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What Every Business Owner Needs to Know to Grow Their Brand

Owners put their hearts and wallets into their brands. A name, a logo, a tagline, a product, an image – are all the pieces that represent the vision behind your company. Once a business has a cohesive brand, how you launch that brand into the market can be a deciding factor behind whether consumers respond positively or not at all. It is no secret that having an online section in your marketing plan is essential, but the rudimentary website and Facebook page are just at the surface of the opportunities available with digital media.

Mobile and Smartphones are Becoming Commonplace From a survey of 50,000 random individuals in the U.S., the Federal Reserve projected that 87% of the population ages 18 and over regularly used a mobile phone. Smart phones capable of internet access and a high level of interactivity made up 77% of mobile phones, a considerable increase over the course of a few years. The report demonstrates the strength and longevity of online and mobile marketing, stating that the data on mobile usage “demonstrates the extent to which they have become ingrained in modern culture.” Just as television changed the marketing world, digital platforms like mobile phones and smartphones have changed it again.

The far-reaching and continuous presence of online marketing allows a business to promote themselves across many platforms while having a website as a cyber hub for their customers to visit. The personal nature of mobile contact allows businesses to connect directly with their customers and form a bond through the direct sharing of valuable, interesting, or amusing content. Social media has allowed businesses to appear alongside the flow of their customer’s personal life. Marketing campaigns no longer seek to merely inform and persuade, but to encourage individuals to participate and build a sense of cooperation and unification with the brand.

New Marketing Techniques Must Offer a Two-Way Conversation

What does this mean for the modern business? For a business to grow their brand in today’s world of hand-held devices and digital micro-communication, they must aim to go further than persuasion and seek to introduce and integrate their brand within their customer’s interactive hemisphere. Traditional marketing mediums were limited in the sense that they could only show and tell. The engaging way that communication takes place in digital media is akin to having a conversation where both parties participate, as opposed to traditional advertising that fails to see their customers speak back.

In a recent article on the shift from traditional media planning, Forbes magazine interviewed Curtis Tingle, CMO of Valassis, who explains that the ability of digital media to collect and interpret customer data, streamline marketing communication, and access the multitude of popular online channels has turned the heads of CMOs from traditional methods. “Instead,” he explains, “their focus, resources and investments are being spent on driving innovation, data and technology integration to effectively get the attention, influence and activation of consumers.”

The solution to growing a brand lies not only in acquiring better customer profiles and marketing within view of your target audience but also engaging them in a digital connection that goes beyond typical customer relations. Companies need to methodize the contemporary user’s digital habits and offer them more than just a reason to buy their products; they need to offer them a sense of partnership and collaboration through the newest channels of communication.

Customers are Now Far More Involved with Their Brands People no longer simply use a product or service and tell their neighbor - they Like it, follow it, share it, tweet about it, forward it to their friends, and blend it into their lives at the speed of their internet connection. With so many ways to represent and interact with companies, consumers have become more closely associated with the brands they use. The connectedness of the digital age has created a hyper-awareness in consumers for the brands that align with their interests and self-perception.

Consumers can join mobile clubs to stay connected, receiving content on the fly and responding with a few taps. Automated mobile campaigns, appointment reminders, and Facebook and Twitter feeds keep fans effortlessly wired to the brand. The responsiveness of SMS and MMS messaging gives companies the chance to interact with customers in real time and send content directly to the consumer’s pocket. Thanks to push notifications, consumers can even receive social media updates without having to be logged into the website.

Digital communication has also provided a way for customers to become involved and cooperate with businesses in the activities that drive marketing by giving them a channel for their opinions. The ability for individuals to easily share rich content can reinforce promotional efforts for the brands they wish to advocate. Decision making can be influenced by mobile voting or simple Yes/No surveys, which also builds a sense of rapport as consumers feel they are contributing to the brand. Current users and those most likely to support a brand can share their views and will appreciate the opportunity to offer input. These features allow a business to hear the opinion of their most responsive customers.

Digital Marketing Platforms Offer More to Younger Generations

Millennials are rapidly replacing the baby-boomer generation. The Pew Research Center, citing a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, noted that Millennials had surpassed Baby Boomers in 2016 as the nation’s most populous generation. Younger consumers are digitally connected and prone to multitasking. They want a fast-paced and entertaining experience from advertisers, as well as ease of access to information. As the consumer population is saturated with generations accustomed to lightning-fast data transfer and ultra HD graphics, the utilization of digital mediums for their speed, ease, functionality, and ability to deliver enjoyable and graphically pleasing content will only become more important for market planners.

Text-to-join keywords, loyalty and reward programs, and other interactive features also provide younger generations with that much sought after sense of gamification. Automatic campaigns and progress reminders for ongoing customers act as checkpoints. Discovering, scanning, and sharing QR codes that offer coupons or other deals likewise contributes to the videogame-like interaction of digital marketing. A sense of play comes with the highly interactive technology available to today’s consumers. Business owners must seek to engage and keep the attention of their customers using the various features and distractions available with digital media.

Social Media Marketing Can Create a Communal Presence

The online community has developed into a nation of its own. Culturing a following among the social circles of Facebook and Twitter is an essential stage in promoting a brand in the 21st century. Social media has become a part of many consumers everyday lives. A steady campaign in the most popular online communities will familiarize consumers with a company’s brand and promote recognition in the same environment where they connect with their friends and family. Providing consumers with a constant feed of interactive and informative content also gives your brand a greater chance to grow and gain virality within its domain.

Social media platforms allow companies to access the vast network of potential buyers, such as Facebook’s population of over one billion users. Facebook widgets allow a company to collect and store their viewer’s contact information as they visit and interact with the brand’s page. Twitter also allows a business to reach out to consumers in their own environment, allowing consumers to “shout out” to businesses and brands, and can provide metrics on keywords and customer opinion. Valuable insights into your visitors and a communal presence can help acclimate a brand into the online market.

Just as many sectors see modernizations replace the customary processes, marketers should expect to see great changes in the complexity and perspective of their campaigns as technology provides faster and smarter ways to research, communicate, and interact with the audience. Consumers are far past the days when they would read the newspaper or listen to the radio to keep in touch with the latest trends. Even televisions have begun to evolve into a digital, more complex, Internet-capable medium for advertising, discovering, and staying up-to-date with the latest brands. The great shift to digital platforms has changed the way companies contact and engage their audience, and the audience has changed the way they receive and perceive information. To grow their brand, business owners must understand the evolving habits of the consumer as technology continues to change the face of the market.

The Shift to Digital Isn’t Coming – It Is Here

"Forty percent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years."

Not my words by any means but this is a dire prediction delivered by John Chambers, the outgoing CEO of technology giant Cisco. An intrigued crowd of 25,000 partners stayed glued to his every word as he opined about the coming 10 years of corporate life.

In our discussions with organizations, it’s promising to see how many individuals are pressing for digital transformation, yet they face incredible pushback.

The “traditionalists” within organizations have hijacked the conversation. They’ve made the terms social and digital dirty words and used fear mongering and lack of knowledge to slow down learning for entire organizations. They hide behind social media policies, accept less from their employees and, in some cases even, deny that the buying journey has shifted altogether.

Yes, this sounds harsh but it’s an accurate observation.

I believe it’s this mindset that Chambers is referring to. Will 40% of companies die in the next 10 years then? I don’t know – I’m not a prophet and neither are you. But this really has a lot to do with Darwin’s classic observation more than anything: it’s the people, companies and industries that adapt that will survive.

These adaptations cannot be overstated. Not to do so, would be forfeiture of existing customers to your competitors, potential future revenue, and perhaps your brand’s demise.

It’s evolution, and has been around in all circles of life for as long as we know. Lack of adaptation will kill anyone, or anything, including a business.

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