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Get brand clarity in 5 steps

Get Brand Clarity Now in 5 Easy Steps

As we’re halfway through 2018, now is a perfect time to take inventory of your brand and gain the clarity you need to make any needed shifts to ensure you end this year on top with focused and successful marketing.

I’ve recently been working on some projects with Vicky Vitarelli of V dot V Marketing, and we wanted to share what we think is a basic and practical approach to branding and marketing. We did a Facebook LIVE video to break down the 5 steps or elements to clearly defining your brand.


What is a brand?

VV: It’s how you tell the story about your product and/or services to your customers. It’s how you differentiate yourself from your competitors or entice people to engage with your brand and become clients.

NS: I’ll add that it’s important to figure this out because when you have your brand elements clearly defined, it’s much easier to put your marketing plan in place. You aren’t guessing, and you can be much more consistent in all areas of your marketing.

VV: As we jump into these 5 elements I want people to think about this as a lens that they use to see their brand. You know when you go to the eye doctor and they have you look through the lens and say better/worse? Use that approach to hone it on what parts of these elements are already great and what needs changing or updating.


Brand element No. 1: The physical attributes.

What does it look like? It will include your logo, your colors and fonts used on your materials. All of the things that you use to visually represent your brand identity.

NS: Many people stop right here, but this is just one element of your brand.


Brand element No. 2: Your communication style.

What to do you sound like? Are you a leader, a guide or authority? What type of vocabulary do you use in your messaging? What is the tone? How do you want others to hear you? Soft and nurturing or empowering and bold?

NS: How do your customers experience the way you communicate? How do they hear you?

VV: Right! It’s important to remember that every touch point that your customer has with you is significant. Brand voice shows up everywhere. In your invoices, your web copy, your blog posts. Each part of what a client experiences should have the same voice.

NS: Yes! It’s important not to let some areas become boiler-plate. If you outsource copy and writing it’s important that they understand as well. It’s not just about the facts and figures, they also need to understand the voice and how you want to sound so you stay consistent.


Brand element No. 3: What is your brand promise?

You may be selling a service, or a physical product or a book or a combination of those things. Let’s say people are selling consulting services. That’s not really what your clients are buying. They are buying the solution. An author is selling a book, but they are also selling the messaging in the book. The solution is what your client is buying.

This is also a great place to get clear on why people are buying from you or not buying? Often, digging in to find out why your message is different is a good way to really get clear your unique brand promise.

VV: A great example is the Mastercard “Priceless” campaign. At the time this was conceived, Mastercard was number 2 in their industry. We decided to use that and say Mastercard is for those special purchases, the ones that have to happen, the ones that are not every day. And it worked!

NS: Your brand promise are the benefits around what you are selling and what your clients are looking for.


Brand element No. 4: Who are you selling to?

I often hear people say “Everyone can use my product or service.” And that might be true, but everyone isn’t looking for it and everyone isn’t necessarily going to purchase. If you want to market to everyone it requires a massive budget to reach everybody.

Instead, let’s focus in on who will get the most benefit of what you are selling and really clarify that. Demographics are one part. Men or women? What age? Sometimes a geographic component might be important.

Even more important, what is the mindset? What are they thinking? If everyone can use what you’re selling why don’t they have it already?

NS: When you’re clear on this it then makes brand voice so much easier to define as well. When you know exactly who you’re “talking to” you can use tone and vocabulary that fits them specifically and will resonate with them. Writing for “everybody” means generic communications that aren’t going to resonate with anyone.

Who are your people, your tribe? When you get really clear here and it makes everything much easier.


Brand element No. 5: How do you know what your clients really want?

Do client research. Talk to them and ask them to share their experience with your company. Not just the product, but all aspects. The buying experience, customer service, ease of use etc. How did the product or service impact their life? Why did they choose you? How did they find you? What else did they consider before buying from you? Did you meet their expectations?

If you are new and don’t have clients, interview your prospects and find out from them why and how they go about making the decision to buy from you.

You will be able to understand their pain points and then you can shape your messaging to speak to that in a well-defined way.

NS: Remember that anyone can do this too. You don’t have to have access to a research firm. You can track these things from reviews, comments online, responses to your emails, as well making it a practice to ask customers for their feedback. Make it easy for them to let you know and they will be happy to share that with you.

VV: Creating ways to listen to your readers, clients and customers on a regular basis will help you create marketing strategies that stay relevant and resonate.

Summary: The Five Steps To Do Your Own Brand Audit

  1. What do you look like?
  2. What do you sound like?
  3. What is your brand promise?
  4. Who are you selling to?
  5. Listen, ask and stay mindful of comments of customers to continue to guide you.

Branding means different things depending on our background and where you are in your business. This approach is meant to keep it simple and focused, so you can identify what you want to say, who you want to say it to, and how to best communicate the way you serve your clients or customers.

Are you clear with all of the elements of your brand? Where are you stuck? Where do you need help? Leave a comment below or connect on Facebook and share!


GDPR compliant ready website USA

Is Your Website GDPR-Ready? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force May 25th, 2018. It is intended to affect data privacy laws across the European Union and Great Britain. Even businesses run outside of the EU may have users within the GDPR’s jurisdiction, so this new regulation affects just about anyone with a website online (I mean, it IS called the world-wide web, after all!). Understanding GDPR and how it will impact your website and your business may be a bit overwhelming at first (with a whopping 88 pages of legal language), but thankfully, there are many resources available online to help website owners figure out how to ensure their site is operating within the new regulations.

The best way to start

Perform an audit of your entire website to see what aspects of your site need to be declared as far as what you collect, and to be transparent to all visitors accordingly.
The following guide is not an end-all, be-all to GDPR compliance for your website, but is a general condensed overview meant to help you to go through what items on your site need to be addressed. Ask yourself the following questions about your website, and follow the suggestions under each.

1) What data is my site capturing? 

The following list of examples of data collecting you will want to audit includes, but is not limited to:
  • Personally identifiable information: Obviously, names, addresses, and email addresses are identifiable information. If your site allows comments, that’s collecting identifiable information. Same with contact forms. Someone fills it out and hits “Submit.”  You need to find out where is that data stored, and where does it go to?  Some contact forms don’t store the data in your site’s database, some do. Which option do you have set? Don’t forget I.P. addresses. In the United States, Visitor I.P. addresses are not necessarily considered identifiable information, but in the EU, they are. If your site tracks or collects any users’ IP addresses, you will need to know this, as well.
  • Cookies: Most websites send a small file to each user’s computer or phone, called a cookie. Most of the time, a cookie’s file contains just a timestamp of the user’s visit to a site, but can also store many other personally identifiable data, such as an email address or password.
  • Selling of products or services: Does your site sell products and/or services using ecommerce or payment tools (PayPal, WooCommerce, Stripe, Amazon Seller, etc.)?
  • 3rd party site tools: Such as live chat tools, marketing tools. If your site uses a live customer chat or any marketing tools, such as funnel services (LeadPages, ClickFunnels, WishList Member, etc.), you need to visit these service providers to see what they are doing to be compliant

Any other ways not listed here, in which your site collects a user’s data, you will want to mark down.


2) How long is the data on my site kept for?

Any tools mentioned above, or others, that your site uses to capture a user’s data must be investigated by you to find out how long a record is stored on your website’s database or in some cases, on a cloud connected to or provided by the service or tool in question. Follow up with your website designer/developer or investigate each tool on your own by visiting its provider’s website and either search for their updated privacy policy that clearly indicates that they are GDPR compliant, or contact them to ask how they are planning to meet the regulations, then be sure to get the information in writing.
In many cases (if your site is running WordPress, for example), the above-mentioned tools and aspects of your site may be handled by a script called a WordPress plugin, and those are typically written and managed by third-party developers. Visit your WordPress plugins page and then visit each plugin’s respective website or plugin listing to investigate the way the data is collected. Here is also a resource on WordPress and GDPR compliance.
Once you find the information that each provider outlines which indicates how they compliantly handle data, you can link to the language that each service provides, within a Privacy Policy page (addressed further in this post).

3) How does my site address consent and explicit consent?

After collecting all the above answers for the first two questions, write out what needs to be addressed, and how you want to present and disclose what it is your site does with any information it captures (you will need to make sure none of it is personally identifiable because there’s an issue of consent. All visitors need to not only consent to give you access to their data, you need to allow them to do so.

You can prepare a Terms page on your site to outline that by using the site, each visitor has agreed to give their consent for you to collect their data. Then you can add a button or check that says “I agree” next to a link to this Terms page.

4) How does my site allow users to access and control their data?

The next concern your site needs to address is the prove your site has the ability to deliver all data to each user in the EU that you have collected on them. The GDPR outlines that one thing they require for all EU website users, is that each EU citizen has the right to access and opt-out of or remove any or all of this identifiable data upon request. 

Some data compliance efforts may not be required on your part

If your site deals with health or medical information, you need to know that explicit consent is required for the processing of certain special types of personal data. Examples would include things like racial or ethnic background, political, religious, or philosophical beliefs, data concerning health information, sexual health, and sexual orientation. This is outlined in more detail in the GPDR’s Article 9. If your site does not use or request such data, you should be OK, but be sure to read through the GDPR text to make sure.

Bottom line: Transparency

Setting up a clear disclosure that explains in plain English what data you collect, what the data is used for, who can see the data, and where and how long it is stored, should be done via a Privacy Policy page. A good idea would be to check out a reputable legal website which provides privacy and terms page templates, use and customize what they have available, and then, for each service your site uses to collect data from users, provide a link to their page that outlines their GDPR compliant practices language.
If your site collects no personal identifiable information whatsoever, and your site is in the US and does not cater to users in the EU, you probably have nothing to worry about, but in the spirit of transparency, it’s still a good practice to just make sure there is a site disclosure easily accessible to all users of your site, even if you do not collect anything.

Next steps:

Whether or not you are within the EU or have customers in the EU, there are fines and penalties that can be imposed if your site is not compliant with the GDPR law. How these fines or penalties can be collected or enforced is still unclear, and many parts of what has been written so far have been presented in a very ambiguous way, so the practical effects and results on non-compliance have yet to be tested in a court of law.
You will want to share this with your legal team and/or website developer so you can work together to get GDPR-ready!


This was a guest post by Bobbi Jo Woods

Ultimate Social Media Checklist for Events

The Ultimate Social Media Checklist for Events

Hosting an event? Want to make sure it is a big success for the organizer, attendees, presenters, and event sponsors. Using social media as part of your event marketing strategy, you have a terrific opportunity to create significant momentum and interaction.

You can increase engagement and overall awareness of your events with a solid social media plan. Here’s how:

(Download Social Media Checklist for Events here.)

Social media is a great way to promote your event to your target attendees, but it doesn’t stop there. During your event, social media provides a great opportunity to interact with your audience in real time. It also allows attendees, presenters as well as organizers to share and amplify the event presentations and overall messaging.

Post event, a social media strategy means you can use crowd-sourced photos, presentation comments, reviews, blogs, recaps, podcasts and videos about your event. If you have a regular event schedule, seeing the great comments, videos and photos is a great way to bring in new people to your next event. It’s a great after-event list building tool as well.

You also have a great way to continue the conversation. You can use feedback surveys to create a graphic about the most valued presenter, or the most commented keynote. If your presenters agree (and they will) you can share slides and commentary after the fact and compile a few of the real-time comments for a great way to generate interest in your next event.

Using social media before, during, and after your event is no longer optional.

Organizers, attendees, and presenters now rely on social media for event updates and to connect with others. Sponsors will also appreciate the chance to raise their profile at the event, and increase their visibility to those who can’t attend live via social media posting and sharing.

To help make sure an effective social media strategy is part of your next event, I’ve created a Social Media Event Checklist. It provides the plan for a smart strategy and allows you to make sure your social presence before, during and after your event supports you, your event and your attendees.

Download Social Media Checklist for Events