In the events industry, differentiating yourself from the competition can help make or break your business. But while many caterers understand the importance of having a distinct brand identity, they are often daunted by what it takes to create one.
Of course, if you take an iconic brand like Coca-Cola, whose logo, bottle shape, colors, fonts, tag lines, and even music are embedded in our heads, branding your business seems like a long road. After all, Coca Cola is 129-years-old and is recognized in 94 percent of the world.
But in today’s digital world, building a recognizable brand no longer takes a century. Facebook made themselves an iconic brand in less than 10 years. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest all became brands in less than five years.
No matter the size of your business, you can use easy-to-learn, online tools to help build up a stronger, consistent brand and gain public awareness, increase referrals, form partnerships, and acquire new leads.
Make your website add value
Whether you’re targeting local or global customers, your website should clearly explain what you do, be easy to find and navigate, and be attractive. It is essentially the face of your company, so it needs to be consistent with your overall brand identity from key concepts that differentiate you all the way down to colors and fonts. It’s a portrait of your business, so do it justice.
Optimize your website for search engines with key words that define your brand and attract the right clientele. Add quality content that shows your expertise, while also improving your SEO. Integrate your social media channels into your website so that all your brand extensions are interconnected and help support each other.
Make sure your website is easy to navigate. In today’s competitive, fast-paced environment, you don’t want to lose clients because your links don’t work or your pages or contact information are hard to find.
Make blogging a high priority
It’s important to add a blog to your website because a blog greatly increases your chances of being noticed through reposts, social media, and SEO. But it’s not enough to just have a blog—you should update it regularly with topics and a voice that is consistent with your brand. Websites get crawled quite regularly so it’s always important to have new, quality content.
Writing a regular blog also gives your audience an opportunity to interact with you through comments. Remember to add social sharing buttons to your blog posts so that readers can easily share them, and more people can discover you and your business.
Guest post on someone else’s site
Writing content for someone else’s blog is a great way to gain more exposure for your brand and position you as an expert in your area. Guest posting offers you an excellent opportunity to make new contacts with bloggers and hopefully attract some loyal readers. Establishing relationships with bloggers and editors will also make it easier for them to feature you when you have news of your own to announce.
Be active on social media
Social media has given brands a chance to position themselves publically in creative, fluid ways. It’s a great way to get noticed, but can also be a time suck, so with social media it’s important to know who your target audience is and where they spend their time.
Once you have figured that out, you can interact with your audience, establish relationships with other vendors, and promote any news, events. or those blog posts that you spent so much time writing.
Start using videos to market your business
As the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube is a great marketing channel to promote your brand in a more dynamic way. A YouTube channel is particularly great for catering businesses because food lends itself so well to the video format (that’s why there are so many cooking shows out there!).
You can introduce new recipes you’re working on. You can post a “before and after” type video of an event. You can even interview local newsmakers—venues, planners, cake designers—who have something new and visual to share. Or you could even host an online seminar and share it on your website and via social media networks—a perfect opportunity to gain exposure.
Use email marketing software to help increase sales
Email marketing campaigns are fast, effective, immediate, and easy to design. They’re the most direct way to market your brand. Using self-service platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you can track and understand exactly how your email marketing software is growing your business and see how individual customers respond, so you can increase sales over time. Robly is another highly effective self-service platform that has a special formula for increasing your open rates.
Update and grow your database regularly, and try to get people to opt-in by signing up on your website.
Attend local networking events and build connections
The best way to meet new local contacts (and potential customers) is to get out there and start networking. Attend events and meet-ups focused on your business topic, and participate in conversations by asking questions or by volunteering to speak at a live blog conference.
Don’t know where to find local events? You can search local events by region and town or city on Find Networking Events or Meetup.com. You should also join the local chapter of a professional industry association like NACE or ISES as well as small business associations like BNI that could help broaden your reach.
Get Fresh October 2015
eNews October 2015