How do people see your business and identify with your brand? It’s easy to summarize the feelings of your best customers, just as it is the ones who always complain. But what about all of your clients, employees, and business partners as a whole? If you’re not consciously promoting and defining your company’s brand I can guarantee – someone else is.
It’s no secret, people are online and talking, and there’s a good chance they’re talking about your company. Now more than ever it’s imperative that you understand, promote and monitor your brand.
I’ve talked to several hospitals and staffing suppliers in the healthcare staffing industry that don’t understand their brand or how to actively promote and manage it. Further, they have yet to realize the value of all the online resources available for assisting with this effort.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to promote, track and define your brand online these days. In this series I’ll cover 9 tips on how to effectively use the Internet and its many resources to manage your brand.
1. Identify your brand
What is a brand? A brand is more than a logo or a trademark. It's more than a slogan, sales pitch or mission statement. A brand is an identification or a representation. It can even be as intangible as a feeling, understanding or an association.
To identify your brand, start off-line. The best thing to do is to analyze and understand your business. Make sure that whatever you're delivering is of the best quality it can be. Nothing destroys your brand faster than having a reputation of not delivering on the promise of your products or services.
Next, ask and answer questions such as:
- What is it you deliver and how do you deliver it?
- What makes your company stand out from your competition?
- What are
your company values and what benefits do you bring to the market?
- Define your target audience. Be as specific as possible. For
example, “hospitals” is not a target audience. “Acute care hospitals, with 250-500 beds, that spend more than
$2,000,000/year on per diem healthcare staff, in urban areas, of the
pacific northwest” is getting closer.
- What message are you trying to send to this audience? What message will resonate with this audience?
- Identify the “voice” with which you want to communicate this message. Is it professional? Fun? Experienced? Laid back?
- What is the one thing you want people to think of when they interact
with your brand? Quality? Professionalism? Great customer service?
Once you identify your brand, ensure that all of your employees have the same understanding of your brand, it's message, how it's communicated and the promise of its value.
2. Create a plan
Creating a Facebook page and signing up for Twitter is not a plan. These are actions to execute within your plan. It's imperative that you have a plan and a strategy for promoting your band online. Create a plan that answers questions such as:
- What are your business goals – both short and long term? Are you looking to expand into new markets, explore different modalities or do you want to stay focused on improving your current lines of business? Is your goal to recruit more healthcare professionals into an internal contingent pool or are you trying to earn more business from your existing clients?
- What are your company’s current strengths and weaknesses? Have you done well at per diem staffing and want to give placing travelers a try? If you're thinking of building, instead of licensing software are you prepared for the maintenance and on going support of a software venture?
- What do you think your company image is now? How do you want to be perceived? Is there a difference? If so, how will you take steps to address this?
- What type of resources do you have to devote to your online marketing efforts? Are you on a limited budget or do you have a thriving marketing department? Do you have content prepared to publish or are you starting from scratch?
Answering these questions will help get you started on identifying and preparing to promote your brand online.