Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Brand Creation Strategies for Start-Up Companies

Brand Creation Strategies

What is Brand ?

A brand is personification of a product or service of a business. Brand word has many vague definitions loosely meaning more or less following :
  • Identity of a product or service
  • Personification of the products or service in consumer's mind
  • Creating a beautiful gestalt in consumer's mind for a product or service
When a brand is legally protected, it is known as a trademark.

Different Methodologies of Brand Creation

Brand creation is a lengthy process. It is a continuous process and it changes in tune with the nature of product and service. It is like a child's journey from infancy to adulthood and survival in the cut-throat competitive world until it's journey ends.
There are different methodologies of brand creation and no single method is perfect or full-proof. Each method has it's own advantages and disadvantages.

Advertising through conventional media channels

It involves advertising your products or service through traditional channels like Radio Advertising,TV Advertising, Newspaper Advertising, Hoardings, etc. It is a economically costly method in today's context considering the perspective of start-up companies. It is the most effective and direct attack methodology of promoting your products or services.

Advertising through non-conventional media channels

Various methods are available which are termed as non-conventional methods of brand-creation:
  • Email Marketing and brand-awareness creation
  • Web-site creation and marketing through it
  • Marketing through Social Media Channels, viz. Facebook, Orkut , Linkedin , Twitter,etc.
  • Gamification of products and services for brand-creation (Gamification of Brand)
  • SMS promotion or SMS marketing
  • Bulk SMS marketing

Piggy back riding on other successful products or services (Co-branding)

It involves finding a successful complementing product or service to which our product or service can be bundled in order to sell/promote both with composite pricing mechanism. Advantage of this method is that it increases the revenue generated from products or services quickly, but it has dominating effect on the new products or service. Piggy back method should be used for short-time otherwise it has potential to dangerously dominate the new product or service permanently without significantly increasing the brand-awareness of new product or service.

Mouth to mouth promotion

It involves direct selling method or chain selling method to sell as well as brand-promotion . It is a slow method of brand-promotion, but it is very reliable method.

The peculiar problems of start-up companies


Scarcity of fund for brand-creation

Generally, start-up companies are seeded by promoter's fund to begin with which is mostly modest in nature. Again, the nature of start-up companies play a very important role. Companies whose product or service depends development of product or new technology , this fund becomes more modest leaving very little for brand-promotion or creation.

Limited or zero budget for traditional media channels

Since traditional media channels like TV advertising, Newspaper,Radio, etc. have high rates, it is generally out-of reach for start-up companies unless they are funded at the beginning only.

Few existing customers or no existing customers for the product or service

Most start-up companies are created to serve niche market segment by creating new products or services which are generally non-existent. So there is no customer base. Selling of the product or service should go hand-in-hand with brand-creation for start-up to survive in the long-term.

Product or service is in evolution or development stage , product or service is still maturing

Start-up companies have road map for their products or services and they are under constant flux of development or improvement. At the same time, there is need for marketing the basic product or services to start gaining entry into the niche segment for the products or services. It is like standing on two parallel speeding boats.

Competitive brand is strongly placed

This happens when the start-up is not the early bird in the targeted market segment and the competitive brand is already positioned at some level.

Strategies to tackle peculiar problems

Identify your core nature of products or services

It is like discovering yourself. The same pain and turbulence are experienced by the product creator or service creator as a teenager which transforms itself into a successful adult. At the start of road map of the product development, we should identify what value addition we are giving to customers with the basic or core product or services. This is usually done in conjunction with identifying your target audience or niche market segment.

Identify your target audience or niche market segment

This is always done when products or services are created when the start-ups start functioning.

Plan the road map for your products or service

Inability to plan the future road map successfully for products or services , is one of the most common reasons for failures of the start-up. Failure to execute road map as a Plan of Action is second.

Summary

In the second part , we will have detailed discussion about strategies to solve the peculiar problems faced by the start-up organizations in the way of brand-creation.

Akhilesh Maurya
akhileshm@hotmail.com

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Core of Website-Content Management System

Wordpress Logo

Introduction

The web development industry has graduated from art of creating website from scratch to using sophisticated content-management approach called as CMS. In the earlier days of web development, websites were designed using HTML/CSS programming and writing code for each and every functionality of web components in VBScript/JavaScript.

Soon various other scripting languages started flourishing like PHP which enabled outputting content in HTML format and were running in web-server environment.

Creating website using content-management system is different than the normal traditional method of website creation where for each and every component of website code has to be written by programmers and designers to integrate with the overall theme of website. It is more or less like implementing ERP with SAP. SAP provides the core-functionality and framework for ERP implementation which can be installed or configured to fulfill any requirement of ERP for any organization.

What is content-management system ?

A content-management system provides a set of modules or components when integrated together can full fill the requirement of completion of website. Generally, in a typical content-management system there are ready-made modules available for configuration,like:

  • User-registration and Login module
  • Menu-management module
  • Article creation and publishing module
  • Control-panel to manage website configuration
  • Theme Registration and Deployment module
  • Analytics module for SEO
  • SEO Management Module
  • Image Management Module
Popular Content-management Systems

Here, we will get familiar with two most popular content-management systems :
Joomla
Drupal
Akhilesh Maurya

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Principles of Good Webpage Design-Part 1

Principles of Good Webpage DesignSo let us start the out of box discussion.Now, we will examine some principles of web-design from the User-Interface (UI/UX) point of view which are based on common-sense and Feng Shui laws. In order to examine these principles , we will first list the design elements involved in a website. 

So let us focus on following design elements:


Domain Name
 
  1.   Never use hyphen, DOT or any special characters in the domain name.
  2.   It should be short,catchy,sweet and should easily stick to tongue.
  3.   If you are an established organization, ideally your brand name should be your domain name. 
  4.   Even  combination of your brand name and organization name will do.
  5.   If you are a new entrant, think about the keywords with which your products and services can  be co-related  and choose a domain name around those keywords.
      Rand Fiskin has written a very good article here:
      How to choose a Domain Name ? 

Content

Content is the king as far as marketing and promotional activities are concerned. The sole purpose of content should be to meet the eyeballs of audience. We will classify content into two broad categories:
  1. Text
      1. Less content is good, but this is not applicable to all kinds of websites. Especially websites which serve  news,blog articles,user-driven forums, etc. may have first home page full of text content.Websites which serve information about products and services should display summary of the organization with its products and services.   
  2.  Media ( Images and Audio/Video) 
     
      1.  Again less image and video is required on the home page. But websites which are news oriented and video sharing sites need not follow these principles. Make sure images and videos load quickly on all the available browsers and as far as possible should be in auto-display or auto-play mode.
If possible , text and media can be combined as one unit of content to communicate the idea. This method is becoming very popular now a days. It is called Infographic. Infographics are better way to communicate because a picture is worth thousand words and if combined with right text , it can convey idea in short and sweet manner. It is a great data visualization or content visualization technique.
Layout

The layout of website is like a floor plan of the room. Ask any interior designer, how much   importance they give before starting their job? Layout should bind all the design elements of the website in a harmoniums fashion. Layout should not clutter all the design elements at one location, but should evenly distribute it like a good spread of butter.

Also the layout should not distort when website is viewed on different shape and size of screens. Now a days , 60% web pages are accessed from tabs and smart phones which comes in varied width and height screen sizes.  Web page layout should be responsive design so that it will adjust to any type of screen display. Responsive design of web pages is key factor to make or break a web page.

Color Scheme

The color scheme of the website should ideally adopt following principles:
  • It should inherit colors from the brand logo colors of the organization.
  • As a general rule of thumb, two color combination should be used for designing web graphic elements like labels,text,buttons,images and other design elements. We can call it primary color and secondary color.
  • Since a website is treated as interface to the organization, there should be harmony of colors among all the promotional literature e.g. visiting cards,letter heads,product brochures,email newsletters etc. of the organization as well as website.

Brand Logo

Designing a brand logo is an art  as well as feng shui science. A logo can be a symbol, or it can be a combination of a text and symbol to which radiates energy in the universe. It radiates energy to pull eyeballs.

There are some rule of thumbs for designing superior brand logos :
  • KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid, logo geometry should be simple, unique and should adhere to feng shui laws.
  • Use positive symbols, never use negative symbols. Never use  personal images, photos, religious  symbols,negative symbols. Never use violent symbols.
  • Again it is advised to use primary color and secondary color combination to create brand logo.

Page Navigation Mechanism

Keep in mind following tips:

All content of the website should be accessible from the front-page of the website.There should not be hidden content giving surprises at the second or subsequent level of pages of the website which were not having reference at the front-page.

If the front-page can not accommodate all the content, display teaser or introduction of the content at the first page and provide a link along with so that more detailed content can be accessed at the second level of navigation. Do not forget to provide the back-link at the end of the content.


Never force user to use back-link button of the browser.

For textual information having many pages content, provide buttons/links to go to any page right from 1st to last.
  •      First Page
  •      Previous Page
  •      Next Page
  •      Last Page
  •      Page no. link to go to any page
Never embed video in the pages without providing control to start/stop video. If the video is auto-play enabled, stop player button should be visible to the user.

Never embed audio in the web-page which starts playing automatically at loading of the page. If there is requirement of this, stop button should be visible to the used for stopping audio. Everybody do not adhere to same taste of audio or music which you have.

Do not clutter the web-page with many page-links to influence judgment of the user. A common mistake done while providing social media link buttons, is all of the social media buttons are displayed as there are fairly large number of social media channels available. Use few which are most common and highly popular.

akhileshm@hotmail.com

10 Common Mistakes Organizations Make For Their Web-promotion Strategy - Part Two

In the previous article, we have already discussed the common mistakes made by the organization for their web-promotion strategy.

In this and in the subsequent series of articles , we will answer to the questions raised in the previous discussion and will find solution for each of our problems step by step.

How will the website attract maximum relevant eyeballs to it ? 
This is a question every marketing strategist should ask after a website has been successfully launched.

There are two main methods to do this:

  • Search Engine Optimization, commonly know as SEO which is on-line and continuous process to be done for  a predefined time.
  • Offline process which is not advertising on internet media or social media, but advertising done on traditional media channels print,newspaper,business journals,etc. In recent times, a lot of innovation has been done through this medium also. 

Let us take examples:
  1.  Advertising your Website URL on prepaid taxi, bus service and rickshaw hoods.
  2.  Tee-shirt promotion of the Website URL .
  3.  Promotion through various college events and other media events.
  4.  TV news promotion.
  5.  Radio broadcasting or Radio advertising
  6.  SMS marketing or Bulk-sms Marketing
  7. Advertising in business journals , if the target audience are industrial customers.

Off-course, not all of  this channel is suitable for every kind of products and services, but selection should be made based on the nature of products or services considering the target customers e.g industrial segment customers or retail consumers.

Akhilesh Maurya
akhileshm@hotmail.com

Friday, 6 May 2011

Tips for Successful SEO Optimization

In this brief article, we will examine some important tips for doing Search Engine Optimization for any website.

1) The content of the website should be unique and relevant to the subject matter or domain to which the website belongs. Yes, content is king. In addition to this, technically website should be designed in such a manner that it should have more text information compared to images and videos. Textual content should
not be embossed on the image or video, instead of that it should exist in Pure HTML format in the file.

2) Since the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is always relevant to the set of keywords (called SEO  keywords) towards which the website is optimized the subject matter of the content should revolve around the keywords.

3) Website should have a site map or navigation map page displayed on the website.There are predefined
formats for the site map (XML and HTML) in which Google expects to find the URL links to guide its Google Bot for traversing your site.

4) All of the HTML pages in your website should have META TAGS and HEADER information which should contain relevant keywords.

5) Your site should have lot of referral links or inward links pointing to your site from Blogs, Discussion forums,classifieds,etc. Please note that all these websites should contain and discuss the relevant topic of the
subject matter of your website. Do not use link referral mechanism or link farming mechanism to artificially boost your back link numbers to your website. Google search engine has ways to find it and it may penalize your website.

  So it means you need to write lot of articles, white papers and  discussions on your products and services and it should have links pointing to your original website.

6)  Newsletter subscription facility helps website in disseminating the information to large number of target customers. If website has newsletter facility , it will help us generating more page hits to your website, thereby
improving page rank of the website.

7) SEO process is not a one-time task and it is a continuous process. All the above methods should continue for desired time until  desired result is achieved.


Mr. Akhilesh Maurya
akhileshm@hotmail.com

Monday, 2 May 2011

10 Common Mistakes Organizations Make For Their Web-promotion Strategy - Part One

Web or a website of an Organization can be non-performing asset of the company or it can  be a driving factor for the whole business development team , depends upon following factors:

1) Does the website attract eyeballs easily in the various search engines , currently Google is dominating in this factor , but in the future there may be one or more search engines relevant to this factor ?

2) Does the website actively engage in pre-sales process for new customers ? Does it play the role of  Customer Support Executive in the form of web-channel ?

3) Does it play the role of help-desk for the grieving customers who are not happy with the products and services of the Organization ? Does it may Organization's back-office easily accessible ?

4) Does it spread the Goodwill of the Organization through various Social Media Networking channels ?

5) Does it generate referral customers ?

6) Does it minimize the cost of back-office operation by solving trivial customer problems  without involvement of back-office of organization ?

7) Does it play the role of PR of the organization by announcing the launch of new products and services ?

8) Does website help in managing on-line reputation of the Organization (ORM) ?

9) Does website offers tips and tricks for using Organization's products and services in a better way thereby providing maximum satisfaction for the customer ?

10) Is the website accessible from various technologies like Desk Computer, Mobile connectivity, Kiosk based help desk, IVR channels ?

In the next post , we will analyze the 10 most common mistakes organizations make for their web-promotion strategy.

Akhilesh Maurya
akhileshm@hotmail.com