Small Business Marketing On A Shoestring Budget
There has never been a better time to start a business. Whilst legislation and financial regulations have got tighter, the internet and associated marketing technologies around the world wide web provide access to extremely low cost and effective ways to market your new start-up.
Here are a few steps that in my view are important to consider when starting up a new business venture. Aside from the company structure, financial structure and legal entity the most important points to consider all have a marketing angle. Let’s take these in turn and then see how they all link together.
Company Name and Structure
One of the hardest things (and it is getting harder) is to name your new venture. Do you go for a ‘catchy’ company name or one that follows the advertising theme of ‘does what it says on the tin’? Personally I prefer a company name that is not to restrictive. This is important because you have to take a long term view to your company and how it will develop. During its life you will take twists and turns and how you start out may not be where you end up during the next 10 years. Take Amazon who started out providing books on the internet and is now one of the largest datacentre cloud providers.
Once you have a good idea for a company name the next thing is to check out if that company already exists. Two ways to do this. First you can do a search on your favourite search engine, which will more than likely be Google. Secondly, you should check out (if you are in the UK) the company name at Companies House. Companies House is a great place to check on UK businesses (mainly Limited company structures).
So now you have a company name that sounds perfect to you. Now we have to take into account the fact that you need clients. Joking aside you need to market test this name with friends, relatives and preferably a few people you don’t know. Just ask them in passing what they think about the name and what it conjures up to them. If your new company name ticks all the boxes you are well on the way to developing a marketing and branding position but there are a few other things to check out first.
Website and Email Structure
Memorable company names are one thing but remember to make sure that the website domain exists. This will also form the basis for your email address structure. Length is important here also. You really don’t want a website domain longer than say 20 characters in length and you need something that is easy to spell and communicate to people over a phone or in conversation. This is where we come back to not using too ‘quirky’ a company name. Also the longer the website name the longer the email structure and the print space you will need on business cards.
Another aspect to think about is how you will name a person using your website/email name. Do you go for Christian name (dawn@), Christian and Surname (dawnkoffler@, dawn.koffler@ or dawn_koffler@)or a combination dawnk@. Whilst you want to have a personalised email address you also may not want to be too small and to plan for when you have more staff in your team.
Social Media Accounts
We all know that social media is now becoming one of the most important aspects when it comes to promoting your business. What you really need now is to look at how you are going to build your brand and show to your clients and prospective clients that you are more than a small start-up and flyby night business.
So now you have a website name and company name, you need to check out all the usual social media names and grab yours. This includes checking Twitter, Instagram and Google+ in particular. These social media platforms are important because of their limited character naming schemes. Facebook and LinkedIn must also be checked but it is very unusual not to be able to generate a page to cover your new business.
Check out if your company name is available or a variant of it or use a phrase that is close to what you offer as a product or service. The important point is to ‘land grab’. Get your social media accounts even if you think you will not use them immediately before someone else does. You’ll be surprised how quickly they can go.
Remember that clever marketing will seem almost subliminal to your website visitors and target audience. Linking up a solid theme between your company name, website, email and social media will help to present a far stronger and structure organisation to your audience.
Logo Design, Branding and Corporate Profile
The new stage is to think about your logo. Most people have a relatively clear idea of how they want their logo to look. My advice is always to engage with a graphic designer. Give them a brief and let them come up with a few ideas. Your brief should include the usual marketing communications elements such as what you want communicate, to whom, how and where.
Where is important as there are so many places to consider when it comes to promoting your company and where your logo could be printed. These include the website and social media platforms we have discussed above but could also include signage, company vans, corporate workwear, letterheads, brochures, business cards and giveaways items that you will use to promote your new business venture.
Most graphic designers will come up with two to three corporate designs and logos and the process is somewhat iterative. You may need to go through two or more rounds of design to get a logo and branding you are happy with. Don’t make the final decision without input. As I discussed above when it came to naming your company ‘ask people’. The same rule applies to your logo and corporate profile. Live with the ideas generated by your graphic designer for a few days. Look at them at different times of the day to see how light affects the designs and ask for input from those around you.
Starting a new business venture is one of the most exciting things you can do. At some stage you will have to consider marketing and how to promote your company. The earlier you can cover the basics above, the easier will be your journey going forward and hopefully you will create the next ‘big thing’ within your chose industry. If you need any promotional or marketing advise, please feel free to contact me at Redbows. Good luck with your new business venture!