A lot of new business owners are learning as they go, and have to figure things out quickly and in-depth to even get out of the starting blocks. And one of these items on the long list of to-do’s is marketing. Not just advertising, but branding, communities, and social media. Marketing isn’t something that can be overlooked or left to the last minute, nor can it be done in a half-hearted manner.
The way you market your business, in the beginning, will stick with your company forever. Think about it like building a box for a product that will be stuck on a shelf in a store. You have to make the packaging look as appealing as possible, perfect for the intended audience, and enticing to all. It also has to accurately, and honestly represent the product within the packaging, with no half-truths or promises that it can’t uphold.
Luckily, you’re not an inanimate object stuck on a store shelf – you can actually reach out and talk to your potential ‘buyers,’ create a relationship with them and would a reputation for being a good, honest product.
When planning your marketing strategy, you might be trying to work out what aspects deserve your attention more. Which sub-headings should sit above the rest and should be prioritized. Unfortunately, they are all almost as important as each other, the priorities shifting per business, however, here is our list of the most important aspects of marketing.
We all studied The Scarlet Letter in school – the story of a girl who ruined her reputation by having intercourse before marriage. We’re not suggesting that we should act as they did in the book, but the lesson is still valid – a reputation lost isn’t easy to recover. As you begin your business journey, you need to set out a mission statement or motto – something that shows who you are, where you want to go, and what your company stands for. And you need to live by that statement.
If you declare that you can deliver a product anywhere, anytime, but can actually deliver within a 50-mile radius Monday to Friday, then you’re selling a lie and your reputation will be ruined before it has a chance to begin. Having a brand reputation overview will help you in so many ways – the foremost being the fact that you will see where your company need improving in these areas.
A good reputation can make up for the size of your company, your newness in the industry, and even the fact that your product might be more expensive than a competitor. People will pay for quality – and not just in the product, but in customer service, delivery, and any other dealing they have with you.
Creating a brand is more than just a color scheme and a name – although that is an essential part of the branding process. Branding is about establishing yourself as a company, and being recognizable by the public. You can do this through traditional mens like merchandise and packaging, but you can also look into sponsorship, like for like trades, and getting involved in local events.
A small company should always look to become involved in the local community. Your reputation will tie in with your brand here – your name will be promoted through word of mouth, and your reputation determines whether those promotions are positive or not. Get involved with charities, local festivals or competitions. Put yourself out there without being asked and help your local community where you can.
As your brand and reputation grow, as will your reach. It’s a natural process for good, successful businesses. However, don’t just leave it up to time to grow. You can easily expand your reach through research. Look at the areas and demographics around you – what isn’t being tapped into that you can? A coffee shop might see the need for a late night opening for students. A trunk company might think about expanding into smaller courier services.
There is always a new area to explore, a new audience to invite in. You can always count on a truck company to deliver huge quantities of goods, but what if one of your clients needs a quick influx of a certain product? This is where a smaller, quicker courier service would come in handy, and be a unique service you can use. A coffee shop will always attract students, so what about moms? Is there a mom and baby class nearby? If so why not reach out and offer half-price drinks to each mom after their class? That way you’re sure to get a new, regular group each week, who will spend hours chatting and drinking coffee.
At the bottom of our list is advertising. Surprise! Yes, advertising is important – it is something that every business needs to do, but if you do the three previous points correctly, you don’t have to lean on it as a crutch.
When delving into the world of advertising, don’t just stick to online advertising; there is an entire world of tried and tested, physical advertising. Don’t ignore one to favor the other. They should compliment each other, with the same images, colors, and slogans. Your branding comes into focus here as people will, hopefully, recognize who you are and what you do. Look at successful companies like Nike and Starbucks; you know exactly what that little tick, and who that siren is, and what each company offers.
This list is, obviously, just a guide. Your business will demand that you focus on certain aspects first. But never let yourself forget the importance of marketing, and what a good campaign can do for your company. And, above all, start as you mean to go on – especially when it comes to your mission, promises and qualities.