History will define this season as the time when interacting and engaging digitally became just as successful as direct contact. As challenging as it is to put a pause on life and daily activities, we find ourselves more grateful than ever for the digital connectedness that allows business, communication, and responsibilities to continue remotely. Although not every business is able to make this seamless transition, each does have the opportunity to get creative with their digital presence and find new ways to connect with its customers in the digital space. With digital marketing as our area of expertise, the team at HMG Creative is eager to share the opportunities and tools available to help businesses thrive with their brand, web presence, and digital marketing efforts as the world around us continues to evolve.
“It’s about perception.” – John Paulsen, Senior Brand & Marketing Strategist
At HMG, we believe that building a brand starts with uncovering your unique story, crafting a compelling visual identity, and creatively living out your message. In a time of crisis and change, your brand’s identity means more than ever. Without the chance to establish in-person touchpoints with your target audiences, how you portray your image and message across online platforms will determine how customers perceive your brand.
If you’re concerned with your current brand perception, it’s worth noting that times of distress do not entirely define your company and its culture. Understanding your brand story and position can help guide how your company plans to react during these influential times.
Although the world around you may be changing, your brand story isn’t something that changes. You may just need to find it.
Start Your Journey to Purpose
So where do you begin in strengthening your brand presence and solidifying your brand story? Our Brand Strategist has a few easy suggestions for how to start your journey to purpose:
The most valuable lesson is to discover, understand, and live out your organization’s “Why.” Here’s how you go about finding it:
Gather a group of 5-6 stakeholders. This should be team members, investors, and customers who run the range of organizational tenure. For smaller startups, consider gathering a group of people – officemates, customers, even long time friends – who know your team very well and are not afraid to share their opinions about their experience with your brand.
You’ll need a skilled moderator to take you through this process, someone open to new thoughts and ideas. Your best option is someone who’s unrelated to your team and can offer unbiased guidance.
A: Divide a sheet of paper or a whiteboard into three columns.
B: Divide the first column in half horizontally
Step 1: WHAT – In the top part of the first column, ask yourselves, “What is something tangible that our brand delivers to our customers?” In the bottom half of that column, ask, “What do we provide emotionally for our customers?” i.e. peace of mind, familiarity, ease, trust.
Step 2: HOW – In the second column, ask yourselves the question, “How do we deliver our solution to the customer?” Let your brains wander and think of the way your organization works and the things that make you unique – perhaps your process, your vertical, or your revolutionary approach.
Step 3: WHY – In the last column, you’ll ask, “Why?” While this answer is the hardest one to extract from your team, if you can get to the bottom and find it — it’s magic. Do your best to stay away from your “motive,” which we define as money. There is a place for motive, but not when searching for Purpose. To identify your why, think back to the pivotal moment in time when an idea was born, a decision was made, a thought was realized to shape your business. This moment marks the formation of your “why.” Once you can define it, you’ve found your purpose and, consequently, your compass for the future.
Creating a Lasting Impression
Overall, a strong and consistent brand presence will create a lasting impression on consumers. Right now, the opportunity is ripe for your business to tap into its unique brand story, culture, and mission to display a strong and steady presence in the midst of a societal metamorphosis.
Start with discovering your brand’s WHY – your reason for existence. It matters more than you think and it’s the foundation for all your customer interactions, even digitally. If you need helping finding your why and identifying your purpose, we’re here to help and would love to partner with you in uncovering your story.
Web Design & Development
“It’s obviously no longer an option for some businesses to continue ignoring their online presence.” – Paul Capetola, Visual & Interactive Designer
In a time when businesses are limited in ways to stay connected with their customers, it’s crucial to have a high-functioning website. As commerce shifts from brick and mortar to online, businesses wanting to succeed must have a website that’s up-to-date, accessible, easy to navigate, and capable of handling an influx of new customers. Businesses that previously relied on in-person communication and service will need to revisit their digital presence and adopt new vitality in order to attract new customers and stay afloat.
Improving Your Current Digital Presence
Revisiting your digital presence starts by identifying the purpose and goals of your website. This goes beyond basic functionality. As a brand, what are you trying to accomplish? Does your site have the stamina to outlive times of crisis in your respective industry? Pinpointing the overall goals of your site can reveal the subsequent steps you’ll need to take for growth. Consider the following thoughts:
Are you trying to capture new leads or nurture current ones?
Do you want to inform or educate your customers about something?
Is your site intended to sell products and services? How do you want to approach your method of sale?
Once you’ve clarified the purpose of your site, ensure your visual identity is in alignment to support these goals. This means going beyond your personal preferences for an aesthetic and choosing graphics, images, fonts, and design elements that stay on-brand and effectively speak to your visitors. No matter the industry, your website should be straightforward to your target audience. Here are some universal ways to improve your website:
Make sure to have straightforward calls to action
A clear CTA will lead your customers where you want them to go — whether you want them to subscribe to something, fill out a form, or add a product to their cart. Use the text on your CTA button wisely. It should be catchy, attention-grabbing, and easy to spot but straight to the point. Additionally, be sure to place your calls to action in a visible place. They should stand out as much as possible. Here are some web design trends to look out for in 2020 – a few things you may want to incorporate into your site as you make updates!
Ensure that your site is accessible and responsive across different devices.
If your website still isn’t optimized for mobile viewing, it’s time for an update. In 2019, 80% of users on the web searched from their mobile devices or tablets. A website that only functions properly on a desktop is considered outdated and greatly hampers the user experience on other devices. To ensure your site caters to all audiences with different preferences and abilities, promote inclusivity and user experience by prioritizing responsive design and accessibility. In this day and age, it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s essential if you want to see digital success for your business.
For more resources, check out these articles on understanding web accessibility and the necessity of a responsive site.
Most importantly, consider your content.
How do you continue to influence your customers when you can’t see them face-to-face? The key is content. Whether videos, webinars, blog articles or a podcast, find ways to provide valuable content to your customers when they can’t come to your locale. Check out what some brands have been doing to stay connected with their customers from afar:
Black Swan Yoga is using its website as a platform to showcase new features and services. This brand is thinking ahead and is now providing a streaming service for at-home workouts. All it takes is some creativity to transform your products and services into something that can reach wider audiences online!
The designer furniture brand, Made, is connecting with its customers through blog content. By utilizing this aspect of its site, Made is able to connect with its audience by sharing its expertise. How-tos are an effective way to keep your customers engaged — especially when they’re stuck at home browsing the web.
If your business has been in need of a web redesign that you’ve put off for a while (here are 8 dead giveaways it’s time), now’s the time to do it. Refreshing an outdated site can help keep business flowing and even reach new audiences as people seek out new products and services during these changing times. Plus, a modernized site can equip your business for growth well into the future. If you’re ready for a website overhaul or have questions about starting the process, we’d love to chat!
At the same time, if your business is struggling and a full redesign just isn’t in the budget right now, try some of the tweaks we mentioned above. A few small changes can generate big results when done right!
“Take advantage of technology to keep your business swimming instead of sinking.” – Sarah Hetrick, Marketing Manager
When everything in our world first started changing this year, consumers were eager to learn and understand. As a result, they were soaking up as much information as possible, which made it easy to connect. Now, however, consumers are feeling fatigued with information overload and are more selective about the content they consume. This means it’s more important than ever for businesses to be strategic about how they’re reaching and connecting with their target audiences.
The key to marketing right now is to provide value. As we’ve discussed, getting in front of your customers digitally right now is an absolute must if businesses want to stay connected. But HOW you do it is equally as important. Rather than blasting consumers with your products and services while many other businesses are struggling to survive, take a step back and consider how you can make a difference in your community. Show support for the many people, workers, and businesses affected by the current situation, and brainstorm ways your brand can step in to help. Find ways to bring value to your customers and community. Be willing to pivot and adjust your business model in order to more effectively meet your customers’ needs.
Explore New Channels and Stay Connected
If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start or how to adapt your digital presence and marketing efforts, take some advice from Sarah Hetrick, HMG’s Marketing Manager. “Screen time is up (my daily social media timers keep reminding me of this!). People are less distracted, have less going on, and are finding more space to dream and initiate new projects or habits.”
Now is a great time to introduce people to the unique ways your brand can improve their lives during this difficult time. Focus on providing valuable content, becoming a familiar voice, and building genuine connections with prospective and current customers.
Be Active on Social
Right now, being active on social media means more than putting out a few posts each week. It involves pushing out timely, relevant content, experimenting with “live” stories, engaging with other accounts, and responding to your followers. You can also use social to announce new promotions, show support for your community, reveal those behind-the-scenes moments that shape your brand, share more of the hard work of your team that keeps your company up and running and provides rockstar customer service to let your customers know you’re not going anywhere.
Tap into Email Marketing
If you have an email list that you never had time to contact, now’s the time to jump on it. Kick off a monthly (or weekly) newsletter to keep your customers up-to-date with new developments for your brand. Share your blog content to get more eyes on the valuable resources you offer. Encourage more engagement on your website. Get creative with promotions, online events, webinars, and contests. Don’t miss this opportunity to establish a new cadence of communication with your customers. To get started, follow these tips on conquering an email marketing campaign.
If business is slowing down and your pipeline is running dry, take the initiative now to get more traffic to your site. Consider boosting your SEO efforts or running a PPC campaign. As a long term strategy, search engine optimization can often take a few months before generating results, and you’ll be grateful down the line when more people are organically finding your site. At the same time, it’s always good to be proactive in driving traffic to your site with a paid search campaign, display advertising, and retargeting efforts. A simple campaign could help you win out over competitors and get the business you need.
Through strategic planning and execution, these marketing best practices can help businesses like yours reach new audiences, carry out ideas, and improve overall brand awareness. The success of your brand’s digital presence ultimately boils down to how, when, and to whom you deliver your unique message, and we’re here to help you nail it.
This virtual life very well may be the new normal. The key to survival right now is the willingness to pivot your digital presence. The quicker your business adapts to new ways of reaching your target audience, the better your chances for success. Through strategic planning and careful execution of your brand story, web presence, and digital marketing initiatives, your business can begin to thrive once again during this time of uncertainty.
Remember – how you adapt now will leave an impression on consumers that will outlast these difficult times.
Need help navigating the waters of the digital marketing world? We’d love to partner with you and be your expert guide! Let’s chat.