Yes, Covid-19 is dangerous and disruptive. While you’re working from home, with so many events cancelled, you still have opportunities to strengthen your brand.
Research shows that those brands that build their business aggressively during a market downturn make significant gains when the market returns to normal. If you can, take this time to strengthen your brand and your presence in your marketplace.
5 Ways to Build Your Brand When Not Meeting In-Person
Here are FIVE key strategies for how you can maintain and perhaps enhance your brand during this virtual time when you’re not meeting with people directly. Use these to help keep your company’s brand strong among your customers and prospects, even as you practice social distancing.
1. Set up a Virtual Meeting Platform
Many of us will have to do our meetings, networking, and work sessions virtually. Set yourself up with an app or platform that allows for conferencing and meetings online.
A virtual meeting platform is a way to be in meetings with others — with audio and/or video. You’ve probably already been a part of virtual meetings. If you want or need to be in contact with others, and especially with groups, having your own virtual platform will allow you to host your own meetings.
For very basic needs, Skype works. If you use Apple products, FaceTime is also good for 1:1 or a small groups.
Consider Zoom for more robust needs.
For more robust needs, a professional video conferencing software is imperative — one that offers both audio and video — so that you can both hear and see the other members in the meeting.
Look for a platform that provides a way to record the conversation. This provides you with documentation of what was discussed. If you or your team require a written record, you can upload your audio file and have it transcribed or converted to text.
We (Joan and I) are both set up with Zoom. We find it easy and intuitive with many useful features, including the ability to hold a session either as a meeting (everyone in the meeting able to communicate with everyone else through audio and video) or as a webinar (presenter is the only one able to speak and attendees can voice opinions and ask questions through the Chat and Q&A features).
The Free version limits sessions to 40 minutes. A Premium subscription does not have this limit.
Be aware of how you come across.
When conducting your meeting, be aware of how you come across on the video screen:
- What are you wearing?
- What is your background?
Be sure these things are consistent with the brand image you want to project. Zoom offers some Virtual Backgrounds which can be accessed from your Settings.
We are currently exploring additional features of the Premium platform. Of special interest to us is the ability to brand our Zoom experience, including having a vanity URL and branding the site with our logos. These features only apply to zoom.us. See this link for further information on branding in zoom.
For other virtual meeting platforms, see “The Best Video Conferencing Software for 2020” from PC Magazine, updated 3/5/2020.
2. Use LinkedIn (and other Social Media Tools) for Greater Visibility
Perhaps you’ve been meaning to upgrade your LinkedIn profile, or expand your network. Now may be the perfect time to enhance your LinkedIn or Twitter presence or use LinkedIn to build thought leadership for yourself or your company. A more robust LinkedIn profile — or greater activity on LinkedIn — can help make you more visible to others.
For LinkedIn, consider these options:
- Update your profile and brand your page.
- Add your LinkedIn link on your webpage (if you haven’t already).
- Add a business page if you don’t already have one.
- Write and post an article. Or repost something relevant that you’ve written in the past.
- Join some new groups that relate to your business to engage and learn and share your expertise.
- Send messages to some of your connections to update them on your activities and products.
What other tools can you use to generate visibility? Consider using videos, podcasting, creating a business community on Facebook. Perhaps Twitter or Instagram is a good platform for your brand.
3. Update your Brand Identity
When was the last time you updated your brand? When was the last time you updated various pages on your website? Your logo? Some of your promotional materials? What about your tagline? Product testimonials?
If you live the truth that “the cobbler’s son has no shoes,” then take the time to craft your pair of shoes.
Take an inventory of your current brand touchpoints:
- What are they?
- Do they reflect your current brand identity?
- Is it time to update the brand tools you are currently using, or do you want to develop new ones?
Think about your available brand elements — your logo, tagline, use of color palette and fonts, your visuals and videos on your website, your testimonials, your brand pitch.
- Do they reflect your most current thinking?
- Are they consistent with each other?
- Do they reflect the brand that you are currently projecting?
- Are there some tools that you can add to your brand toolbox?
For new graphics, you can use a DIY creative tool like Canva, source brand identity from online creative sites like 99design or work with a graphic designer.
4. Reach Out to Customers & Prospects
Many of your customers and prospects are at home as well. With so many in-person meetings and activities cancelled, they may be eager to hear from you. This can be a great time to contact people you’ve been meaning to follow-up with and hear about the progress they have made.
Some of the content you might offer:
- Individual emails
- Group emails to segments of your list
- Special offers to past prospects and to customers
- A free consult to selected contacts
- An article that you’ve written or a link to something of special interest
- A survey that would benefit your customers or prospects
Email is still a convenient way to reach your business customers. Or use texts for people that you have a relationship with. For groups, consider using an email platform such as Constant Contact or MailChimp that allows you to brand your message and provide a professional look and feel to your communications. PC Magazine also recommends Campaigner, which offers a free trial and a low monthly rate.
Think about doing a quick poll or survey with your target customers. Ask them about their response to these current times, their main concerns, the key steps they are taking to strengthen their brand. The free version of Survey Monkey is a solid, basic tool.
5. Create a New Product or Service Offering
Perhaps you’ve been thinking about a new product or service but haven’t had the time to focus on this. Consider applying some of the time you were going to spend commuting to working on your great new idea. This is a proven way to generate additional interest in your brand. It gives you something new to talk about with current and prospective clients.
Think of a service or a product that is consistent with your brand and represents a brand extension. Or consider repurposing and updating an older product or service.
When you come up with a new product or service idea, do some concept testing with your current customers and use that input to adjust your offering.
Consider using a microsite as your messaging platform.
“A microsite is an individual web page or a small cluster of pages which are meant to function as a discrete entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity. The microsite’s main landing page can have its own domain name or subdomain.” [Source: Wikipedia]
An example of a microsite is the Domino’s Pizza Delivery Vehicles by Dominos: “To promote the launch of their DXP vehicle, Domino’s created an interactive microsite where you can “Go For a Ride” with the DXP vehicle. Consumers take control of the car via the arrow keys on their keyboard. As the user drives the car, they are given descriptive information which explains the features of the vehicle.” [Source: https://www.dominosdxp.com/]
For a good guide for building a microsite, see How To Build a Microsite – Features, Tools & Guidelines.
If you don’t need e-commerce and other features of a microsite, consider building a One Pager, a minimalist type of a website that lets users create a one-page website with varying features. A visitor can retrieve all the available information by scrolling down the website. One Pagers were invented to allow small businesses to establish a simple and easy-to-build website. Recommended tools for a One Pager include Square Space and Wix.
And finally, let us know how your recommendations and tips for using this time to enhance your brand. Leave a comment below.
Whatever you do, stay safe — and look out for the more vulnerable and isolated individuals in your community.