remote area or staying at a cabin in the woods.

They don’t have internet access but they do have the ability to make phone calls. If they need to schedule a service or make a purchase, they’ll have to rely on their business cards.

Also, certain people don’t own digital devices or have trouble operating theirs. If your contact information is stuck in their phone, they may never access it.

Also, what happens when they lose or break their phone? A broken phone could take days to repair. Yet that doesn’t mean the customer will wait days to make purchasing decisions.

When the customer needs access to your company’s contact information, your card will be there to save the day. Giving your card means that no matter what the situation, customers can always reach you.

Stay Motivated

If your company is new it helps to have clear networking goals. When you go to different networking events you’ll bring your cards with you. Then you can set a daily goal for how many cards you need to distribute.

A good idea is to set a goal to hand out at least 50 business cards. If you’re having a difficult time, your cards will remind you to stay motivated. Make sure that as you hand out your cards you establish eye contact.

Your card will have your contact information and a brief summary of your product or service. If you’re looking for employment make sure to include a list of your skills.

The person you give your card to might not need your services. Yet, they might know someone who does need something you provide. With a list of your skills, the person with your card will know who to refer you to.

How to Make a Great First Impression from Day One

Yes, you could say that business cards are old school and not many people use them today. That might be the case, but if you are actively attending different conferences and trade show events, they will come in handy.

Just think about how many people are meeting with each other on any given day at these events. With hundreds of business cards changing hands, only the ones that stand out and leave a great first impression will be remembered.

When it comes to creating new business and partnerships, this simple one-up over the competition can equate to something huge in the long run.

If you are still using the same old traditional business card that gets scanned over for second and tossed away… rethink your marketing strategy and invest in yourself and your business today with a new design and business card. It’s one of the most important, yet cost-effective, investments you can make!

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Entrepreneurship

Loans vs. Line of Credit: Which is Better For Your Business?

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When your business grows or goes through a short-term cash drought, you need an influx of cash. The bank is the best place to start. They give you two options a loan or a line of credit. It can be hard for a business to decide loans vs. line of credit.

They both can give you the cash you need, but each is different on how the cash gets to you and how you pay it back. As a business owner, you don’t want to make a rash decision that can impact your business for years.

We’ve broken them down and given you plenty of information to determine which is best for you.

Line of Credit Basics

A line of credit isn’t a loan. It’s like a credit card with a limit. When you apply for a line of credit, the bank gives you a set amount that you can have access to. You don’t need to take a penny of it. It can sit there ready to use when needed.

When you decide to take it, you don’t need to take the entire amount. For example, if you had a run on a popular product, but don’t have the cash flow to order more, then you can access your line of credit.

You have a $10,000 line of credit, but only need $200 to cover the costs of the product. You take the money out and then you agree to pay back that amount plus any interest.

In the meantime, your accessible line of credit is $9,800 until the money is paid back. You then have access to the full $10,000 again.

It’s rare for a business to take out a full amount and instead to take out small amounts when needed.

Benefits of Line of Credit

Financially, the biggest benefit is you don’t need to pay anything until you take the money out. You’re not locked into a monthly payment and you only need to pay the money back that you took out with a little interest.

These are geared more as a short-term loan that is paid back in a few months rather than a multi-year loan. They are commonly referred to as a revolving loan and have lower interest rates than a term loan of similar size.

If you are late on payments, then that rate can increase dramatically, and you can incur fees.

It’s also great to save for an emergency such as a sudden building repair or an increase in product price. Lines of credit are popular with small business that can’t come up the cash fast when a new opportunity arises.

Term Loans

A standard business loan is like a standard loan. You visit the bank and request to borrow a specific amount of money. There is a purpose associated with the loan such as the purchase of a building, fleet of cars, expansion, etc.

The bank examines your credit and balances the risks and benefits before determining to allow the loan. Once approved, you work on the length of the loan, interest, payment amount and are given a lump sum of money.

For example, your current building isn’t large enough for your burgeoning and growing business.

You can get a term loan to pay for a new larger facility and moving expenses. It can also go for equipment such as a new oven for a cookie company or new equipment that you use to create a new product.

You pay it back monthly at a set interest rate until loan agreement is fulfilled. They are traditionally used for more long-term investments.

Benefits of Term Loans

The biggest benefit of a term loan is predictability. You know each month you’ll owe the bank a set amount. There’re no worries about that amount changing or the amount owe going up or down. The rate of interest is the same for the life of the loan.

The biggest downside is you likely provided some type of collateral on the loan. If you can’t pay back the loan, then the bank can take that collateral. Keep that in mind when you’re determining your monthly payment amount.

If you pay more, then you can pay towards the principal and lessen the amount of term of the loan. You can do with what you want with the money as soon as you receive it.

Loan vs. Line of Credit

So, you know what the differences are between the two, but which one is the best for your business. It all depends on what you want to do with it.

Lines of credit aren’t meant to be long-term loans. They’re there for an emergency or small thing that didn’t fit into the budget. You need $3,000 for a new furnace or the refrigerators for your produce died. This is something that would probably be better applied to, or paid with credit cards.

It’s not meant for something large like a new building. It can be used for payroll, off-season costs, and restocking inventory. If you use for money-making ventures, then it can end up paying for itself.

Businesses use lines of credit for small purchases a little at a time. Don’t take one out and grab the whole amount at once. You likely need a business loan. It’s easy to learn why if you carefully examine the pros and cons of each method.

If your need is high cost and can take years to pay back, a business loan works best. You get a large lump sum to purchase a new building or other major expense like equipment and pay it back over time.

Which is Best for You?

Ultimately, you need to decide which one is the best for your business needs. Loans vs. line of credit can be a difficult decision, but hopefully, we’ve made it easier for you to choose.

Loans are best for long-term high-cost expenses, but lines of credit are best for short-term expenses and emergencies. What is your business looking for?

If you’re interested in learning more about money and how you can improve your business, then please explore our site.

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Entrepreneurship

6 Great Ways to Accept Online Payments on Your eCommerce Site

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When it comes to running a successful online business, one of the most important things site owners, drop shippers, and brands need to think about is how to best accept payments online, while also minimizing payment fraud. As wonderful as it is to accept credit cards online, your business is responsible for making sure every transaction is secure and authentic.

Did you know that 42% of customers making online purchases use credit cards as a payment method? In fact, it’s the leading payment method. Electronic payment is running at second with 39% of customers using it.

As years go by, people are shifting towards cashless methods of payment.

But which method works best for your business? What are the different ways to receive payment for online businesses? This is something that you should consider for your business.

Here are some ways you can receive payments on your online business.

1. Receive Payments via Credit Cards

One of the options to help you accept payments online is by credit card. It’s a widely-used method on a global scale, especially in countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico, Korea, China, and most of Western Europe.

Credit cards are also among the most popular payment methods. Payments from these cards go through the use of payment gateways like PayPal and Due, or through merchant accounts.

If you wish to set up a merchant account for your website, be sure to learn more before proceeding.

2. E-Wallets

Another way for you to receive payments online is through the use of e-wallets. There are many online platforms that offer this service. Especially with small online businesses in mind.

Using e-wallets tends to be effortless and easy on both sides. This speeds up the transaction process.

PayPal and AliPay are prominent in offering such options. This makes PayPal popular in the US and AliPay with China.

3. Direct Carrier Payments

There are some services and products that bill customers through their telephone or utility carriers. This is an interesting option for customers to pay for services or products. One such example is with Google’s Play Store, which offers this payment option.

This is a safe option for customers to pick. Direct carrier payment streamlines the process without redirecting them to a different site.

This is also helpful for merchants carrying this service. Not only does it offer a secure method but it’s also fast and seamless.

4. Bank Transfers

Another method that you can use to accept online payments is through bank transfers. This is one of the oldest and more traditional methods available.

Some merchants offer instructions for customers to send their payments towards a bank account. This method often employs the use of an IBAN number.

Keep in mind that bank transfers aren’t immediate. For some banks, it may take 2-3 business days before the deposited amount reflects in the receiver’s account.

5. Cash

It is also possible for customers to send their payments using cash. In fact, other countries like Russia, India, and Romania make use of cash payments for their online businesses.

There are some ways to use this method as factors such as location and reach towards customers come to play.

One of the methods that you can use is through cash-on-delivery (COD). This service allows the courier to send the product. Then collect the payment upon arrival to the customer’s location.

FedEx offers this service and is a preferable choice. Other courier companies only accept checks and money orders.

5. Paypal

In addition to using a credit card, Paypal is one of the most used and accepted forms of payment in the world today.

While it is possible to use a credit card to make payment through Paypal, many users are also connecting their accounts to their bank accounts as well. This simply makes it one of the easiest methods of payment processing for millions of users around the world.

Another reason why Paypal is perfect for both customers and eCommerce platforms is that it’s usually simply a matter of clicking a few buttons and providing API account information to integrate it within an online shopping cart or payment solution.

An extra added benefit to accepting payment through Paypal is that businesses can grow their account history and also take advantage of loan programs like Paypal Working Capital.

Pick A Payment Method That Matches Your Business Today!

Knowing and choosing the right payment method for your online business is crucial. This is the lifeblood that keeps your business flowing. Having an efficient, fast, and secure channel to receive payments lets you gain profit while the customer gains satisfaction.

Did you find this post helpful? We have a variety of topics that you can explore to help you with your business ventures. Check this one out about maximizing both time and money as an entrepreneur.

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Hi, I’m Zac Johnson

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