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Eight Cs of Internet Branding

Small to medium size companies have two things going for them that large companies generally do not: speed and resiliency. You are able to implement projects quickly, and are quick to respond to change, or any given situation, rapidly. Plus, you can turn on a dime. When something isn't working, you can examine why and move the Titanic 360 degrees in a matter of days, not months.

This serves you well when it comes to the Internet. With your Web site, you can look at the metrics to see what's working and what isn't, switch products or content around to make it flow or get a better response, and change your advertising if necessary.

For a brick-and-mortar store or an exclusively online retailer, there are eight Cs of branding that will engage your customers and help your business both offline and online.

Branding is as important as putting an open for business sign on your door. Think of your car, your coffee, your grocery store and the clothes you wear. If you can name them, then they're doing something right. The same can be said for your store.

  1. CONVENIENCE
    People search the Web for the convenience. It takes less effort to hop online than it does to find your keys, get in the car, drive around, fight traffic, etc. Make it easy to use, keep the navigation simple and minimize the load time.

  2. CONTENT
    Remember the saying, "content is king." Keep it updated as often as possible; more than once a week is optimal. Avoid being text heavy, and update it often. Search engines love fresh content.

  3. CONSISTENCY
    Make your Web site reflect your brick-and-mortar store. Barnesandnoble.com almost failed when it first launched because the customers' shopping experience differed too much from what they expected. Don't let that happen to you.

  4. CUSTOMIZATION
    This can be as simple as gathering e-mail addresses at your cash register and sending a note about a special on your Web site or asking relevant questions while they're browsing your site, then sending a personalized e-mail with the answers. Or creating a newsletter with specials. If you are e-Commerce enabled, welcome them back to your site by name if they're registered.

  5. COMMUNITY
    Write about styles in your town and trends you have been seeing. Post testimonials from local customers or advice tips from people in the community. Add a blog.

  6. CONNECTIVITY
    Link to other sites in your area. For more information, refer to my previous blog, Three SEC Tips for Being Found Locally, at http://www.expertbusinesssource.com.

  7. CUSTOMER CARE
    I think Meg Whitman said it best when she wrote, "...brand-building job No. 1 is to have a great customer experience." Who best to trust than the CEO of eBay?

  8. COMMUNICATION
    Send out thank you notes when someone has made a purchase in your store or online. E-mail them when to expect their shipment if they had to order it. Send out surveys to see how well you are doing, plus e-mail specials, coupons, gift certificates, etc. Reach out and stay in touch so they remember you.

From 15 years experience in the retail market space, Suze Bragg provides tips and discusses issues of retailing online. She's a blogger forexpertbusiness.com, a freelance writer for Casual Living and Home Accents Today and a consultant and strategist, helping small businesses succeed online.

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