The Internet is a practical and accessible tool to build your brand. Here, we list 5 of the easiest ways to leverage the Internet to your best advantage:
1. Own your own domain name.
A domain name is the “website address” where your website lives, and it is the last half of your email address. You can purchase your own business name, or a variation of it, as your domain name. The cost is less than $10/year.
If you haven’t named your business yet, it’s a good idea to check the availability of domain names to match potential business name candidates. It’s best if your domain name matches your business name.
Resource: GoDaddy.com is the most reasonably priced, and reliable domain name registration firm we've found (just don’t sign up for any of their other services – you only need a website address).
2. Use that domain name as your email address.
You probably already have an email address from your internet service provider that looks something like: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It looks much more professional to have firstname.lastname@example.org as your business email. The repetition of your business name will increase your memorability and will help you build your brand.
You can even forward your new email address to your existing email account if you don’t want to go through the hassle of changing your email program set up. The disadvantage to this is that your old email will show in the “From:” field – so, in the future, you may want to set up the email program to not forward.
Resource: This can be easily set-up with many web hosting companies. We recommed Dreamhost as an excellent web hosting service.
3. Create an email signature file to use on all of your email.
This is a mini-advertisement that appears at the end of all of your email. Include your phone number, a short description of what you do, any current sales or promotions you’re offering and your website address. You can even include your logo graphic in your signature file.
This is an especially great tactic if you’re a member of any email lists – your email will reach many people whom you don’t know, and they may be interested in your products or services. Be sure to create and use your signature file when you post on online forums, as well!
Resource: See elf design’s article on Tech Tips for details on setting up a signature file that includes your logo graphic.
4. Have a website designed and developed.
A website is a “must” in today’s business world. Not only does it add to your credibility, it will also enable potential clients around the world to learn about your products or services.
The most common excuse that people have for not having a website for their business is that they don’t know what to include on it. But, you can start out with a website that consists of a single page. Everyone can write at least one page about his or her business. If you have difficulty writing one page about your business, try recording yourself talking to a friend or client about your business – it’s often easier to tell someone your story than to start with a blank page. Or, you can hire a freelance writer to help you get your story online.
We recommend that you expand your site to a five-plus page site as soon as you can. . . or start out with a five to six page website. This larger format allows plenty of pages to cover all the basic information about your service business. A product- sales based business requires a few more pages, mainly in the shopping cart and check-out capacities.
Resource: Additional website design and development information are available in our other articles: (links here to other articles)
5. Put your email address and website URL on all of your printed materials.
“If you build it, they will come” is unfortunately just not true on the web. You have to promote your website to let people know that it’s available to them, and that you have valuable information housed there. The easiest and most immediate way to do this is to add your email address and URL to your printed materials wherever appropriate. Put this contact information on your business cards, printed articles, email, note cards and other correspondence.
Make sure to include your website address on all your company-wide materials – letterhead, brochures, postcards, catalogs… you name it. The only place it is not appropriate is on envelopes or mailing labels; the postal scanners don’t like it!
Resource: elf design can assist you in adding your new online branding information to all of your collateral materials. Contact us for a quote today.
If you aren’t taking advantage of the Internet’s many ways to build your brand, then you are missing out on some very effective and affordable ways to tell the world who you are, what you do and what makes you different. Start building your brand with these proven methods, and keep an eye out for next month’s article, which will give you more methods to extend your business’s reach online.
About the Author
Erin Ferree, Founder and Lead Designer of elf design, is a brand identity and graphic design expert. She has been helping small businesses grow with bold, clean and effective logo and marketing material designs for over a decade. elf design offers the comprehensive graphic and web design services of a large agency, with the one- on-one, personalized attention of an independent design specialist. Erin works closely in partnership with her clients to create designs that are visible, credible and memorable – and that tell their unique business stories in a clear and consistent way. For more information about elf design, please visit: Logo design at http://www.elf-design.com