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Self Branding For Success In An Internet Marketing Business

Is branding for businesses necessary? Yes, no question, it is absolutely necessary. ANY kind of Internet business whether it’s an Internet marketing business or any of the millions of other types of Internet businesses, and the same applies for offline businesses – they all need branding. Period.

Regardless of what kind of business you have, how big or small or what your products or services are or your geographical location – you need branding. A one man band business needs branding just as importantly as the corporate giants at the other end of the spectrum. Every kind of business you can think of on the planet needs branding.

Many businesses have brands and don’t even know it. That’s because they don’t understand the need for branding, haven’t actively done anything about it because they don’t have a clue how to go about building it. These business owners need educating, they don’t have the necessary skills to tackle it.

But their brand exists in the eyes of their customers who have made pre-judgements. It may be their customers perceive them in a positive way so they’re lucky but on the same token, it could just as easily be the opposite and this is very damaging. This is how businesses can succeed or fail.

What would you rather be? A business that actively brands itself or one that has its brand determined for you? Wouldn’t you rather be in the driving seat developing a brand that has all the elements for success to catapult your business into the fast lane? Who you are, what you do and how you do it, is your brand in the eyes of others so it’s crucial to your success to get it right.

So business owners need to get clued up and decide how to go about building their brand.

It makes perfect business sense to get your branding right and it includes anything from an offline business which could be a corner shop in your local village or town to a high street store right up to the giants in every industry in both the private and public sectors.

It could also be someone who has their own stall in a market or someone with an online business on the Internet in a work from home situation who wants an online job.

Every single business needs branding and if you’ve joined the huge army of people leaving the corporate world in times of economical turmoil to set up what you consider is your own top home based business which allows you to work at home in an online job, you’ll definitely need what is called self-branding.

It’s all about being visible on the world-wide stage. Having a good image and being credible. You have to stand out from the crowd. How are people going to recognise you if you don’t have a brand? And if you don’t brand yourself, someone else will. It’s what sets you apart from your competition.

You want your customers to come to know, like and trust you. Once you’ve achieved this, people will become loyal. They’ll tell their friends and family about you too. At least, that’s the objective so they go on to buy from you and return to buy more. You want to create a following. You want to develop a good reputation. This is your brand.

People buy from people they know, like and trust so set about making sure you interact with your customers. Provide value and integrity. Be honest and be yourself. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. This will make huge inroads into the building of your brand. Your customers will see through you if you are not genuine and your brand will suffer as a result.

Take some of the major household names that have strong brands. Think of almost any product or service in the world and you can think of a brand. These companies have gone to great lengths to build their brands. They have marketing departments whose job it is to build these brands and to continually reinforce them, keeping them fresh in our minds.

Ask yourself, what was the last TV commercial you watched? What clothes do you like to wear? What do you like to drink? What TV would you go and buy? What car would you like to drive? Everything has a brand associated with it.

Do brands influence your purchasing decisions? Chances are, you buy the same toothpaste each week? Chances are too that you are programmed to buy brand names automatically. It’s become a sub-conscious act. Wouldn’t you like that for your business? That would surely sky-rocket your business venture to success.

Let’s just look at what you need to consider doing to brand or self-brand in order to make yourself visible to the world.

What is your product or service? Will it be good quality? Will it represent good value? Who do you want to market it to? You have to be able to define your target market and target them accurately?

Do your research, see who your competitors are. How are they promoting their products or services and how do they brand themselves? Do you like what you see? Maybe you want to use some of their strengths and strategies to assist you in branding yourself without blatantly copying them. But remember, you need to be unique and know what your unique selling points (USP’s) are and actively promote those.

What are your key messages? What is your vision? What are your company values? What is your mission statement? What is going to make you stand out from the crowd?

What are you going to do to differentiate your business from every other business in your sector? Are you going to offer your present customers and future customers free advice and training? This is a really good strategy for building strong links in developing your brand. People will greatly value what you have to offer without needing to feel pressured to pay for everything and they will be far more likely to want to buy from you as a result.

How are you going to communicate with your customers? You need to interact with your customers to build rapport and relationships. You need to be open, accessible and honest with them. As I said before, if your customers know, like and trust you, they’re going to want to buy from you.

Above all, make sure you deliver on your promises if you want your brand to grow in the right direction.

You’ll need to use all sorts of marketing methods to get your messages out but in addition to your website, the social media marketing revolution will help enormously to increase your visibility and credibility. Your present and future customers are all using social media so you need to be in front of them. This will increase your brand visibility exponentially.

If this scares you and you know nothing about social media or how to go about setting it up, then don’t worry, you can learn. Read some of my other articles on social media and these will surely help get you started.

When people come to know that you have integrity, are honest, credible, deliver on your promises, are reliable and offering value, your brand will start to develop and grow. Then you can build on it.

You are going to need to work on your brand identity too. You may choose to have a corporate theme and image or logo that runs throughout your website and all marketing or promotional materials, point of sale, banners, flags, stationary etc.

Many brands are recognised for a familiar jingle and most have logos or images that set them apart from their competitors. Think about what you might want.

It’s a lot of hard work but once you’ve established a strong brand whether you have an offline business or an Internet marketing business or one of the millions of other types of Internet businesses there are, branding will make a huge difference to your success.

I wish you success on your journey.

Writing Business Plans That Get Results

It is said that anybody that fails to plan is definitely planning to fail. Planning is critical to success in any endeavour, especially business. Beyond everything, the plan must also be result-oriented, which is the focus of this text entitled “Writing Business Plans That Get Results” with the subtitle “A Step-by-Step Guide” written by Michael O’Donnell. O’Donnell is a business consultant with the Promersberger Company in Fargo, North Dakota and specialises in developing marketing plans for the firm’s clients.

As a staff member of the Centre for Innovation and Business Development at the University of North Dakota, he worked with inventors and entrepreneurs on a daily basis.

According to O’Donnell, this text will show you how to create a business plan that works. He adds that the text will guide you on what to include in each section of your plan, the most efficient ways to evaluate your company’s products or services, marketing strategies, organisational structure, plans to achieve goals, competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, etc.

The author says since a business plan is used for many purposes, that is, as a development tool, a management and planning guide, a mission statement, a sales document, etc., and is read by several different audiences, you need to tailor each part to the various needs of bankers, venture capitalists, partners, suppliers, accountants, etc.

O’Donnell stresses that you should structure and arrange the components of your plan for greatest impact; anticipate all questions that business plan reviewers will ask; and critique and package your business plan for winning results.

According to him, you need to feel comfortable with why you must go through the exercise of writing a business plan. He says if you do not understand the reasons for it and the benefits it will bring, in all likelihood you will do a less-than-adequate job and thus defeat your purpose before you ever get started.

O’Donnell adds that to be sure, writing a business plan is one of those hoops you must jump through. He stresses that your plan must reflect your ultimate goal and be able to accomplish many things for you and your proposed venture. O’Donnell educates that it is not prudent to try to make it all things to all people.

According to him, one plan will simply not suffice for all possible uses, and most seasoned entrepreneurs will write (or revise) a business plan at each stage of the company’s development. The most successful of these will then write several plans, each adapted to specific players, says O’Donnell.

This text is segmented into 14 chapters christened “Modules”, in addition to another section tagged “Finishing touches”. Chapter one is entitled “The executive summary”. Here the author says the executive summary is one complete module and the subheads should match the major headings or subjects you have covered in your business plan.

O’Donnell stresses that the entire summary should be clear and to the point. He educates that the language should be simple and demonstrate clarity of management objectives. Above all, the summary should show opportunity, O’Donnell advises.

He says the opening statement should grab attention, and you should state something about being the first to introduce the product or the customer demands being generated from your initial market research.

“Describe the nature of the business, i.e., type, location, business form, length, and state of operation. Describe current milestones reached and their financial results, i.e., reaching x amount in sales, evaluation and testing completed, prototype built. State what industry your product addresses,” adds this expert.

Chapter two is based on the subject matter of “Table of contents”. O’Donnell suggests that the length should be one to two pages. He says the following are a list of topics or issues you may include in the table of contents of your business plan, adding that depending on the importance of each issue to your start-up, any one can stand alone as a separate section.

O’Donnell educates that you can include sections such as the company; the industry; product and related services; research and development; market analysis; competitive analysis; marketing strategy; process and operations; and management and ownership. Others are manufacturing administration, organisation and personnel; milestones, schedule and strategic planning; critical risks and problems; and financial data and projections, etc.

In chapters three to nine, the author discusses table-of-contents-related concepts such as the company and industry; product and related services; research and development; market analysis; competitive analysis; marketing strategy; and manufacturing process/operations.

Chapter ten is entitled “Management and ownership”. According to O’Donnell here, “Your readers are going to want to know how the company is managed as much as who is managing it. Demonstrate your awareness and understanding of the administrative details.” He adds that you should explain the personnel needed and how you will fill and train these positions. Include an organisational chart that illustrates the company’s structure, lines of authority, responsibility and delegation, guides O’Donnell.

He says the suggested sequence of presentation in this segment of the business plan is organisational chart; administrative procedures and controls; staffing and training; and management control systems.

In chapters 11 to 14, O’Donnell analytically X-rays concepts such as administration, organisation and personnel; milestones, schedule and strategic planning; critical risks and problems; and financial data and projections. According to him here, this section is highly scrutinised by potential investors and most sophisticated investors will undertake an independent financial analysis of the venture.

O’Donnell says this section must be thorough and convincing, and you must document the need for funds. Demonstrate that you will use the money responsibly and show how they will ensure your success, expatiates the author. He stresses that you should show that your projections are realistic, based on the margins between your cost to operate and expected sales.

As already said, in addition to these 14 chapters, O’Donnell also includes another section called “Finishing touches” which includes exercises; recapitulation of what is already discussed in the text, etc.

As regards style, this text is unique. To arouse readers’ active participation and offer them proper guide, O’Donnell asks pertinent questions at the beginning of every chapter. By writing this book in a modular format, with each module designed to stand on its own, with the assumption that people collect, organise and absorb information in blocks, rather than in large doses, stylistic creativity is displayed by the author.

What’s more, this text is practical and comprehensive. The language is simple while the ideas are well presented.

However, the author uses many long sentences as well as coordinate noun phrases (nouns joined together by the coordinating conjunction of adding “And”) in succession. This syntactic structure makes comprehension taxing.

On the whole, the text is conceptually fantastic. It is a must-read for all entrepreneurs that want their companies to be successful and profitable.