What is your brand story? More importantly, what brand story will people discover if they search for you online?

Promoting a brand can be very challenging for SMEs. We don’t have the budget our larger competitors can call on. As Joseph Levine (producer of classics such as A Bridge Too Far and The Carpetbaggers) wisely observed:

“You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough”.

In the absence of a big budget, we have to be smarter.

SME branding: using free resources

One key strategy is to make sure we exploit the free resources that are available. I can’t avoid mentioning Google+ and FaceBook. Unlike Twitter, they both allow you to create pages and profiles that communicate your brand story.

We share the scepticism about the B2B benefits arising from ‘social’ sites but here’s something that is clear: successful companies have been using social sites for a long time. Nobody is an overnight success. Start your presence and build gradually.

A free online presence goes beyond Google+ and FaceBook. Don’t forget that old favourite, yell.com. It’s unlikely to generate the traffic that Google+ and FaceBook do but it allows you to say much more about your business. And it’s free.

There are other sites too: thebestof.co.uk and thomsonlocal.com, for example. Such sites are worth investigating although you may conclude that they belong lower down your priority list.

SME branding: consistency

People respond to a consistent message. Consistency helps them understand what to expect from you and why they should contact you.

Maintaining this consistency actually simplifies your job. That’s just as well because 70% SMEs say they don’t have time to maintain the listings on all the sites purchasers use.

So here’s the easier answer. Once you’ve created a standard way of expressing your brand story, products and services, re-use it on different sites. Write your story to a variety of lengths, create bullet points in order of priority and collate standard images. This saves time and guarantees consistency.