Building a brand sounds exciting doesn’t it? While it is exciting and a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of work and often a bit of money too if you’re not doing the development yourself. I haven’t done development in years but have been building tons of brands which means that most of my time is spent understanding the market, and of course shelling-out the dough for development, social media management, etc.
Over the years I have found that the biggest mistake most people make when building a brand is not taking the time to learn about their market. They get excited about building a brand because of the search volume or CPC (or both) and rush in to get started. Many people then look back six-months later and wonder why they aren’t making any money, the answer often lies in a lack of experience in their market. While some brands can make a splash right-away, other markets require far larger investments and longer time-horizons to be successful.
Here’s an example. Let’s suppose you bought a great domain name related to Car Insurance. You’re jumping for joy as you know that insurance is a hot niche with lots of money in it. You want to rank well for “car insurance” and pay a developer $2,500 to build a kick-ass site for your brand. Next you pay an SEO guru $1,000/month to build backlinks and get your site ranked. Six-months and $8,500 later you’re perplexed, your brand is still not on page one, it’s not making any money, and you’re not happy.
The problem here is you didn’t take the time to learn your market. If you did you’d see that the people ranking well for this term have spent tens of thousands of dollars on SEO, you’re measly $6,000 doesn’t even get you close. Now you might be out of money and after expecting a big return you are out of funds. Since you didn’t properly research your market, you didn’t take the time to understand what it would take to be successful in the space.
Every market is different and some are more competitive and expensive to enter than others. If you don’t take the time to understand your market, you don’t really know what level of investment to make, and what outcome to expect. Here are a few things I look-into before even thinking of building a brand:
- Who is on Google Page One? Look at who is on the first page of Google, is it major Fortune 500 companies or are there smaller brands on there? If the front page is dominated by Google Local results do you even stand a chance? Look at the first page of Google, above-the-fold and see who is there. Now, learn everything you can about the companies listed above the fold. What is their SEO budget? How many people are working on the site? How many backlinks do they have, etc.
- Do you have the resources to beat your competitors? Now that you know more about your competition, it’s time to ask yourself if you have the resources to really compete. If you have $100,000 to spend and your competitors are all spending $20,000 you can probably blow them out of the water, if they’re all spending $500,000 you might not stand a chance. Make sure you have the adequate resources to compete, this isn’t always money, it could be a great team, amazing SEO skills, Social Media mastery, etc. Just make sure you have the right resources to make it happen.
- Is your market growing? So you’ve done your research and now know your market, and you’re happy to say you can compete and be a real player in the space. Now the real question is…do you really want to be in this market? Look at market data for the industry you are entering and make sure its growing. There’s no point in investing your time and money in a market that’s declining. I wouldn’t want to build a brand that is focused on Desktop Computers since Laptops and Tablets are what’s hot and the Desktop market is declining rapidly. Make sure you understand your market as a whole and where it’s going, and stick with markets that are growing, and fast!
Building a brand means building a business, building a business is all about understanding your market and your customer. If you don’t know much about your market, or the industry you are entering, you could burn through valuable time and money investing in a space you either can’t compete in, or you don’t want to be a part of anyways because it is declining.