Why everything your business does is branding...and it matters.

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We work with and talk with a lot of businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs. While many of them have different needs and goals, one thing is pretty consistent.

THEY AREN’T SEEING THE BIG PICTURE!

By the big picture, I mean they look at their marketing—and more importantly their branding—in a vacuum. They see it as an afterthought, something else to do (if they are actively doing it at all). They see social media or digital marketing as “the thing to do when there is time,” or they think just having a website is good enough. After all, if you build it they will come, right? WRONG.

Marketing isn’t about doing one thing. It’s not even about doing a couple of things. It’s about doing all the things. It’s about creating focused, intentional traffic to your website and/or storefront. It’s about having a way to engage your audience, capture emails and build retargeting campaigns. It’s about follow-up phone calls and analysis. It’s about making your branding and marketing a thing you don’t just do when you can, but rather about making it a vital part of your business. Because you will lose in the long run if you don’t.

I used to say the definition of communication was everything we do, say or don’t say—whether we mean to or not. That same definition can be used to define branding and marketing. Everything your business does is it’s marketing and branding campaign. EVERYTHING. That includes what you aren’t doing, what you’re doing badly, and what you are doing unintentionally.

I see this every day looking though social media accounts and websites. I see branding messages that are off, or are simply missing. I see business that leave off addresses or contact information. I see brick and mortar stores that never mention what city or state they are in. I see social media posts that focus on the completely wrong audience (most of them are only attracting others in their own business field!). For example: authors who market their books using #author or #writer instead of focusing on hashtags their audience will actually like and follow.

We call it a “marketing funnel” for a reason. It’s a funnel! You need to have the ability to attract new customers, then funnel (lead) them though your website, then make sure you have ways to reach out to them in the future, then keep connecting with them, then filter out those that aren’t right—all until you have the ones who are purchasing from you.

The trouble is we are an instant-gratification society, and these processes take time and tweaking. All too often, I see companies proposing marriage right away instead of dating. Meaning, they ask for a huge commitment (a sale!) without ever taking the time to gain the trust of their customers.

But the real value in the marketing and branding process isn’t the process at all. It’s the consistency. Every company I’ve talked to that’s not doing well has this in common. They tried something once, but they didn’t see immediate results, so they didn’t do it again.

Again, they are trying to get married before they date.

A real, effective marketing strategy can take months if not a year to fully be realized. It takes time to build the social media audience, and it takes time to convert that audience to website traffic, which takes time to build up enough trust to get them to give you an email address. And finally, it takes time for people to be ready to buy.

You’ve never seen a car commercial on TV and said, “OK, I have to get that car right now” and gone straight to the dealership that day and driven off. Of course not. You learn about the car first. Then you do some research, maybe shop around for the right model or color. Maybe you contact a couple of dealerships to see who has the best price. As you’re doing these things, you start to see you really like a particular dealership—maybe because of price, maybe because the sales rep took the time to answer all your questions without being pushy, or maybe they just feel like a cleaner, more upscale or honest dealership. Plus you’ve been seeing great ads for them online. You’ve read positive customer reviews, and you’ve gotten some really helpful emails about when the best time to buy is or about a great rebate program.

All of that is marketing and branding. It’s no one thing. It’s not just Facebook posts and tweets. It’s a well thought-out and effective machine that generates leads and sales.

If you aren’t thinking of how your customer is going to connect with you, you will lose. You need a marketing plan, a process, an effective website, effective social media campaigns, effective follow-up marketing including emails and online ads, and you need the commitment to follow through with your plan over a period of time, while keeping the flexibility to analyze the results and make course corrections.

If you don’t have a strategy like this, or don’t know how to implement it properly and you feel like you’re just spinning your proverbial wheels, let us know. We’d love to help.

ARE YOU MAKING THESE MISTAKES?

ARE YOU MAKING THESE MISTAKES?

I had a really eye opening experience with some business owners the other day. I was at a great networking event and met with a bunch of professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners. Probably much like yourself. When I finished the meeting I decided to take a random seven business cards and see what I could discover about their online presence.

Weird places to create

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Creative people are supposed to be eccentric. At least, that’s what we’re told. Still, the fact that one member of our team wrote nearly the entire first draft of a novel in her parked car seemed pretty weird to her.

But it worked. And she kept at it, and now it’s done. 

Not everybody has the Perfect Writing Spot or the Perfect Space for Creativity. In our heads, we’re “supposed” to, but when we don’t it makes us feel a little off at best and an all-out fraud at worst.

However, we at Brodie Media are convinced that the best place to create is the place where your work gets done, no matter what that looks like. Over the years, we’ve heard of some unusual creation-places. We say, “Bravo.” 

Here are some of our favorite alternative writing/creativity zones:

The car

For some of us, the car is the only space where we are truly and completely alone. So why not turn that into your own private creative haven? It’s worked for a couple of authors we know, for sure.

In a tree

We always hear about great book characters sneaking off to read away the afternoon nestled in the branch of a tree. So why is it surprising that some writers like to pen said books there, too?  Trees are peaceful, solitary, and inspiring for many people. While we think it might be a tad awkward (and unsafe) to hoist your laptop up with you, why not tote a journal and a couple pens and let nature unleash your creative beast?.

On a subway/train/bus

Plenty of people like to write in coffee shops, citing the buzz of energy as a creative driver. Is it that much of a stretch to take another leap and let your morning commute do double duty for you? There’s just as much excitement and bustle in the air, plus the gentle motion of your chosen transport probably can’t hurt (what’s that saying about kinetic energy feeding into creativity?). Who knows, maybe you’ll produce the next Great American Novel on that hustle-and-bustle high.

That’s a start. Now it’s your turn: where are some of your favorite “weird” places to write or create? 


Why writers should love LinkedIn

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We remember when we first created our LinkedIn account several years ago. It felt so strange—isn’t this just for people who are job-hunting? Why are they making me network with more people in my industry? Who has time for this?

But somewhere along the line, LinkedIn started growing on us. And now, it’s official: it gets our first-ever Brodie Media Triple-Heart Rating. (OK, we just made that up. But it sounds nice, doesn’t it?)

What we’re trying to say is that we’ve gone from a lukewarm “meh” feeling to a real appreciation for what LinkedIn has to offer, especially for those of us on the Brodie Media team who are writers.

Why, you ask? Let us explain:

It’s for grownups

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great, but sometimes it’s hard to filter through who’s a bona fide professional and who’s some weirdo stalker posing as an “author” or a  (don’t even get us started about Snapchat). But most of the people on LinkedIn are real professionals who take their work seriously. That can be refreshing.

Legit conversations

If you’re anything like us, we tend to get all suspicious when we get a private message on other social media accounts, especially when it’s from someone we’ve just connected with. Often, they’re trying to sell us something (editing services! cover design!), or it’s one of those generic auto-messages urging us to buy their book right now pretty-please. But with LinkedIn, you get the sense that the messages are from real people making genuine connections. Again—refreshing. 

Interesting content

Most people who use LinkedIn are rather selective about what they post, perhaps because they know their audience consists of real professionals who don’t appreciate drivel. So (for the most part) your feed isn’t overly clogged and you can really take the time to appreciate what your peers take the time to share, whether that’s about writing or a host of other interests.

Jobs

While we have little to no experience with the job-search aspect of LinkedIn, many people we greatly respect have excellent things to say about the “Jobs” section of this platform. The layout and search functions make it easy to hunt for positions and locations, and usually it’s easy to tell if something is a good fit or not. Writer jobs are plentiful, too, which is not always the case on other platforms.

What do you think of LinkedIn? What are some of your favorite things about it, or why haven’t you tried it?

The fellowship of Twitter—yes, really

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Twitter can get a bad rap—idea bashing, name calling, heckling—but it’s a surprisingly good place for writers to engage with other writers.

We at Brodie Media weren’t so sure about this when we entered the Twitterverse all those years ago. Why would people who love writing possibly want to limit ourselves to 10 characters, let alone navigate (what was to us then) the confusing randomness of the general news feed.

But now it’s one of our favorite platforms, and we think it’s a great place for writers to engage with each other—and with their readers. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Do your thing

Just like with your blog, you don’t want to tweet about everything under the sun (parenting and fitness and books and writing and tomato gardening and global warming!). Take the time to figure out your main topic. For instance, if you write about faith, tweet about faith. Also, make sure your topic is identified in your profile—don’t just list your name, or something esoteric and vague. Say who you are: e.g. Jane Doe, parenting blogger and author. And make sure to have a photo so people know you are an actual person!

Determine your hashtags

In Twitter, everything is categorized by hashtags to make finding content and likeminded Twitter friends easy. Use them! Take a look at some Twitter accounts that get lots of response. What tags are they using? Then follow suit.

Birds of a feather…

Once you find a few likeminded pals, take a look at their followers. Chances are, they’ll have quite a few that you’ll want to engage with, too. Follow them. Usually, they’ll follow you back.

Sharing is caring

Twitter is a place to engage. Don’t make it just your soapbox—write up an interesting thought, post it and be done. If someone comments on your post, engage with the. If someone likes or retweets your post, check out their feed, and chances are they’ll have a post you’ll want or retweet yourself. Train yourself to retweet at least four or five posts for every one tweet you make. If you scratch someone else’s back, they’ll scratch yours, and everybody wins. (Bonus: Now you have some real fellowship going!)

 

Your turn: What are some of your tips to engage on Twitter and make the fellowship of the “Tweet” stronger?

How the creative visual playground of Instagram helps your writing and reach

Photo by Matt Brodie - Follow him on Instagram at  @TheBrodieMan803  You can also follow author Jessica Brodie  @JessicaJBrodie

Photo by Matt Brodie - Follow him on Instagram at @TheBrodieMan803
You can also follow author Jessica Brodie @JessicaJBrodie

We get your hesitation—writers on Instagram? It’s about photos, not words. Why would any self-respecting writer spend much time on a picture-based platform?

Because Instagram can do a lot for your creativity, your writing, and your reach.

Instagram is a visual masterpiece. Many creative types love Instagram because of its simplicity. It’s often a place of great beauty and honesty. Follow the right people, and your feed can be filled with landscapes, gorgeous gardens, eclectic smatterings of light, and brilliant artistry (or, if you prefer, adorable puppies and babies). If you need a mood-boost or just a place to generate some creative thoughts while brainstorming your next chapter, Instagram’s got you covered. The swirl of colors alone invites expression. Plus, the fact that liking all this lovely photography involves tapping a photo, thereby causing an uplifting little heart to flash in front of you, doesn’t hurt either. 

Not just that, but Instagram can also be a great place to get to know other writers, who’ll let you vent, share writing tips, or just laugh with you when you need a silliness break. Hashtags like #writerslife, #writersblock, and #writersofinstagram are just a few of the happiness hubs on this platform. Connect! It’s fun—and chances are, you’ll learn what makes other writerly souls tick and how they work through a problem you’re having yourself.

If you don't think you're "good enough" as a photographer to make it on Instragram, don't worry. Try simply posting images that speak to you about your writing or inspire you. One great idea is to take a photo with your phone and challenge yourself to write a short Instagram-only story with it (about 2,200 characters long). Do this for a month, and you'll be well on your way to figuring out your voice on the platform.

Instagram can also grow your reach, helping you sell books simply by getting the word out there that your books exist—and how they can get them. Be careful not to come across as just trying to sell your stuff, though. You want to be authentic and engaging, not a cliche used-car salesperson. That said, a captivating photo that teases a book draws the eye and heart… and makes them want to learn more. 

So if you’ve been holding off on trying Instagram because you don’t understand how you might relate to a photo-based platform, we say give it a shot. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

You can always follow us on Instagram, as well. @brodiemedia

We've launched our Youtube Channel!

We are super excited to announce the launch of our new Youtube channel.

This channel is a resource for small businesses, entrepreneurs, individual brands, authors, bloggers, vloggers—basically, anyone who is self-employed or looking to grow their own business. We wanted to create a place to help you learn more about social media marketing and online strategies to grow your audience and, hopefully, ultimately generate more brand awareness and revenue.

So here are our first 3 videos! We're still tweaking things, and we have a lot of plans going forward, but we would really appreciate your support by subscribing to the channel and letting us know what kind of information you want to see.

Check out the channel here!

In this episode, we offer a few tips and tricks you can use to grow your Facebook audience, get more likes and get more organic reach for free.

In this episode, we talk about a few ways you can grow your Instagram audience with your actual customers using hashtags and geo-based tagging to get more likes and more organic reach for free. You'll learn one of our strategies for growing your Instagram audience with local users that are actually your customers. And you'll also learn why you can't go for just large numbers.

In this episode, we talk about five little mistakes business, companies, entrepreneurs and service providers make with their social media accounts that are costing them money. Learn why so many aren't converting their social media audience into paying customers. We'll give you some ideas on how to actually grow a social media audience that will buy from you. If you have any ideas or comments, leave them below in the comments.

Platform as a mission field

Platform as a mission field

We work with a number of Christian authors and artists who felt uncomfortable at first about putting so much emphasis on “growing their platform,” which is a fancy way of saying expanding their reach on social media, their website, and in other influence areas.

At first, many of these creative Christians didn’t seem to understand why their agents and publishers were requiring them to have so many followers and friends, why they couldn’t just focus on producing their work and let the publishing houses do the rest.