Building an online brand strategy is critical for any software company starting today, especially admidst COVID-19. The reality is, for most products, the vast majority of new business is created online - but it's not just about your logo or colors.
To build a successful online brand, your team need to identify and understand who you are and what you do for them. There are a couple of really important steps that you need to take to do this, and some things that are good to be aware of, which we share below.
Define & understand your brand differentiation
Above all else, you need to know exactly who you are, and take the time to articulate who your business is, what you stand for, and the problems that you solve for your customers.
Once you know who you are, you need to narrow down your customer base to as small a segment as you possibly can. The reason for that is two-fold. One is that very small segments tend to interact within themselves as communities, so they can refer others to you. It also means that it’s easier to build brand awareness within a smaller community.
One of the biggest mistakes startups do is to cast their net really wide. They hope for any business rather than just the right businesses. When you do that you don’t actually develop a brand because you're trying to solve too many problems for too many people.
What you need to do is forget the rest of the world. Ultimately, a very tight and focused brand strategy is a far more successful route to market than trying to sell to everybody.
Hone in on your customer's needs and pains
Rather than thinking about the millions of businesses out there, focus on who you are honestly selling your product to. It could be geographical, by function, by vertical; the smaller your target market, the more effective your brand strategy will be overall.
Get to know your customers by asking yourself some key questions:
- How do they think?
- What do they do?
- What problems are you solving for them?
- Why would you be important to them?
You can then identify where they go so you can find and engage with them digitally. Think about what media they read and where they go to talk to their community. You can engage with them there, create content for those communities, go to their events or sponsor them. That’s where your customers can also refer you to other people like them.
You may even want to create a community group yourself if one doesn’t exist. Having a community manager actively talking to your customer base in their community is more valuable than any amount of ads that you can put up. It’s about adding value to the community so they understand what you do and how you can make them successful.
Leverage the right social media platforms
Once you know where to find your customers, you have the whole gamut of online tools available to you from LinkedIn to content to digital ad platforms and PR strategies.
Choosing the right platform will again depend on who your audience is. Take developers as an example: LinkedIn ads probably wouldn’t work because they don’t spend any time there, but if you were targeting sales people then LinkedIn might be a good strategy.
Understanding your personas and where they spend their time allows you to craft a strategy to reach them as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Keep your brand vision clear and focused
There are a couple of things that can be stumbling blocks when building brand strategy.
Firstly, your salespeople won’t like this strategy. They see having a very small addressable market as limiting. So you have to be careful about how you manage your sales organization and make sure that they do focus on your market.
Secondly, it takes time and effort to create a successful brand strategy. You may even need to spend money on consultants to build out your strategy. It may be expensive upfront but it’s probably a better way to use your dollars than throwing money at Google AdWords and crossing your fingers.
If you have a great product or service, putting in place a good brand strategy and staying true to your vision will ultimately make you successful. The more defined that strategy is, the more successful you're going to be.
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