May 5, 2010

There’s No Magic Bullet: The Cumulative Effects of Growing Your Brand

Filed under: Growing Your Business — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 9:14 am

Live Plant Cutting with Recycled Glass Vase and Care Instructions by SevenAcreWoods

The #1 question small business owners want the answer to: “What can I do to grow my business?” This is a loaded question and it has hundreds, if not thousands, of answers. The short answer is that there is no ONE thing you’ll do that will make your business a success. All your press, your marketing, your business development, etc. is cumulative. Here’s what I mean:

Imagine a moderately popular blog writes about your business, 100 people visit your site. One person buys something. 50 of them leave after viewing 1 page. Another 30 leave after viewing a few pages. 5 of them get on your mailing list and one of them makes a purchase 6 months from now. 1 of them tweets about your brand and 10 of their followers visit your site, 1 of them starts following you on Twitter. Another visitor posts your link on her Facebook wall and their friends visit you, one of them buys something. Another visitor posts about your business on his personal blog.

If you’re looking at raw sales that came from this one press hit you might not be impressed. You only got one actual sale.  A closer look reveals that you actually got:

  • 1 direct immediate sale
  • 2 indirect/delayed sales
  • a blog post (which leads to more SEO, more traffic, more fans, more newsletter subscribers, etc.)
  • a Twitter follower
  • 5 newsletter subscribers

Suddenly that one press hit is a lot more valuable.  Now consider that every little thing you do that brings new people to your site — advertising, getting press hits, blogging, cross-promoting, etc. works the same way. Each thing can result in incremental growth of your brand. This is to say, don’t get discouraged when you don’t see immediate over night success, because each small thing is helping you along in ways you may not realize.

Having owned an ecommerce site for a few years now, I’ve seen this work first hand. My site gets orders each day from press hits that went online over a year ago, Facebook, people who subscribed to my newsletter months ago, things I posted on Style Hive months ago, message board posts our fans wrote months ago, etc.  After having amassed so many links over such a long period of time, we now consistently get business from work we did months or even years before.

It usually takes several months, if not a couple of years, to really break through as a small brand and consistently see website traffic and sales. This is because each little thing you do is slowly building a presence and a fanbase for your brand. Eventually all the little things you do each day will be working in concert to bring consistent website traffic and consistent sales.

While you can certainly throw a lot of money at your brand and get much bigger much faster, most small brands aren’t in the position to do that so it’s a matter of being slow but steady.  As web technology evolves, we’ll probably have smarter and better ways to track long term and indirect benefits of our marketing efforts. As it stands right now, there’s no way to effectively track every little boost your brand gets from marketing.  This means you have to track where you can (newsletter sign ups, increases in site traffic, Twitter and blog posts that mention where the author discovered your brand) and consistently invest time and money in the things that attract your target demographic to your website.

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  1. Slow and steady wins the race, no?

    The most difficult part, for me at least, is being able to better track which marketing efforts are paying off, so to speak.

    Like you pointed out, it’s important to pinpoint the channels that consistently generate traffic — so we don’t waste our limited marketing/advertising budgets.

    Besides GA — what tools do you find to be the most helpful?

    Comment by Sarah — May 5, 2010 @ 9:27 am

  2. Sarah, I have a lot to say on your questions actually. I am going to write a post about it tomorrow 🙂

    Comment by Meredith — May 5, 2010 @ 9:34 am

  3. Meredith, I’m so glad I met you! You are so right! I have implemented and studied little by little what you have taught and by golly! It’s working. And it does take time and you do have to maintain it. I thought, post a website and walk away. But noooo, it needs to be nourished and maintained and researched and tweaked and on and on. You woke me up to new frontiers, I’ve reached new potential sales and I thank you for that!

    Comment by Jewelry Assembly Chicks — May 5, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  4. That’s awesome! Marketing is definitely a process, not a destination.

    Comment by Meredith — May 5, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  5. great post. I am at the very beginning of my online presence and at this point I don’t worry about sales but use it as a way to connect to the larger independent artisan community and market. I already see signs of the cumulative effect and it’s good practice for self promoting that I’m using in my face to face interactions as well… I look forward to further discussions on this subject.

    Comment by lara — May 5, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  6. Some blog post I read recently (can’t remember where unfortunately) likened it to a snowball effect versus an avalanche. And honestly, who would really want an avalanche of success for their business? I’ve seen that sort of thing happen to businesses, and while some are able to cope, some crumble under the pressure because they haven’t developed the internal organization and systems to cope with the increase in orders/customers yet. I agree, slow and steady wins the race. (No matter how frustrating that may be at times!)

    Comment by Mallory - Miss Malaprop — May 5, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

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  9. This is such great advice at the perfect time for me. I’m doing a promotion on my Etsy shop in conjunction with a giveaway on my blog. In less than a week I’ve added over 200 Twitter followers, 30 Facebook fans and have gotten almost 350 new views in my shop. This is all in less than a week. I was getting down that I hadn’t made a sale yet but you’re right, it’s all about the cummulative effects of marketing. Who knows how long this monthlong will last? I could be getting sales for months or years from this. Thanks for this!

    Comment by Tara — May 7, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  10. I absolutely agree! E-commerce takes a long time to establish and a big part of this is due to search engine optimization. And a big part of that has to do with quality links and utilizing social media. I’m so glad to see realistic posts about the length of time it takes to get a site rolling.

    Comment by Faith — May 7, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  11. Thank you for the post. It is so important to remember that all the little steps that we take add up to our customers perception and hopefully direct interactions with us. I have been applying this in the “real” world for years but am just now getting active in the online world. I look forward to the results!

    Thanks for the post!

    Comment by Angela - Dolce Beada — May 11, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

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  15. This is a really encouraging post for someone like me. Thank you!

    Comment by Ola — November 12, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

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  19. I understand what you are saying – but it’s hard to know where to put your efforts to make them pay off – most bang for the buck/return on your energy output.
    Thanks! Ken.

    Comment by Kenneth LaDuke — January 24, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

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