This section is an Online Business Branding and Niche Leadership Guide to help you improve your chances of success when you set up a business based on marketing to your customers via the internet.
It is designed to show you how to start your online business to be a Leader in your Niche and also explain the elements of a good Branding Campaign to help your business to be recognized and successful so that it can make money online for you.
We will start out first by covering how to set up your online business and develop a reputation for being a leader in your niche, then in the second half of this section we will details the 7 elements you need to take action on to further build your own recognized business brand.
When you first started marketing online, did you have dreams of waking up in your pajamas, setting up a little bit of content that you carefully crafted with just the right keyword density - and then watching the money roll in?
Well it may have worked that way once upon a time, but thanks to automated tools and scummy spammers, search engines cracked down on that minimalist work strategy and now you have to go to a little bit more effort.
You might be nervous about being a leader in your niche. You might have these common feelings:
* Who would want to listen to me?
* I don't have anything unique to say.
* I'm not pretty, young, or smart enough to be a leader.
* I'm nobody and there are already leaders in this niche.
These feelings are normal, but they're not accurate. Be honest.
How would you like it - as a consumer - if you only had one choice for a restaurant, a salon, a clothing line, a music style, a grocery store, etc.?
You probably wouldn't like it much, right? It's the same way with leaders in a niche.
Consumers connect with leaders in different ways.
Some people might love sarcastic, hard-selling individuals - and you can't fathom why - because you prefer sweet, motivating people.
Everyone's different. And whatever you have to offer, it's going to have an audience for it - your style, your voice, your message - it's unique to everyone else even if you're talking about the same niche topic.
You don't have to be an expert already.
People love following along with someone on their journey from start to finish - so share where you're at and work from there.
As for looks, it's a non-issue. Unless your purpose is to attract people with your looks, then don't worry about it.
People looking for advice on parenting don't care if you have a crooked tooth or wrinkles under your eyes.
There are several ways you can position yourself as a leader - in a way that's comfortable to you.
It doesn't mean you have to get out there and brag about how wonderful you are - it means you do the right thing and your audience automatically lifts you up to authority status.
No matter what niche you're in, there's news that needs to be shared. There are new:
You want to share all of that with your target audience.
Yes, even share who your competitors are! We'll get more into that in the next section.
If you're in the anti aging niche, for example, you might share a medical breakthrough that helps plump up crow's feet.
Maybe you'll see a news story about how women are flocking to plastic surgeons to get rid of their "Madonna Mitts" - which is what the industry termed her aging hands.
You can share things like which anti aging treatments people can do at home that you've tried and feel work best.
Stay abreast of top manufacturers' or sellers' product releases and then talk to your audience about it.
Your blog or your email subscriber list will be the place where your subscriber feels they can go to gather all of the information they want.
They don't want to have to go all over the Internet and buy a bunch of different products to see what works best - that's what they'll love you for!
Whenever you blog about something with a cutting edge slant to it, you increase your worth in the niche.
Your readers will bookmark and share your site with others, they'll trust your recommendations whenever you want to promote something, too.
The lazy (unsuccessful) marketer does nothing but look at keyword volume, outsource their content to ghostwriters without injecting any of their own personality, and basically copycats the true leaders who are out there working for their audience the way they should be.
When you're a true leader, you're never running solo the entire time you spend growing an online business.
The top marketers understand that you work individually, but you stay connected with a team of like-minded leaders on the 'net.
Don't be afraid of your competition - embrace them.
They can be guest bloggers or invite you to guest blog on their site, they can co-create products with you, and they can cross-promote you whenever you sign up as an affiliate to promote one of their products.
Don't just look to people who are bigger in status than you are, either.
You want to keep an eye out for rising stars in your niche and help make them well-known, too.
It's not just competitors who you should align yourself with, either.
It's anyone whose products or services are related to your own niche in some way. Let's go through an example.
Suppose you run a diet blog that teaches people how to embrace a healthy lifestyle through nutrition.
You want people to adopt life long eating habits that improve their lives.
You can certainly promote other leaders in the diet niche - like someone specializing in juicing, for example - but you also want to connect with someone whose information is relevant, if not directly identical.
An exercise and fitness leader would be a good example of this.
People learning about good nutrition often want the whole body approach, which means moving your body and getting fit.
You also might want to align with:
* A parenting leader so you can help their audience learn about good nutrition for growing kids.
* An aging leader so you can teach good nutrition for senior citizens.
* A job success leader so you can offer information about staying alert and energetic during a long workday.
There are endless possibilities for someone if you think about the target audience who needs what you teach and then consider who else they might be learning from.
Here are some more examples:
* A smoking cessation leader so you can help smokers quit their bad habit without gaining a lot of weight.
* An Amazon affiliate who runs a site about desserts so you can provide information on healthier dessert options.
* A skincare leader so you can teach good nutrition that helps your skin maintain its youth and appeal.
Make a list and then make it a point to reach out to those other leaders and form a bond with them so that you can help each other out as you both grow your online business.
Never create products where you intend to leave vital information out or intentionally mislead your target audience.
People who market products based on trends or fads alone often do it without even considering whether or not it's the right thing to do.
They're after only one thing - money.
When you create products, don't do what some online experts do and leave crucial details out of the product - in an attempt to squeeze more money out of your target audience at a later date.
Here's a good example:
As an Internet Marketing leader, you might put out a product that teaches someone how to blog.
But your blog product only covers the topics like finding what to blog about, how often to blog, engaging your customers.
All of this is good information, of course - but you left out a very important part of the puzzle - how to set up the blog in the first place! This kind of behavior isn't always intentional.
You might have truly forgotten that the reader doesn't even know how to buy a domain name, get hosting, and install a blog because you're well past that stage.
Still, it's your responsibility as a good leader to provide that for them.
Don't leave it out so you can sell it as separate information in another course, or as an upsell or one time offer.
That's not the attitude of a true leader - that's the attitude of a leech.
Accessibility is important to your prospects and customers.
So few marketers are truly open to hearing from their customers and when it happens, word spreads and you cultivate the right kind of reputation.
Many marketers put up a wall between themselves and their online audience.
They don't engage in blog comment discussions once a post is created.
So it's good to see marketers who are there for their audience and who take time to interact with the people who need and want their help.
There are even some marketers who create a help desk so that tickets are opened, rather than a simple email sent.
Of course that's an option for you, and it might even be necessary if you have a lot of technique elements to your site, but it means a lot when your reader can just contact you - and get a response from you, not a virtual assistant that you've hired - or worse - made up to make it look like you're more important than you really are (it happens).
The best way to be accessible as a leader in your niche is to do the following:
* Respond to people on social networks like Twitter, G+, and Facebook.
* Respond to blog comments whenever you go in to approve them.
* Reply personally to your emails.
* Open comments up on things like YouTube videos to show you care about feedback.
All of these things take time, yes. But that's where you can really put a personal touch on your usually sterile online business.
Going the extra mile can serve you well as a niche leader. It shows you care.
You don't have to incorporate all of these elements in one day.
It will take some time to integrate them all into your business, and you may have to outsource in some other areas to free up some of your time.
Stay on top of your socialization and personalization and it makes it less overwhelming.
Don't take a lot of time with it, just do it and move on without stalling and getting mired down in lengthy discussions every single time.
Acknowledgement is all some people will need - to know that they've been heard and appreciated.
Becoming an online marketer means you have the added weight of trying to connect with your target audience in an often sterile, faceless, nameless environment.
Many consumers are used to dealing with nothing more than a domain name and product image online, but if you can go the extra mile and build a brand and a connection to your customer, you'll easily be able to dominate in your chosen niche.
There are basically seven elements you can incorporate into your brand building strategy.
We're going to go over all of them and then you can analyze your own efforts and see where you're doing things right, and where you need to step up your game.
When you're working online, you walk a fine line between developing a catchy name and one that's easily findable and recognizable.
By recognizable, we mean a name where the reader instantly knows what your business is all about.
For example, look at the comparison of these domain and business names and see which one you feel is a better option for online marketing:
* YelpWhisperer.com versus StopDogBarking.com - First of all, who uses the word "yelp" these days?
Secondly, dog barking is a more common phrase than yelping, so your search traffic volume might be a bit higher.
At the very least, people won't have to winder what the site is about.
* BillowOfBad.com versus SecondhandSmokeDanger.com - The first name is vague and odd.
Billowing usually describes smoke, but the whole domain name is confusing at first glance.
The second one is blunt and obvious to the consumer.
Does this mean you can't have a catchy, non-obvious name? Not at all.
But if you decide to go that route, and choose something where it's not obvious, then you need to be prepared to increase your branding even more so that people associate the name with what you want them to.
Ideally, you're going to want your domain name to be the same as your business name - so you want to keep it as short as possible.
The more opportunities for mistakes that there are, the higher the chance someone will typo and not be able to get to your site.
Your name doesn't always have to be a company name, either.
You can use your personal name and brand that if you want to.
Many marketers do that online - and it works just fine!
Look at people like:
* Tony Robbins
* Oprah Winfrey
* Dr. Oz
Those are all brands - but they're built around a person's name.
And just because you don't have your own TV show or aren't putting on global seminars, doesn't mean you can't brand your name, too.
Your online design will say a lot about who you are as a company and a brand.
Let's take the IM niche as an example first.
You can land on two blogs - one has ads crammed into every space on the blog.
You have sidebar ads, ads under the header, pop-up and exit ads, text hyperlink ads, and more.
Your whole experience is spent dodging pop-ups and being blinded by flashing banners.
The other blog is clean with content being the main focal point.
There might be a little bit of advertising going on, but they don't draw attention away from the content - the simply supplement it.
Just the design and layout of your online site tells a lot about your intentions.
Blog #1 is out to make money by pushing whatever they can on you.
Blog #2 is there to serve.
You want your design to be obviously related to the niche, just like you've done with your brand name and domain.
If it's in the diet niche, for example, then you might incorporate these into your design:
* Fresh, clean colors (motivational, not dark)
* Fruits and vegetables
* A tape measure
* Images of happy, smiling, trim and fit individuals
You can have something created specifically for you - not a template - if you hire a good graphics designer.
They can also make sure that everything you use design-wise online matches, so that you're branding across the board. That includes:
* Your blog theme
* Your squeeze page
* Your Facebook cover
* Your Twitter background and profile header
* Your Google Plus profile...and more.
Think about how you want your brand to come across.
Do you want to be fun and silly or serious and professional?
Your design and graphics should reflect that.
A tagline is your motto of sorts.
It's what you want to be known for. It's typically worked into your WordPress blog profile so that search engines pick it up, but it also can be integrated into your graphic design.
For example, your header image on your blog can include your tagline, as can your Twitter profile's background or your Facebook cover image. What should your tagline say?
It should be a reflection of what values you hold dear - of what your business or products will provide to the customer.
It's how you act and how they should perceive you.
Here are some examples of taglines:
* Think Outside the Bun - Taco Bell - This tagline urges people try something different. They're saying they're unique. Better. More qualified.
* Just Do It - Nike - No excuses. This company is all about serious athletes, not part-time procrastinators.
* Because I'm Worth It - L'Oreal - Gives off an air of upscale indulgence, even though it's not from a spa - it's an over-the-counter product.
Think of a tagline - the shorter the better - that you can use everywhere online to help brand your business with the right mindset.
It's okay if you don't cater to everyone - in fact, it's better to weed out your non-audience.
You want to attract the right people to your brand.
If you're sarcastic, you want people who appreciate that - not people who will constantly complain about that to everyone online.
If you don't brand yourself online, someone else will brand you.
You never, ever want to leave that up to chance because people are actually more likely to speak up when they have a negative experience than when they have a positive one.
There are at least six areas where you have to socialize your brand online.
Let's start with your blog. It's up to you to engage in conversations with your blog readers.
Ask them to leave comments and then respond to each one.
Try to secure some guest blogging opportunities where you go out in front of another blogger's audience and build a relationship and brand yourself in front of them.
Again, carry on conversations with them in the comments section.
In your niche's forums you can brand yourself online.
First, do it by posting and commenting with very valuable, helpful commentary.
Don't post a lot of "me too" posts just to get your post count up.
Make sure you use a signature file with your site links and your tagline, so people instantly know how you tend to perceive your business and how they should, as well.
Get a Twitter account for branding purposes. Twitter allows you to brand in several ways - with your 140-character Tweets, where you can share your voice and message - but also with your background image and header profile graphic on your Twitter page.
Use Facebook as well. Facebook can send you a ton of traffic - and you get to interact directly with your audience and let them share your branding message with their own contacts.
YouTube is excellent for branding purposes - or any video platform for that matter, but YouTube is the most popular one.
You can get on camera (or at the very least use screen capture and record your computer screen while you talk and give them audio of you).
Sometimes, hearing your voice and seeing your mannerisms can say a lot about your branding - things that plain text on a computer screen just can't convey.
It works both ways though - if you're monotone and boring, then it might damage your brand, so make sure you practice.
Google Plus is a great tool rising in popularity.
They've built a platform perfect for branding.
You can use posts like Facebook, but you can also do live hangouts with your prospects and customers and let them interact with you in a live video setting.
Your voice will say a lot to the public online about what your brand is all about.
You'll be creating conversational content online - not sterile, college papers for your readers.
Will you be argumentative?
Call people or competitors out?
Will you be gentle and motivational?
Maybe a mix of the two?
Figure out what you want your voice to be like online.
This may mean you have to tone down your personality.
For example, if you're usually sarcastic but online, it comes across as rude, and you don't want that, then you can change it.
Or, you might have to ramp up your personality a bit if you're typically shy and reserved.
Email marketing is a tool that your customers allow you to use to brand yourself to them.
They're giving you permission to access their lives on a regular basis, rather than you having to wait for them to contact you.
You want to stay in touch often enough that they don't forget you, but not several times a day where you become an annoyance.
Email them whenever you have something worth sharing.
It helps if you position yourself as a marketer who is always on the cutting edge of your niche.
It's very easy to do - you just keep an ear to the ground and know what's coming out about your topic.
Sign up for Google Alerts for keywords in your niche.
Check on Google daily to see what the buzz is.
Type in your niche, such as "ant aging" and then click on the News category and maybe the blog category, too - to see what's being said that day.
You can then use a news story or other blog as curated content (where you take a snippet, link back to the original article, and add your own commentary about it).
Branding campaigns are on-going efforts - not something you'll set up once and then abandon once it's done.
You want to evolve with whatever social web 2.0 sites get launched, and remain aware of where your target audience can be found.
First of all, I recommend that you grab a copy of the book below that I have bought the rights to and have published for you.
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Here are some more products you can buy online that look useful in your further research and development of an online business branding campaign and growing your leadership role in the niche of your choice.
I don't know these authors and I haven't read these books, but they may be of help to you:
Below here I'm featuring more pages with helpful how-to-do-it tips on this subject.
Feel free to submit your own story or article about it, and I will create your own page here with your contribution for the community to read.
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