Because a brand, by itself, has little value. No, I haven’t completely lost my mind.

And yes, I am still, and will forever be a huge proponent of branding, and it’s significance to the success of your business. Despite that, I repeat…a brand, by itself, has little value. Case in Point – Conduct a quick scan the pages of the US Patent and Trademark Offi ce on-line directory, and you’ll soon discover there is no shortage of “dead” brands l ining the pages. Most were well-intentioned ideas — and in many cases, they were e ven backed with complete marketing plans and big budgets. Yet despite these adva ntages, they wound up in the dead brands column. And the last thing I want is for you to join them there. With that in mind, ask not what your brand can do for you, but instead consider what you can do for your branding. Think about what you can do to enhance, nurtu re and support your brand — because simply kicking it from the nest on a wing and a prayer will not be enough to make it fly. Be Consistent - There is an old marketing adage that states a prospect must see or hear your pitch on the average of seven times before making a purchase. Consi dering how many more of these messages the average person is greeted with on tel evision, on the radio, on their phones and on the Internet today, that number is likely even higher. Knowing this, consistency should play a key role in your ma rketing strategy. The consistent use of color, fonts, imagery and visual style r einforces your brand to both prospects and customers, even on a subliminal level . Research has proven that an incredible 60% of a consumer’s first impression is d erived directly from color. Be Creative & Memorable – This goes hand-in-hand with consistency. When you are se lecting your logo and tagline, take the extra time to create an overall image th at will resonate and remain with your customer. Things such as commercial jingle s, newsletter mailings, vanity phone numbers and easy-to-recall URLs provide rei nforcement to help keep you “top of mind” with prospects and customers. Creativity should also be infused into publicity efforts. A bridal shop that wan ts to create headlines might consider hosting an “Ugliest Bridesmaid Dress” competit ion, or a ceremonial burning of the first-time bride gowns for gals who are head ed down the aisle a second time. Unconventional promotions make for great humaninterest stories — never underestimate the power of marketing outside the box. Be Engaged – Social media has made this easier than ever before. Take advantage of the social networks, and leverage them to create genuine connections with your prospects and customers. That doesn’t mean jumping on Twitter and tweeting, “buy fro m me, buy from me, buy from me.” Instead, get involved in conversations, develop c onnections, and show folks that there is more to you (and more to your brand) th an just a sales page. Have some fun with it, for crying out loud. Be authentic, and show your personality. Develop the Know-Like-Trust factor, and the sales wil l follow. Be Generous - You have a great big brain full of information. Share it! There ar e many ways that you can do this — blog posts, articles, white papers, short video tutorials, audios, and webinars, just to name a few. Internet users are seeking content; be generous in sharing what you know, and you’ll be building your reputa tion (and a following) as well. And another thing — think in terms of multiple-mod alities. If you’ve written a killer blog post, by all means share it on the social networks, and sites like Scribd. But give that content extra staying power by h eading over to Cinchcast, where you can record an audio of your post to appeal t o readers who prefer to consume content via audio. If you really want to go craz

y, consider submitting it to iTunes as well. Be Attentive - Nothing can kill a business faster than poor customer service. Ma ke sure that you include your contact information clearly on your website, and o ffer a contact form when customers can submit their questions. If you find you a re receiving the same questions over and over, consider adding a FAQ page to you r website that can provide this information immediately. Speaking of immediately , there are a growing number of providers that offer help desk and live chat sof tware to compliment your existing customer service activities — you may want to ch eck them out to see if they are a good fit for your business. While your brand plays an integral role in your overall marketing strategy, it i s only truly effective when it’s used in conjunction with other healthy business p ractices. Remember that marketing is an ongoing process, and those who continue to learn, evaluate and adapt will always win the day.

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