So you've spent the past year or so setting up your business. You have your product line, your sales team, your documents are all in order - everything is ready and it's time to actually get going. So now what? How do you get actual customers to find you and come to your doors? Marketing is difficult and complicated, especially for a small business without a huge budget for it, but it's one of the most important things you can do to stand out from the crowd, now more than ever. After all, how can you expect customers to line up outside your doors if they don't even know that you exist? If you want to successfully market your small business, you have to be smart about it.
Here are a few quick and easy tips you can use to get your company's name out there and stand out from your competitors.
Think About Branding
Considering the branding of your company can sometimes feel a little frustrating. After all, that stuff shouldn't really matter, right? If you have the best products, the best customer service, the most reasonable prices, it shouldn't really matter what your logo looks like! Unfortunately, that's not the case. Your branding is the face of your company and the first thing that can draw the eye of potential customers, so it's actually one of the most vital parts of the success of your business. Try to think about the ethos of your company. What do you want people to see when they first get a glimpse of you? Are you professional? Are you exciting? Do you appeal to kids or adults? Men or women? Rural or urban people? These are the kinds of concepts that you should be taking into account when you design your logo and branding. Important note - once you've figured out a visual brand, stick to it! Your logo, website, t-shirts, everything should be in line with a consistent visual style.
Get On Social Media
These days, social media is more important than ever. Long gone are the days when a simple Facebook account with your logo and hours would do the trick. Now you need to be on Twitter, on Instagram, on Google, Yelp - pretty much anywhere people might see you. You also need to be actively promoting yourself on these platforms, not just offering information for anyone who seeks it out. Remember, this isn't just something you have to do, it's an opportunity. Social media is your chance to communicate directly to your customers and let them know what you're all about. If you can afford it, hiring a social media manager is a great investment for an up-and-coming business, especially if you're looking for a customer base that skews younger. Make sure you're not just sharing sales pitches, either. People want to see interesting or exciting content that they can engage with and share with their friends. If you do your job right, then people online will actually help do your advertising for you.
Have a Well-Designed Website
Having a professional, well-designed website that fits in with your other branding is a must nowadays. Think of it this way - when you're setting up a brick-and-mortar business, you want the building to look good, right? You want a professional-looking business that's pleasing to look at and won't put off potential customers as they walk in the door. Well, your website serves the exact same purpose. Nowadays, more people are going to be visiting your website than will actually walk through your doors, so you want a site that will draw people in and leave them with a positive impression of you and your business. Make sure that any relevant information, including products, hours, and locations, is easy to find and up-to-date. If you're selling things online, make sure that you have an easy-to-use shopping cart feature. It can cost a bit more, but it's always a good idea to hire a website design company to make your site instead of using an online generated one.
Maximize the Efficiency of Your Staff
When you're running a small business with a limited budget, one of the most important things you can do is make sure that you're getting the most out of your employees. Try to keep things like branding and social media in mind when you're evaluating the skill sets of potential hires, or train your employees in marketing yourself through the use of well-chosen conference speakers or other training options. Try soliciting ideas from your employees, especially the ones who fit into the demographics you're targeting with your marketing ideas. Remember that your workers are always your most important resource and don't be afraid to rely on them as such. Making sure you have the best staff in the biz is a great way to help your small business rise above the others in your industry and transform it into something bigger and more powerful.
Work With Other Brands
One thing that smart marketers are always on the lookout for is an opportunity for cross-promotion. The business world might be full of cutthroat competition, but there's a lot of work for cooperation as well, especially if you're working with a corporation that's not a direct competitor. Try to think of brands in other industries that target the same demographics you do, and plan some cross-marketing together. This is especially useful if you can get in touch with a company that's a lot larger and more established than yours. They can benefit from being involved with a hip, up-and-coming business like yours, and you can benefit from their more extensive contacts and marketing budget, It's a win-win! Cross-promotion is also one of the cheapest and easiest ways to market on a budget, so it's perfect for small businesses that are just getting started.
Whatever approach you end up taking with your marketing, try to bring your own spin to it. Be creative and stay true to the ideals of your vision, and success will surely follow.