Sponsor a Community Team

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Grassroots BRANDING

Would you invest 10 minutes of your time and a very modest amount of money to get your name (and BRAND!) publicized within your community in a very positive way for weeks (often months) at a time?

The answer seems obvious, but a surprisingly small number of businesses take advantage of the opportunity to sponsor a local athletic team – ranging from those of young kids to adult recreational groups.  Typically, a quick call or e-mail to a league official would be all that’s required to agree to sponsor a particular sport.

What You Get (in Addition to Gratitude)

In return for your sponsorship, you can expect to receive some combination of the following forms of recognition:

  • Your name on hats and/or jerseys (both of which tend to be worn for years after a particular season has ended).
  • Your name on printed programs and/or schedules.
  • Your name displayed in some manner within the athletic venue.
  • Your name repeated every time the player mentions the team in conversation with others.
  • Your name listed in any newspaper covering the sport (ex:  Donny’s Hoagies plays West End Pizza tonight for the league championship!).
  • Your name mentioned at any end-of-season banquets or perhaps reproduced on a trophy.

This word-of-mouth exposure can be especially effective within a local community and seems ideally suited to retail operations (though larger regional and national companies can still benefit).  When you consider the high cost of advertising, an investment of this kind provides a good shelf life and return for each dollar spent . . . while associating your brand with community involvement in a very positive way.

Opportunities Abound

When considering possible sponsorships, all forms of athletic teams are available – from little league baseball and mini-football to intramural/recreational softball, soccer, hockey, and basketball.  You can even consider branching out further by supporting school plays, choral groups, etc.

While the exact amount of your investment will vary with your location, type of exposure provided, potential audience size, etc., you are very likely to find that the 10-minute branding activity needed to set up the sponsorship and the modest amount of money involved will produce results that compare quite favorably with other branding opportunities.

Always Have a Back-up on Hand

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Disclaimer:  While we only recommend products we know and love, we want to note we use affiliate links and may earn a commission for purchases made through those links.

I recently wrote a piece about making your brand a consistent statement throughout your business by reviewing all the physical documents your customers see, your advertising, your web presence, and signage to make sure each piece fits your brand — logo, company colors, tag line, etc. Doing this audit from time to time and addressing issues by revising, reprinting, and/or repackaging is the ideal way to go. And yet, sometimes, a last-minute stamp right before a piece goes out the door is the best we can possibly do. In those instances, it’s good to be prepared.

This week’s 10-minute branding recommendation is to buy your business a logo stamp for those eventualities in which you have no other way to make your brand known. Maybe you run out of a certain size box and need a short-term fix until you get a new batch. Maybe you need to use an envelope size that you’ve never needed to use before and therefore don’t have anything pre-printed. Maybe you have a print job go wrong. Thankfully, a good stamp goes a long way and will still look professional in such instances.

If you don’t already have one, here are a couple options for you from Zazzle:

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Conduct an Ongoing Three-a-Day Sales Campaign

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

This newest 10-minute brand building tip makes the assumption that you have already followed our advice to start to create a 10-minute contact database (see Build a Contact Prospect List) or alternatively have a list acquired separately from a third party that you’re now ready to start approaching.

While contact and production sales campaigns are most often created via a major coordinated effort aimed at reaching dozens of prospects simultaneously, your initiative need not be such an all-consuming, resource-draining exercise to produce meaningful results that enhance both your brand building activities and sales.

Instead, we suggest developing an ongoing sales initiative that will approach the task three prospects at a time.  Since your contact list was developed from your personal knowledge and efforts, we believe this data will be more qualified than lists acquired from a third party and will very often allow you to know the best media or strategy for making your approach.

Nevertheless, success will still be measured in very small percentages.  However, each success will represent the opportunity to create a loyal customer that delivers repeat business over time, and you also benefit in another less obvious way.  Since your direct marketing materials will be incorporating the key elements of your brand in your chosen way, this exercise also reinforces your brand with an important potential audience.  

Direct Mail Letter – E-mail – Text Message – Phone Call

As a separate exercise apart from this 10-minute tip, we suggest you build reusable templates for generating a letter and/or e-mail to individual prospects.  Then, you simply have to plug in the necessary name and contact information, generate the document, and send your solicitation to the targeted recipient.

Generally speaking, you should be able to complete three prospects at a time and still have a chance (and the energy!) to properly update the activity in a contact and production control log (that is either part of your original database or a separate spreadsheet).  While methods can vary, you need to maintain a record of every date and method of contact as well as any responses received.  In general, we suggest using a multimedia approach, so we recommend scheduling your first follow-up contact about a week after your letter or e-mail was sent.  Since you are building your contact list three items at a time and executing your sales and follow-up activites at a similar pace across as many days or weeks as needed, this process will essentially become an ongoing effort spread throughout the year that hopefully also produces some ongoing results!

If you initially felt a call was the best method to use, your follow-up will depend upon the response you receive.

  • If you actually spoke with a person, a letter or e-mail can be sent to thank the person for his or her time and consideration . . . with a promise to contact them again in the future.
  • If your initial call did not get through, a second call is probably in order – separated by about a week.
  • If one of these contacts connects and you are ready to move on to the next stage of the sales cycle, plan to schedule a follow-up session (very often a personal or virtual visit/meeting) to try to convert the sales lead into a customer.

When your initial contact and follow-up activities fail to produce results, plan to repeat the same activities with the same contacts at a future date – recognizing that repeated efforts might be required to get your message in front of the person at the right time – buying time (that moment when a potential need becomes an actual one). 

Note:  Although this article deals exclusively with implementing the mechanics and timing of running of a 3-a-day sales campaign, you can find more information about creating the necessary templates in other articles at www.brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.  Specifically, you might want to check out:   Role of Branding in Direct Mail/E-mail and Creating a Mail Merge Document for Direct Response Mailing.

BTW – Using direct contact opportunities to wish your customer a safe and happy holiday for occasions such  as Thanksgiving makes a positive statement about your brand!!

Measuring the Success of This 10-Minute Branding Task

While accomplishing three contacts in a day might seem like too little to make a meaningful difference when the percent returns are so small on direct marketing and telemarketing activities, these numbers DO multiply with consistent, sustained effort.   Furthermore, conversion of a single lead to a customer who becomes a loyal repeat client year after year represents a significant victory – the kind upon which successful businesses are built.

Basic SEO: Meta Keywords

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

Before you get started with meta tags, I would recommend you make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index). Then, review your web pages’ meta titles (read that story here) and descriptions (read that story here).

Our current installment in our SEO meta series is . . .

META KEYWORDS

This component is the easiest one yet. You just want to make sure you don’t use this particular tag.

In old-school web design, meta keywords were important in communicating the content of your web site to browsers. However, they were abused by developers, who often stacked desired keywords that weren’t even present in their content. As a result, google now ignores the tag entirely for standard searches, and bing actually uses the tag as a signal for spam. If you have a long laundry list of keywords or your keywords aren’t relevant to your content, you could be getting an SEO ding. As a result, we recommend reviewing your keywords to make sure they don’t raise any red flags. Or, you can err on the safe side and simply remove them altogether.

Below is an example of what keywords might look like in your code:

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”branding, small business, entrepreneurs, DIY, how tos, quick, easy, 10 minute branding”>
</head>

You can delete the entire bracketed component for the meta name “keywords.”

Once removed, the header above would look like this:

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

Easy peasy!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Build a Contact Prospect List

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Add Three New Names Per Session

When you think about telemarketing, direct mail, or some other sales campaign, you probably imagine using a huge database of prospects obtained from a third-party source.  Perhaps the list was purchased from a vendor or downloaded from a non-profit professional organization of which you are a member.  Then, you probably see this list becoming the engine that drives a huge concerted effort involving many people . . . and then producing results measured in depressingly low percentages.

Well, that description is very often extremely accurate and can indeed be extremely worthwhile . . . but can also sometimes involve extensive resources.  However, another 10-minute approach to the same basic activity does exist.

Specifically, build your very own sales contact list three entries at a time.  Create a spreadsheet or other electronic list that includes the following columns for:

  • Name (consider separating into separate columns for first, last, and salutation)
  • Address (consider separating into separate columns for street, city, state, zip)
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Social media presence (identify which ones)
  • Dates contacted (Leave space for three entries)
  • Contact method (Leave space for three entries)
  • Contact response (Leave space for three entries)

When identifying the entries to include in your database, consider prospects from the following:

  • Your street, town, neighborhood
  • Personal acquaintances that could also have a business interest in your products/services.
  • Business associations and memberships such as the Chamber of Commerce, trade groups, etc.
  • Leads mentioned by your friends and family members.
  • Internet searches using a variety of terms related to your business.
  • Possible leads encountered through social media or other advertising activities.
  • Sign-in sheets located either online or within your place of operations.
  • Etc.

You Get the Idea

Prospects can come from almost anywhere; you probably encounter a half dozen a day . . . but never bother to formally collect the information into a useable file with accompanying contact information.

When entering such data into your spreadsheet, finding the names will probably come fairly easily, but you will spend the majority off your time gathering the other information that makes the file useful, using phone books, online searches, social media searches, directories published by groups and organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, etc.  I can almost guarantee that 10 minutes will be required to do your three daily entries, and you will probably not be able to fill in every column of contact information but WILL succeed in collecting enough to be useful.

Next Steps for This 10-Minute Branding Task

Collecting three prospects per day may not seem like enough to be useful . . . but perform that task for 10 days during a month, and you have 30 at the end of that period.  Do that for six months and you have 180.  Furthermore, your list is reusable.  Following the basic principles of sales contact campaigns, you should plan to reach out to each name you have collected at least three times at different intervals to try to assure that you get your information in front of that person at buying time – the circumstance in which you are most likely to be successful in making a sale, adding a new customer, etc.  Similarly, you can try to approach your prospects in a variety of ways – by phone, by mail (direct mail letter or postcard), by social media messaging, etc.  That way, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of reaching out to each prospect by his or her primary media preference.

Will You Be Successful?

Conventional wisdom suggests yes – with sustained, consistent, and professional effort, you will generate new business.  While the percentage of victories will probably be low, new customers tend to be recurring and can more than payoff your 10-minute investments fairly quickly over time.   Furthermore, I think you will find that a list assembled in the ways described above will be somewhat prequalified and therefore more useful than prospect lists obtained in other ways that tend to include countless entries with little likelihood of success. 

For more information, see Role of Branding in Direct Mail/E-mail and Creating a Mail Merge Document for Direct Response Mailing.  Also, look for further 10-minute branding suggestions upon executing a prospect sales campaign three leads at a time!

Protect Your Brand: Check for Copyright Infringement

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

If you create something of value, someone, at some point, is going to try to steal it from you.

Image by Freepik

You’ll most likely encounter such a culprit even if you don’t go looking. However, if you stay vigilant and catch copyright infringement quickly, you don’t risk losing too much ground. I recommend performing this check once per month. (If you never see any copycats, you can extend the task to once every three or six months.)

SEARCH FOR TEXT

Use a search engine to search for your company name, company slogan, product name, product slogan, etc. I usually go about five pages deep. If you don’t see any infringement by that point, chances are you’re good.

SEARCH FOR YOUR GRAPHICS

Using google’s reverse image search, I would search for the portion of your logos (company and products) without the text, so you’re searching for any graphical components individually. To do so . . .

1. Go to google.com and click the camera icon at the far right of the search box.

2. Click the ‘upload a file’ link and follow the prompts to select your image.

3. Google may automatically crop the searchable area of your image as was done for mine below. If so, you can simply drag the corners of the outline outward to extend the highlighted area of the picture.

4. Scan the “visual matches” for any copycats.

ISSUES

If you find any copycats, bookmark the web site(s) containing the infringement as you go. If you have a lawyer, forward your results. If not, stay tuned. We’ll elaborate on ‘next steps’ in a future post.

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Visit a Competitor’s Web Site

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Looking into a Looking Glass

Visiting a competitor’s web site can be a very useful way of holding a mirror up to yourself to better understand and measure the effectiveness of your own brand (while taking the pulse of your position in the marketplace in relation to a company that’s out to secure the same business).

What You Should Look to Learn
(i.e., Your Checklist of Considerations)

When you visit your competitor’s web site:

  • Determine whether the content is brochureware (i.e., strictly informational) or transactional (i.e., providing interactive tools to place orders, pay bills, request a quote, etc.).
  • Read the description of their products and services and compare the features being highlighted to your own.
  • Ask yourself whether your competitor has succeeded in communicating a distinct brand and determine the kinds of qualities being emphasized (ex:  staff expertise, locale, ease of doing business, history and track record, use of latest technology, etc.)
  • Learn what service promises and commitments are being made (i.e., 100% satisfaction guarantee, 24/7 availability, etc.).
  • Ask yourself whether a particular visual style has been used that you can immediately associate with your competitor (ex:  use of a corporate color, font, byline, logo, etc.).
  • Determine how often new content is posted (daily, weekly, monthly, only upon revision to the site).
  • Get a quick sense of whether SEO has been taken into consideration; when you search for a product or service you both offer, whose comes up first?  How far down in the search results is your listing?

Once You’ve Completed This 10-Minute Exercise, Ask Yourself . . .

  • Was this experience almost like looking into a looking glass and seeing your own reflection?

OR

  • Did this looking glass show you the brand you’d like to become in the future?

OR

  • Did this glimpse at your competitor make you feel better about yourself?

Obviously, your answer to those questions is determined by your findings during your 10-minute visit, so your next job is to analyze your results and – if necessary – develop a game plan for improving.

Next Steps for Future 10-Minute Branding Tasks

Take a close look at each of the 7 Checklist items above.  In any instance in which your competitor fared better than you, develop a strategy to enhance your results.  For example:  If your competitor features Internet sales and service and you only offer brochureware, start putting together a plan of action to learn the enabling activities involved in expanding your web-based operations.  (A very big mission begun as a result of a quick 10-minute branding task!)

Once you have considered each item on your checklist, try to step back and consider the overall picture you see.  Does this current view reflect the company you want to be?  If not, is the time right to revisit your Vision Statement and refresh your brand, knowing that a better defined and executed brand will ultimately translate to better sales and operations?!

Basic SEO: Review Your Web Pages’ Descriptions

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index) and put aside this post for now.

A great second step is to review your web pages’ titles. (Read that story here.)

Next up . . .

META DESCRIPTIONS

The web page description is another component of “meta tags” that can communicate important information about the page to your visitors. 

If you’ve done a good job writing your “meta description,” that content will be displayed when your page is listed in a search engine’s results underneath the title.  For example . . .

This “snippet” (as google refers to this text) can determine whether a visitor clicks through to your page. However, google will automatically generate a snippet from your page’s content and virtually ignore your description if it doesn’t meet google’s criteria, bringing us to . . .

BEST PRACTICES FOR “SNIPPETS,” ACCORDING TO GOOGLE

  • Create a unique description for each page of your web site.
  • Include important information from your page, even if not in sentence format.
  • Some do’s and don’t of quality descriptions:
    • Don’t just list keywords; a home page should explain what your business does and include details (such as hours and location).
    • If the page is selling a product or service, do provide specific information.
    • Do summarize the content of the page.
    • Don’t be too short or generalize.
  • Use the meta description tag (see below).
An Example of the Meta Description Tag in Action in Your HTML:
 
<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

OPTIMAL DESCRIPTION LENGTH

While all of google’s best practices may suggest a weighty description, google will actually only display 155-160 characters on search results. Therefore, you have the lofty goal of incorporating a wealth of specific information in as few words as possible.

ONLY 10 MINUTES A DAY

You might be questioning this approach at this point, thinking, I already spent 10 minutes just reading this article!  If so, you’re done with your 10-minute branding exercise for the day!  Come back tomorrow prepared to get started on executing the task.  Once you reach 10 minutes, save your work and come back the next day!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Order Pizza for Your Employees

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Today’s 10-Minute Tip

Your employees are your best brand ambassadors.  They have the most direct and frequent contact with the general public/your audience/your customers and can be the key to reinforcing the brand image and message you want to communicate while embodying your service philosophy.

In taking 10 minutes every once in a while to order pizza or some other treat (such as picking up the tab to have an ice cream or food truck come to your place of business), you tell your team that you recognize their importance and value their daily contribution . . . while giving you a chance to reiterate your branding message and service philosophy to a receptive group!

Want to take the gesture one step further? 

Treat each pizza party as an opportunity to highlight an employee of the week/month/year and celebrate his/her efforts by posting that person’s picture within the workplace.

Fast.  Easy.  Affordable.  Fun.

Pizza parties provide a perfect way to complete your 10-minute branding assignment for a day . . . and even save some time for yourself by taking care of your lunch!! 

Remember, we are very interested in hearing your thoughts and comments.  Just use the space below.

Learn more about the importance of customer service to the process of branding:

Branding Through Customer Service

Make Your Brand a Consistent Statement Throughout Your Business

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

So how do you make your brand a consistent statement throughout your business . . . in 10 minutes a day no less?!

The endeavor sounds so much harder and more intimidating than the actuality.

ENSURING BRAND CONSISTENCY: THE PROCESS

Day 1: Collect all the physical documents that your customers see.

(Remember that any task taking more than 10 minutes gets paused to continue the next day.)

Day 2: Make sure each collected piece fits your brand — logo, company colors, tag line, etc. Put any off-brand item aside.

Day 3: Repeat the process for all current advertising.

Day 4: Go through your website and any other online materials. You can bookmark any item needing to be addressed.

Day 5: Repeat the process for any signage, noting items in need of change.

Day 6: Fix identified issues. One piece per day is probably a reasonable goal, though more complicated items may need to be spread across multiple days.

And then you’re done! The process may takes weeks to complete, but if you approach it in a organized manner and commit to 10 minutes per day (no more or no less), your brand will be consistent in no time . . . without having to take away from the business of actually running your business!

GOING FORWARD

Having this process fresh in your mind will help you be attentive to branding your materials in the future. Still, you may want to put a reminder in your calendar for one or two years ahead (whichever seems more reasonable based on the quantity of materials you have) to repeat this process.

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.