Your buyers are spoiled with choices. Having a great product at competitive prices is no longer enough. Running ads might help for a while, but you might not have enough money to outdo competitors with bigger advertising budgets.
So you need to build an online brand that helps you get hold of your prospects’ attention and connect with them.
And if you’re wondering where to start, here are five ways to help you build an online brand that stands out from your competitors.
1. Harness your brand message
Your brand message is the promise you make to your buyers. There are two elements to this promise: your unique value proposition (UVP) and your unique selling proposition (USP).
Your unique selling proposition tells your buyers why you are better than the competition. On the other hand, your unique value proposition tells your buyers how your product makes their lives better.
And the problem is that small business owners pay more attention to their USP (which makes them look like everyone else), diluting their brand in the process.
Here’s how your messaging is supposed to look like:
Zoma Sleep’s sales pitch has both elements in their messaging making it easy for them to stand out in their marketplace;
USP: Approved by athletes, backed by years of research, design, and testing
It relies on innovation and association with authority figures to differentiate their product.
UVP: Delivers enhanced rest and rejuvenation for individuals with demanding lifestyles.
If you’ve woken up with sleep hangovers, back pain, or hit the snooze button because you still felt tired in the morning, then this is a mattress you want to buy and wake up every morning ready to roll.
Here’s another stellar example from Voyagers travel specialists:
USP: South America Travel Specialist
It is specific and targeted, meaning they can dominate the market and become thought leaders fast rather than branding themselves as generic travel specialists.
Again, if traveling to South America is on your bucket list, then you want to know what you get when you pay for their services.
Now that you have an idea of how this works, here’s how to adjust your brand messages and stand out from your competitors:
First, look at your customers.
USP: How does your product or service appeal to your customer’s emotions? How does it make them feel special? Compared to other products in the marketplace, what makes you different?
UVP: How does your product or service make their lives better? What goals does your product help your customers achieve? What desires does it help them fulfill? What frustrations does it help them get rid of? What fears does it help them overcome?
Look at your customer testimonials or conduct a survey to find answers to these questions and identify your UVP.
Now, look at your competitors. Do their messages align with what they offer? What have they left out in their messages that you could talk about? Fill in the gaps you find to improve your brand messaging.
Remember to use a consistent voice and tone that resonates with your buyers in all your communication channels. They are more likely to recognize and connect with you if you mirror back how they express themselves. It makes them feel understood.
2. Publish high-quality content
How often do you start your Google searches with a specific author, company, or website?
You do this because you trust them and believe what they publish. Before you begin writing, ask yourself these questions:
Why would a buyer search for what I am about to write and publish? How will my content answer their questions or provide the solutions they are looking for?
Once you’re satisfied with your answers, go ahead and write in-depth pieces that provide all the solutions (or answers) they are looking for. Here is a full guide on how to write amazing in-depth pieces to check out.
A reader in the buying stage is probably evaluating different vendors. The most appropriate content for them would be a comparison guide to help them make an informed decision. Here’s how Login Lockdown does it by comparing different password managers.
Alternatively, differentiate yourself from everyone else by creating a content hub for your readers. It acts as a one-stop-shop for all the answers they need on a particular topic.
If you’re planning to enter a new market in a specific geographical region, start by working just one or two select clients for a discount. Discounting your prices will draw more clients faster, helping you to create a reputable brand and provide social proof for future clients.
Create case studies to showcase the results you helped your clients achieve then use them to build brand awareness and improve your credibility in this market:
3. Improve your search engine rankings
Without optimizing the content you publish, there’s no way you’re going to show up in the search results that Google serves your buyers.
And this means you’re going to struggle to stand out even with all the effort you put into publishing high-quality content. However, it doesn’t have to be that way because when you do it right, you’ll start seeing better rankings in 3-6 months.
Most of your buyers are interested in the organic search results that they receive.
From a branding perspective, consistently showing up in the top search results increases brand recall and improves your brand perception.
Start by optimizing every blog post you publish by including the primary keyword in your post title, introduction, first heading, and conclusion. Include related keywords that your buyers use when searching that topic in different sections of your blog post.
Every time you do this, you help Google’s web crawlers to understand what your content is about, and when your buyers search for that topic, it will show up in their search results.
Optimizing your content isn’t enough. You’ll need high-quality links from other people to improve your authority and rankings. Since you’re publishing top-level content, start a link building campaign to help you improve your rankings and drive more organic traffic to your blog.
4. Offer relevant lead magnets
When prospective buyers land on your website, they need time to understand your brand. To learn more about what you do, how you do it, and how you can provide them value.
And that’s where lead magnets come in. Lead magnets help you ensure that traffic leaves your site knowing the answers to all three of those questions. Let’s take a look at this in action:
Reply.io publishes content on outbound sales. A small business owner might have doubts about whether they will generate sales through outbound prospecting. In addition to a blog post on outbound sales, they have an outbound sales playbook with all the information a small business owner needs to succeed:
By implementing what they learn from this playbook, they’re going to overcome their doubts, generate sales, and use the company for their prospecting needs.
In addition to helping your prospects overcome self-doubt, your lead magnets help your buyers know you for a specific offering, for example, just like Freshbooks does with their invoicing templates:
These forms of lead magnets allow you to harness specific aspects of your brand that you excel in. In this case, it’s outbound sales for reply and invoice magic for Freshbooks.
When people think of your service space, you want them instantly thinking of your brand, too.
5. Expand your reach via new channels
It’s hard for your brand to stand out if you’re relying on blogging alone to interact with your buyers. And if you want to develop deeper connections with them, use other channels to interact with your buyers. Kim Darling, Hubspot’s VP of Marketing argues that buyers connect with brands that find a way of integrating themselves into their daily lives. Here’s how that works, using podcasts as our example. People listen to shows as they go about their day.
And that means that their adoption has increased. 40% of Americans tune in to listen to a show every month.
So start establishing your credibility and building a passive audience by appearing as a guest on podcasts that your buyers listen to. Over time, start your podcast and then get it listed on popular podcast directories to help other listeners find your shows and build upon the audience you already have.
Once you start building your online brand, you’ll realize that building connections with your buyers is both an exciting and satisfying experience. Not to mean that it is going to be easy but the challenges you will face will leave you energized and willing to do it over and over again.
And, if you consistently implement what we’ve discussed above, you’ll find it easier to get more buyers to sign up for your product or service. Now, it’s your turn to build your online brand.
Jeremy Moser is co-founder of uSERP.io, a digital brand-building agency. His work has been featured on HubSpot, Search Engine Journal, G2 Crowd, BigCommerce, Drift, Shopify Enterprise, and more.