4 Ways to Refresh Your Brand

Is your brand as dull and passé as 2017? The start to a new year is a good time to refresh your branding, and we’ve got four easy and cost-effective tips to getting started.

For many of us, the start of 2018 brings an air of excitement and opportunities. Optimism for growth and success abounds as new goals for the year start being executed.  A brand new year creates an opportunity to look at your company’s branding as well. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t regularly evaluate their branding, which can lead to a stale and outdated look and feel.  

A business does not have to go through a complete rebrand to stay modern and interesting. Every business can see value in making simple updates to better connect your brand with the continually evolving perceptions and values of customers.   

Here are four easy and cost-effective tips to freshening up your branding:

Tip No. 1: Update your messaging

One of the most important components of a brand is messaging. These are the statements that articulate what the company stands for and what value you bring to the market. You don’t need to completely change messaging, but it is important to look at your tagline, value statements and communications to the market and identify if small adjustments can be made to better represent your brand.

Tip No. 2: Update your online visuals

Review your existing social media and website images and leverage new images that better represent your business today. You may want to highlight new services, new team members or showcase examples of your recent work. In addition, consider incorporating a new video in creative ways across your social and digital platforms.

Tip No. 3: Simplify and clean up your collateral

If collateral such as digital flyers, printed brochures and other materials are a key component of your marketing efforts, make sure to take stock of what you currently use and get rid of items that are outdated. Perhaps consider a slight design adjustment such as color accents, new images and updated design elements. Finally, make sure that your collateral pieces are consistent and align well with the visual images across physical and digital platforms.

Tip No. 4: Leverage new tactics to promote your brand

If you are not currently using social media, build an approach to promotion through social. If you do have a social presence already, consider giving other forms of social media a try in 2018. If you aren’t using video or email marketing, explore those avenues. If you haven’t thought about promotional items or print marketing, investigate creative ideas in these areas. The bottom line here is to do something different, but make sure it still aligns with your growth strategy.

By changing messaging, updating visuals (both digital and physical), creating consistent marketing pieces and utilizing new ways to promote your brand, you can establish a fresh look for your customers and prospects.

Nevin Bansal is the president and CEO of Outreach Promotional Solutions.

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  • Next up: 5 Guidelines for Strong Business Partnerships

    5 Guidelines for Strong Business Partnerships

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  • Next up: 5 Marketing Hacks to Generate New Customers

    5 Marketing Hacks to Generate New Customers

    Here are five easy hacks you can start implementing today to bring more customers to your business.

    In today’s saturated market, small- and medium-size businesses need to focus on re-vamping their online marketing strategies to compete and attract new customers. No matter the industry, or size of your organization, your online presence is key to making the big bucks and business longevity. Fortunately, you don’t need expensive or intricate marketing campaigns or big budgets to successfully reach new customers. All you need is a little motivation and creativity to make a large impact.

    Here are five of our most successful marketing hacks that will help your organization generate new customers and new revenue.


    Whether you use your website for ecommerce or strictly informational purposes, it is one of your most important marketing tools. Most customers have already made their mind up about what they are interested in purchasing before they even contact you. Because of this, it is crucial to have a responsive website with updated content. There are tools such as Google Analytics and Webmaster that help website managers pull useful informational data. You can leverage this to learn how many visitors are coming to the website, what pages they are browsing and for how long. You can also see what keywords or key phrases people are using to find your company online. We use this data to help gauge effectiveness of campaigns and generate new content.


    If you want to be searchable online, you have to pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of your website in web search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) unpaid results, also known as “organic” traffic. For example, our organization is a Managed IT Services Provider headquartered in Pittsburgh. If I Google “Pittsburgh Managed IT Services” does our organization pop up? If your organization doesn’t land on the first page of Google, there is some work that needs to be done.

    The first step is keyword research. Use tools such as Keyword Planner, AdWords, and Google to create a list of 50 to 60 words that your organization would like to rank for. Localize some of the keywords by adding the city location into the phrase (e.g. Pittsburgh Managed IT Services Provider). Once you have a solid list of words and key phrases, start to implement these into content on your website. Once these pages crawl, your web content will start to rank and you can increase visibility.

    Insider tip: You won’t see an immediate improvement in rankings when working with SEO. It can take three to six months before you see any changes. I use a free tool called SERPLAB. This tool will help you track progress of your keyword changes and webpage rankings.


    Content is king. A frequently updated blog is a great way to get fresh, keyword-optimized, content out on the web. Create a blog content schedule and stick to it. This is an easy way to get more exposure and educate your customers on the benefits of your products and services. Google suggests that the best optimized content is between 500 to 700 words with a healthy mix of keywords. I know we all want each page or blog post to rank for our keywords, but beware of overstuffing! Overstuffing is the practice of stuffing your content with keywords because you think it will make your page rank for that word. It won’t. Google will not approve and won’t allow for ranking! A good practice is to place one keyword in the title and in the first paragraph. Next, place one to three keywords or key phrases in the body of the blog (varying on length). Lastly, put one keyword in the last paragraph.

    Insider Tip: Write your blogs in advance. The day before you plan on posting, reread to check for grammatical errors. The day of posting, give it one more check. This will limit errors significantly.

    Marketing automation

    Marketing automation is the future of marketing. Marketing tasks can be repetitive and time consuming. The goal of marketing automation software is to automate these actions and create more visibility into the effectiveness of social media, emails, and website actions. With this software, you can gain the ability to track users’ actions throughout the campaign process. Such actions like, how many clicks or opens on an email or a certain link, their travel path through the email and website, and email bounces. While you can see some of this on normal email services, with marketing automation you can automate follow up processes. Once you set these up and place a certain list in that campaign you can sit back and watch new leads and business effectively generate.

    Social media

    Social selling can be effective for most organizations. Use popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc. to interact with your prospects. You can use these platforms to answer questions about your products or services, supply useful content, and keep your prospects updated with company news. Tracking vanity metrics (shares, likes, retweets, etc.) can be useful to know which content users find the most intriguing, but one of the most important metrics to pay attention to is link clicks. Use a free service such as Bitly to create shortened, trackable links. Not only will these shortened links make your social postings look cleaner, but you can track how much traffic that link is getting and where it is coming from.

    As part of the small business community, we have dabbled in all of these marketing initiatives ourselves—successfully and unsuccessfully. The truth is you have to take the time to test, analyze, and revaluate your initiatives until you find the right marketing equation for your organization. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan and you have to remember that there is no finite answer to marketing. Evaluate your plan often and make changes accordingly to market trends and personal business change.

    NetServe365 delivers a complete range of managed IT services, security services, hosting options and consulting services 24/7/365 from our headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We never stop evolving our technologies and operational efficiencies so we can deliver a customer experience and network results far superior to our competitors’. We strive to deliver on every promise, every time because we know who we work for--the partners and customers who put their trust in us. Learn more about NetServe365 here. 

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  • Next up: 5 Reasons Why Video Should be a Part of Your Marketing Plan in 2018

    5 Reasons Why Video Should be a Part of Your Marketing Plan in 2018

    From helping boost sales to engaging those tough-to-engage customers, here are five reasons why your business needs to incorporate more video marketing in 2018.

    When social media made its first appearance many years ago, content formats were limited.  People oohed and ahhhed over beautiful photography and perfectly written words.  Today, those channels have evolved to feature content beyond still shots and words.  Social media has become the platform for all things video and it’s important that your business invests in video in order to best utilize each social media platform.

    So why is video important? Here are five reasons why.

    Reason No. 1: Video engages the laziest of customers

    In today’s world, customers have become lazy.  They want everything at the touch of a button.  Video allows them to receive your message in a clear, simple format that doesn’t disrupt their busy social media surfing too much.

    Reason No. 2: Facebook says it’s important

    Facebook has invested in a variety of video features, such as Facebook Live and measuring video engagement, and is the second social media platform with the most videos right behind YouTube. Facebook has become a top place for marketers to reach their audiences so if they say video is king than video is king.

    Reason No. 3: Video can boost sales

    It’s easier to tell your business’ story through video than a lengthy, wordy message. You’re able to visually show your product and services and have voiceover. You can also segment your videos to specifically target different audiences. A video is much more memorable than an everyday post.

    Reason No. 4: Videos can be leveraged across your other platforms

    Videos can be embedded into emails and onto your website, not just your social media. They can also be used in seminars or for in-store demonstrations. When you incorporate video into your marketing plan, you are investing in a content format that can be used in a variety of ways.

    Reason No. 5: The future is video

    As digital marketing expands, video will begin to become the norm. If you invest now, you'll be ahead of the game.

    Making videos for your business does not have to be expensive. In fact, there are many different video programs out there that can be leveraged to help make videos affordable for your business. If you decide to make any changes to your marketing plan this year, my suggestion would be to increase your video budget!

    Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here. 

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  • Next up: 5 reasons you should be thinking about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

    5 reasons you should be thinking about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

    There are plenty of reasons the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program needs to be on your business’ radar in 2016. But I get it: as a small business owner you have a lot of demands on your time, so allow me to distill the many reasons you should be thinking about the program into the top five.

    There are plenty of reasons the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program needs to be on your business’ radar in 2016. But I get it: as a small business owner you have a lot of demands on your time, so allow me to distill the many reasons you should be thinking about the program into the top five.

    And they are:

    1. The know-how behind the program. The program is designed by Babson College, the nation’s top-ranked entrepreneurship school. A focus is made on on practical business skills that can immediately be applied by business owners, including negotiation, marketing and employee management.

    When was the last time you had access to a nationally ranked entrepreneurial program?

    2.  There is opportunity to access capital. Through the program, business owners learn how to become more bankable and better position themselves to access financing and capital. The program also gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to network with potential lenders and capital providers.

    When was the last time you had an opportunity to learn more about what it takes to access the capital you need to grow your business?

    3. It makes your world bigger. On the first day of class, most business owners don’t know one another. By the end of the course, they have not only developed relationships and a support network, but they are also doing business with one another. Not to mention the fact the program exposes business owners to the myriad of resources available to them throughout the region that are ready and waiting to help them grow their business.

    When’s the last time you made a connection that helped your business grow?

    4. It will help you (and force you) to grow. Most business owners who complete the program experience incredible growth—not just for their business but also as individuals. The program teaches businesses owners to think differently, to make tough decisions, and to develop a solid vision for the future of the business.

    When was the last time you were given the resources you need to put together a long-term plan for the success of your business?

    5. It’s free. That’s right—there is no cost. There are no hidden fees or gimmicks to get you to buy something once you’re in. The program is sponsored by Goldman Sachs which means the business owners who are chosen to participate get to do so without paying a cent.

    When was the last time you had an opportunity to learn and grow your business without having to pay out of pocket for it?

    When was the last time you said “This is the year I will focus on growth?”

    This is the year you can make that statement. Look at the program. Take five minutes to complete the simple application before the deadline of February 19th. Go here to learn more, apply, and read about the other business owners who have grown their businesses as a result of the program.

    Don’t you owe it to yourself and your business?

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  • Next up: 5 Secrets to Small Business Success

    5 Secrets to Small Business Success

    Success never comes easy. As a business coach, I know that really well. Still, I’ve sat down with scores of entrepreneurs and small business owners in my career, and I’ve noticed that the most successful of these businesses seem to have the same five traits in common

    Success never comes easy. As a business coach, I know that really well. Still, I’ve sat down with scores of entrepreneurs and small business owners in my career, and I’ve noticed that the most successful of these businesses seem to have the same five traits in common.

    And what are these five “secrets” to success? I’ve outlined them briefly below. For a more in-depth look at what makes for a successful small business, check out this podcast I recently participated in.

    1. An Inspiring Vision

    Vision is what establishes a foundation for all critical aspects for the business. An inspiring vision sets the tone for goal setting and other critical managerial behaviors.

    2. An Effective Plan

    This is just crucial. Any good time should be time-bound. It should spell out what needs to take place over a certain period of time. And you need to have a way to measure these goals and your progress toward these goals.

    3. A Disciplined Approach to Execution

    Some businesses are successful despite a lack of discipline. I would argue however that it is very difficult to sustain success over a long-term business cycle without some level of discipline. Businesses need to be driven by a sense of purpose and must have systems in place to assure some level of consistency and accountability in execution. Business owners can also enlist the services of a business coach to instill a strong sense of discipline in planning and execution. 

    4. Financial Mastery

    Business owners need to have at least a basic knowledge of finance and a willingness to routinely seek advice from experts, such as an accounting firm, to understand the relative strength of their business and to guide financial decisions. More specifically, they need to be able to interpret basic financial reports, understand their break-even points, and successfully manage cash flows.

    5. Maintain a Unique Selling Proposition

    The Unique Selling Proposition serves two primary purposes. First, for a business, it answers the question of “Who are we?” And it aligns the company to its unique strengths. Secondly, it provides perfect clarity on the capabilities of the business to prospective clients.

    Brian Alquist is President of actionCOACH and is also a member of the COSE Expert Network. He is an accomplished business executive turned entrepreneur with 30-plus years of experience driving aggressive revenue growth for multiple organizations. Brian helps develop innovative business plans and educational solutions for small businesses to bring about greater prosperity and better life balance for owners. And he effectively coaches small-to-medium sized business owners and employees, leveraging an array of tried-and-true strategies to successfully transition prospects into clients and to improve efficiency that brings about transformational growth.

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