If you want to go big, brand recognition is the first step. There’s a lot of competition out there, but we’ve got expert tips to help you break through the noise to get noticed from Erica Jacobs, Associate Director, Multicultural at The Clorox Company and Marissa Nance, founder and CEO of Native Tongue Communications. Both launched Build Your Legacy with ESSENCE, a program that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. So now they’re here to share some of their knowledge and experience working in the world of marketing.
Identify Your Market and Yourself
Jacobs says it all starts with knowing your brand, your consumer and their affinity for your brand. “There is no one-size-fits-all. You can’t build a proper audience if you don’t know your consumer,” she says. “You’re in a relationship with your consumer. You need to know their likes and dislikes, and be a supporter of their journey.” Nance agrees, adding that you also need to interact with your brand in the same way. “You can’t get your brand exposure and awareness if you don’t know your brand intimately,” she says. With this understanding, she says you can build out your brand’s personality and voice—from packaging to copy, to imagery, to style.
Connecting with Your Audience
Authentic connections require understanding—what is important to your consumers. “Keep this top of mind as you build your strategy and introduce your brand to the consumer,” Jacobs says. “This builds brand loyalty, creates allies for your brand, and of course, trust!” Nance says there are some “foundational” ways to think about your approach: language, channels, timing, geography. She also notes “that it’s important to be very aware of what is happening in your audience’s world. Is there a holiday to be aware of?” She says that while your voice is important, your empathy and authenticity is key, adding that “those consumers will know immediately if you are a true ally and advocate or just looking for dollars.”
Increasing Your Engagement
Be where your audience is to make the biggest connection. “Very few (if any) brands can achieve success without some level of digital and social marketing,” Jacobs says. She adds that engagement will organically arise when you speak with audiences in the places they are and like to be. Nance adds, “while there are some costs to setting up a social ecosystem, your ability to make a statement for a fairly small investment is unparalleled.” She says the greatest way to increase consumer engagement is through the consumers themselves. “They are your BEST advertising, so make certain you have given them the right tools to share their positive feedback and support.”
Keep Them Coming Back for More
Jacobs says that what you say is sometimes even more important than where you say it and who you say it to. “Making consumers want to have dialogue with you should always be your end goal. If you’re creating messaging that talks at your audience, then very little success is likely.” Nance says that one thing that many advertisers (big and small) forget is giving consumers a way to talk with you. “Social has made this very easy. You can have handles across the most organic channels and audiences can find and engage with you,” she adds. “Not everything you hear back will be valuable, but everything said will have a value.”
Words of Wisdom
Both women are also sharing their advice for budding entrepreneurs trying to launch their businesses—like you! Jacobs recommends that you protect your health. “You’ll be inclined to work long hours—taking on all of the responsibility and weight,” she says. “You must stop and breathe. You always have options.” And Nance says that for women of color, “we’re constantly made to feel like we’re being ignored and so, we sometimes feel like we have to make our voices heard.” While this may be true, she urges you not to give away the power of understanding by not listening. When you’re responding, be mindful of what is being said, take a moment to interpret it, then lean back into the conversation with more knowledge to empower you. “Expect others to feel your power and engage respectfully.”
To learn more from incredible entrepreneurs like Erica and Marissa, check out the Build Your Legacy contest powered by ESSENCE and Pine-Sol.