So it’s time to get serious about promoting your small business. What are the first things you need to do? There are seven basic areas you need to address to set yourself up for success when marketing your company. For some, it might involve revitalizing or revamping an area, and for others it could mean starting crucial new processes. Either way, the foundation must be built.
Brand the Company…and Yourself
Some say you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. Your business name and logo are the frontline introduction to your company. Does your name sound trustworthy? Is it easy to understand? Can someone know what you do just from your branding? Do you have branding guidelines that determine colors, fonts, and uses of the logo and corresponding marketing documents? If not, it is time to engage the services of a professional branding firm or designer with this experience. It is money well spent.
Our company has a unique, somewhat quirky, name on purpose. Cygnal is pronounced “signal,” which is what breaks through in communication. We see ourselves as a firm that helps clients “cut through the noise” to be heard by the desired audiences. In this example, our name (and corresponding cool logo) is a story we can use to convey what we do.
And don’t forget to brand yourself also. For many small businesses, the owner is the company. That means your social media presence, physical presentation, and how you come across to customers and prospects are all important.
Develop Materials That Tell a Story
It is nearly impossible to sell a product or service without some sort of collateral to educatethe prospect. That could be a brochure, white paper, folder, or PDF. Whatever it is, these materials should do two things: match your company branding and tell a story. They should answer the five important questions: who, what, when, where, and why. Also, make sure to avoid sales language.
What do I mean by “tell a story?” Walk your prospect through the process in a way that doesn’t make them feel like you are selling them. Present problems in a way that makes him or her think: “Man, that’s me.” Then sell the benefit of your benefit. For example, if you sell cars, don’t pitch the fact that your vehicle rides down the road smoothly. Instead, show the benefit of the benefit – you can drive your sleeping baby for hours without waking him up.
Have a Legitimate Website
There are dozens of free or simple do-it-yourself website services out there. Some of them make a good final product, but few are search engine optimized (SEO). People use the Internet for everything now, and many prospects are using Google to research you prior to making a buying decision. What will he or she find when conducting a search?
You absolutely must have a professionally designed website that matches your company branding, provides pertinent information (but not too much), and is responsive (mobile-friendly). Will this cost you some money? Yes, but so long as it is developed on an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) like WordPress, it can be self-managed after development.
Invest in Content
Not much is worse than stale content. Without continually adding to your website, your traffic will flatline. Blog posts are an easy way to invest in content; all it takes is your time. We instituted a weekly blog post writing task for everyone at our firm. Since then, traffic to our website went from an average of 4-5/day to 30-50/day. Also consider that photos, infographics, white papers, sharable social media images, and video are also content. They cost a bit more, but the investment is worthwhile. By 2017, Cisco believes 70% of all Internet traffic will be video.
Get Involved on Social Media
I can hear the “ugh” right now. “Are you saying you want me to tweet and pin stuff and play on Facebook?” Yes and no. Too many small businesses think they have to be on every social media network. This is the wrong approach. Start with only one social media network. Your products and services will also weigh heavily on what social media network is best for you to start with. For example, if you’re an eCommerce website that sells home décor, then a visual medium like Pinterest makes sense. Regardless of what network you choose, focus on learning your audience’s patterns, lingo, and habits. Take that understanding to inform your social media strategy.
Set Up Email Marketing
Outside of the few dollars you’ll pay to an email newsletter sending service, the cost of an email marketing campaign is negligible. Provide a sign up form on your website to capture emails and ask your current customers to join also. Set a schedule to send out regular blasts to your list, but avoid being spammy. Services like MailChimp will help you build a template that matches your company branding and renders well on desktop and mobile email applications. Then you can take some of that content you invested in and distribute it through the email newsletter. Make sure that every email you send passes the “what’s in it for me” proposition for your subscribers.
Advertise Smartly, Starting Online
At some point, you must spend money to reach your audience. This starts with understanding who your audience is. Include what they look like demographically and pay attention to behavioral patterns. With this information at hand, figure out what advertising avenues help you reach those people for the lowest cost. We tend to drive our clients toward search engine marketing (SEM) and digital display ads, because they are highly targeted, cost-effective, and measurable. Our next favorite medium is direct mail for all the same reasons. Regardless of what channels you pick, make sure on the front-end that the target of the ad is part of your target audience.
Time may be a limiting factor for you, so keep in mind there are a lot of great firms out there that will help you create and execute a marketing plan. Consider using one, because they can help you focus more on your core business by handling your marketing and communications needs. At a minimum, write down your marketing plan and spend time executing it weekly.
This might seem like a lot to accomplish, but any further steps you take to grow and market your business will be hampered if you don’t start with these seven basic areas. If you are not doing any of these tasks right now, the dividends will be great when you start putting them in place at your small business. Let 24 Communications help you. Call us today!