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This is the first article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your website using offline techniques and make it a success.
Many website owners, webmasters and even web marketers believe that all website marketing should be done online. However, a healthy dose of offline marketing can easily supplement - and supersede - online marketing efforts when applied correctly. Corporations such as Yahoo! and Microsoft have demonstrate the power of online marketing, and many small businesses have shown that offline website marketing has little competition and so turning a high return on investment can be much easier with offline marketing. The first step? Branding.
Customers make purchases based on emotion, and they justify with logic. Your brand image sets the tone for that emotion, which is why it's crucial that you develop a branded image that your target audience can easily identify with. If your branded image tells customers that your website is the best place they can get a particular item or service, if it makes them feel comfortable doing business with you and confident that you'll produce the results they're looking for, you have crafted an excellent brand that's primed for success.
It's important to identify what, exactly, your brand represents from the onset - before you do anything else. You can develop a branded image for your website by first listing the benefits of buying from your company. This could be a guarantee, proven past results, product-specific superiority, low pricing and many other qualities.
Next, compare your list to your competitors to discover areas in which you have an advantage. What can you do better than your competitors? Shortlist these qualities, and compare them to the qualities your target audience is seeking from your industry. If you can find a quality that: a) you exhibit exceedingly well; b) your competitors can't compete against; and c) that your target audience really wants bad enough to leave your competitors to get; you have your branded image.
Graphic design takes your website's branded concept - a word or phrase - and transforms it into a visual motivator through the use of colors, fonts, logo and layout. These traits are universally applied throughout your corporate identity package, which consists of business cards, brochures, flyers, pocket folders, posters, your website and other materials. All of your advertisements, including banners and rack cards, will carry your brand image. Your products will be emblazoned with it, and your customers will come to instantly recognize what you stand for at a glance.
Choose a skilled graphic designer to develop your brand identity, and you'll be on the fast track to success. Never skip this critical phase, whether you're branding your company, a division of your company, or a specific product or service. Your brand is what sets you apart and uniquely identifies you from the competition. It builds customer loyalty and ultimately increases sales. When you do it right, your return far outweighs your investment.