Do You Have An Online Action Plan?

revolutionWe are living a revolution in the way people communicate. Practically everyone turns to the Web first when researching products, services and people to do business with. If you want to build your brand and your business, then a great Web presence is critical.

I am asked on a regular basis, by clients, friends and strangers alike, “How do I stand out and where do I begin?” Once you’ve got the basics covered – your brand attributes, collateral materials, tagline and focus, what’s the best use of your time and money? When you are clear about who you are, what you stand for and how you can help your target market, you are ready to start building a powerful personal brand presence and creating your authority online.

There are seven areas where you actually have some control over how people will perceive your brand through what you put out on the Web – both visually and content-wise.

1. Website – Are you still relying on a static, brochure-style website? If so, you will eventually be invisible online (if you aren’t already!) Statistics show that when someone visits these types of sites, they click around a couple of pages, never to return. Nothing on these sites compel them to stay. If you want your brand to compete, you’ve got to create something interesting and interactive; remarkable and consistently fresh content, resources, links, blog (#4), freebies (#3) and a way for people to sign up to join your list (#2).

2. Opt-In Box – This is the place where someone signs up for your Pink Spoon (see #3 below) and in exchange, gives you their name and email address. As you build your presence online, it’s incredibly important to build a list of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Eventually, this becomes your community – the people who are most likely to purchase your products and services. For an example of an opt-in box, check out www.shebrand.com.

3. Pink Spoon – Also known as your “Free Taste” or “Giveaway,” this is a content-rich item that you give away to your target market just for signing up on your website. It can be in the form of an e-book, white paper, video, webinar, tip sheet or anything else you feel would be relevant and helpful to your target market. And yes, you are giving valuable information away for FREE! People do business with people who they know, like and trust. They also do business with those they feel are the authorities in their industries. In order to build your personal brand and position yourself as the authority in your field, you must build a relationship with your target market and be willing to educate, inform and share.

4. Blog – Starting a blog is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build your personal brand presence online. Including a blog on your website – with lots of new, remarkable content – will turn a brochure-style site into a living, evolving destination for your target market and a magnet for the search engines.

5. Newsletter – Also known as an “ezine”, this is a great opportunity to stay in touch with your target market on a regular basis. It can consist of a feature article, list of resources, tips, images, links or anything else that would benefit your readers. Once people sign up for your Pink Spoon, they should be automatically subscribed to your newsletter.

6. Article Submission – Have you Googled yourself recently? One of the best ways to take some control of what comes up about you is to send your own articles to submission sites such as ezinearticles.com and ideamarketers.com. These sites request a personal bio and link back to your own site, and the search engines often pick up on this content. Articles that you submit to these sites will attract links from other sites pointing to your website. Also, good content is easily and quickly spread on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Digg.

7. Social Media – Social networking, news and discovery sites provide a great way to reach and engage potential clients. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, Delicious and Stumble-Upon all have different uses, but most share the ability to connect to others and interact and share information. The keys to effective social media are to tell your story in an authentic manner, participate by following up and commenting on others’ posts, offer valuable information on a regular basis, be courteous and respectful, and don’t overwhelm your community with sales pitches and self-promotion.  And this goes without saying: don’t ever post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see.

Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can re-purpose your content for multiple use – on your blog, in your newsletter and for article submission. You can also link your blog to Twitter and Facebook so that every time you post, your followers will be alerted to new material. Select one or two of the areas above to focus on and go from there. There are millions of resources out there to get you started. All you have to do is Google them.

©Liz Dennery Sanders 2011

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