LinkedIn is often overlooked in B2B marketing campaigns – but that may be a missed opportunity
Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy Note 2 “phablet” (a mobile phone of near-tablet size) at the beginning of this year made great use of LinkedIn, the professional networking site which is often overlooked in consumer marketing campaigns.
The mobile phone giant created a microsite and invited visitors to sign in with their LinkedIn membership profiles. They were then encouraged to share their thoughts about the phablet with their LinkedIn connections, enabling Samsung to reach a global audience of 20 million people. Samsung’s director of social media marketing, Andy Hwang, points to LinkedIn’s ability to precisely target audiences, adding: “It provided a platform for driving word of mouth and shifting perceptions among consumers worldwide.”
Since its launch 10 years ago, LinkedIn has become the first port of call for businesses wanting to use social media for B2B marketing, staff recruitment and disseminating industry information. But it comes low down the list of social platforms that brands consider for marketing to consumers, a situation the company is seeking to remedy.
Its 239 million members worldwide tend to spend less time on the site compared with users of Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn’s members are there for serious reasons. They are less likely to lie in their profiles and they visit the site to enhance their position in the world.
With 3m company pages, the marketing potential seems huge. LinkedIn’s marketing solutions division accounts for about a quarter of the company’s revenues, recruitment account for more than half of revenues, while subscriptions make up about a fifth. In the second quarter of this year, the marketing unit’s profits grew 36% on the 2012 period to over $85m (£54m).
Josh Graff, head of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions across Europe, says this shows that advertising on LinkedIn “is truly coming of age”. He adds: “The platform has changed. People used to think of it just as a place to secure a new job. But six times more impressions flow from people seeking information about companies than those specifically looking for a new job.
“More and more consumer brands such as Samsung and Mercedes are going on LinkedIn every day because they can target our members who are affluent, educated and influential and have a high disposable income.” He says that a third of visits to the site come via mobile, up from a fifth a year ago.
Paul Armstrong at Digital Orange Consulting points to figures from digital analysts ComScore, which show that the 9.4 million unique UK visitors to LinkedIn in July were evenly spread across the age groups. But the site has an above-average proportion of high-income visitors. While nearly 6 million had incomes under £50,000 a year, 3.5 million earned in excess of 50K, according to ComScore. “People are getting to understand that it is a controlled space, there’s not a lot of noise going on there and it is a simple eco-system. It is becoming a hub for high-quality business information,” he says.
LinkedIn has recently introduced Sponsored Updates, where businesses can pay to ensure their posts appear in the news feeds of members, who they can target using a range of criteria.
Graff says this enables brands to promote new and relevant information, such as white papers, research and infographics, particularly important for companies seeking to build their reputations for thought leadership on business issues. This helps the site’s B2B marketing strategy, positioning it as a resource for anyone in business who wants advice, data and contacts.
Computer giant HP uses LinkedIn to target small businesses through its Business Answers page, where firms can discuss areas of interest such as tax. Rebecca Shears, head of marketing for printing and personal systems at HP, says: “We had research which showed that more and more small businesses are turning to social media and are looking for peer-to-peer advice, so we launched the hub two years ago. Now we’ve got over 9,000 members. The main reason we are doing it is to position HP as a brand that supports businesses.” She says members of the LinkedIn page are 20% more likely to recommend HP products than the average population.
Though the LinkedIn page is free for HP to run, the computer giant supports it with advertising. Shears says that if HP doesn’t buy the ads, rival companies will.
Of course, B2B marketing also has a consumer spin off. Vodafone UK’s business division uses LinkedIn to promote its Your Better Business website, which offers information and advice to business people. Helen Moon, head of Enterprise Brand at Vodafone UK, says LinkedIn is a powerful platform for disseminating business information. She adds: “There is a definite halo effect for consumers on LinkedIn. Business people are also consumers so they absorb information which shapes their personal and professional opinions.”
In truth, all the social media sites are works in progress for marketing, says Leo Ryan, head of Ogilvy@Social. “LinkedIn certainly is not a natural place for consumer marketing,” he adds. “Though that’s not to say you can’t do something innovative there. Facebook’s billion-strong membership is a hard number to ignore, so it is the default site for brands, while Twitter can have such an impact on the news cycle. LinkedIn is behind Instagram for consumer campaigns. But if B2B’s your thing, it is the first stop.”
LinkedIn’s share price is soaring in the US. Investors seem to like LinkedIn’s argument that the site’s users go there for serious reasons and that this offers brands strong marketing potential.
Article Originally Appeared: By David Benady in The Guardian – Wednesday 11 September 2013
One of the most pressing questions whether you’re a social media newbie or a social media maven is: What’s the best way to post information or share content to optimize your reach?
A study was recently conducted with more than 200 companies to determine how social media professionals may optimise their engagement with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer conversations.
Researchers evaluated numerous factors such as the number of words in a post, the time of the posting, the day of the week as well as punctuation and the usage of hashtags.
As with many communications and marketing tactics, the answer depends entirely on the targeted audience.
The key finding: Mondays and Wednesdays are the best days to post on Twitter if you want to reach consumers. For LinkedIn, Monday is your best day.
But if you want to reach other businesses, Tweet on Wednesday and post to LinkedIn on Sunday.
And what about the use of hashtags? Hashtags are best saved for business-to-business-oriented posts but don’t work nearly as well if consumers are your target.
The biggest surprise for me was that the use of questions marks significantly minimizes your click-through rates between 25 and 52 percent as compared to posts without questionmarks.
Check out this infographic for details on how to maximize your social sharing efforts. It’s an Eye Opener!
Are you designing and scheduling your social media for real results or do you need a hand with all the busyness?
What do you find gets the best results?
You’ve probably heard how important LinkedIn is becoming in business, such an integral part of your personal executive branding. You have a profile but you’re not getting much traction in terms of real results or a visible revenue stream. It all takes time and time is probably one of the commodities that you just don’t have… Right? Having a successful LinkedIn profile is not easy but we think there are a few key areas that will pay big dividends…
1. Treat your LinkedIn profile like a website:
Make sure it is formatted, clean, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. I strongly suggest creating your LinkedIn profile first in a word document – not only so you can “catch” errors, but also so you can get a better idea of what your profile will look like on the LinkedIn website. In some sections of LinkedIn you can also pull in bullets and special characters. Alas – still no bolding or italics other than what LinkedIn itself formats. Another bonus, if you’ve already created your profile in a Word document, sections of it can easily be copied into other social media platforms to keep your branding unified.
2. Know your keywords:
Like any website, LinkedIn’s internal search engines weigh your keywords heavily in its searches. Make sure you place your most important search or keywords strategically throughout your profile. Some places you might want to consider are your:
• Professional Headline
• Title Fields
• Education (Activities and Societies)
3. Keep your name clean:
Put only your first name in the first name field and your last name in the last name field. If someone is searching for you by name, LinkedIn will have a hard time finding you if your last name looks like this: Jones, Dr. Mark P. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. Keep your photo professional:
I recommend a close up and a smile. A full body shot of you and your family, you and your car, you and that fish you caught last week is unclear and unprofessional. I have seen some artists use artistic renderings of themselves – which is clever if your image is still clear. LinkedIn doesn’t like logos.
5. Don’t ignore the “post an update” function:
LinkedIn’s update function is much more robust than it used to be (taking some tips from Facebook and Twitter). People can now “like” and “comment” on your updates – which helps to build relationships within LinkedIn which play a big part in your becoming successful on LinkedIn. And with the introduction of LinkedIn Signal, the update section can now be a functional part of your SME (Subject Matter Expertise) and content strategy. Make sure you take a little time each day to “like” and “comment” on the updates of network as well.
6. Personalize your public profile URL:
Make sure your public profile reflects your name, your business, or your area of expertise: http://linkedin.com/in/carolokelly or http://linkedin.com/in/linkedinexpert. Nothing says, “I’m a LinkedIn neophyte” like a public profile that reads: http://linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname9890734-akjshfiho
7. Personalize your websites:
When you edit your website, the drop down menu gives you the option of “other”. When you click on that, a new field opens up that allows you to type in your business name, website name, call to action, or description of your website. So instead of “Company Website” or “Personal Website” this section can read “Social Media for SMEs” or “Click here: Taxation Updates for 2013”
8. Juice up your “Experience” section:
“Experience” is not your resume. Make sure the jobs you choose to list support each other. Make sure you put all your keywords in the title section.
9. Utilize the “Experience” description area:
Use the 1000 characters in the description section to tell people why they should hire you or your company or buy your product. Tell a “save the day” story. Put in a testimonial. “Experience” is a great place to list “wins”, different companies you have helped, seminars or workshops you have presented, a mini-shot of your personal website. Use this section as the foundation for your Company Profile
10. List your “additional education”:
Make sure you list your certifications and licenses as well as traditional education. LinkedIn has now added new sections where you can list areas of expertise, publications, patents licenses and certifications.
11. Get Recommendations:
LinkedIn tells you your profile is complete with three recommendations. I suggest between 5-10. And when you are asking for recommendations, provide a bulleted list of your skills, strengths and services so people will write a more complete recombination and not: “She’s great”. If you are comfortable doing so, you might write a recommendation that the recommender can use or base their recommendation from. You might want to add some of the better recommendations to your website. Ask for recommendations from thought leaders in your field, old employees, and well-known clients – these all go towards you becoming successful on LinkedIn and being able to see real results.
12. Join strategic groups:
Join groups in your own market or industry, your ideal client’s industry, groups that you are interested in, groups that your target prospects are members of, alumni groups, open groups and some big groups (Consider LinkedHR with 370,000 members). Once you join a group you can send a message to strategic members /prospects or invite strategic members to connect with you. In the next week or so I’ll be doing further posts on Groups and the best ways to manage them and use them strategically to your advantage.
13. Create a group:
Consider creating an open or closed group. Make sure you, or someone in your company is tasked to moderate it to keep it interesting and relevant. Make your group a destination and active forum.
14. Limit the invitations you send out:
You only get 3000 invitations in a lifetime – use them wisely. Even though LinkedIn gives you the tools to upload your entire list, make sure you only invite people who are already on LinkedIn and don’t invite more than 2500 people – leave a few invitations for the future. At this time you cannot buy more invitations.
15. When inviting others, tell them how you know them:
LinkedIn used to have an IDK “I don’t know” button that could get you in a lot of trouble. Now a person’s response to an invitation is “Accept” or “Ignore”. Nevertheless, when inviting someone to connect with you, I highly recommend telling him or her how you know them or why you want to connect.
16. Use “Answers”:
The answers section is a great place to position yourself as an SME or thought leader. Answer enough questions and you can drastically increase your exposure on LinkedIn as the “go to” person. It’s also a great place to get ideas for blog articles, or to re-purpose blog articles you have already written!
17. Always be courteous:
LinkedIn is a business-networking site. Be courteous. Try to Answer Inmails, messages, and requests for introductions within 72 hours. Remember your “Please” and Thank you”. Help someone out.
18. “Give” more than “Get”:
LinkedIn is a great place to get information, to get connections, to get clients, to get employees. But follow the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Don’t spam. Don’t infiltrate email boxes with constant sales messages. Instead share valuable information via your groups, updates and answers and let clients come to you.
19. Use Applications:
Everyday LinkedIn is adding more useful applications. You can embed up to 8 in your profile. Take a look and see which ones will be most useful to you. I recommend their blogging apps (either Blog Link or WordPress), Slideshare, Google Presentation (to show YouTube Videos) Amazon Reading List (especially if you are an author or have published an eBook).
20. Life Long LinkedIn Learning
Continually try to keep up to date with the changes going on in the LinkedIn platform and learn how to use them to your best advantage. Keep an eye on LinkedIn blogs and articles and make use of tips on this site to make your profile and company pages as engaging and as relevant to your target audience as possible on an ongoing basis.
How are you sharing your blog? How are you making sure your content is found and then shared? Is your social media strategy working?
Are you promoting yourself via social networks, or are you leaving that to your readers? Do you make sure potential clients know about your blog, if you’re using it as a business platform?
Are you simply using the standard sharing options – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc – or are you thinking of ways you can be a little creative when it comes to sharing your blog socially?
Let’s face it, if you’re using your blog as a business platform then the more eyeballs it gets, the better for finding potential new clients or customers. Even a personal blog can benefit from extra visitors.
So here are a few ways you can get outside the normal views of retweets and shares, and promote your blog to a bigger crowd that may miss it otherwise.
Social Sharing Groups
The most oft-used method of sharing a blog post is via social sharing buttons on the post itself.
These are either located at the top and/or bottom of the post, or to the side. But why not take this a little further, and create a social sharing group?
For example, one of the best resources for traffic to this blog is Stumbleupon. This is a great social sharing platform that lets you “stumble” the web, and allows you to give either a thumbs up or down to the site you’re currently on (you can also leave a review if you like).
What happens then is that the site is put into the Stumbleupon library, so anyone else using the stumble option could land on your blog. If they then like it, they give you a thumbs up and your currency increases on Stumbleupon. It’s easier than it sounds, and it’s a great passive traffic generator.
So create a Stumble group.
Grab about 10 of your online friends, and help promote each other’s blogs. Anytime a new post is published, have one of the group stumble it, then you can give it a thumbs up.
You can then take this idea to other social bookmarks – Reddit, Digg, etc. Just make sure you also highlight a lot of other great sites too – don’t create the group just to promote your work, that’s just spammy.
Side note: While traffic from Stumbleupon can be great, bounce rates can be affected (the amount of time someone stays on your site), so keep an eye on that in your analytics.
Turn Posts into Ebooks
You blog. You write. A lot. Depending on whether you’re a niche blogger or not, you might have a lot of posts on similar topics, or even run a blog series of interconnected posts.
So why not turn them into an ebook?
The market for ebooks is huge, and offers a great way for you to either give back to your blog community for reading you, or sell them as part of your business offerings.
Write a crafts blog? Put together some of your favourite tips and publish as an ebook. Chef? Collate some of your favourite recipes and sell them via your blog. And so on – the possibilities for what’s in your ebook are endless.
Turn Your Blog into a Slide
One of the best platforms around at the moment is Slideshare. Essentially taking PowerPoint presentations to the next level, Slideshare also allows uploads of PDF’s, documents and other presentations.
It then turns these into slideshows that you can either grab the embed code for or download to your hard drive, as well as the normal sharing options on Twitter and Facebook, etc.
You can even add audio or talk tracks, or turn your slides into mini-movies.
So working from your ebook idea, collate some of your best posts on a topic and create a presentation. Edit the posts accordingly to make the best use of Slideshare’s capabilities (perhaps a connecting image, statistic or similar), and then upload and choose your sharing settings.
If folks like it and decide to embed on their own blog, you instantly have a new audience. That could go one step further, and businesses could pick up your kick-ass presentation and use it as a training resource.
The next potential step from that is to bring you on board to expand on your initial ideas – so now your original blog post has become both a training resource and a client lead.
Just Getting Started
These are just three ways that you could take the normal social sharing option, and add a little extra to help promote your blog.
The thing is, just because you already have sharing options in place doesn’t mean you need to stop there. The great thing with blogs is that they can be essentially timeless, given the right post and topic. Why not use that?
How about you – what are you doing to extend the reach of your blog? Feel free to share your tips on what works for you in the comments.
(This post was originally published in For Bloggers June 2012)
More publicity… Less competition… Talent waiting to be scooped up… Here’s why starting up in a recessed economy may give your business a better shot. Do you have one good reason to start your business right now?Regardless of what people around you (including the media) may say, right now is the best time to get into business. Here are our Top 10 reasons you should start your business now-despite the current downturn:
1. Everything is Cheaper
Let’s face it – There is great value now in economic markets. This is the right time for fantastic deals in virtually every category, from land and equipment to commercial office space, personnel and fit outs. Some people have waited years to find value in these markets – and now that time has come.
2. Qualified People Are Hungry For Jobs
Having highly qualified people is the lynch pin of success in any business but it is an area where start-ups can fall. Start-ups are often unwilling and always unable to spend enough to get the highest level team to ensure the success of the business. This all changes in a recession. There are people now available willing to accept lower remuneration and keen to get a slice of the pie in a start up. Mindsets change in a recession too – those individuals who would normally never consider working in a small start-up are changing their focus on work directions. This all means that you will be able to source a really strong team at the outset for a fraction of what it would cost you in a growth environment.
3. Great PR By Going Against The Trend
The media loves a good story, and if you are optimistic by expanding,re-branding or getting into business now, you will find yourself and your new business in that category. Great PR like this will go a long way towards launching or branding your new business without it being seen as “Selling”.
4.Suppliers Are Giving Better Credit
Because the credit markets have virtually shut down, the B2B credit flows are keeping money circulating out of sheer necessity. That means a bullish outlook for companies looking for good terms on stock and inventories. When everyone is looking to survive, great deals can be had.
5. Believe it or Not There is Still Finance Out There
Individuals, family and friends who traditionally invested in stocks and shares will be less enthusiastic to do so at the moment but they’ll still want to put money into ventures likely to show revenue streams and eventually profits. That means they may be willing to finance a portion of your new venture, or the expansion of an enterprise that has proven itself over time. If you have a solid business plan that delivers real numbers, your chances of raising the capital you need increase exponentially.
6. Businesses Are Changing Suppliers
Everything is now on the table. As a smart Start-up if you can come in with greater value and an understanding of where your prospect is hurting you have a good chance of winning new business. You also have the advantage of being the “new kid on the block” when it comes to pitching your products and services. Many companies are desperate to find new partnerships with new businesses that have a different, better or more innovative way of delivering those products and services.
7. You Can Buy Everything You Need at Auction
In addition to everything being less expensive, you can find great deals at auctions, especially in terms of any large equipment and office furnishings. Auctions are also a great place to find hardly used or “gently” used restaurant and bar supplies at great prices. It’s an opportunity for you to get set up for a fraction of the price it would cost you in a growth market.
8. Ownership Equals Tax Incentives
Business ownership offers a variety of tax benefits that aren’t available to employees. While taxes should never be the sole reason to go into business for yourself, it should be one reason to add to you “benefits of business ownership” list.
9. You Can Find Great “Low Money” or “No Money” Deals
Many current business owners want out at any cost, meaning you can negotiate great win-win deals that allow the current owners to exit while giving you an opportunity to turn around what could be, if run right, a very viable business.And finally . . .
10. You’ve Lost Your Job, and You Have To Do Something
Sometimes, the best business decision is the one you are forced into, and the incentive (as well as need) for income is often enough to push you to go out on your own. It is also a great opportunity for you to strike out in area in which you have always been interested but had not considered part of your planned career.
There you have it:
Redstorm’s top 10 reasons to start your business in a recession. There’s no better time to start than now. Give us a call on +353 1 2360909 if you’d like to chat through any opportunities you are considering.
Wonderful flashy graphics, bright colors and spinning messages, they may look great but do your potential customers actually know what you are trying to say?
I think the biggest mistake we make in marketing is making everything so difficult for consumers to understand that they just don’t get what it is we do. And if they don’t understand it, they won’t feel compelled to act or buy… Marketing is about informing consumers about your products and services and telling them why they should pick you over your competitor – it really is that simple.
Are you doing that? If you are not it’s time to really analyse your marketing strategy and evaluate the point you’re trying to get across.
How do you do this? It’s by moving a customer from the point of just attracting their attention to inspiring them to actually take action – which is making a purchase from you. There are four basic (but often forgotten) steps to doing this.
Step 1: Get their attention
You have competition, it doesn’t have to be a lot of competition – but you have competition. It is up to you to get the attention of your consumers. Do you know how to do that? You speak to their need. You inform of them of the solution that you provide for that need. If you don’t provide a solution that benefits their business – it’s time to get back to the drawing board.
Step 2: Create a marketing message that speaks to them
You know your solution, and you know they need it, now you have to create a message that says “I’m your answer.” Have you done that with your marketing message? If not, why do you think they will buy your products or services? If you don’t inform them about your product who will? Craft your marketing message so it’s easy to understand and a consumer doesn’t want to walk out of a store without purchasing your product or service. Your marketing message has to speak about the solution as well as creating an urgency for the need. Have you done that? If not, again take it back to the drawing board!
Step 3: Evaluate different marketing methods
You have to examine the different marketing methods available today and really evaluate which ones will work for you, with your target market in mind and your budget in sight. Be aware of, and informed about, different marketing methods and which ones will work with your market. It’s not a one size fits all deal and these new marketing tools are changing every week. It’s an exciting time for marketing with all the new mobile and digital tools becoming available and the winning marketeer is the one who harnesses these new tools tightly and creatively for their business.
Step 4: Use marketing methods that are visible to your consumer
The reason you need to evaluate the different marketing methods and tools is so you can select those that are more visible to your potential purchaser. The great thing about marketing a small company is the ease with which you can create tightly targeted campaigns depending on your given audience for specific products or services. Don’t feel that a nationwide TV campaign is a must if a creative digital and mixed media campaign is affordable and successful. When you select the right marketing methods, you create a market position for your business that your potential consumers will see. When you select the wrong methods of marketing, you might as well throw your money out the window.
Choosing a name for your e-business requires just as much time and effort as naming a brick-and-mortar store. Here’s how to get started.Q: I’m opening an online store and was wondering how important the name of an online business really is. Should the name reflect what the business sells, or is it better to come up with something catchy and easy to remember?A: What’s in a name? When it comes to your business, a lot more than you might think. Deciding on a name for an online business is no less important than deciding on a name for a brick-and-mortar business. In each case, coming up with the business name is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The right business name can help you rise above the crowd, while the wrong business name can leave you trampled in the rush. With the economy in a slump and competition on the rise, now more than ever it is important that you put considerable thought into coming up with the perfect name for your business.Unfortunately, this is a task that is easier said than done. We live in an age when a business called “The Body Shop” might repair wrecked cars or sell bath products to teenagers, so before you send your letterhead to the printer, consider the following points to help you select the business name that’s right for you.The first thing you should do is determine if the name is already in use by someone else. You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs forget to research this point and open a business with a name that is already in use. If the name you choose is available, you should immediately reserve the name and apply for legal ownership.Another important thing to consider, especially for an online business, is the domain name for your business. The domain name is the Web site address (or URL) a customer will use to find you on the Web. Is the domain name for your business name available? If not, is there a domain similar to the business name you’re considering?You’ll undoubtedly discover that securing a suitable domain name is actually harder than choosing a business name. Most logical domain names are already reserved, but you might get lucky. Keep in mind that domain names should be short and descriptive. Whatever you do, don’t use a domain name that is a confusing amalgam of letters and numbers that’s hard to remember and even harder for your customer to type.One good way to approach the task of naming a business is to do so from your customers’ point of view. Your business name should clearly define your offering and communicate your message to customers. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment. If you were looking for a business that provides your product or service, what would you expect that business to be called? The name of your business can also spark subconscious reactions in customers that may drive them to you or drive them away.Finally, let’s talk about things to avoid. Experts agree that you should avoid using generic terms like enterprise, corporation, partners and unlimited as part of your everyday business name. These terms are fine for the legal business entity name, but are often too unclear for everyday use.Here’s to your success.
You have a great idea for a new business, you have a plan for how you’ll go about it, you may even have funding, customers and a web site design… Now you’re only stuck on one thing – choosing a name!We’ve spoken to entrepreneurs, marketers, strategists, branding experts and design gurus to get some structure on how to go about picking a name that will last, that you’ll still love in 10 years time and that will come to hold value in the mind of your customers.
1. How Do I Start?
Initially, begin by brainstorming a list of keywords that relate to your product/service, company or blog. Then hit the reference materials, look at dictionaries, thesaurus and online for more options around your chosen theme. Try to think of all different types of names, compound words like “Facebook”, blend together words like “RedStorm”, add affixes “coComment”, make up words like “Squidoo” or even phrases such as “StumbleUpon” or “GoToMeeting”Once you’ve got a healthy list, start cutting it all back. Begin by asking yourself:
2. Does It Mean Something?
Names can be classified on a continuum based on how they communicate to consumers. There’s a spectrum from descriptive names which speak directly to a product benefit or attribute, “Organic Supermarket” to empty vessel names, where it doesn’t mean anything about the product “RedHat Linux”.Descriptive names, such as “Murphy’s Ice Cream”, immediately convey information about what you do. They are simple, intuitive and help consumers easily identify the mission of your business.The downside? They can sound generic and boring, and the accompanying domain name is usually taken. They are also limiting in a fast-moving industry like technology, where what you do now might not be what you’ll be doing in a few years. Don’t forget, a name can be a prison… it can restrict what you offer and to whom you offer it as you move through the phases of development.
3. Or Does It Mean Nothing?
Empty Vessel Names can be completely made-up words (Kodak or Squidoo), words in another language “Hulu” which roughly translates both to “holder of precious things” and “interactive recording” in Mandarin), or those whose meaning is so obscure that people interpret it as an invented word “Google” (sparked from “googol,” the name for the number consisting of a one followed by a hundred zeros).Empty vessel names can be fun to say, can separate you from the crowd, and can be subtler than descriptive ones.But you may need to put in more money to get the word out initially. And a word to the wise: Check to see if the word means something in another language — you don’t want unintended meanings to make a mockery of your carefully crafted name.If neither descriptive nor empty vessel names appeal, try a suggestive name, which lies somewhere in between. Names like Apple which indirectly alludes to the simplistic and perfectionist values for which the brand would like to be known.
4. Will It Work Online?
Nothing kills a name faster than finding out someone else already has it, a competitor or even an totally unrelated business — and in the online hunt for domain names, it sometimes seems like every possible option is taken.More and more, search engine issues and domain availability are affecting the style of names businesses can launch with. Some people consciously try to create names with unique keywords so theirs will be the only result in targeted Google searches. Although it can be dangerous to go down this road as keyword incorporation can be viewed as spam by search engines.
5. Is It Sticky?
Amidst all the search engine and domain name drama, consider that names are memorable when they sound good. Names like “Bebo” and “Yahoo” are great sounding memorable names.You can also use poetic devices to ensure the names stick. Names based on rhymes (TopShop, HotSpot), repetition (Bebo,LaLa), and alliteration (FireFox,BlackBerry) tend to be memorable.For the advanced namers out there, try what’s called the “Part of Speech Test.” Look at whether potential names can be used in multiple parts of speech. These are stronger because people will use them in speech more often. LinkedIn, for instance, can be used as a noun “We connected on LinkedIn”, as an adjective “Did you look at her LinkedIn profile?”, and as a verb “I am going to LinkIn with him”. When a name passes the Part of Speech test, it becomes pervasive.
6. Is It Simple?
Any name should be easy to pronounce, easy to understand, easy to spell when you hear it, and easy to know the pronunciation when you see it written down. However, you can mitigate confusion by also holding domain names with likely misspellings and redirecting users to your correct site. Remember, although almost all single word domain names are gone, try to keep your name short as it has to appear in email addresses and on business cards as a www.Punctuation is trickier. Although adding hyphens to domain names or underscores to Twitter handles may allow you to get the name you wanted, people are likely to accidentally leave them out, especially when typing on mobile devices. You’re better off avoiding punctuation if you can.
7. Forget the Rules
If a name is really meaningful to you, it might work even if it doesn’t quite meet all the other criteria. So don’t be intimidated by the rules — just grab your thesaurus and get going. Check with friends, ask them to describe what type of business the name suggests, can they spell it? Pronounce it? And can they remember it a week later?
When choosing a name for your new company, keep these tips in mind to help you find one that will work now and in the future.Naming a business is a lot like laying the cornerstone of a building. Once it’s in place, the entire foundation and structure is aligned to that original stone. If it’s off, even just a bit, the rest of the building is off, and the misalignment becomes amplified. So if you have that gnawing sense that choosing a name for your new business is vitally important, you’re right. To help you get off to a good start, read on to discover the top 8 mistakes people make when it comes to choosing a name for their business:Mistake #1: Getting the “committee” involved in your decisionWe live in a democratic society, and it seems like the right thing to do, to involve everyone (your friends, family, employees and clients) in such an important decision. This approach, however, presents a few problems. Mainly, you often end up with a consensus decision, which results in a very safe, very Vanilla name. A better method is to involve only the key decision-makers – the fewer the better – and select only the people who have the company’s best interests at heart and those who have experience in this naming process.Mistake #2: Employing the “train wreck” method of creating a nameWhen forced to come up with a catchy name, many aspiring entrepreneurs simply take part of an adjective and weld it onto a noun, essentially colliding the two words head on to create a new word. The results are names that have a certain twisted rationale to them, but look and sound awful. Someone starting a high-end, service franchise becomes QualiServe. Someone starting a classy day spa becomes TranquiSpa. Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with either word, but they just don’t go together. The problem with this approach is that it’s forced–and looks and sounds that way.Mistake #3: Using words so plain they’ll never stand out in a crowdThe first company in a category can get away with this one. Hence you have General Motors. But once you have competition, it requires differentiation. Imagine if Yahoo! had come out as GeneralInternetDirectory.com? The name would be much more descriptive but hardly memorable. And with the onslaught of new media and advertising channels, it’s more important than ever to carve out your niche by displaying your uniqueness. Nothing does that better than a well conceived name.Mistake #4: Taking the atlas approach and using a map to name your companyIn the excitement of starting a new company, many businesses choose to use their city, county or region as part of their company name. While this may actually help in the beginning, it often becomes a hindrance as a company grows and reaches farther afield.Mistake #5: Turning your name into a clicheOnce past the literal, descriptive word choices, your thought process will most likely turn to metaphors. These can be great if they’re not overly used. For example, since many companies think of themselves as the top in their industry, the world is full of names like Summit, Apex, Pinnacle, Peak and so on. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these names, they’re overworked. Instead, look for combinations of positive words and metaphors, and you’ll be much better served. A good example is the data storage company Iron Mountain, a name that conveys strength and security without sounding commonplace.Mistake #6: Making your business name overly obscureIt’s great for a name to have a special meaning or significance – it sets up a story that can be used to tell the company message. But if the reference is too obscure or too hard to spell and pronounce, you may never have the opportunity to speak to that customer because they’ll simply pass you by.So resist the urge to name your company after the mythical Greek god of fast service or the Latin phrase for “We’re number one!” If a name has a natural, intuitive sound and a special meaning, it can work. If it’s too complex and puzzling, it will remain a mystery to your customers. This is especially true if you’re reaching out to a mass audience.Mistake #7: Selecting an awkward nameDriven by the need for a domain name, many companies have resorted to awkwardly constructed or purposefully misspelled names. The results are company names that sound more like prescription drugs than real life businesses, names like KwaliTronix. It’s amazing how good some names begin to sound after searching for available domain names all night. But resist the urge. Avoid using a “K” in place of a “Q” or a “Ph” in place of an “F”. This makes spelling the name–and locating you on the internet–all that much harder.You may argue that “Xerox” and “Kodak” are pretty awkward. Keep in mind that many of the companies that successfully use this approach were either first to market or have large marketing budgets. “Verizon”, for instance, spent millions on their rebranding and education efforts. So did Accenture. So check your bank balance before you decide on these types of names.Mistake #8: Choosing the wrong name and then refusing to change itMany business owners know they have a problem with their name and just hope it will somehow magically resolve itself. Often they began with a regional name “Dublin Cleaning Services”. Having expanded nationwide they needed a change but how to do this with out losing the trust and brand value they have created over the past years of service? “DCS – nationwide cleaning”.And Finally…In the fever to start your new business or expand a current one, take time to think through some of these issues. By tapping into your creativity and avoiding these potential pitfalls, you’ll be able to create a name that works for both the short and long term. Like the original cornerstone of a building, it will support upward expansion as your company reaches new heights.
Naming your business is one of the hardest tasks when you are starting up – no matter how creative you are. Carol O’Kelly, founder and CEO of Redstorm, a marketing company in Dublin, Ireland, that specialises in branding strategy, has been an expert in naming products and companies for over a decade. Here are six steps Carol believes every entrepreneur should follow when choosing a business name:Step 1: Identify who has a voteEverybody involved in your startup has an opinion and will want to participate in the naming process. Leave the decision in the hands of those who know the business best.Step 2: Know yourselfUnderstand the essence of your company. Find a hook – something that’s compelling about who you are-and build on that from a vocabulary perspective.Step 3: Know your competitionUnderstand what other people are doing, and dare to be different. You don’t have to jump into the middle of the pack and use the same language or style as that of your competitors.Step 4: Be creativeDon’t come up with just two or three names. Push the envelope, and try to expand beyond the obvious by not getting stuck in generic naming solutions.Step 5: Do your homeworkBefore you form an emotional bond with any name, find out if it is legally available for use; and make sure it won’t translate oddly or offensively in another language and check if you can secure the domain name.Step 6: Select a nameIt’s an obvious step but often the most difficult to make. If you’re waiting for an epiphany, a moment where you say, “This is the one,” you could be waiting forever. Print out each name, in colour, on a separate sheet of paper and put them around your home and/or office. Let them catch your eye as you go about your daily tasks, look at them as “Company Signage”, live with them all for a week or so, then set a deadline, and just choose a name.And Finally…Remember, names should be simple, memorable and catchy. They should not constrict your future expansion and you should not need to educate the market expensively as to what you do.
In today’s cluttered, hypercompetitive marketplace your business can’t afford to make a poor first impression. Every touch point that leads to your company needs to impress, motivate and inspire a prospective customer. You may have a great product or service, but to be taken seriously, clients need to believe that you’re on the same playing field as the bigger guys. Even if you’re a consultant that works from a home office, you’ll need to position your company as a polished brand that touts confidence, experience and quality. Fear not. Here are five simple tips for branding your business to create the illusion that it is a global corporation with an army at the ready — all without breaking the bank.1. WebsiteYour website is the center of your brand universe. Simplicity is the key to looking like a big fish. Less is more. A clean, easy-to-navigate two-page site with useful content will make your company look far more established than a cluttered 20-page site with long-winded fluff. Design your site with the needs of your user in mind, not your ego. Sites that try to be everything to everyone will often become nothing to anyone.Choosing the right URL (Domain Name) is also a vital part of your brand positioning strategy. Your main URL should be as short as possible. Long URLs are harder to remember, harder to read and are more likely to be spelled incorrectly. There is a reason why apple.com isn’t weloveapplecomputers.com.2. Contact NumbersHow often have you seen a billboard or heard a radio spot that advertises an easily forgettable phone number? Phone numbers should be catchy and easy to remember. Using a catchy number is a great way to increase sales call volume, build brand awareness and increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Not only is it easy for potential clients to remember but it’s easy for them to pass on too.3. Automated Phone SystemsCombining an easy number with automated phone systems and virtual assistants enables small businesses to look and sound professional and capable. You never miss a call, the caller’s details or their query – nor are you caught dashing into a meeting with a mobile sounding like the caller is the last person you want to speak to! This also small-business owners and employees the ability to receive calls in their home offices or on their mobile devices when they choose, while appearing to be available in their office. Which brings me to…4. Virtual OfficesEven though you might be answering a call on your mobile phone from your living room, it’s important that your customers believe they are contacting a competent established and trustworthy business. Virtual offices are an effective solution for businesses that conduct most of their day-to-day communications via phone calls and emails, and rarely need to meet their clients in their own offices. This is especially the case for smaller companies based in more remote areas who are targeting larger urban based clients. These larger clients would often rather deal with fellow urban based suppliers and a Virtual Office address can enable your brand to be seen as being London based, for example, without having to actually be there.5. The Business CardNow you have a slick website, a memorable phone number and a captain-of-industry street address. It’s time to combine all of those elements into a single tool. The business card is a vital part of the first impression experience and an instant reflection of you and your company’s work. A cheap, uninspired business card will send the wrong message to a prospective customer. Spend time designing a card. Be creative, yet tasteful. Choose a thicker card stock with a high quality finish. Remember, there is a reverse side! Use this effectively to show examples of your work, bullet points of your services, your web address etc. Make sure that you are able to write on your card – people often make notes about you or your company on the card to remind them of salient details of your service, so stay away from very high gloss finishes. Customers want to do business with companies that demonstrate their ability to provide high quality services, and a creative business card will send them that message.
Redstorm CEO, Carol O'Kelly, is a very hugely respected, award winning, keynote speaker in the areas of Personal Branding, Strategy, Communications, Executive Presence and LinkedIn. She has a huge passion for what she does and for the clients she works with. From C-Suite Personal Branding work to Communications Strategy projects and her Advisory roles, she brings all her energy, enthusiasm and focus to her work.