Cardel Global and Edward Limousines combine resources to boost their complementary service offerings.
Building a brand is one of the most important ways to achieve future success as you are just starting to establish a new business. As a bonus, building your brand even allows you to protect a longtime business.
If you neglect to do so, it will be difficult for you to reap the benefits of direct marketing, SEO, or even outside sales to their full potential.
Spend time investing in building your brand no matter what. Make it the top priority or start allocating time and money into it while you run other marketing and sales efforts. Your brand building budget should always have a place in your overall marketing budget.
However, remember brand investment does not necessarily translate into direct conversions, leads, or sales as your purpose is to create awareness, trust, and a positive reputation.
Building your brand doesn’t have to be expensive. During the last three years since launching Limo University, I have built a pretty solid brand in our industry. What you may not know is I have spent little money doing this. Since day one, I have invested $280 per month into Facebook Ads to promote The Ask Limo U Show and then a similar amount when I’m selling a product like a course. I don’t use PPC. I don’t display at trade shows in any industry nor advertise in magazines.
There are ways to affordably build your brand, especially in the age of social media, which is a great segue into #1 on our list.
1: Choose: Education or Entertainment
People consume only two forms of content. One is educational, which means we are reading or watching with the intent to learn such as when we tune into the nightly news, peruse a newspaper, online course, or blog, or listen to a podcast.
This is the category where I think most of you fall into because it offers a lot of opportunity and will be much easier for you than entertainment.
You are the expert in ground transportation. You know more than your event planner and travel manager clients. Now all you have to do is share your expertise with them.
Sharing your processes will build confidence in your business. Think RFP replies. One reason many of them ask similar questions is they are trying to educate themselves.
Entertainment content is great, but difficult for small businesses to create as this type of content needs to be good because you are competing not just with other transportation companies but also with The Rock, NFL, and funny cat videos online.
If you go the entertainment route, be sure you measure the success of each piece of content because your audience and community will be the judge and jury — voting with Likes and Shares.
2. Choose your Channels
You have several content delivery methods to choose from including traditional media like billboards, radio, TV, and print, and new media such as social media, influencers, and bloggers.
Your choices should and will depend entirely on your budget and market as costs will vary. The most cost efficient channels to use are social media. Hence why I have put all of my eggs into the Facebook and email buckets to reach you, but you can also contribute to blogs, magazines (look what I am doing here), and email lists with other companies by forming partnerships.
I write educational content for LCT Magazine every month. I am not paid to do so, but I get rewarded by reaching you through their medium and building my brand at no cost. You can do the same with: Blogs, bridal magazines, Business Travel News, local online mags, and social media influencers — all with little cost.
If you plan to use social media, I would highly recommend starting with Facebook as it is the best platform on which to build your brand as nearly three quarters of Americans use the site. Facebook is good for promoting virtually any brand, due to its heterogeneous user base.
If you target retail business like weddings and proms, then I would recommend Instagram. But your photography skills better be on point along with your hashtag game or you are wasting your time.
3. Create Amazing, Valuable, and Shareable Content
You will create a much stronger brand reputation if you focusing on creating valuable content useful for your community instead of trying to meet calendar deadlines or X amount of posts per day or week.
You should remember the following principles when creating shareable content:
• Every piece should support your brand image. Remember, humor can be difficult to pull off. If you can use memes effectively, they can be powerful brand-building tools. But if you aren’t 100% sure how your audience will respond to your image, resist the temptation to create memes or post clickbait that could reflect poorly on your company.
• Figure out which content is most likely to gain visibility on your social networks. Images may resonate better with your audience than blog posts, but you won’t know that if you don’t look at your data.
• Don’t be afraid to use visual content. Articles with images receive 94% more views. Facebook and Twitter content with images receive nearly twice as many views as text posts, although there are seven times more text posts on Twitter.
Back to “your processes” I mentioned earlier. Use your phone and shoot some photos and video of “behind-the-scenes” content like prepping manifests for a large group, a training meeting with chauffeurs about safety, or a meet and greet at baggage claim. All of this — if leveraged correctly — is great content I promise your prospects will like because nobody is doing it. It educates while positioning you as a leader, and the content can be used across multiple platforms.
4. Leverage Influencers
Influencers can help you at any stage of your branding and marketing strategy, but they are extremely beneficial when you are just getting started and need help building your reach.
If you have a relatively unknown brand, your voice is likely getting lost in the noise. While you can eventually build your own audience through great content, this strategy will take time.
A much faster approach is to leverage the audiences existing influencers in your industry have already built. Here are a few ways:
• Mention their names or cite their websites in your content pieces. Influencers with Google Alerts or other notifications set up on their names will see your content after it’s published.
• Tag any influencers you’ve referenced when sharing content to your social media profiles.
• Email influencers after you’ve published your content to let them know they’ve been referenced in your work.
The goal of all these different actions is to get them to share your content piece with their followers via social networking. It can take time to build up the kinds of relationships that lead to influencer sharing, but if you’re consistent about producing quality content, your efforts will get noticed.
While social media is one of the most powerful ways to build your brand and reach new leads, it’s easy to waste time or alienate people if you don’t use it appropriately. That’s what makes having a sound social media strategy in place so important.
If you make it a priority to consistently share great content and leverage the power of social media influencers, your brand building efforts will pay off in the long run.
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FEB LCT Publisher's Page: There's no better place to spend time and money on growing your business.
JAN. LCT Cover: After 35 years in the industry, the Chicago-area operator enjoys the advantages of experience.
JAN. LCT Profit Motives: All too often, operations spend good money to gain customers, but don’t find a way to keep them coming back.
JAN. LCT: Closely tracking expenses will ensure you always know what margins and take home pay to expect.
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DEC. LCT: Seasonal Bookings: If you look hard enough, you can make your bus business a year-round revenue generator.
A leading industry advocate calls the decision a big win for luxury ground transportation in New York City.
DEC. LCT Profit Motives: You can gain more conversions through retargeting toward consumers interested in your service.
NOV. LCT: These simple return-on-investment formulas will help you truly see if your buses of all sizes are making enough money.
The world's No. 1 online marketplace and trader for professional chauffeured and chartered vehicles, including all types of motorcoaches, buses, vans, stretch limousines, sedans, SUVs, exotics, and classics. New and used vehicles are available from sellers across the nation.
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