The business plan is set, details ironed out and double checked, and financing is underway for your new small business. It’s been a labor of love several years in the making, most likely, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But then a friend asks about your marketing plan and you hit the pause button. You ponder what essential marketing tools you are going to need.
Marketing can evoke thoughts of pouring thousands of dollars more into your fledgling business or having someone dress in costume outside to attract customers. While you may feel pangs of panic, don’t. There are many ways to successfully market a business of any size. Here are seven essential marketing tools to start your business.
A logo says a lot without many words about your company, sometimes as few as a word or two. It gives credence to your business, products and services regardless if your company has existed a month or ten years.
Having a logo can convey to consumers that you have a brand, something tangible to attract them to your company. It can also help differentiate you and make you stand out in your field or industry if there are many other similar companies.
Maybe your company has evolved in the last decade and now offers much more than when the business started. Your logo can reflect that evolution.
Hosting and Domain
One of the most important things you can do is purchase a domain that aligns with your company name. This is a big consideration when naming your business. A unique name that isn’t already saturated is best. You can check this by typing in your business name or domain idea in a search browser and see how many other businesses share a similar name.
A domain is the first step towards the ability to have your company website on the internet. It’s like claiming your spot in the digital world. Just because you own a domain, however, doesn’t mean your website is published or visible.
Hosting services ensure people can view and interact with your website. WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) platform that allows your site to be updated and maintained with relative ease. We recommend using the standalone version of WordPress for the most control of your site. If you are going to run an e-Commerce store or collect financial information on your website, a secure socket layer or SSL certificate is required.
What is SSL?
Globalsign posted a quick explanation on their YouTube channel.
When you started your business, it could have been a weekend side project from your usual 9 to 5 routine. At that time, the trusty AOL or Hotmail email account you’d used for years worked quite well. But that was before your side project grew into what you envisioned and now it’s time for your email to grow with it.
A branded email is an extension of your brand, where continuity is king. In addition to that, your email should go along with your domain name for the sake of current and potential customers.
In fact, you cannot have obtain a professional email with the correct suffix unless you own the domain for that suffix. I.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. If a customer forwards an email from your business to a friend, not only does the friend have your contact information, but they have your web address also.
Utilizing the auto-forward feature in many email clients will aid the transition for not only you but your customers to the business email. Rather than leaving customers scrambling to find a way to email you when emails start bouncing back from your old personal account, they can flow right into the business account.
We’ve gone digital in many regards to how we conduct business, personally or professionally. But that dust-covered pile of business cards in your back drawer still have a use.
Think about the act of handing out or accepting a business card; everything about it is personal and as a business owner, you aim for personal connections. Leads and/or clients are everywhere and having business cards can make a personal connection and impression anywhere.
Your brand is extended in the business card, allowing it – your brand – to go anywhere and everywhere the person you hand it to does. Not only will they see the card, but others may, essentially extending the reach of your brand beyond what you previously envisioned.
Business cards emit a professional aura. Think about how you would rather someone gain your company name, contact information, and other snippets of pertinent information. On a business card, with clean, legible font that will be legible well beyond the lifespan of information hastily written on a scrap of paper or another surface handy at the moment.
Long gone are the day of wandering down Main Street window shopping. While this way of shopping may still exist in some regard, it has been replaced by Google and other online searches about a business before consumers contact you. So what does this mean for having a website – or not?
Consumers are information hungry and very savvy about how they get that information. The proliferation of online reviews has allowed people to research a business and what others are saying about it for some time before they make the decision to visit you. Having no website means that while you may be well established in your geographic area and industry, there are many people who don’t know you exist.
While having no website is the worst, a bad website can be even worse. How is this possible? A bad website will cast a pall on your business in terms of first impressions. Broken links, content and information that hasn’t been updated in several years, and graphics that look like they were created during the days of MS-DOS.
Consumers want a professional first impression, regardless if they are doing business with you in person or online.
And though you may have a listing through your local chamber of commerce or an industry listserv, it’s not the same as having your own website. With those services, you are likely limited to the amount of information you can share, thus limiting your audience to what they can learn about you.
Having your own website means your business is always accessible to customers and enhances your ability to target a larger and wider market for your products and services.
A few more bonuses to having a business website are the ability to show off your work and what people are saying about you. Everyone loves to hear a good word or several about the quality work and service they provide with their business, so why not share that with literally the world.
Then, there is the ever-important customer service. A website can improve your customer service through a few clicks, through information accessible via newsletters, FAQ pages, and anything else you create to potentially answer customer questions.
A tweet here, a like there. So goes life in this digital age and for starting a business, social media can be a snappy way to put yourself out there in the crowds. Use consumers constant attachment to social media to your benefit to initially introduce your brand then keep it present.
These days, it’s safe to say that new customers to small businesses are attracted to social media. Those customers span all age groups, but it’s still a significant amount of people. Then there is the much discussed and analyzed Millennial generation. Adroit Digital found that 26 percent of Millennials lean heavily on social media when learning about a new product. The accidental five-second video you took when taking a photo of a product could be more useful than previously imagined.
But with so many social media options out there, where should you start? The ‘old standbys’ of Facebook and Twitter aren’t going to disappear anytime soon and though they undergo periodic revamping by their companies, the purpose of each stays the same. With hundreds of thousands of people scrolling through their news feeds each day, spending a few minutes each week planning and sharing information about your company or current happenings will engage viewers and start the conversation about your business.
- Check out our blog: “Why LinkedIn Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy“
As addressed above under websites, consumers are information hungry and a great blog can placate that hunger. Whether it’s a quick 175 words about an upcoming event at your company or a 1,000-word long read discussing a current trend in the industry, your blog is versatile. Share what you know, what you’re learning, what’s going on in your industry, important information that will inform anyone visiting your website.
Search engines crawl all web content, including blogs, for the keywords being searched for. Blogging gives you a great tool to make those keywords move eyes to your business and the information you’re providing. The more content you produce, such as updating your blog even a handful of times each month, the higher your website will begin to rank in search engine results. And the more information you have, the easier it will become to decide what should appear on your social media feeds today.
Let Us Do Your Marketing
If you have questions about any of these products or services or need to know the best way to go about creating them for your business, please call us and we’d be happy to help. Elevare can help you plan and strategize the right things for you to be successful from the beginning, which is much better than changing them after you’ve already established your business.
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