Last Updated Dec 20, 2010 8:32 AM EST
You don't need an enormous marketing budget to create a killer brand. That's David Siteman Garland's message in Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business (Wiley, Dec. 2010). Siteman Garland, who is just 26, is the CEO of The Rise to The Top, an online television show and resource for entrepreneurs (full disclosure: I appeared on the show earlier this year). I recently had the pleasure of catching up with him and he shared a few key points from his book. Here they are:
- Don't be a product pusher. "You should shift your mindset away from marketing your product and toward being a trusted resource," says Siteman Garland. A great example of that, he says, is HubSpot, a company that sells software to small business, but whose website focuses heavily on providing its customer demographic with free resources. "They have a blog that has information on generating leads online and Internet marketing," says Siteman Garland. "And there's a weekly TV show where they go over marketing headlines for the week. They're not saying, 'how awesome is own software?' They're showing you that they're a trusted resource."
- Humanize your Web presence. "Be a human being online and not a company," says Siteman Garland. "People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. There has to be a human behind a brand." So allow your personality to shine through on your website and allow your employees to have a presence there as well. For instance, Meathead Movers, a San Luis Obispo, CA moving company that employs student athletes, features employees on its website and allows customers to choose their own moving team.
- Be a digital schmoozer. "One of the arts we're overlooking on line is being able to make small talk," says Siteman Garland. "I've interview 200 plus people who do this successfully and for them, the Web is like a small town where you know the butcher on the corner. The people who build up the most responsive followings on line are connecting with people on a one to one basis that goes beyond business. Business is becoming much more personal." So ahead and talk about your dog and your kids online, but set your boundaries and stick to them.
- Merge your digital and real world connections. Online and offline should not be two separate worlds, says Siteman Garland. "The best online networking happens offline," he notes. "Companies are always thinking about big conferences. But I like to throw small events, like a dinner - you get a restaurant, invite 20 people and organize the discussion around a theme. It gets people away from the computer and it's a relationship builder. "Take pictures, pull out your Flip and make a short video, and then post your content on Facebook and tweet about the event the next day.
- Cozy up to bloggers. "You should focus on building genuine relationships with bloggers and content creators in your niche," says Siteman Garland. "That doesn't mean spamming them with press releases. The secret sauce is start helping them." For instance, public relations entrepreneur Elena Verlee began making insightful comments on Siteman Garland's blog and sharing his content on Facebook and Twitter. And she introduced him to potential guest for his show. "She understood what was important to me," he says. The result: Verlee got her clients some nice media exposure and was herself a guest on The Rise to the Top because she invested time in relationship building.