It is the nature of setting up a new business that some activities will be neglected in the early stages, usually down to the dual restrictions of time and capital. As a small business owner, you are constantly having to make big decisions regarding what is considered vital, and what can be considered superfluous – at least in terms of that initial stage. In this guest blog post, Emily Marchant, Marketing Manager at AcademicBrits and OriginWri
Let us be clear from the start. Marketing, of which branding is a key concern, is never superfluous. Even if you think you have enough orders and interest to sustain yourself over that initial ‘start-up’ period, think again. The moment you stop looking to the future is the moment your business can start to die, and what does any business need? The answer is cash flow. Cash flow can only be secured by customers, and now you can see why marketing practices in general, and branding in particular, is such an essential consideration at any stage of operations.
But the budget is restricted; of course it is. That’s okay, however, as fortunately there are a number of extremely effective branding practices that can be utilized in those initial stages. Here they are:
- Who is Your Audience?
This is your fundamental first step. Who are you seeking to engage? Who will be interested in your product? Who are your competitors and what kind of audience do they attract (hint, it will be similar to yours, unless you have a particular niche that you want to exploit)?
- Establish a Strongly Identifiable Name, Logo, and Brand Image
These are essential aspects of establishing a brand, but they are so often overlooked. Whatever you do, try to make the name and the logo of your brand memorable so that it stands out from the crowd – there is so much noise that you must constantly seek to set yourself apart. But you must then give sufficient time to think about the image that you want to project.
“Image is important because these days there are so many ways of engaging with your audience that it’s now easier than ever to establish what you are really all about – from the things that you say and the things that you like and interact with on social media as much as your actual product,” says Russel Willis, a CRO expert at WritemyX and Britstudent.
This links in nicely with the next point…
- Use Social Media Wisely
Social media has changed the game. We all now have the possibility of accessing an incredibly wide audience with little or no investment. Of course, there are levels of what you can and seek to do, but even using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in their most basic forms can help to establish a strong and relatively well-known brand. As things develop, you can go down the road of investing in products such as Facebook Ads, but just by creating an established and engaging presence can help your business to get a foothold.
As well as engaging with your audience on social media, utilize YouTube as a platform for releasing videos about your products and business. Similarly, if you are selling business-to-business, use LinkedIn or a similar platform to do the same.
“If you know your audience, you know which social media channels they use and how they tend to interact on those channels, which is invaluable information,” highlights Samantha Rose, a tech writer at Nextcoursework and 1day2write.
- Establish a Referral Program
Word of mouth is still by far the most effective marketing technique – it secures more business than almost any other marketing channel because people consider it more valuable than any other medium. And setting up a referral system is not costly at all, because it piggy-backs onto existing business.
- Use Content Marketing
Content marketing, whether it is through a blog on your own site or guest posting on other sites, is a powerful marketing tool, and also helps assist with that all-important SEO. But consider that what the type and quality of content that you produce says a lot about you as brand, so make sure you stay ‘on message’.
The biggest mistake to make at the beginning is to think you can’t access branding and marketing techniques because you are restricted. As you can see, there truly are a number of great and efficient ways to establish yourself, without breaking the bank.
The opinions of our guest bloggers are their own and not those of 1871.