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Running your own business can be very rewarding. But there are times it can also be discouraging if you let it. Having run my online business since 2005, I've learned quite a bit about what works and also what does not. Here are 8 ways YOU are blocking success in your online business.
1. Grammar And Spelling Mistakes
Whether in your blog posts, videos, or social media posts, making grammar and spelling mistakes can affect the way your business is viewed. Even if you're great at English spelling and grammar, it's always a good idea to check over everything before it gets posted. Having an experienced web content expert is ideal, where possible.
2. Not Giving Enough Information
Not giving enough info is a big block in business success. When people purchase a product or service online, there needs to be some trust involved, as there are plenty of scammers out there. Trust building is one of the most important aspect aspects of running your online business. Part of that is ensuring your potential clients and customers get detailed and accurate information about not only the item or service, but about your business as well.
If they can't find enough information, it can cause them to click away. Always include information that easily shows your business is legitimate. Products and services should require zero to little questions when the description is read. It should be very clear who you are and what they can expect. If you are not the best writer, you can always hire a professional product description writer to write or rewrite your product pages.
3. No Logo Or Other Brand Identity Issues
Your business logo is a big part of how people will recognize your work online. In addition is your unique posting style, products, services, and business personality. If your business doesn't have enough of a brand identity, it can be hard to stand out in the sea of existing web content.
Your brand identity is how people find you and stay with you. If you need help with brand identity, don't hesitate to reach out for a custom plan catered just for you and your business, regardless of your budget size. We work with small and large budget and payment plans.
4. Social Media Post Mistakes
Always check and re-check everything before you hit that post button. Does all of your text make sense? Is the grammar and spelling correct? Does what you said fit correctly with your brand and with your audience? Are previews from any links loaded correctly? Are your posts going out at a good time for your audience? Is the information accurate?
Some social media sites have text limits. Ensure what you are posting does not get cut off by these limits. Making these and other social media mistakes could be blocking success in your online business. Clients and customers can easily get turned off by inaccuracies. For those not versed in grammar, hiring a social media expert is a good solution.
5. Not Connecting Enough With Your Audience
Audience engagement is huge in keeping people around for more. People want to interact with you and your brand. That's why they are there. But if you aren't doing that enough, they can easily wander to the next business who will give them the attention they crave. Create fun, engaging posts on social media.This could be memes, videos, stories, Q & A posts, and so on.
Get creative and make it related to what you do. Be sure to respond as quickly and accurately as possible to all contact form requests, email inquiries, social media messages and comments. Learn your audience and grow with them to help them see they are a part of your team.
Your audience is the key to your success. Appreciate and interact with them as much as possible. Your brand identity should be present in all of those interactions. They need that personality in order to have something to connect to. If you don't have the time for this, there are social media and branding experts who can learn your brand's personality and help or take over that area for you.
6. Not Keeping Your Mindset In Check
YOUR mindset is KEY to succeeding in online business. Regardless of how little or how much you make, you need to keep those thoughts in check. In order to manifest and maintain a successful business, your thoughts about the business should always be good ones. During slow times, look at other positive aspects unrelated to sales.
Think forward on the solution, not on the problem itself. It is okay to consider the issues and reevaluate based on them. But don't let slow or non-existing sales cause negative thinking in regards to your business. The main focus should be on goals and resolutions. Overthinking on problems can block success in your online business.
7. Location Of Your Products & Services
Where are you placing your products? If you are listing in them in marketplaces only and don't have your own website or domain, this could actually block a large number of sales. While you can certainly succeed in online marketplaces, having your own website will hugely add to that success. It builds trust and legitimacy that online shoppers often look for. It also looks more professional and gives you much more room to build that brand identity.
Hiring a professional website designer will ensure quality content, help you get found by search engines, and avoid common mistakes beginners make in building websites. However, if you prefer to build your own, there are plenty of business hosting companies that are easy for beginners. I personally recommend Weebly, due to the fact that they seem to offer the most options with the best prices. They are also very easy to use and automatically optimize your site for both web and mobile audiences.
8. Low Quality Images For Products & Services
Online shoppers are very visual. This is because they cannot physically touch and see your items in person. Therefore, product images need to be as clear as possible. The images need to feel as though your potential buyer is looking at the product in person. Include as much detail as possible. Also, try to highlight the items in a way that stands out when you look at the picture.
Try different angles to see what images catch your eye immediately. These are the images you need to use. You can also try accenting the images with text, your brand logo, and related props or image templates. When it comes to services, some may do better with mostly text and background graphics that accent what is being offered. You can also hire a professional image creator if you get stuck.
If you are doing any of these 8 things to block success in your online business, that's perfectly normal. Don't panic. Simply focus on fixing it and watch your business start to do better as you make the appropriate changes. If you have any questions about online business success, you can always reach out to us for simple answers or even schedule a consultation.
Website domain authority can be one of the most important ways to measure success in your online business. As a website domain owner, it's important to stay informed on the most current ways to keep it in front of the most people at all times. Part of that involves using measurement tools to see what your website looks like to outside sources that may be used to find you. Therefore, you may be wondering what is my domain authority? Learn how to find your domain authority, learn what is domain authority and page authority, what is a good domain authority, and more.
What Is Domain Authority?
Ranking on or near the first page with the biggest search engines is essential to getting your website seen. Domain authority is a score developed by Moz that measures your ability to rank on the search engine result pages (SERPs). This score ranged from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best score possible and 1 being the lowest.
How To Check Domain Authority And How DA Works
To check domain authority, you'll need to use a domain rating checker. The Moz Link Explorer is the best place to find your domain authority or the page authority of any given page on your website. Many online marketing platforms and SEO tools will quote your website’s domain authority. This useful tool will provide the domain authority ranking, which will be a number between 1 and 100.
New websites always begin with a DA score of 1. As a website gains high-quality backlinks to it over time, this score will gradually increase. Keep in mind that because it’s figured on a logarithmic scale, it’s much easier to get to 10 than it is to 20, and so on. In order to track your progress, you’ll want to check domain authority history and use a domain rating checker periodically to check and log your current score.
What's A Good DA Score?
What is a good domain authority? A “good” DA score for a website is one that is higher than that website’s competitors in search. It all depends on what the website you’re trying to rank is about. In some niches, a 20 or 30 is a good score if your competitors in search rank below 20. Other niches will require that you have a DA of over 70 to even have a good chance to appear on the first page of Google.
Domain authority is a predictive metric. It should be used to compare competing websites or tracking the ranking of a certain site over time. It’s not an absolute metric. Also, while DA is not an official metric used by Google itself, it is recognized as a benchmark that other SEO tools refer to all the time.
DA VS. Page Authority
What is domain authority and page authority and how do each of these relate to each other? Page authority looks at the ranking strength of individual pages on a website. It’s ranked the same way, but compares individual pages in search results instead. So, you could have a website with a low DA but have individual pages with much higher PA (page authority).
How Can I Influence My DA?
Because DA is an approximation based on many different factors that Google uses in ranking websites, it’s difficult to influence it directly. As a general rule, you should focus on building high-quality backlinks. Track and log your domain authority ranking often. Then, check domain authority history periodically to see how you're doing. This will help you find patterns in what is increasing your score.
Why Did My Domain Authority Change?
There could be many reasons your DA would change, some of which are out of your control. The first and most common reason for it to change is that Moz recently crawled more or fewer domains that were linking back to your domain. It can change based on the number of links, as well as the quality of said backlinks. The DA also may have changed because of a higher authority domain having its score raised or reduced. This can change the ranking of other indexed domains in the category, including yours.
How To Improve My Domain Authority
The easiest way to improve your domain authority is to create content that people want to link to. Also, making sure backlinks use keyword rich anchor text is important. Keeping track of your link profile and disallowing poor quality links with Google’s Disavow Tool also helps. DA is not something you can change overnight, so you have to continue to work on it.
In short, your domain authority ranking will tell you where you are in relation to competitors. Tracking it frequently will help you learn how much you are improving or of your score drops. To search for your domain authority score, use a domain checker, such as Moz Link Explorer. Improve your score by gaining quality backlinks from reputable sources.
Need help with proper SEO for search and/or increasing DA or PA? Hire Us!
It's Just You and Your Brand Tonight
by Phoenix Desertsong, Content Revival
At the end of the day, it’s just you and your brand. You and your brand sleep in the same bed at night, whether it’s been a great day, a mediocre one, or a really, really bad one. You gotta take it home with you. In fact, you are your brand.
When you look in the mirror, you should see a reflection of your brand. The brand you create should be a direct extension of you and reflect your values and standards. If these aren't the case then you and your brand need to have a talk.
But my brand isn’t me, it’s just what I do, right?
Well, what you do is you. If you build a brand, even if it’s not your “personal brand,” it still is personal. But, both brands should be personal to you. They are interconnected, whether you realize it or not.
In fact, as you build your business brand, you are also building your personal brand. In our social media-driven world, it's more important than ever for leaders of a brand to build their own personal brands to give a face to the business brands. People today demand more personality and humanity from brands. So, your own self reflects on your business and vice versa, even if you don't want it to.
Really, all a brand is at the end of it all is the idea that other people have of you in their minds. It’s what your business represents. So, you should be able to stand behind what you want your brand to be one hundred percent.
If you feel that you and your business brand are separate entities, you will find it slip away from you. That's true with your personal brand, too For some people, it's really one in the same, but both are still connected.
Even if you're building a business you later plan to sell, you need to stay connected and in tune with both your business and personal brand. Otherwise, one or both are going to get away from you and rebuilding either one the way you want it to be may become out of reach. If it’s a good one, someone will be happy to take it over for you.
So, should my brand and I have a sit-down and chat?
If you feel that you and your brand are out of sync, then you are out of sync yourself. No matter the reason, you do need to step back and refocus. What are you all about? How can your brand become an extension of what causes and ideas are near and dear to you?
By asking yourself these questions, you’ll build a much stronger brand. You'll also become a much better person, by staying true to what you are and letting your brand become a vehicle for those things. While staying true to yourself sounds cliche, people don’t really follow that advice.
It’s even more rare that a brand is truly used as a vehicle of self-expression and to further ideas and causes. Yes, it happens. A lot of those brands are wildly successful, because they are authentic. People like authenticity, and people love when you take that authenticity far as you can possibly take it.
Those who are willing to make major sacrifices for their brands are the true Brand Heroes. Doubters will eat their words when they see your success if you never stop moving and taking your brand with you. Your brands, no matter how many you have, are like your vehicle. Built, driven, and maintained correctly, they can reliably put you on cruise control to whatever your destination might be
Remember, you are your brand. Have that conversation with yourself. Know that you and your brand are one in the same. Never give up on your brand and never give up on yourself. Only then will you and your brand truly be in tune and become a force for good and whatever change you want to make in the world.
~ Phoenix <3
Want to become a Brand Hero? But, not sure where or how to start? Contact the branding experts at Brand Shamans and we’ll show you how!
Knowing What You Need to Stop Doing with Your Brand is Important As What You Are Doing
by Phoenix Desertsong, Small Business Consultant
It's always a good idea to try new things. But, as many successful people have found over the years, what you stop doing can be just as important as what you are doing. Wasting time and effort on things that don't better you or give you any benefit is something successful people have learned not to do.
One of the main lessons of an excellent book I read called “Good to Great” made this point very well: knowing what you need to stop doing is just as important as what you’re doing or should be doing. When good companies rose to be great companies, they often decided to stop doing things they’d been doing. Sometimes these things were actually a major part of their business, and some were even still profitable.
But, wait, why would you stop doing something profitable? That’s because the leaders of these companies identified an area where they could be the BEST, not just third-best or second-best. Just because it’s technically productive, you could be doing MORE. You know how they say, work smarter, not harder. This is exactly what these great companies did.
For example, Walgreens once had a food service division, a fairly profitable one at that. But when Cork Walgreen took over the business, he eliminated it, deciding instead to focus entirely on making their pharmacies the best “corner drug stores” in the world. Of course, this worked out well. While CVS is now the number one in the US, Walgreens along with Boots Alliance in Europe has done just fine.
Another company that did very well even by eliminating a major part of their business was the steel company NUCOR. For years they went head to head with Bethlehem Steel, but finally, the decision was made to scrap (no pun intended) their more conventional mill model. Instead, they decided to go to the mini-mill concept, to reduce costs while still creating high-quality products. That model worked for them quite well, and they are very much still around.
Focus On What Your Brand Does BEST!
I’ve written before about how the greatest companies often have a “hedgehog concept” - meaning you focus on what you’re best at while ignoring everything else. When it comes to starting a great business, you need to find what market you serve the very best and focus entirely on that. Of course, you also need to be adaptable and identify what ways you need to change your strategy as the market changes and shifts.
Of course, identifying the processes you do that don’t serve you well and eliminating them first is a good thing to do too. Are you spending too much time on one or more social platforms that don’t provide you any positive value? Are you promoting products and services that never sell? That seems easy enough to do, but sometimes, out of habit, we keep doing certain things that no longer help us or are no longer worth our return on investments. The hard part is letting go of things that make us money, but not enough to be worth our investment of time and resources. That time and those resources could be better served by focusing on a more narrow focus.
Yes, sometimes drastically shifting your business model is hard to do. It doesn’t always work. But, if you’re in a position where your business isn’t growing or growing too slowly to be sustainable, sometimes it’s worth taking the chances. Your time is the most valuable resource, and you can’t be wasting it on things that don’t have an appreciable, sustainable positive effect for your brand.
If You’re Already Successful, Why Not Just Keep Doing It?
If your brand is already doing well, does this advice even apply? Yes, it does. You’d be surprised how even the most SUCCESSFUL companies are constantly finding better and more efficient ways to do things. That doesn't mean drastic cost cutting measures or payroll cuts. In fact, the BEST thing to do is simply look at how shifting your business model could help you keep jobs.
After all, reassinging talent within the same company is a lot better for company morale. Plus, it’s much cheaper in time and resources to retrain existing employees than on-boarding brand new ones; obviously, some won’t work out,. In cases where great companies drastically shifted their business models, they've tried to get as many of their existing people on-board, as possible.
On that note, you need to be sure that anyone you work with, whether they be suppliers, your existing client, or your own employees are on board with what you’re doing. If you need to do something to make your company better, and you have people not on board, it may be time to part ways. The good of your company and brand depend on being adaptable. “Good to Great” called it making sure the right people are on the bus. That’s a good analogy.
Every great business and brand starts with one, but it’s the team that wins out in the end. Having the right people and the right branding strategy is what will turn your business from a good one to a great one.
So, find the things that you need to stop doing, and find the one thing that you’re best at. Then, find a way to do it that’s both measurable and profitable. You’ll find you suddenly have a lot more time at doing what you do best.
Looking for a partner in growing your brand and taking it to the next level? Check out our Brand Healing branding consultation packages.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Branding Consultant
Reading the book "Good to Great" by Jim Collins gave me plenty of ideas on how to make a merely good brand into a great brand. But, before I got to share my thoughts on concepts shared in that excellent book, I saw a post related to what I was going to write about. It was made by the very famous influencer Gary Vaynerchuk on LinkedIn, and it tied directly into what I was going to write about.
The image he shared read: "Your dreams don't have to be 'big'. They just have to be yours." Gary V went on to add that you should be focusing on what truly makes you happy or something that seems awesome to you. What he said are the ideas at the very core of what 'Good to Great' was inspiring me to write about. If you want to know how to start a great business, or how to make a better life for yourself, just be you.
Success is About Building Skills and Knowledge Around What You Love
Many people think that they need special skills or knowledge to be successful. Yes, those are helpful. But, what actually needs to come first is you and what you care about. Building a great brand means being yourself, whether you're creating your own personal brand, a small business, or a large business.
What are you most passionate about? If you look at the greatest entrepreneurs, a lot of them pursued simply what they thought was awesome. Then, they figured out how they could be the best in the world on a niche or niches related to their passion. After that, they figured out how they could measure profitability in that given field.
Only after doing all these things did they focus on developing related skills and knowledge. Whatever they couldn't do themselves, they brought in the people that could. Then they would set out to build a company around a very focused concept that was created by the intersection of passion, opportunity, and profitability. Everyone brought in needed to share in the passion and buy into the concept. Otherwise, they would be the wrong people to be working with.
Everything starts with you. Yes, skills and knowledge are important. But, it's also important to know what you want first. Then build your knowledge and skills around that. In the book 'Good to Great' this was called building a "Hedgehog Concept" - keeping your focus while ignoring everything else that doesn't fit.
Even the Greatest Companies Start With One
One of the most important and interesting aspects of 'Good to Great' is discovering what it takes to take a good company to a great one in terms of leadership. The vast majority of companies still seem to think that it takes a charismatic individual - often bordering or even being egotistical - to drive success. Yet, it's humble but incredibly driven and focused leaders who effect the best changes in organizations. It's not just in big businesses, either.
'Good to Great' was written in 2001, and yet the ideas don't seem to have been adopted on a wide scale. Sure, I'm sure some people listened and build better organizations. Many corporations featured in the book have continued to endure. Some haven't. But, that's because they lost their focus.
Success Begins With You, The Real You
On an individual level, it does seem more people are realizing success starts with you. Yet, we still see so much posturing, and more than ever with the explosion of social media. Not only did social media not exist in 2001 as it does now, but the internet was still fairly new in the mainstream.
Today, it seems like you have to have incredible charisma and do whatever it takes to get likes and followers. You need the right skills and experience or you're just not going to make it. But, while big numbers of followers and likes are nice and shiny, they aren't a true measure of success.
Many things that seem to be successful aren't actually sustainable, built on hype and exposure more than substance. We need to recognize that it's still the same humble folks dedicated to the success of the enterprise over themselves still working behind the scenes building up everything. But, what is happening more is entrepreneurs are selling off their projects for big money and just moving onto new ones.
Many of these business flippers just want the best for what they've created. So, they are happy to let it go and move onto another passion. But as it's always been, great endeavors still start with one or two people who just set out to do something they thought was awesome.
But, You Don't Have to Go Big to Be Great
One of the final lessons of 'Good to Great' was that you don't have to create a big corporation, go public, or even flip your business to be successful. You just have to stay focused, put the enterprise first, and involve yourself with the right people. "Get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus," as is repeated over and over again in 'Good to Great'. They need to be people who believe in your concept and are willing to adapt and learn according to what needs to be done.
Even if you are going solo in your business, you still need people to believe. It may be your vendors and customers. You don't even have to have employees to find the right people. They might be social media influencers or PR people. They could be a marketer or private investor. It doesn't matter if you want to keep it small, as long as it's what makes your enterprise successful. What you may find is that so many people believe in your concept that they will grow it for you without anyone asking them to.
In fact, you shouldn't just be happy with just building something good. Even if it's successful, never stop finding ways to improve. When there's a shift in your field, face the facts and adapt to remain the best in a changing world. That's as long as it's still within the parameters you set for yourself, even if it means a dramatic shift in the product or service you offer.
So, What Business Do YOU Want to Start?
Yes, going into a field just because you think it's awesome is worth giving a shot. Of course, it's something you must have a passion for, even if you don't consider your skills and knowledge up to par. Focus on what you are most familiar with and identify how you can bring value to that field.
It can be tempting to jump on a hot new bandwagon. If you actually can provide value, then it's worth checking out. But, what's more important is knowing you can provide value. You don't have to reinvent anything, just reimagine.
This is where focus comes in. You'll want to start by becoming a curator of great content surrounding your choice field. Not only is this a great way to build up your social media presence and website content, but it also shows you what's being done and what the gaps in knowledge and skills may be that you could fill.
True Success Doesn't Happen Overnight, So Just Set Goals and Believe in What You Are Doing
Don't worry about "going big" until there's enough of a plan for your concept to sustain itself. It's fine to start a "pre-launch sequence." Purchase a domain name and set up social media accounts were set up. This is a good way to gauge early interest. You don't need to have early success with your pre-launch to validate your concept. But it can help you find what works, what hasn't worked, and what could work.
The aim of whatever you set out to do is to become the best at whatever you plan to do. You don't have to be number one in any one industry, just the best at the specific thing you are trying to do. Finding that one thing you can dominate takes time, but it's worth finding.
What is Your Focus? What Ties Everything Together?
At the heart of what you're doing with your concept is what you're most excited about. Don't try to wear too many hats on your own. Seek out help in the areas you aren't best at. You'd be surprised how many people are happy to offer advice.
You don't have to become a celebrity or even consider yourself that charismatic. What you do have to be good at is identifying trends and making a plan around them. Keep your focus on building on just one thing.
Don't just become a jack of all trades and a master of none. Focus on what you're best at, think intelligently about trends, and identifying what can make a sustainable business. Especially, if you're going into an emerging industry, that's key.
What About Diversifying? Isn't a Hedgehog Concept Too Limiting?
Staying focused doesn't mean pigeonholing yourself. Not everyone is going to buy into your concept. What's important is to stay open and adaptable without losing focus. Not doing so I'd where most people go wrong. That doesn't mean you shouldn't diversify. In fact you can run multiple businesses and ventures at once successfully. Gary V is the perfect example. The key is to have a focus that ties together everything you do.
In the case of the Brand Shamans, our services and related media exist to help people be more successful. We want people to be able to make the most of their passion, skills, and knowledge. Anything related to those goals is worthy of us pursuing.
Don’t Settle for Second Best, and Be the Best At What YOU Do!
What you have to ask yourself is how you can make a venture into the best that it can be at something. Never settle for second best, and certainly not third or fourth best. Individuals and small businesses may not think that it's possible but it is, if you have the right focus.
The Brand Shamans are all about guiding folks to find the right focus. Whether a business is failing or not, it doesn't matter. Even successful businesses, no matter the scale, can always improve.
The change always starts with you. Focus on the best you have to offer, whatever that takes, and make whatever you're doing into a great venture. If you can't do that, then it's time to go and find the right venture for you.
by R.A. Rowell; Experienced Online Marketer
Billions of people use the internet everyday. Every day, more people look to research, compare, and eventually buy products and services they need. You're likely already using the internet for marketing your brand. But, are you making the most of Online Marketing?
How Are You Marketing Your Brand Online Already?
Whether you've developed an online marketing strategy or not, it's likely your brand is listed or mentioned somewhere online. If it's not, it should be. Simply being listed online somewhere like Google Places or having a basic website are a great start. But, to make the most of your online presence, your brand needs an online marketing strategy.
Do You Have a Brand Website?
If you have a brand website or business website, you're off to a great start. Just by being live, internet users may stumble across it with a search. Even if you don't promote it much at all, a website can still be found. But, by knowing exactly how people are searching for what you offer, you can optimize your site and its content for search. This process is called SEO - or Search Engine Optimization.
The closer attention you pay to how potential customers search for what you have to offer, the more effective you can make your website. The easier your website is to find and how well it serves both current and potential customers, the more effective an online marketing tool it can be.
Do You Comment on Blogs or Participate in Industry Forums and Message Boards Related to Your Brand?
An older internet marketing strategy that still works today is participating in online forums and message boards. But, because of increasing spam - where people just go and shamelessly advertise themselves - this strategy is a bit trickier to employ these days. However, it's still useful.
Find one or two forums or message boards related to your business. Participate regularly in discussions and be helpful to members. Many online forums require that you make a certain number of posts or be registered for a certain amount of time before you can even create a signature.
Once you can create a signature, it's okay to put a website link in it - if that forum even allows it. Sometimes, the only place that forums allow a backlink is on your member profile. This is less than idea. But, if you're an active and helpful member of the community, people will find you by checking out your profile.
A similar strategy is commenting on blogs or online journals related to, but not direct competitors of, your brand. Make sure that you actually have a useful comment to further the discussion of the article or blog post on which you’re commenting. Otherwise, it’s likely to be moderated (deleted) by the site owner. Also, more useful comments make you more visible to visitors of that page. Even if the backlink it provides is no-follow - meaning the search engines won’t give your site any extra search engine credit for that backlink - people may still stumble upon the link and follow it.
Do You Ask Your Customers for Feedback Online?
There's definitely value in creating online surveys. Sometimes, running a poll on social media platforms like Twitter are useful, too. But, while surveys and polls can be a great marketing tool, there's an even simpler way to get important feedback. Sometimes, simply asking your current customers and website visitors for their questions, comments, and concerns.
Chances are, just by simply asking for feedback, you'll get someone to tell you something you may never have thought about before. A business that keeps their customers and fans thoughts and concerns first is bound to do well. The internet is a great place to capture this sort of feedback. After all, without your customers, why would you be in business? Care about what your customers think, and they're a lot likely to care more about you.
Always Keep Your Target Customer First in Mind in Online Marketing
One of the main things you need to keep in mind when marketing online is that your target customer must always come first. While that may sound obvious, many companies don’t seem to show this in their marketing. With a brand website well-optimized for search, active participation in online communities, and an open mind, you can set yourself up for big success.
If you're not sure where to start, consult a highly rated internet marketing specialist. He or she will help you jumpstart your internet marketing strategy. Once you're off and running, you can keep your online marketing efforts in-house, or you can outsource it to a reputable marketing company. Then, watch the highly targeted traffic roll in and watch your brand grow.
How a Major Grocery Chain Uses Ingredient Branding with Private Label Brands as a Powerful Marketing Strategy
by R.A. Rowell; Major Kroger Fan
Living in Colorado, I regularly shop at various Kroger supermarkets such as City Market, King Soopers, and Kroger itself. So, I’ve become quite familiar with the Kroger generic brand and their long list of private label brands. As the second largest retailer and largest grocery chain in the United States, Kroger has become an expert at building many different brands. In particular, Kroger have replaced many products that previously had their generic Kroger brand with one of their private label brands.
Of course, you don’t have to be a grocery store to use ingredient branding for your products. For example, car manufacturer Dodge does a similar thing by branding their Hemi line of truck engines. But, Kroger is perhaps the master of creating private label ingredient brands. Here are just a few of the Kroger private label branded products that my family and I enjoy.
Check This Out / PSST!
One of the best value brands that Kroger chain stores carry is Check This Out household items, also known as PSST! While I’ve never been impressed with their diapers, household essentials such as bathroom tissue and trash bags are an acceptable option if you’re short on cash. These items tend to be a better value than the dollar store equivalents with a cost of roughly a dollar or less.
What I like a lot about the Check This Out brand is how direct the name is. With the little owl saying PSST to you as you glance by the shelf, you feel like you’re being let in on a little secret. Indeed, there are certainly some PSST deals to be had at Kroger stores.
Comforts For Baby
One of my favorite baby diaper brands is actually Comforts for Baby. The price is significantly lower than the name brands like Pampers and Huggies and they have actually held up better for my babies and toddlers than the big name brands. Comforts for Baby also has baby formula that two of my babies tolerated better than the national brands. They also have a wide array of other baby care products such as infant gas drops and sippy cups for a good price.
What I especially like about Comforts for Baby branded products is the direct message of the name brand. These are products that can offer my babies comfort. From my experience, Comforts for Baby products actually do, and I’m happy to go out of my way to a Kroger store to buy them when I need them.
Good to Dough
One of Kroger’s newer private label brands, Good to Dough is the Kroger store brand for loaves of bread, hamburger rolls, and hot dog rolls. It rolled out (pun not intended) in May 2018. While it definitely is one of the cornier names for a private label brand, it is actually accurate to the brand’s mission.
The concept behind Good to Dough bread is that it’s actually vegan-friendly and contains no high-fructose corn syrup. That’s not the case with most bread products at the dollar price-point. The bread isn’t gourmet, of course, but it’s more than sufficient for making some toast or a quick sandwich. I actually prefer it to a lot of the name brand breads. The no corn syrup is definitely a plus for health, too.
Pet Pride & Luvsome
For our dogs, we’ve been buying the Pet Pride dog food and Luvsome gourmet dog food for years. As many other major dog food brands keep experiencing recalls, I have not seen this happen with the Kroger private label dog foods. In my experience, my dogs have been healthier eating this food than the more common brands. It is not the cheapest dog food, but it is very affordable and well-worth it at the price point.
For our cats we buy the Pet Pride and Luvsome cat foods and use the Pet Pride cat litter. The Luvsome litter is good, too. But, but the Pet Pride does the job well enough at a lower price point.
I like these brands because buying Pet Pride makes you feel like you’re actually taking Pride in your Pet and Luvsome is the brand you buy when you want to give them a bit of extra love. This sounds corny, but these ideas really do get into your head when you buy these products on a regular basis.
Simple Truth & Simple Truth Organic
Kroger has been making it a point over recent years to dedicate more and more time to natural and organic foods. By reducing unnecessary ingredients and using organic and non-GMO (genetically modified) ingredients when possible, Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic foods have become some of my favorites to buy.
The price point of Simple Truth products is usually similar to other natural and organic food brands, but the price is lower enough and the quality good enough that it is worth the small savings. They also offer some snack foods, such as gluten-free crackers, that other brands don’t even offer, at least at as low of a price point.
What’s So Special About These Private Label Brands?
Kroger has become one of the best private label manufacturers by carefully crafting their branding directly to the purpose of the product that it’s branding. These aren’t just your ordinary store brands. Each of these brands exist for a specific purpose that shoppers can easily buy into. That’s the power of ingredient branding: turning everyday items into products that clearly add value to your life.
By using this ingredient branding, Kroger has been able to upsell their own products with private labeling and eye-catching packaging. This branding strategy gives shoppers an additional emotional incentive to pinching a few pennies for a product comparable to, and in my experience even superior to, many of their national brand name counterparts.
How Can You Apply Ingredient Branding to Your Own Business?
With ingredient branding, you’re giving a label to a product or service that is complementary and consistent with your main brand. But, that product is also a key ingredient to your brand’s success. For example, say you have a software-as-a-service (SaaS) package as your main offering. Then, say you particular premium upgrade in your that adds a lot of value. It’s a lot easier to upsell that upgrade as its own brand.
Really, ingredient branding allows you to brand components and features of your products and services that set you apart from your competition. How does branding these ingredients to your success help them become more marketable? People can get a quick mental and emotional attachment with the branding message before you even explain all the benefits of purchasing that particular brand.
Kroger has really mastered ingredient marketing in the grocery sector. It’s a branding tactic that’s used in many different industries. But, there may be a chance for your business to find your own ingredients to brand.
If you’re looking to take advantage of ingredient branding as part of your brand building strategy, contact one of the Brand Shamans today!
** The author of this post was in no way compensated by Kroger or any of its subsidiaries in any way for this post. The opinions of this author are entirely his own.
by R.A. Rowell; Personal Branding Professional
Naming your brand is like naming a child. That brand name is how people will refer to what you do and sell. As your brand grows up, you want it to be a name to be proud of. You want to pick a brand name that will be linked with success, profitability, or hopefully both.
Your brand name is more important than any other part of branding. It's even more important than your actual products and services. A brand name is how the public recognizes you or your business. It’s what sets you apart from anyone else.
What’s in a Brand Name?
By having a catchy name, people will immediately recognize your brand. Picking a good brand name allows customers or clients to be able to connect with your business on an emotional level. How you choose your name is actually fairly open. Some might say that your brand name should have something directly to do with your product or service. But you can also choose a name based on how it makes people feel or how memorable it is.
Whatever name you pick, you want it to be unique. You don’t want a name that’s too similar to another well-known brand. That may confuse people. Confusing people is definitely not a good way to do business.
What you want to do is have a brand name people remember and that people instantly recognize. This is extremely important in advertising. It’s also important to building brand loyalty. If you have too generic a name, say “Bob’s Hobby Shop,” that won't get people very excited. It might work in a small town, perhaps. But, in today’s global economy, if you’re looking to expand your business beyond your local downtown, you need a brand name that's a lot catchier.
How Does a Good Brand Name Build Loyalty?
A good brand name will stick in consumers’ minds as an entity. You want your brand to be thought of as a real, tangible thing with its own spirit, values, and purpose. People can become extremely loyal to a brand. Just look at Coke. They are probably the best out there at brand building. The Coke brand is so well-known and easily recognized that they can cross-brand and put their name on just about anything. If you choose a highly marketable name and build your brand well enough, you can put your brand name on just about anything, too.
Brand recognition also creates more loyal customers, as they come to think of your brand as they would a friend. More loyal customers mean higher revenues, and more importantly, more repeat business. For any business, repeat customers means your brand is doing well. It’s been found that it takes five times as much money (or more in some industries) to gain a new customer than retaining an existing customer. That’s why brand loyalty is so important; you don’t have to work as hard to keep the cash flowing.
Choose the right brand name and you'll succeed. Even rebrand and pick a new brand name if you have to. Getting the brand name right is the most important thing you will ever do in your business.
Want to become a Brand Hero? But, not sure where or how to start? Hire the Brand Shamans and we’ll show you how!
Don't Be the Brand Who Did Too Much: Branding Mistakes That Can Seriously Hurt Your Brand
by R.A. Rowell, Branding Professional
Remember the time that Harley Davidson tried their hand at making bike soap? Yeah, that didn't go over so well.
It is very possible for a brand to do too much. Whether it's a personal brand, a company brand, or any kind of brand, people come to expect a certain image. A brand is meant to encapsulate the ideas, concepts, and values your brand stands for. When you step outside those bounds, your brand can take a serious hit.
Which branding mistakes can seriously hurt your brand?
Most Branding Mistakes Won't Kill Your Business, But the Worst Branding Mistake is to Fail to Be Consistent With Your Brand
While most mistakes will not destroy your brand, you do have to be careful. Whatever you do with your brand, you have to be consistent. If your brand goes and does something out of character, it's going to have a negative impact across your whole brand.
Yes, you can recover. Harley Davidson did, after making a lot of their hardcore fan base mad. And the product is still out there, but they no longer focus on it. So, you can backtrack and be fine. However, don't be the brand who did too much.
One thing that some brands do is try and take advantage of trends. While it's great if you do it right, plenty of brands make some weird choices. But usually, it's one ad campaign or one bad product launch, and you can go back to your brand's strengths and be fine.
But, then, brands take some really huge risks that don't make a lot of sense.
Taking Risks with Your Brand Purely to Take a Risk is Not So Bright
Take, for example, the "crunchless" Doritos for ladies. I'm not sure where that idea came from. Not only was it strange, but the way that they launched was actually kind of offensive. So what, chips are messy? Frito-Lay made a major branding mistake with that.
They actually had an interesting idea, but they launched it very badly, and it came off as sexist. Also, "crunchless" chips is NOT something you would associate with DORITOS. It was just a really bad mistake. But, you know what? They're a huge brand. They took a risk, but they bounced back.
Most brands, though, can't bounce back from a PR disaster like that. That sort of mistake can actually ruin a brand.
However, sometimes you still have to take risks with your brand, as long as that risk makes sense.
Do Everything You Can with Your Brand... Within Reason
I'd like to draw on a "brilliant" quote from Ashleigh Brilliant: "Not being able to do everything is no excuse for not doing everything you can "
While Ashleigh was not specifically talking about branding in this case, like people, brands can find themselves not doing as much as they can. As long as you are taking your brand in a positive direction, building on your brand's values, it's OK to take risks here and there. But never assume that you can survive taking massive risks that go against what your brand stands for.
So what if you don't want to ruin your brand? Create another brand. Yes, it's actually OK to create spin-off brands. Companies do it all the time, and sometimes the spin-offs even surpass the mothership brand.
Also, if the brand fails, the backlash is not going to be ANYWHERE near as bad as it could be. Sure, people may know your brand was associated with it. But people tend to forget the missteps by a lesser-established brand.
So what's the major take-away here? Make sure that you allow your brand to grow – and occasionally make mistakes – as long as your brand's mission is always clear in view. Advance the concepts, ideas, and values your brand has established.
When Should You Create a Spin-Off Brand to Lessen the Damage from Branding Mistakes?
If you really want to create a new direction, build a new brand. It's more work, but the worst that can happen is that brand fails badly and goes away. More likely, you'll create a new brand that brings in a completely different dimension to your business.
Even though brands can appear completely separate to the general public, many companies own several different brands. Some bigger companies own dozens, or even hundreds, of brands. Why? Because if one brand fails, your business still has all those other brands to fall back on.
What if Harley created a new brand for their bike wash products? They could have saved themselves both PR headaches and lost sales. Yeah, Harley-Davidson would have been in the fine print in the commercials and on the bottles. But very few people actually read that. The PR impact may have been completely different. But the decision to use the brand to sell the product did NOT fit and the public responded by backing away from the brand.
And if Frito-Lay had introduced the "Ladychip" as a separate brand entirely, yeah, it would have been slammed. But the new Doritos Blaze chips, which are actually quite good, saved them this time. The Ladychip ad campaign could have ruined the Doritos brand entirely had they not introduced that other on-brand product (And Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones, weird as that Super Bowl ad was, didn't hurt.)
So Frito-Lay even knew they were taking a huge risk and took off some of the heat by releasing a solid product around the same time. PepsiCo also introduced a new Mountain Dew drink at the same time with a partnering ad with Morgan Freeman. Not sure how well that went over – it's not selling at my local supermarket, but the Blaze chips are!
Don't Be the Brand Who Did Too Much
The great news is, like Frito-Lay showed, you can bounce back by having a fallback plan whenever you take a risk. Always seek to build your brand, but don't be the brand who did too much.
Harley took a hit and Doritos took an even bigger one. Doritos just had a better comeback.
Don't make the same mistake. But if you do make a branding mistake, make sure it's a "good" mistake. Make sure it fits your brand's overall plan. Otherwise, you will cause some head-scratching and, potentially, lose valuable business.
Not sure if your brand is not doing enough or may even be trying to do too much? Let us know in the comments below!
Dream Big, Dream Clearly, Put it in Writing, and Take Your Brand to the Next Level
by R.A. Rowell, Copywriting Extraordinaire
"Dream big, dream clearly, put it in writing, and watch it happen!" - Lyn Lomasi
Everyone knows what it means to dream big. You want to have a grand vision for your brand, and dream big for your future. Something needs to be worth doing in order to bother investing in building a brand, after all! The bigger your dream, the easier it is to build around, as well.
What does it mean to dream clearly? When you have dreams, you need to not only have a grand idea, but a clear vision of that idea. You need to know exactly what you're trying to accomplish with your brand. If you're just guessing, so will everyone else who interacts with your brand. You need to have a clear idea of the steps it will take to bring your brand's dreams to life.
What's the biggest step in helping yourself dream big, dream clearly, and take your brand to the next level?
Put it in writing.
We all know what a business plan is. But, you have to have a branding plan, as well. A branding plan should exist to keep yourself and anyone else who works for your brand in sync. If you put it in writing, define your brand's goals clearly, and have a specific vision for the future, it helps keep yourself, your brand, and anyone you work with on the same page. A plan also acts as a starting point whenever you're looking to do something dealing with your brand.
When building your brand, there needs to be a unified vision. Putting that in writing is a constant reminder of what exactly that is. Also, you want to put in writing key issues surrounding what your brand is trying to accomplish. You also want to have some clear strategies and tactics defined for both yourself and anyone who works for your brand.
Watch it happen!
No, your dreams won't come true overnight. Your brand and business can take many months and sometimes even years to establish itself. But, if you allow yourself to dream big and put it in writing, you've already made something happen. Yes, words on a page are only a beginning, but they are a strong beginning.
Sometimes you'll find that you have ideas that conflict with your vision. That's OK. The idea is to have the plan so that when you stray off course, you know where to come back to when it's time to regroup. While your brand may take time to mature, as long as you stick to a solid plan built around a big and clear vision, you've at the very least set your brand on the right track!
Dream big, put it in writing, and watch your brand and business grow!
Want to become a Brand Hero? But, not sure where or how to start? Hire the Brand Shamans and we’ll show you how!
How to Grow Your Brand: Don't Be Afraid to Take That Next Step With Your Business
by R.A. Rowell; Branding Professional
Don’t be afraid to take that next step with your business and your brand. Step forward confidently and you will find yourself one step closer to success.
If you're looking for how to grow your brand, here's one simple piece of advice. Don’t be afraid to take that next step you’re not sure if you can take. Sometimes, we’re scared of taking that next step in life, because we’re worried it may be the wrong one. This happens all the time when building your brand, too.
It can be too easy to become complacent and simply be "okay" with how things are. Both in life and with your brand, staying put is not the best way to go. You and your brand must grow together to sustain your march toward success and to set up for future growth and success.
What is the Next Step You Want to Take?
Is there something you could be doing with your brand building, but haven't due to fear of failure? Most steps we could make we simply don't because we feel it isn't worth the risk to do something new. Still, most missteps are only going to cost you a little time and perhaps a little money. More often than that, making mistakes don't cost you anything you will miss in the long term just for having tried. The potential price of failure usually is worth the lessons we learn from what didn’t end up working.
Sometimes, we overestimate risks because there are so many unknowns when it comes to possibilities. So, we have to always assume some risks when building a brand or business. But, when you really think about it, that new thing could change both you and your brand for the better.
Failure With Your Next Step Often Means Growing From the Experience
What if that next step fails? Chances are you'll recover from your venture without much real loss and have learned from the experience. A negative experience with your brand is just like a negative experience in your own life. Often you and your brand are both so interconnected that you'll feel the sting of failure twice.
But, you then should work twice as hard to make another new step. Don’t retreat out of fear of the potential of success is worth it. If you do fail, you and your brand should both recover in time having become better for the experience. After all, what is success worth if it's easy when you fail?
But, what if your next step succeeds and brings a new dimension to your brand? At the very least, if it doesn't fail, that step could at least give you a sense of accomplishment. Continuing to evolve keeps you and your brand on track.
Always Moving Forward is the Key to Creating Success
Really, if it won't hurt you and your brand seriously, there is no reason not to try it. Yes, the best laid plans can backfire. But, as long as you understand the real impacts of risk versus potential rewards, you should be able to overcome your fears of making new steps forward.
If the next step is a big one that could go seriously wrong, but you are sure it is the way you want to go, then just make that step. The worst thing you can do is stay put. Not doing something can hurt more than anything else. You won't learn anything and you’ll have nothing to gain.
Fear should be seen as simply a need to ensure yourself that you know what's best in growing both yourself and your brand. Still, don't let it stop you, even if seems there is so much to lose. As long as that next step is made with growth and prosperity in mind, you should be sure to make it a good one!
Want to become a Brand Hero? But, not sure where or how to start? Hire the Brand Shamans and we’ll show you how!
Readers and fellow writers often ask me why I enjoy helping so many people? Am I worried about creating competition for myself? Why do I just freely give advice and inform others of what I do to succeed in writing? Am I creating competition by helping others succeed in writing and other online business?
If I were creating competition, I am not afraid to play the game and I'd play it fair. However, I don't believe I am. Why? There is a vast sea of opportunities, gigs, jobs, and contracts in the writing world. It's not humanly possible for me to have every writing task to myself, nor would I desire to.
Aside from that, I am wise enough to know that every assignment is not for me. I don't know everything there is to know. Also, each writer has their own style. Why take on a project I know I can't do when there could be someone else better suited to it and who may need it more than I do? Instead, I could refer a good writer and move on to something better suited to me.
I have always believed in helping others, no matter the situation. Whether in my career or in every day life, if I see someone who needs help, I'm going to provide it if I have the means. If you knew a secret that could change the whole world for the better, would you keep it to yourself? Of course not - at least, I hope not.
No, writing advice is probably not going to change the world. However, if I can offer some guidance that can help change someone's perspective or career for the better, you can bet I'm going to tell them. One small piece of advice or word of encouragement could be all that is standing in the way of someone living their dream. How do I know this? People have given me that kind of hope and assistance. Were it not for fellow writers pushing me and offering me advice, who knows where I'd be today?
So, am I creating competition by helping others succeed? Does it really matter?
Brand Healing Journal