75 Days before Launch
Building your brand, marketing your business and the power of advertising
Once you’ve registered your business and are up and running legally and financially, it’s time to look at your branding. The easiest thing to do is set up your company’s website, so it can be tempting to slap something online as quickly as possible. Slow down. Develop a marketing strategy first. Your vision for the organization needs to come through in everything, from your company name to the logo and colours to the messaging of any marketing materials. Once you’ve determined how you want to present yourself, look back at that business plan and examine who your target market is and how you’re going to reach them. Examine each marketing tactic for cost-benefit ratio. And don’t forget about service – whether you’re marketing to businesses or consumers, having consistency of service is as important as consistency of messaging. Make sure your clients can always rely on your top-rate service, and your company’s name will start to spread.
Your website, your business cards, your pamphlets and advertisements should all go together. Pick a font, a colour scheme, a logo and carry them across every medium you use.
Scott Francis Winder, Sticks & Stones Communications
A: It really comes down to who your demographic is. Who are you trying to communicate with? Social media is really great for creating low-level engagement with people you’d never be able to engage with. Some businesses won’t see very much reward from it. You may have a very fixed demographic of companies you service – social media isn’t really going to hit those people. If you’re business-to-business, it’s a totally different ball game. A lot of it comes down to relationships. Even in marketing, you can’t get away from the value of a good relationship. Looking professional, acting professional and being professional are all key to opening a door.
A: Even right to the day when you start conceiving a business, you should be conceiving the marketing of it. How you’re going to get it out, how you’re going to sell it, how you’re going to pitch it. If you’re not, you run a serious risk of creating something that the market doesn’t need. Once you kind of crack the two-year mark, you start to get a lot more legitimacy. You start to get a lot more awareness around your brand. You have to work less to get more. But in the first couple years, you need to make a name for yourself. You need to brand it and be out there.
A: Make sure your identity and your brand is sincere. If you’re doing things in an insincere fashion people pick up on it and it hurts you more than it helps you. Whatever you’re doing and however you’re saying it, it should align with the management’s vision and mission for the company. That’s a key thing. Make sure there’s a sincerity there behind all of your messaging and between the people and the business brand, there should be some cohesion. Especially for small business because it is so tied to the founder or founders.
Money well spent?
Advertising is expensive, and for a small business owner who wants to make every dollar count, it is important to know if you’re spending that money effectively. It’s important to approach advertising in a measured way, as part of a larger strategy. That means that before you spend any money on advertising, determine who your target demographic is and what would be the best way to reach them. Is your market typically engaged on social media networks and online, or are they more likely to read print publications? Another key determinant is whether your company is business-to-business or business-to-consumer. If you’re b-to-c, it may make sense to advertise in general interest publications. For b-to-b businesses, trade publications or business magazines may be a better avenue. “It really comes down to what you’re offering and who your target demographic is,” says Winder.