If you’re about to open a new business (or just did), you want to make sure you’ve done these basic marketing tasks to ensure your business gets started on the right foot.
While you may not like doing them, marketing & advertising are still key ways to let your customers know you exist and to get them into your store (whether in-person or online).
Before you start looking at advertising packages, there’s a few things you’ll need first.
Hopefully, when you created your business plan, you included a section or page on marketing.
Basically, if you’re going to spend your resources on marketing, you want to answer these questions to make the most out of your efforts.
- How will a customer interact with your business? (This isn’t always in-person, and includes your marketing channels & ads.)
- Who is your specific target market? (No, it’s not everyone.)
- How do you intend to get your product/service to the right customers? (aka Marketing Channels)
There are of course other details & files you might want to consider preparing, like: your story, pricing, problems you solve, your message, etc. Having these ready will save you time later as you get set up on multiple platforms.
Some people get really specific and have a marketing plan with specific campaigns already planned out, but even having just a general plan in mind can help keep you on track.
Logo & Branding
Please don’t scroll past this.
Many new business owners don’t feel the need for a logo, but it’s one of the basic things you’ll need and use in numerous places.
Regardless of who you get it from, you can save yourself future headaches by asking for a variety of files before they’re done with you. Some may incur additional fees depending on the designer & need, but here’s why you need them:
- Branding guidelines – have them tell you exactly what colors & fonts they used so your marketing materials will match
- PNG or transparent background
- .svg & .eps – this is what printers will ask you for if you order logo items
- All-black version & all-white version – again, you don’t know when you’ll suddenly need these for a project
- Original design file – if you love the design and want to be able to tweak it in the future
Yep, these are still a thing.
Obviously, we’re still a fan of networking events, but these still act as calling cards to let someone know you stopped by, are good hand offs for someone to pass along your contact info, or displayed in card holders.
At our office, we have display racks that hold business cards, rack cards, and magazines for locals & visitors to browse. Of course, inclusion is a benefit of joining our chamber.
We recommend ordering from one of these local businesses. Chances are you’ll want to go ahead & order rack cards, menus, or other printable need at the same time.
Please, have a website.
In this digital age, having a website and basic social media account is a sign to many that you’re a credible business. As a millenial, I won’t visit or do business with people that don’t have a website as I simply don’t trust that they’re legit and invested in themselves.
Again, we recommend these chamber members to design & host your website for you. Some basic types of fees to expect are: domain (yearly), hosting (monthly or yearly), design/setup (one-time), and/or maintenance fees (as needed).
While you’re waiting on your site to be built, you can use your Chamber Directory Listing (if you join the chamber) and the Google My Business’ Website Builder as a start. These will give you some amount of online credibility, and can later provide valuable ‘SEO juice’ to your actual website as backlinks.
You want to make it as easy as possible for your future customers to find you. If a customer doesn’t find you, they’ll just go to your competitor.
So in addition to your website, you will also need a presence on other online platforms.
- Google My Business
- Chamber Directory Listing (if you’ve already joined, here’s how to update it)
- Other social media (Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, etc.)
- Other map sources (apple maps, bing local, mapquest, etc.)
- Business Listings (Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, Yelp, etc.)
Note: with social media, you probably want to at least claim your matching handle or username on all of them, but don’t worry yet about using them all. You can get good & consistent at just one before deciding to add another to your plate.
Also, if you don’t have time or want to deal with setting up, we can do it for you. Many business owners don’t like dealing with since it’s boring and not worth learning since you only do it once. So we’ve created an Online Presence Set-Up Package just for you! (And you don’t have to be a member yet to take advantage of it).
Regardless of the route you choose, I recommend starting an internal list or spreadsheet of accounts you’ve started or want to join. This will help you later not only as a reminder but as a checklist of places to update if needed.
Consider Hiring or Outsourcing
As a busy business owner, you should consider offloading projects you don’t enjoy working on. For many, that’s marketing, maintaining your online presence, and similar tasks.
I realize you might be unsure of this as you’re trying to keep costs down. However, you probably didn’t start a business because you wanted to have paperwork and regular tasks keeping you busy 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have a dream, working on or when you want.
Therefore, you want to delegate tasks you don’t want to (or don’t personally need to do) as much as possible. That way you don’t have to be bogged down with a million things on your plate.
Having staff or partners will help your business run smoothly when you’re not available.
You might want to hire employee(s) for accountability, loyalty, and a myriad of other reasons. Many new owners are wary of additional requirements and fees (recommended resource: SC Department of Employment & Workforce), but employees have a special way of stepping up and can be reassigned to new tasks as needed.
If you prefer more of a hands-off approach, you can outsource to a local company. If you’re will to pay for it, agencies will already have the vetted talent for you. You might hire an advertising agency to handle everything for you or contract out for specific projects. Some companies will even manage active social media accounts for you.
If you’re just starting out and need a shorter marketing list to work on, make sure you have a:
- marketing plan
- business cards
- online presence
Again, these are just the basics. Hopefully the next step is working on your advertising, growing your business, and having a way to re-engage customers.