Marketing on a budget (Part 1)
You’ve just started a new business – you’ve completed the logistics of forming and registering the sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. You’ve got a name and you know what service you’ll be providing or what product you’ll be offering. But, how do you get those first customers? And how do you make sure you get more customers after those? And above all, how to accomplish your marketing on a budget?
In this post, we’ll cover the basics of early-stage marketing for new businesses, broken down into a few simple categories: core messaging, web presence, and awareness. Next week, we’ll cover early sales, lead development programs, and scaling.
1. Core Messaging
Don’t overlook the importance of creating a strong brand and refining the way you describe your company and your services/products. For more information, check out our full post with detailed guidelines about developing core messaging for your company.
Tips For Developing Core Messaging for Your Business
Set aside a full Saturday, and you’ll have the time and focus you need to quickly knock this out. First, write your company vision, mission and values. There are plenty of online options for getting a high-quality, inexpensive logo for your business. Then, write a one-paragraph “About Us” description. Then, write a detailed description of your service/product from the buyer’s perspective: why should they want it / what makes it different / why should they buy it now? You can repurpose this content for various purposes: sales call scripts, marketing emails, website content, etc.
2. Web Presence
Regardless of whether you provide a product or service, potential customers will look for more information about your business online before they contact you – in fact, over 90% of all customers conduct research online prior to making a purchasing decision. You need to ensure they’ll find you, along with the information they need. We’ve found this simple combination to be effective:
The key to your first website is professionalism. Your website must give the impression that you are a reliable business, and it must provide the basic information that customer prospects will be seeking. You don’t have to tell your entire story or provide every single detail someone might be hoping to find – you need to provide just enough information so that website visitors contact you for more information (or, if you’re selling products online, enough to compel them to purchase a product!).
Full Facebook Page
Take a half-day to really build out your Facebook page. Add pictures, descriptions, and posts. Block off two ten-minute chunks each week to log onto Facebook and update your status and/or add a post (we’ll go over simple and effective management tools to help with this in a later blog post). It’s okay if the content isn’t incredible – you want visitors to perceive you as active online, because they associate this behavior with a business that is successful, “connected” and easy to deal with.
Active Twitter Profile
Similar approach as with Facebook: build out your profile with a picture, background, link to your website, etc. Make sure to Tweet twice per week – if you need help coming up with content, just find news articles relating to your industry and share them. Also, for the first six months you’re in business, spend about thirty minutes per week following other people. Set a goal of following twenty more people per week, and many of them will follow you back. You don’t need thousands of followers right away.
While this effort won’t necessarily drive a lot of new customers to your business, it’s important to start now: you need people in your community to see and remember your company name. Divide this effort into two parts: online and offline.
Tips for Generating Online Awareness
Spend some time researching bloggers and writers who cover topics relevant to your business. Then, make a list of story angles that might appeal to them. And finally, contact each one of them and pitch them a story angle — be persistent! If you’ve got a good story angle and the blogger/writer has covered the topic before, there’s a good chance they’ll write about you.
Tips for Generating Offline Awareness
Make a list of publications that might write about your business. These might include the local paper(s), small regional magazines, industry-specific publications, etc. Take the same approach as you took with offline: develop angles, match each one with a specific reporter/writer, and pitch them persistently.
Ideas or suggestions?
These straightforward ways of promoting your business can help move you toward profitability faster. Feel free to contact us if you have any comments or suggestions about things we should add to the list!