• Crucial Steps for Creating the Optimal Brand Architecture September 28, 2018 1:46 pm
    In the overly-competitive business world, there can be no long-term success without branding. A brand is the visual, literal, and emotional representation of a company, a personality and an image designed to capture the hearts and minds of the demographic, and set the brand apart from the rest of the competition. In this, lies true success in the modern business world. With that in mind, there needs to be a comprehensive brand architecture in place to guide the company forward through the many trends, hierarchical changes, structural alterations, and of course, long-term decisions such as strategic partnerships that will define the future of the company. Here to help you build a brand that will stand the test of time, market fluctuations, and management, are the crucial steps for creating the optimal brand architecture. Discover Your Audience and Tailor Your Approach The road to creating a strong brand that knows what it’s doing begins with defining your primary audiences. Discovering your primary demographics will be the essential task that will lay the groundworks for your brand identity, personality, and image that people and other businesses will know, love, and trust. What’s more, knowing your audience and creating detailed customer personas will help you refine your product creation and promotion strategies, while giving your employees a structured brief that will help them understand what your organization is all about. Audience research should bear fruit to the following: Create messages that your customers and clients will easily understand Create an internal brand roadmap for your employees Classify and position your brand in the competitive arena for better recognition Build strong media and content strategies that will echo throughout the industry Refine your innovation process in order to remain relevant in your niche Let Marketing Portray Your Brand in the Best Possible Light Branding and marketing go hand in hand as the dynamic duo that gets a company on the proverbial map and makes a boom in the industry. Quite simply, without a comprehensive marketing strategy in place to position your brand in the online and offline world, you cannot hope to establish long-term success. This is exactly why you need to ensure brand consistency across all important channels of communication through the use of creative production that will position your brand on every relevant media portal out there. But it’s not just about positioning, it’s also about eliciting a strong emotional response from the audience using values, messages, content, as well as mission and vision statements. Define Your Values, Vision, Mission, and Goals The foundation of every successful brand in the 21st century is its clearly defined set of values and messages, portrayed by its vision and mission statements. Defining your long-term goals, your role in the market, and your aspirations will not only be essential for internal branding, but also for building a trustworthy image and establishing an emotional connection with your audience. Your brand values. Values are what sets you apart from the rest of the herd, they are emotional triggers Read more The post Crucial Steps for Creating the Optimal Brand Architecture appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • 5 Ways an App Can Boost Your Startup’s Marketing Efforts September 27, 2018 3:23 pm
    Building, launching, and growing a startup is one of the quickest ways to see how many different projects you’re truly capable of juggling at once. It involves thinking about things like funding, planning, partnerships, software, hiring, legal logistics…and the list could go on. Without a doubt, though, one of the most important things within the startup-realm is marketing — getting your brand in front of potential customers. Unfortunately, though, with all the other to-dos on a startup founder’s plate, marketing is the very same aspect getting put on the back burner all too often. And it’s not because you don’t realize the importance of marketing your startup; you know full well how vital your outreach efforts are. The problem is, as much as you’d like an endless abyss of funding to pull from when starting up, you’re often strapped for cash. That means marketing efforts have a tendency to be run in-house, by inexperienced “marketers” making the most of the existing skills they have. Fortunately, there’s a tool that can handle most, if not all, of your marketing efforts: An app. Think of all the big companies whose apps you currently use — for shopping, email, project management, meal planning, scheduling services, and more. From brick and mortar businesses to SaaS models, apps are becoming the norm. Just consider how powerhouses like Starbucks have created an app for their customers, or how any time you fly, downloading your chosen airline’s app gives you all sorts of new options. The key is, while apps like those help you, as the customer, they also help the business — in a very big way. Having an app for your startup is like casting a marketing net. Instead of spreading yourself thin focusing on separate aspects like running ads, maintaining communication with customers, or staying present on social media, an app allows you to do all that and more, within one neatly packaged tool. Keep reading to learn exactly how having an app can help explode your startup’s marketing efforts. 1. You can always be on your customer’s radar It’s a busy world, and there’s no doubt you’re going up against countless competitors and noise when it comes to getting your customers’ attention. Traditionally, you might try to: Run ads to gain more touch-points with customers Create a social account for every platform and maintain constant activity Form partnerships with other businesses your customers frequent And more In reality, though, how many separate marketing campaigns can you handle? Unless you have the funding to partner with a full-time marketing director or agency, chances are you don’t have much brain-space to handle dozens of outlets at once. Having an app for your startup, on the other hand, can completely automate your efforts, which will help you stay front-and-center with customers. Instead of running ads you hope will keep customers coming back, why not send push notifications to their screens at the exact moment you know they’re on their phone or laptop? Instead of using 10 Read more The post 5 Ways an App Can Boost Your Startup’s Marketing Efforts appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • Tips for Building Your Startup’s Brand Strategy September 21, 2018 5:44 pm
    To an indifferent bystander, your brand is just another baby-loaf in the newborn nursery. As much as you love your own brainchild, facing fierce competition in the existing market takes so much more than passion to stay on the surface and build a solid reputation. It takes time, patience, and plenty of expertise to find a way to build an emotional connection from day one, and the only way to do that is to focus on a branding strategy. Know Your Customers For some brands who wish to stay local, it makes sense to only think about how they will appeal to the customer in their actual, physical location. You should, of course, have a strong online identity, as well, to stay connected to your audience and keep them in the loop with your promotions, events, and product news, but your target audience will most likely remain local. However, have you considered expanding your wonderful raw cake selection to include vegan and organic treats that will attract tourists from all over the world? Or, even more importantly, does your brand have the potential to outgrow its domestic market and spread its wings on a global scale? In that case, you need to include this long-term idea into your branding plan starting from your research phase. Get to know your local as well as global audience to make a name for yourself. Make Some Noise Have you ever seen a Coca-Cola campaign that’s subtle and under-the-radar? Of course not because even the most established of names cannot afford to stay unheard in the sea of chatter. The same goes for everything you plan to do from the beginning – you need to make as much noise as possible in all the relevant media, social networks, and by utilizing word-of-mouth where applicable. From announcing your company, your first product line, your first event, all the way to all the launch dates, you should get the word out often and make the most of your existing connections. You need to make your name the talk of the town for it to reverberate and raise awareness from the get-go. Ensure Cross-Channel Consistency One of the trickiest issues startups face in the early stages of their development is retaining their identity no matter where they present themselves. That is why companies such as this architecture firm from Hong Kong are gaining more traction, as their approach combines all aspects of branding into a unified strategy – from your online presence, to your office interior design. It’s vital that your potential partners, first employees, and your customers get the same impression from the look and feel you create for your entire brand. Your colors, language, your office style, all the way to your office mugs and your branded notebooks and pens should send the same message and allow for an emotional foundation to emerge. Learn From the Best In the Industry Chances are, you’re not the first one in your field to come up with a Read more The post Tips for Building Your Startup’s Brand Strategy appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • How To Build A Knockout Brand For Your New Business September 14, 2018 5:53 pm
    The most important part of any business is branding. A good brand can sell anything, but bad branding will get you nowhere, so it’s important that you create one that’s memorable. And branding is not just about how your business looks either. It’s how you interact with employees and clients. It’s your values and your business model. In a word: everything that you do. Your brand runs through the heart of your operation, and defining it early on will help you immeasurably. In this piece, I’ll run through exactly how you can build a knockout brand for your new business. Creating a Good Logo The beginning of any effective brand starts with its logo. If you’re not confident in designing it yourself, hire a designer to do the hard work for you. Your logo will be the “face” of your brand for years to come, so take the time to get it right. You might choose to have a text-based logo or an image. If you choose a text-based logo, think about purchasing a unique font that you can use across your brand. For example Print 4 Humans, a Florida-based digital services firm, have chosen a techy-looking font to match their techy business – not to mention using the four colors used in printing (magenta, cyan, yellow and black) throughout their website and marketing. A simple and effective branding strategy that coneys multiple messages at once. Make choices that reflect your brand and show who you are. An image-based logo is a great way to go too – the best image logos will be so simple that they can be stamped onto anything. This means having a good illustration – no photos – with minimal colors and shapes. Don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous with your logo either. There are some great brands with stunning logos that you can be inspired by. For example, Gentlemanly Inc have found a way to stay recognizable while still being able to change up their logo between products: By switching colors, patterns, and illustrations, they create a dynamic logo that retains a visual conformity while keeping it interesting and product-specific. Make It Consistent The best brands are the ones that can translate into different formats and onto different mediums whilst still staying recognizable. New brands often don’t realize how deep this needs to go: it’s not just about names and slogans, but even using the same color palette and RGB values. This may seem superficial, but it is all part of building customer loyalty from the very beginning. It doesn’t mean that you can’t change in the future, just that you need to present yourself as professional and reliable from the very beginning. When you’re first starting out, you need to make a big, bold statement, and it’s harder to make a positive statement if your brand isn’t consistent. Create a style guide or brand manifesto that defines what you do and how you do it. Language, tone, color — all should Read more The post How To Build A Knockout Brand For Your New Business appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • Customer Centricity As the Main Factor of Success September 10, 2018 5:41 pm
    As we live in a highly competitive world where companies are fighting for more market share, more space in consumers’ minds and their shopping carts, being customer-centric has never been more critical for success. In fact, it has become recognized as the only way for any business, in any industry, to survive the competition in the marketplace. What Does It Really Mean to Be Customer Centric? While customer-centricity isn’t a new concept, many companies still have a vague understanding of what it really is. To put it simply, it’s a strategy that’s based on putting your customer first, and at the core of your business. But it doesn’t end with offering great products and providing outstanding customer service. In fact, it’s part of a much bigger picture. Customer-centricity is rather a philosophy whereby a business is entirely focused on its customers and engages with them in a way that ensures positive customer experience before, at the point of sale and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, win greater customer loyalty and increase profits. Companies like Apple, Zappos, and Amazon are some prime examples of brands that have spent years creating a culture around the customer and their needs, and that are truly customer centric. Why Customer Centricity Should Be Your Main Business Priority The importance of being customer centric continues to grow. Companies adopt a client centric approach for a number of reasons but the most important one is that it becomes harder to attract new customers. Unless you are offering products or services that are totally unique and brand new, the majority of consumers will inevitably evaluate your business against competitors or equivalents available in the market. That’s why putting customers at the core of a business and offering top-notch customer experience is becoming of paramount importance. In fact, according to the Customers 2020 report by Walker, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. While research from Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies that aren’t focused on the customer. The 2018 Digital Trends report, published by Econsultancy in association with Adobe also revealed that customer-centric businesses that prioritize customer experience are more likely to outpace their competitors, and are twice as likely to exceed their business goals. In addition, the earlier study by Econsultancy discovered that 58% of respondents consider being “customer-centric” to be the most important characteristic in establishing a truly “digital native” culture. 5 Habits of Highly Customer-Centric Organizations However important it is, executing a customer-centric approach doesn’t happen overnight, and it surely requires a certain strategy to follow. Let’s explore 5 powerful habits of organizations that have successfully built customer-centric cultures. What do they have in common and how do they manage to remain customer-centric despite their size and diversity? They clearly define their vision Building a customer-centric company starts with defining a vision, a clear mission and cultural values. As Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive states: “Our vision is to be Read more The post Customer Centricity As the Main Factor of Success appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • 4 Reasons Why Your Startup’s Brand Story Is the Most Valuable Asset You’ll Ever Own September 7, 2018 2:10 pm
    You’ve hired the most kick-ass code jockeys on the Interwebs. Created the hottest product since the Selfie Stick. And adopted the most adorable French bulldogs in your entire WeWork facility.But none of those bad boys could ever hope to have the impact of the single-most powerful weapon at your startup’s disposal. Your humble, “About Us” brand story. That’s right, the original backstory of who you are. It’s an asset that’s available exclusively to you – totally for free. And yet it will become the most valuable piece of property you will ever own. Giving you Jedi powers that will enable you to differentiate and dominate for as long as you remain in business. Here’s why… Because Your Competition Can’t Steal It We live in a hyper-competitive world. Every day, hard-charging rivals are sneaking up behind you in dark alleys, looking to hijack your intellectual property, your customers and your market share. And they’ll stop at nothing to succeed. They’ll mimic your products. Hire away your coders. Hell, they might even attempt to make off with your adorable French bulldogs. But try as they might, they’ll never be able to replicate your brand story. This is huge. In a world starving for authenticity, you are the only you out there. Not that this will stop your rivals. They’ll do anything to distract from that fact.They’ll shout louder in the marketplace. Offer lower prices, easier terms, endless concessions. They’ll out-spend you ten to 1. But if you’re managing your brand story properly they still won’t be able to pry your customers away… Because It Bonds You With Your Tribe And the reason is simple. Because your story is their story.They see themselves, their beliefs and their values reflected in you. Which is why they use your products to make a statement about who they are – to themselves – and to the world. We all do it. We are all the car we drive. Brand loyalty is the driving force behind the most valuable companies on Earth. Need proof? Let’s do a little test. The truth is all smart phones are basically the same. They work the same way, do the same things – hell, nowadays, they all look alike, too. Now see if you can convince an iPhone fan to switch to a cheaper Android model. Then tell Siri to set the timer for “When Hell Freezes Over.” Of course, not all brands have such a wide appeal. It is highly unlikely that your story will resonate with everyone. Which is actually fine. Why? Simple… Because We Live in a Niche Marketing World We used to live in a “broadcast” world. Where generic messages were spammed out to a general audience. Reaching everyone – but connecting with almost no one. Now we have 800 mediaproperties, 1 billion web sites and 86 trillion personalizedYouTube channels. And we’re probably just getting warmed up. Reaching your tribe in the midst of all that craziness is a challenge to say the least. It’s almost impossible Read more The post 4 Reasons Why Your Startup’s Brand Story Is the Most Valuable Asset You’ll Ever Own appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • How to Deal With Ecommerce Payment Problems September 6, 2018 2:03 pm
    Modern ecommerce businesses rely heavily on sales, in order to become successful. That being said, getting paid after sales are completed is equally important to keep your ecommerce store operational. For that reason, many ecommerce businesses implement a payment gateway to help handle their payments and transactions. Payment gateway providers are middlemen for payments between ecommerce stores and online consumers. Electronic transactions for ecommerce business involve having a payment gateway, a payment processor and a merchant’s account. These three aspects allow you to process payments on your ecommerce website. However, implanting such a system isn’t without its issues. The most common payment problems for ecommerce businesses come from inability of their payment processors and gateways to properly process transactions, as well as security issues that may hinder these transactions further. Here are a few ways you can deal with ecommerce payment problems. What are gateways, processors and merchant accounts? As mentioned before, these three aspects are crucial for processing electronic payments on your website. A payment gateway is an intermediary between your online transactions and your payment processor. It allows you to charge your customers’ credit cards for products or services they purchase. Think of it as the physical point of sale in a brick-and-mortar store only this one is on your website. Furthermore, a payment processor is financial institution that provides payment processing services to ecommerce stores. They are connected to both your merchant’s account and payment gateway, in order to pass information between those two in a fast and secure manner. Moreover, a merchant’s account is a form of bank account that authorizes you to accept credit or debit card payments at your store. You can open one at the bank that offers such services or opt for one provided by your gateway or processing company. Pricey Services Gateway and processing companies charge your ecommerce store for their services. That can become a payment issue for your business if their prices are a bit too steep. That can significantly impact your profits. For instance, the average fee for online retailers is 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. In other words, for every sale you make, the processing company takes a percentage for their services. This isn’t a bad deal, as long as the costs of those services don’t negatively impact your bottom line. To avoid this payment problem, you should look for providers with suitable fee prices for your business. After all, you have other expenses to worry about and you’ll need to be able to keep the most of what you earn from sales. Focus on Security Cybersecurity is one of the most important factors in ecommerce business. Stores that handle sensitive information about their customers need to be able to protect that data, in order to ensure that their customers will be willing to make purchases at their store. If there’s a lack in proper cybersecurity, you’re not only risking customers abandoning their shopping carts, but also risking data fraud and security breaches that may cause Read more The post How to Deal With Ecommerce Payment Problems appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • 5 Ways to Increase User Engagement For Your Product August 31, 2018 1:53 pm
    What does user engagement mean for your product? I mean, there are products that require some daily activity from a customer. On the other hand, there are products that you only login into once a week, but that’s enough your customers’ needs. So let me ask again. What does user engagement mean for your product? For better or for worse, this part is completely on you and only you as a product owner can figure it out. It’s always a good idea to start with your ideal customer profile, find out their goals and pain points. That will give you some food for thought. But don’t you worry, this article isn’t going to be one of those “you just go figure it out yourself” pieces. There are some universal practices that will help you drive your user engagement, and I will talk about them in detail here. But first, let’s clarify how exactly you can track your user engagement In 2018, there are tools for everything, and I’m pretty sure you’re using, like, 20 of different tools right now. So naturally, there are tools for tracking your customers’ interaction with your website or product as well. They are smart customer communication platforms. You may have heard of Intercom, right? So that’s like that most known example of such tools. And the most expensive, probably. But there are lots of more accessible Intercom alternatives like HelpCrunch (yours truly) or Drift. These tools collects your user personal and behavioral data – like recent activity, pages they visit, time spent on a page, etc. You can then access this data and get a clear understanding of users’ behavior in your product. That’s the very basis of every customer engagement strategy. Now, to the specifics… 1. Make it easy for your users to contact you One of the most important aspects of user engagement is communication. Basically, if you can’t ask your customers about how they feel about your product and what else they would need to be more engaged, then it’s a waste of time. Just remember there’s a huge difference between being an easy going people’s company and being pushy. You definitely don’t want to come across as being too pushy. And it works in both direction, too. If a customer face some kind of an issue and don’t have an easy way to ask for your help, then they’ll just leave. I mean, what else could they do? So, give your users an easy way to get in touch with you whenever they want to. Leaving your email on the ‘Contact us’ page is the least you can do. Also, get your social media accounts in order and don’t forget to check your inboxes there as well. There are also other channels, which you can’t ignore in 2018. According to ICMI, 42% of customers prefer to communicate with companies via live chat compared to 23% preferring email and 16% preferring social media. So, getting live chat for your website can also Read more The post 5 Ways to Increase User Engagement For Your Product appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • 4 Powerful Ways to Use Video to Build Your Brand August 27, 2018 1:21 pm
    As the speed, power, and bandwidth of the Internet available to the everyman grows, so does too the prevalence and use of video. Increasingly, the workplace and market are becoming more and more virtual, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, then surely a video is worth a novel’s worth of words. Therefore, not taking advantage of the power of video is a sure fire way to shoot your company in the foot for no reason. In today’s article, we are going to outline several ways that you can use video to build your brand in a fresh, powerful and ultimately successful way. Behind the Scenes A company is made of passionate people all working towards a singular goal, and providing your customers an insight into the daily passion that you put towards their needs is an amazing way to connect. By being able to see the faces behind the scenes and the passion that drives success, customers can connect with your brand on a more intimate level. This is especially true if you can show that your company has a fun-loving culture, that is open to ideas and improvements at all times. Finally, another great advantage of behind the scenes video is that it’s relatively easy to shoot and spread. Just remember to make sure of what you can and can’t show outside your company. You certainly wouldn’t want any trade secrets getting out! Influencer Interviews If you’re looking to build brand credibility, then there’s no better way than connecting with a related influencer online. For instance, if you’re a rising tech company trying to push your new smartphone smart food solution, then reaching out to a tech youtube channel like LinusTechTips will certainly help you go far. In a sense, you are building credibility in your brand by using the credibility of a brand that’s already well established. Of course, it should be noted that reaching out to multiple influencers is the best way to market your product. After all, the more you can push your product out there through credible brands, the more eyes and potential customers will see it. Work hard to build trust with these influencers, and you will surely be rewarded. Webinars If you’re well-suited in presenting to large audiences, then a webinar is an excellent way to build your brand. Hosting webinars that are associated with the field your company works in is an excellent way of establishing and showing off knowledge in that field. For instance, if you’re a music production company, hosting a short series of webinars on basic music editing software use should be right up your alley. People love free things and while the internet is awash with tutorials for a wide range of subjects, getting yours to stand out as useful and knowledgeable will go a long way to building brand familiarity in your customer base. The greatest difficulty in hosting a webinar is the content. It’s not easy to prepare a script and topic that Read more The post 4 Powerful Ways to Use Video to Build Your Brand appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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  • Four SEO Trends To Keep An Eye On In 2018 August 22, 2018 1:50 pm
    If your business is yet to take advantage of using SEO strategies on its social media pages, blogs, and website, then it’s time for your company to take a step forward. SEO is one of the most effective and simple ways of ensuring customers find your business and purchase your products or services. However, SEO is constantly evolving and what was considered useful a year ago may not be of any use today. With the advancement of technology, search engines are continuously enhancing the quality of search results. That’s why you need a knowledge base and a good understanding of what’s new on the horizon for ranking practices. The infographic below made by SEO Tribunal is very enlightening, but here are a couple of more in-depth thoughts regarding key trends in SEO for 2018: Voice Search This is one of the latest trends in SEO. It’s growing exponentially and is revolutionizing how people search for things on the internet. Evidence? Currently, 20% of all web searches are voice searches. So, how can you use voice search to your web page traffic’s advantage? Well, voice search in Google tends to choose the text placed inside a Featured Snippet. To successfully take advantage of voice search, your content has to be on the first page and it will even be better if it is in the Featured Snippet. Additionally, ensure to include a more conversational keyword. For instance, a type search such as “pie definition” becomes “what is a pie?” or “define a pie” in voice search. Also, it will help a lot to include questions and answers in the content; this is what Google’s algorithm for voice search prefers. Useful Content Today, user engagement plays a more significant role in achieving overall SEO success. Creating a user-driven and insightful content that delves deep to answer relevant questions is imperative. Another thing to remember is that link building goes hand in hand with quality content. If your content has what it takes for people to like it, they’ll naturally want to link to your website. Site Speed Whether desktop or mobile, a site’s load speed is is essential for SEO and positive search engine results. It is also one of Google’s pivotal ranking factors. Users want results and want them fast. Therefore, having an unresponsive website will negatively influence your business in terms of sales, traffic, and page views. That is how vital speed is. To improve your site’s speed, talk to your web developer if it is custom-coded or to the tech support team of your hosting company in case you use some CMS like WordPress. They should be able to recommend an adequate caching plugin and add GZIP compression to speed things up a notch. Bottom Line Integrating SEO into your marketing strategy is without a doubt vital to the overall success of your business’s website. Although SEO is evolving with each day, keeping up with the changes is critical in ensuring that you are ahead of the pack in Read more The post Four SEO Trends To Keep An Eye On In 2018 appeared first on Successful Startup 101.
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