Monthly Archives: December 2017

12 Great Ways for SMBs to Elevate their Brand in 2018

Here are 12 great ways how you can elevate your brand.

If you’re waiting for the right time to build your personal brand, this is a perfect time.

I’m a very passionate about building a personal brand — it’s something I’ve been doing since my first marketing communication and design agency. I leveraged my personal brand and evolved it ever since.

You’ll enjoy the ability to establish yourself as an authority, create your own voice and attract business by winning the trust of your customers and partners. I’ve worked with many companies on defining themselves, developing collateral, messaging, and branding as well as differentiating what they do from the competition. There are may more branding vehicles these days then ever before, which you can use to talk about your strategies. Here are a list of a ways you can elevate your personal brand in the upcoming year.

1. Launch a weekly email newsletter

Building your own mailing list is still one of the best ways to generate your own leads. You’ll be able to talk about a wide range of topics. Establishing a website with a blog can act as an information hub to build trust with your visitors for all of your brands and projects.

2. Run a $3 per day personal branding campaign on Facebook

Facebook presents you with the ability to put yourself in front of the exact audience you want to attract. I suggest that everyone starts with a personal profile, then make a business page in order to separate your business brand from your personal profile. This approach is an effective strategy that is affordable for all entrepreneurs. You should always be thinking about developing great content, then present through on “Facebook Live.”  You’ll generate greater reach and credibility with your audience.

3. Post daily short and long-form content on LinkedIn

Some entrepreneurs swear by LinkedIn as the best prospecting platform ever. Posting daily, keeps your brand top of mind with your audience. Since your time is limited, make one long-form content per week, and make short-form quotes in your daily posts, which you can then push to other social platforms, blogs, and websites. By turning comments into conversations, you engage with your audience and establish yourself as an authority.

4. Create your website

It’s very hard to build your personal brand without a website. These days you can get a beautifully designed WordPress website template via Square Space, or Envato or many other sites.  However, remember to go with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to get started. Start with a simple website — Home and About Pages — are all you need to get started. Then build out the rest of the site: Services, Your Work, Blog, and Contact Page.  Do you have a domain? If it’s available, choose your first name and last name for dot-com domain. Need help getting started. Call me.

5. Increase your organic reach via blog posts

These days, you must blog on your company website to bring the voice to your company’s audiences. Content is king, but you cannot build a website without developing a great messaging. Influencer marketing is improving new business engagement. Marketers who employ an influencer marketing strategy believe it is successful. The views and social shares you collect using this strategy also act as social proof, and social media-based influencer marketing strategies will connect you with new audiences and improve engagement with existing audiences.

6. Participate in Twitter chats — or start your own

Twitter chats were immensely popular years ago and have started to become popular one again, which I attribute to the recent increased interest in the new 280-character limit. The easiest way to find relevant Twitter chats to participate in is by following the most influential people in your industry.

7. Start vlogging to document your entrepreneurial journey

Starting a daily vlog in 2018 is one of the things I’m most excited about. Filming all day and editing all night is not inevitable. You can do these quickly with your Smart Phone and even edit the video. Think about unique angle and story, the opportunity to attract an audience and raise your personal brand is limitless.

8. Donate your time and expertise to your local community to open doors

Help nonprofit organizations with their online marketing, pro bono. Over the years, you can expect to be introduced to an amazing number of contacts and being referred to some large brands.

9. Start a weekly podcast

Podcasts, which can be merged with blogs, are portable and can be consumed during someone’s downtime. Some entrepreneurs build massive podcast audiences, and that spilled over to their social media profiles, which really helped strengthen their personal brands.

10. Never stop learning

I spend time daily reading and learning — absorbing as much information as possible. My industry is constantly changing, so if I failed to keep up with the changes it would have a negative impact on my personal brand, as my value would plummet. Stay in touch via Lynda.com, Udemy.com or any other social media learning channels. Offer advice and providing your input in blogs and vlogs, and even Facebook groups to give back to the community.

11. Network at key industry conferences

Generate your own leads by attending conferences and trade association events. It’s a great way to meet new customers. The best way to spend your time is to attend conferences, put as much time networking either during the day or at the evening events.

12. Get a professional headshot

I use the same headshot everywhere — from my social media profiles to my author bios — and that consistency is key if you are serious about building a strong personal brand.

For more information, contact Tim Fahey, info@dirigoagency.com

8 New Trends in Social Media for SMBs in 2018

In 2018, social media is poised to create even more disruption as a number of new technological advancements go mainstream, and as Facebook and Instagram are leading the charge on social media platforms.

Here are the top 8 social media trends to help you as marketers in 2018.

1. Influencer marketing is improving new business engagement

Over 90 percent of marketers who employ an influencer marketing strategy believe it is successful. Companies like North Face, Hubspot and Rolex use social media–based influencer marketing strategies to connect with new audiences and improve engagement with existing audiences.

In 2017, we saw that brands that opted for traditional advertising strategies struggled to connect to social media users. In 2018, it is likely that more brands will embrace influencer marketing as a way to connect with audiences who tend to ignore traditional strategies.

2. Instagram Stories is the master story teller

Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month, which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat — and Instagram Stories is just one year old! At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018. This means that brands interested in connecting with Instagram users must take the time to master Instagram Stories.

3. Augmented reality is entering the room

At the first-ever event hosted in the Steve Jobs Theater, Apple announced the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. Both devices incorporate a new chip that allows the phones to provide users with extraordinary augmented reality experiences. While augmented reality will have its initial impact on mobile gaming, it is likely that social media platforms will find ways to incorporate the new technology as well, and according to Facebook, includes dropping in product placement.

4. The New Generation Zers are 22 years old and have increased buying power

A recent study conducted by Goldman Sachs concluded that Generation Z was more valuable to most organizations than millennials. Today, the oldest Gen Zers are 22 years old. They are just beginning to enter the labor force and will have increased buying power for some time.

Brands will begin to recognize this and will shift their social media strategies accordingly. Expect great investment in platforms loved by Gen Zers like Snapchat and Instagram.

5. Messaging platforms are hot

Over 2.5 billion people use messaging platforms globally, and yet brands are still primarily focused on connecting with consumers on pure social networks. In 2018, expect brands to invest more time and money in connecting with consumers on messaging platforms. Artificial intelligence, voice assistants and chatbots will enable brands to offer personalized shopping experiences on messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik.

6. Live streaming 2.0 is more powerful now

What was once a novel gimmick has become a mainstream part of social media. Today, brands big and small have started using live streaming to capture the attention of followers. In 2018, more brands will begin to realize the power of live streaming and will incorporate it into their monthly content plans.

GORUCK, a backpack manufacturer and the organizer of extreme endurance events, is one example of a medium-sized brand that has grown its reach by live streaming compelling content on Facebook. Thousands of followers tuned in to watch 48-hour coverage of a recent endurance race.

7. Facebook Spaces taking VR mainstream

Facebook isn’t just interested in live video streaming; they’ve been working on a project called Spaces that is designed to allow friends to connect in VR. Given that Facebook owns Oculus, a virtual reality hardware and software company, it is no surprise that the social media giant is developing a platform to make use of this new technology.

Facebook is poised to scale Spaces in 2018. When they do, it is likely that it will be the first successful VR social media product at scale.

8. Facebook coming out 2018 with their version of digital hangouts

Houseparty is a video hangout platform used by over one million people each day. It is primarily used by Gen Zers as a way to hang out with friends digitally. The platform is so successful that Facebook is reportedly investigating ways to create a similar functionality within their platform.

We have already seen video become increasingly important on social media, and live video group hangouts are a natural next iteration of this trend. It is conceivable that in 2018, Facebook will announce a similar product to Houseparty that will win over users, just as Instagram’s introduction of Stories did.

Conclusion

A number of new social media trends that will impact users and brands alike are accelerating. It is likely that video streaming and virtual reality will go mainstream. Additionally, brands will turn to newer social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat as Gen Zers increasingly spend their time there.

With the announcement of the new iPhones, augmented reality has a chance to become a part of social media in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago.

Lastly, Twitter and Facebook will most likely adjust their policies to protect their brands from political criticism and to provide users with better online experiences.

5 Tips to Creating a New Product Name

Not surprisingly, developing a product name is usually done by committee. Some people think the brand name is too childish but love the product. Others want to name things with acronyms, Not all products and offerings need a new name. Too many of your company product names will lead to confusion about our offerings, which undermines the integrity of the brand.

A new name is only necessary when introducing a new, unique product or family of offerings. If a product or service is an enhancement, feature, component or accessory of an existing product, use the current name of that product.

1. Although each situation is unique, answering “yes” to the following questions indicates that a new name should be created:

  • Is this a new family of products and services?
  • Is this an individual product which provides an unusually strong point of differentiation from the competition — and does not fit into a current family of offerings?
  • Is the offering backed by significant marketing support and commitment to long-term growth and development?

2. A new name is generally not necessary if the offering:

  • Is it a product enhancement, product feature or product component of an existing product (for example, If we bundled a new add-on feature, we wouldn’t rename the plan?)
  • Is the product common in the industry (for example, wifi)
  • Is the product part of a short-term promotion (for example, a promotion that will run for a quarter or less) Is the product and upgrade or part of an existing family name.

3. When to use descriptive names:

  • Descriptive names are straightforward. They use common, easy-to-understand words to describe functions or benefits of the products or services.
  • Descriptive names may be preferred for most company offerings because they are highly communicative and require minimal advertising or communication to convey the message of the offering.

4. Below are situations where descriptive names should be used:

  • When the product or service is part of a standard industry category or offering in the marketplace (for example, wifi). When the product or service has a limited budget.
  • When the product or service is not backed by a long-term commitment. Examples: company® open house, company® grand opening, company® free promotion

5. When to use proprietary names

When a program or services is very innovative or is comprised of many different components, it may be too complex to use a descriptive name. When this is the case, a proprietary name can be developed.

Proprietary names are less communicative than descriptive names. These names may suggest meaning and benefits, but on their own, these names generally have little meaning to the customer without more information. Once understood, though, these names can be powerful, memorable and may be entitled to protection as intellectual property.

It’s imperative for proprietary names to undergo research testing to ensure they are appropriate for and meaningful to the target audience. Do not do this in-house. Proprietary names may be appropriate when the offering falls into two or more of the following categories:

  • A major new product category or company-wide offering.
  • Product or service family whose breadth or complexity requires an umbrella name to ensure clarity of communications.
  • Backed by a large multimedia marketing budget and a long-term commitment. Provides significant competitive differentiation. Examples: In 2012, Cisco Services Domain Ten(SM) Cisco Services’s Blueprint for Simplifying Data Center and Cloud Transformation; or Cisco Aironet®;  or Cisco Prime™

For more information and help with determined a product or company name, contact Tim Fahey at Dirigo Agency at info@dirigoagency.com.

When to use Trademarks in your brand name or logo

How many times do we wonder when and how to trademark our company name? Here are some tips to use when using trademarks, service marks.

A trademark identifies the intellectual property to be distinct and proprietary. You should apply to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a registration to achieve maximum protection for proprietary names, but in some cases, it may not be necessary or beneficial.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office https://www.uspto.gov/ will help you determine whether it is beneficial to pursue a trademark registration for a name. Please note names will require preliminary and possibly full trademark searches in order to ensure they don’t infringe on other trademarks regardless of whether we want to protect the trademark. Please allow adequate time for these searches.

Trademark rights can only be established through consistent, correct use. If the use of a trademark is discontinued for as few as three years or if the trademark is used indiscriminately or incorrectly or its licensees, you may lose its rights to the trademark. This jeopardizes the strength of your brand and its competitive position.

Best practices for using Trademarked names

  • Think of all trademarks are adjectives. For best business practices, do not use trademarks as nouns or verbs. Always use the complete product or service name.
  • The appropriate trademark attribution must be used at the first or most prominent mention of the product name.
  • Never alter a trademark, including abbreviating to an acronym, or translate a trademark into another language without working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office or Dirigo Agency before making such a change.
  • Don’t use a trademark as a possessive or plural. Don’t use trademarks to coin new words or names. Don’t use trademarks to create a play on words.
  • Here are the definitions of how to use the Trademark symbols as notices

® Registered Trademark – This symbol should be used only after registration as a trademark has been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A registration mark (®) is used with a name for which a government authority has issued a trademark registration certificate. It is used with registered trademarks for goods AND services. It replaces the ™ or SM.

™ Unregistered Trademark – Indicates an unregistered trademark that describes goods.

Trademarks (™) include words, symbols, designs, slogans, vanity numbers, or musical tones or combinations used commercially to identify and distinguish the goods of one source from those of another. The ™ indicates that the trademark is not registered.

SM Unregistered Service Mark – Indicates an unregistered service mark that describes services. Service marks (SM) include any word, symbol, design, slogan, vanity number or musical tones or combinations thereof used commercially in the sale or advertising of services to identify and distinguish services of one source from those of another. The SM designation indicates that the service mark is not registered.