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Your Marketing Materials Should Reflect Your Current Brand

Consistency in your brand messaging is key in communicating your core offerings. Even if you’ve defined your unique value proposition, this won’t be clear to your target audiences if your marketing materials don’t reflect it. As you’re evaluating your need for a rebrand, gather every piece of marketing you use or have used, and prepare to take a close look at each item.

Start with Your Logo

A business’s logo is the cornerstone of the brand, the starting point in creating that instant recognition among your target audience. However, the design process can cost quite a bit of time and money — two things budding entrepreneurs find are in short supply. Think about how you would do your logo today, knowing what you do now about branding. Now think about how you could put those ideas in place to give it an updated look. Remember, a rebrand doesn’t mean trashing your logo. Simple font and color hue adjustments can make a big impact.

Move on to the Marketing Collateral

Up-to-date marketing materials are important for every business, regardless of whether or not sales are involved in the day-to-day success of the venture. Gather up all of your collateral – brochures, pitch decks, direct mail – and review the messaging and overall design. Are they communicating the brand effectively? Is the message the same across each marketing piece? Does it have the correct address and contact information? It helps to sit down with all materials at once to get a top-level view of your marketing program.

Finish with a Complete Audit of All the Rest

A marketing collateral audit doesn’t only refer to sales materials; take a look at every item that contains your company name or logo. This includes items like business cards, pens, signage, stationary and envelopes. You might be surprised with just how many outlets your brand touches! Not only should you look over everything for accuracy, but also think about necessity. For example, branded USB drives were all the rage 10 years ago, but today this will make you look outdated.

After conducting your audit of all marketing materials, you’ll probably be surprised at just how much your business has evolved since its startup days. Still don’t know whether or not you need a rebrand? Take our quiz!

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Pay Attention to Your Employer Brand

Just when you think you have a good handle on how your brand is perceived by your target audience, we’re here to throw you a curveball: how does your brand look to potential recruits? If you find yourself just trying to fill open positions instead of recruiting top talent to help grow your company, it’s time to take a close look at your employer brand.

Recruiting is Marketing

Ten years ago, most of the workforce was simply happy to have a steady paycheck. Companies didn’t have to offer fancy amenities and perks, because they had the upper hand. Fortunately, the economy has recovered quite well, and unemployment has dropped to its lowest rate since 2000 (as of June 1, 2018). This means employers need to put forth effort to actually attract the type of employees they want.

Understand Your Brand

Just as you would conduct an external brand audit, you need to take a hard look at your employer brand. As you evaluate your recruiting assets, make sure your brand voice and feel is weaved through every piece of collateral. The same is true for the onboarding process, a new employee’s first true interaction with your company. Every member of your team – from customer-facing positions to the person processing payroll – should be able to explain your company’s culture. Word-of-mouth endorsement from your employees is just as good as any lead generation initiative.

Look from the Outside In

Once you’ve examined your company culture, take a look at how (or if) you’re promoting yourself as an employer. It might seem self-serving to talk about all of the wonderful benefits you offer your employees, but that is going to be one of your best assets when it comes to recruiting the most qualified talent to join your team. Applicants want to know these things, and not sharing what sets you apart is actually going to hurt your chances at recruiting.

Recruiting top talent to work for you is a plight understood by every company, but the ones who get it are the brands that treat their recruiting process the same as their sale process. Click here to read more about how to improve your internal and external brands for overall success.

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Your Brand Has Changed, Whether You Know it or Not

Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Neither is your business. Chances are, if you’ve been around for more than a few years, something about your company has changed. This might be a slight tweaking to make your business more competitive or a complete shift as a result of industry changes. No matter what has changed or why, your brand should reflect that.

Core Offerings Are Huge

It’s easy to disregard slight changes to your products or services because they might not seem like that big of a deal from the inside. (Especially if this was a gradual shift.) However, from a potential customer, that small amendment could be just what they’re looking for. Take a step back, and look at your core offerings with a fresh eye. If someone you did business with on the first day you opened your doors approached you now, would you offer them the same service?

Company Culture is Key

Too often, company culture is overlooked when it comes to selling a brand. However, your culture and your brand cannot be separate. You’ve probably worked hard building a strong internal system of communications, employee engagement, general workforce bonding, etc. Sharing that with your target audience adds to your overall brand equity. Additionally, promoting your strong culture will help attract top talent that will drive your business forward.

Brand Equity Needs Attention

Speaking of brand equity, have you measured yours? Establish how much value your brand has within your target audience, and how recognizable it is among those in your network. Your customer might have a general idea about what you bring to the table, but the strong key points may have become muddied as your business has changed. A rebrand can be a fantastic way to reestablish your messaging and give your hard-earned brand equity a boost.

As you’re taking a look at how your brand has changed for your target audience, remember that it’s important to actually define those target audiences. If you’re still not sure whether or not you need a rebrand, take our quiz!  

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Consistency in Brand Messaging is Key

If you want to find out how consistent your brand messaging is, ask three people to describe your business: a customer, an employee and yourself. If your company has been around for while, you’ll most likely get three very different messages. No matter who the public face is for your brand, it’s important that everyone involved be able to distinguish the key points that set your offerings apart from the rest.

External Branding

Once you’ve identified your target audiences, think about how you want people to interact with your business. Whether a potential client is holding your business card, using your website or reviewing a sell sheet, the essence of your company should be there and be familiar. If you want them to walk away feeling confident, work backwards and decide what your business can do to instill that emotion.

How did a boring yellow ‘M’ become one of those most recognized logos in the world? Consistent branding. You might not be as big as McDonald’s (yet!), but presenting a unified look and feel across every single marketing channel is crucial in communicating your value to your target audience. Part of your rebrand should be to decide how this will spread across every platform.

Internal Branding

Depending on what type of business you’ve built, there could be multiple internal audiences – from support staff who keep the company running to client-facing employees who interact with your target audience on a regular basis. However, when it comes to brand messaging, everyone needs to be on board.

A good analogy is how restaurants work with their serving staff. When a new menu item is released, a good restaurant will have everyone taste the item while they explain the flavors behind it. That way, the servers can make recommendations to the customer and be able to describe the dishes before placing their order. Now, ask yourself how your employees would be able to explain your offerings to your target audience. Can they describe your services? Do they know the key differentiators of your brand? Would they recommend working with your company to their own networks?

Strive to have every single person who interacts with your brand come away with the feeling and knowledge you want to communicate. You may never reach McDonald’s status, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strive to instill that same recognition among your target audience.

Still not sure about a rebrand? Take our quiz!

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Redefining Your Target Audience

The very first step in a company rebrand should always be to re-evaluate the target audience. Depending on how long you’ve been in business, what was true of your ideal customer back then is most likely not true today. (Those young Millennials fresh out of college aren’t so young anymore!) Don’t worry about starting from scratch because you probably have the information right at your fingertips. It’s all just a matter of taking another look at the facts.

Make a List of Your Favorite Past Clients or Customers

Think back over your years in business, and write down your best customer-centered experiences. This could be a short transaction that went better than expected or even a long-term partnership that helped define who you are as a company. Are there any similarities in the clients that were involved in these situations? This may just be the type of client you want to target in the long term.

Decide Who Your Product or Service Helps Today

Even if your core offering hasn’t changed, your target audience definitely has. A 10-year-old office furniture company may still provide chairs and desks, but the needs of today’s working spaces are vastly different. As you begin the rebrand process, you’ll need a realistic picture of who has the potential to purchase your product or service. If that same office furniture company opened its doors marketing to cubicle-ridden office spaces in the Loop, it’s time to adjust their focus.

Create a Complete Audience Profile

As you’re imagining your new target audience, really get into who they are and what makes them tick. What’s their story? How old are they? Are they tech-savvy? Where do they get their news? What makes them happy? Answering these questions now will shape your entire marketing plan later. You’ll be able to speak to your target audience in their language and through their preferred medium.

Don’t be afraid that pinpointing your audience will pigeonhole you into marketing ONLY to that group. Just because you choose an ideal client doesn’t mean you can’t work with anyone else. This is merely a jumping off point to help give direction to your rebrand.

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A Business Owner’s Guide to Instagramming Events

Instagram is the place to be for business owners, but it can be hard to find your niche among the pics of avocado toast and expertly-posed babies. The easiest thing way to get started is to be your own paparazzi at community and networking events. Don’t worry, you don’t have to invest in a selfie stick. Just snap a few photos, and follow these steps for optimizing your post.

Tag the Event Host
If you’re at an event to connect with others in your community or field, chances are the event host is trying to do the same. Find out if they’re on Instagram, and be sure to tag them in your post. Extra points if you pay them a compliment in your caption. This will not only show them you’re active on Instagram, it will put the ball in their court to either comment on your post or repost to their followers. Either way, you’ve already drawn eyes to your Insta presence.

Know Your Hashtags
Ever wonder how someone with 100 followers can get 200 likes on Instagram? It’s all because of hashtags. They act as the ultimate search function, connecting users to what they want to see on the platform. For example, if you are located in Humboldt Park, using #HumboldtPark lets others who are connected to the area find your content. When you’re at an event, find out if the host has created a specific hashtag for the occasion, (e.g. #gala2018), and use it in your posts from the event. Not only will your photos appear when other attendees search the hashtag, you’ll also be able to find and connect with your fellow event goers.

Geotag Yourself
When you create an Instagram post, you have the option to add your location. The main reason to use this feature is to connect with others who are at the event. Instagram offers a search feature to see who else has checked in at the venue. Simply click on the location, and you’ll have a list of attendees who have also used the function. You can also look at their event photos to see if there are other hashtags you should use.

Businesses continue to find great success in locating and connecting with their audiences on Instagram. As you’re optimizing your IG presence, be sure to utilize Instagram for Business to track your results.

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What Small Businesses Should Know About the Facebook Algorithm Changes

Facebook announced last week a plan to overhaul users’ newsfeeds to weed out business and celebrity posts in favor of more meaningful engagements from friends and family. This has caused some serious waves in the social media world, as Facebook has been making it increasingly difficult for businesses to reach their audiences organically. Since the big brands have large budgets for highly-targeted, paid social media ad campaigns, this means it’s the small businesses that will suffer.

We’re still waiting on more details, but here’s what small businesses need to know right now:

Get Reacquainted with Your Followers

Think quality over quantity, because this new change means fans who don’t regularly engage with your content will probably never see it. Facebook’s news feed algorithm is designed to show you what it thinks you want to see. If someone is visiting your page (by actively navigating to the page), as well as sharing and liking posts, that will earn you a space in their newsfeed. If a fan liked your page awhile ago, and doesn’t appear to be that interested, the algorithm will note this and show little to none of your content.

Focus on Engagement

One of the first things a business can do is encourage fans and followers to add their pages to Facebook’s see first feature. After that, it’s time to really focus on engagement. Videos and Facebook Live continues to yield great results, as does colorful imagery that inspires comments and shares. Think of Facebook as more of a way to have a conversation with your target audience instead of just talking at them.

Commit to an Ad Spend

After this change, reaching your target audience organically is going to become virtually impossible. Decide what your goals are for Facebook – website clicks, lead form completions, etc. – and put together an advertising plan. Start by creating a schedule of boosted posts and keeping a close watch on the results. Is one type of content seeing more shares than another? Create more of those types of posts and go from there.

If you’re interested in more information about Facebook advertisements, check out our blog on how to get started.

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Simple Ways to Keep Your Clients for the Long Haul

Every business owner knows how important it is to bring in new clients, but don’t forget your bread and butter lies with retaining the clients you already have. Keep your current roster happy and thriving, and you’ll have a solid business in place so you can go out and win more. Here are a few of our recommendations to improving your client retention.

 

Understand where they want to go and how you can get them there

To ensure a satisfied client and deliver great results, you need to know what keeps them up at night. In PR, media placements are great, but they mean nothing if they don’t help your client hit their goals. Get to know their industry and competitors. Learn how to move the needle so you can help grow their business. Connecting your activity and results to your client’s bottom line goes a long way in extending your relationship.

 

Celebrate the wins and embrace the suck

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. When something great happens for your client, let it be known and enjoy it! Of course, while it’s fun to dazzle with your amazing work, every business campaign will experience pitfalls and it’s important to inform your client when that happens. When bad things happen, get in front of them, Identify the problem and how it’s going to be fixed.

 

Be their business therapist

Business ownership is a lonely island. Having another professional to bounce ideas off of is as valuable as the service or product you are providing your client. Remember you’re essentially handling your clients’ livelihoods. By becoming a valuable partner in their business, it can go a long way toward retention.

If you are looking for a simple solution for managing, organizing and tracking your clients, consider investing in a customer relationship management system.

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Eight Lessons from Eight Years in Business

*A note from Fetch PR partner Lina Khalil

 

Fetch has gone through a ton of changes since Erryn and I started the business in 2009, growing leaps and bounds in clients, staff and even square footage. To celebrate our eighth year in business, the whole team came together for cake and wine and to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned. Here are a few of our favorites.

 

1. Put all the cards on the table.

One of the best ways to keep your team passionate about the company’s goals is to be transparent about where you’ve been, where you are currently, where you would like to go and how each individual plays a role in getting there. When employers put all the cards on the table, their team feels more connected and committed to reaching the company’s goals.

 

2. Be real about your struggle.

Being able to identify where you struggle personally while also being able to have success in those situations provides individual development that will help you grow as a company. Obviously, you want to stay true to who you are, but you can’t always be the same person in every professional situation and rely on just your natural skill set if you want to progress. You need to understand your strengths but not fall back on them constantly to the point where they become a weakness.

 

3. Bootstrapping isn’t cute.

Money isn’t everything, but when you’re running a business, it can feel like the only thing that matters. We like to ask ourselves two questions when it comes to making business decisions: Can we afford to do it? Can we afford NOT to do it? Always remember that any financial venture is an investment in your business. If an opportunity to improve your business may stretch you financially, consider how long it would take you to reach your goals without making that investment. Compare this to the short-term financial strains that you may incur by going after it. We have found that nine times out of 10 that making the investment has paid larger dividends.

 

4. Don’t sell yourself short.

Go after your ideal candidate as soon as possible, even if you’re not currently in the position to hire them. Make your intentions known and start the conversation early with them. Most business owners feel undeserving when it comes to attracting top talent. However, if you passionately sell your vision to them, they may reciprocate by telling you their must-haves in order to make the move. This will put you the best position to secure your rock star candidate and accelerate the growth of your company.

 

5. Wear less hats.

At some point every business owner wears multiple hats. While this approach allows you to launch your company and get off the ground with minimal investment, it was never meant to sustain a company long term. It is important to understand your revenue-generating activities which will help you analyze the value of your time. This will allow you to pinpoint processes that you are currently handling and outsource to a third-party who can do it more efficiently and for less money than what your time is worth.

 

6. Take your blinders off.

In our personal lives, we all know self-care is important – meaning, you have to take care of yourself first in order to help others. This is no different than running a business. While keeping your clients happy is the number one priority, neglecting your own business can stagnate your growth. To ensure your business doesn’t plateau, set aside time each quarter to look at your business as a whole. This will allow you identify areas of opportunity, promote innovation and boost creativity within your business.

 

7. Sh!t happens.

Ultimately, we can’t control when bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean we should sit around waiting for them to happen. While these negative experiences allow opportunities to learn and grow, it’s equally important to recognize the good moments and enjoy the heck out of those times.

 

8. Boy bye.

A relationship with a client is oddly similar to a relationship with a significant other. Sometimes, when the relationship with a client goes south, you automatically try to mend the broken pieces but realize that it can only hold together for so long. When it gets to that point, it’s time to let the client go in order to keep your company intact.

 

We hope these lessons that we learned throughout our eight years in business can serve you well in your enterprise endeavors. Here’s to another eight (plus)!

Check out one of our highlights from this past year

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Must-Have Apps to Improve Your Workflow

With the abundance of productivity apps available, smartphones have essentially become our personal assistants. However, the surplus of apps has made it difficult for us to determine which ones are worth our phone’s storage. To help you narrow it down, here are a few of our favorite apps to improve daily workflow.

 

Evernote

For those who struggle with organizing their daily tasks, meetings and reminders, try Evernote. This app makes taking notes, making to-do lists and collecting your thoughts quick and easy. A unique feature of Evernote is the ability to scan and save documents with your camera as picture or document files. Evernote will even help organize everything so you don’t have to.

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great tool for making connections, applying for jobs and professionally branding your company or yourself. The mobile LinkedIn app makes it easier to perform the same web features on the go. Networking, engaging and messaging is now as simple as clicking a button. Stay up to date with the latest business and industry news, while networking with like-minded professionals.

 

Elevate

If you are looking to improve your analytical and communication skills at work, try downloading Elevate. Getting started is simple with a two to four minute quiz to create your personalized training program. With over 40 games developed by educational experts, you can track and analyze your performance. Each game is intended to test and improve your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.

 

VSCO

VSCO is a photo-sharing app that has a more artistic-feel than Instagram. The app gives you features where you can edit or use filters, save them and choose which pictures to post. Unlike Instagram, the VSCO app does not have the ability to like,comment or see who is following you, giving you more freedom to post without judgement.

 

Trello

If you are struggling with collaborating efficiently and effectivity with coworkers, friends or classmates, download the Trello app. Trello makes it simple to organize projects, delegate tasks, and create deadlines. Create productive discussions with your team through attachments and constructive comments. Trello is a great tool not only in the office, but at home!

Whether you plan on installing the apps listed above or other apps, we recommend looking at ratings and reviews to ensure it’s worth downloading. Looking to take your business productivity to the next level? Consider adding a CRM system.