Today’s guest post comes to us from Suzzie Moore. Suzzie is a freelance writer posting about a variety of topics on her blog “Rediscovering the Pen” and working on her dream, her first novel. You can also find Suzzie on Twitter @suzzziemoore.
Marketing is essential to any business. But if you’re the owner of a small company you’ll know that successful marketing comes at a cost. And yet you may not realize how much you can save by doing it yourself. A small investment of time and money now can save you a fortune in the long run. You just have to know where to begin.
Brand and Logo
The first thing to do when you’re working out your marketing strategy is to ask yourself a simple question – who am I? OK. So maybe that question sounds a little deep. But in selling your business you are also selling yourself, and your customer wants to know exactly what they’re buying. This is where branding comes into play.
Your brand is more than just a name or a logo. It embodies the ethos of you and your company. It represents the bigger picture of what you do while also giving a sense of the details. It must have style and substance. And – most important of all – you’ve got to love your brand. Because if you don’t then neither will your customers.
1. Start by looking at other brands you like and try to think why you’re drawn to them.
2. Then get together a selection of your favorite color combinations.
3. Now get creative.
Remember – your brand is the first impression your customers have of you. It’s how they get to know you and how they remember you. So take the time to get it right.
And then you can put it on everything. From your envelopes to your coffee cups. Every time your customers see your business, they need to see your brand.
That Online Thing
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Because before you can brand your website or a letterhead, you’ve got to create them. And this is where the second part of your marketing strategy comes in. If you want to successfully market your business in this competitive climate you need to be building an online presence as well as working on a local, face-to-face level.
Online marketing is time consuming but the great news is that you can do it all for free. There are hundreds of easy to follow books on how to create your own website. And space on Google Maps and any of the numerous social networks is there for the taking. The key to making the best use of your time, and gaining the most contacts, is to keep your focus on one or two projects.
If you’re only going to do one thing, set up a website. This is invaluable to your business and the longer you spend making it look professional, the better. If you want to explore further online communities make sure you don’t get sidetracked on all the different social networks – it’s better to pick one site and build up a following than waste time on maintaining too many groups. Never forget that your time is as valuable as your money.
Back to the Basics
But the other side to this is that your money is as valuable as your time. And these days too many small businesses overlook the importance of hard-copy marketing because they can cut costs by doing everything online. But a vital part of nurturing your business is through direct marketing. Just think about how many emails you junk without even opening. And then think how often you do this with a letter.
But keep smiling because creating anything from leaflets to business cards can be simple and low cost if you do it yourself. Big businesses may save money by professional bulk printing deals but as a small business owner this just doesn’t add up. What will work for you is an investment in a high quality printer. This way you can take care of all your own direct marketing, letterheads and business cards.
Just make sure you buy the right printer – one that specializes in this kind of work. An inkjet is the best machine for producing color graphics and photographs. And don’t be fooled into thinking you can make a saving by buying sub-standard ink. The only way your marketing will be worth the investment is if it looks like it’s hot off a professional printing press. Using the best quality ink will vanquish the homemade look and will lengthen the life of your new best friend – your printer.
Keep it Local
Now your brand looks like a million bucks. And you’re ready to hand out your leaflets, business cards and letters. Just remember – direct marketing and online marketing have the same rules – start small, build in your local community and take care of your existing customers.
So when it comes to marketing pieces, do it yourself and remember small is beautiful. This way you’ll grow your business and shrink your costs.