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If you’re a startup with a limited budget, you’ll have to get creative to generate interest. The very first thing I recommend is to figure out the DNA of your brand—what about your business will set you apart? Where is your sweet spot? We have opportunities today through science and technology that have never existed before. Look to create an emotional connection to inspire your customers and foster brand engagement that is relevant and timely.

Here are five brand engagement strategies that won’t break the bank:

1. Naming and Brand. When coming up with a name for your business, dig deep to find the “emotion” that sparked the idea to create your business. Have a clear understanding of the DNA of your brand: define your core attributes, your mission, and what you stand for and why. Connect with your customers on an emotional level and talk up your brand attributes. Answer the 5 W’s—who, what, where, when, and why—then add in the how. Once you’ve come up with the methodology to connect with your customers in a meaningful way, you will be well on your way to strategic branding that gets results.

2. Business Intelligence. Look at your competition and research what got their audience engaged and excited. Are there any tactics or strategies you could use for your brand or business?  What methodologies were used for effective brand communication? Look at other industries, and see what worked and how you might be able to apply some of the same strategies for your brand. Study what didn’t work and why. It’s just as important to understand the reasons a campaign failed as it is to understand the reasons it worked. Last, but not least, track and monitor your progress.

3. Deliver on your brand promise. By developing intelligent storytelling you will draw customers to care about your products and services. When you have established your objectives, formulate your strategic plan for brand engagement. What’s the outcome you would like to achieve? Consider how you will deliver on your brand promise and make it measurable and meaningful. For example, Apple’s most memorable brand promise was “Think different.” Those two words promise unique products based on seeing the world a little differently, and they inspire their customers in the same way. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Stay true to your brand promise and deliver excellence at every turn.

4. Brand activation. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to disseminate your message across multiple platforms. Figure out the media mix that will best speak to your brand and develop a strong voice to engage your audience. Think social, experiential, digital, and let your messaging resonate with your customers to achieve results. According to SalesForce, the top five channels that brands use are Facebook (80%), Twitter (70%), LinkedIn (62%), and Google Plus and YouTube (both at 56%), reinforcing the fact that your company needs to be in the top five digital channels. Focus on your media mix over time and track your progress. Keep your objective front and center. Is to gain new customers? To attract more followers? To sell more products? To expand geographically? Create content that is informative and useful that your customers will want to share. Consider blog articles, videos, podcasts, and targeted content for popular sites like Line, Vine, and SlideShare.

5. Leverage your brand. Identify ways to leverage your brand and draw customers. Brainstorm about creative collaborations that target the same audience, get involved in public relations campaigns that cross-promote, look into getting involved in cause-related marketing for a charity or cause you are passionate about, or develop creative digital campaigns. Amplify your message across multiple channels, and increase exposure and awareness. Remember to keep your messaging consistent and cohesive for active consumer participation. Give them a reason to care about your company, and they will become loyal brand enthusiasts. 

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