There are a plethora of marketing tools and strategies for you to use to boost awareness of your business, ranging from the traditional direct methods to less tangible, digital methods, but which ones should you make use of?
Let’s pretend, that you don’t have any marketing at present, you’ve just started your business, and you have your suppliers, services, processes and finances all tickety-boo – you’ve set aside a marketing budget, but what to spend it on? This a good way to look at your business even if you have everything in place, as a checklist – or if you’re thinking of experimenting with new marketing mediums
Your logo should be at the centre of how you want your company to be perceived. Look at contemporary designs and fonts, and then use this to create something with a universal or obvious meaning that relates to what you do. Make sure it’s right, and up to date – keep it simple so you can change small parts if you need to years down the line, to make sure it’s not looking out of style and ignored.
If you’re not au fait with design and the software that goes with it, you can do a few things to get a logo together.
– Hire a designer: This is the best option, but if you’re on a shoestring budget, don’t skimp or you’ll end up with something you don’t want. Designers don’t work for free and won’t make you something perfectly fitting, if you won’t pay them for their time and skill.
– Purchase a logo online: There are sites dedicated to providing this service. If you don’t mind being slightly unoriginal, the logos on http://stocklogos.com/ all look great and designed for many different business sectors and organisations.
– Just use your business name: What? That’s not a logo – but if you’re in a hurry, and on a budget, it’s an option. Many websites and businesses just use the company name in a really sleek, modern font. This ties in nicely with the current trend of flat design and keeps everything nice and simple. If you do have a logo, consider assigning a font style to the company name alongside it, and stick to it.
Make sure your branding is consistent (if your Business is Baker Co and you do some special hedgehog shaped rolls, called UrchinBredz, don’t let that product range take over the image of your company, unless it’s a separate company to the parent) and ensure your branding is on all your stationary and letterheads, to your building and email signatures.
2. Customer Service
Controversially, I don’t feel the customer is always right. Sometimes the customer is wrong, simply doesn’t understand what you do and the pains that go into it, and saying they’re always right is disheartening and will crush your work ethic like a giant angry fly swat with a large social network.
The customer isn’t always right, but they must feel like they have won. They must feel like in the end, the decision they made to use your company must be justified. Sometimes things go wrong, and there’s nothing anyone could have done to stop it, or communication breaks down and something gets missed out – every business has this problem. No business is perfect. It’s what you do about it that makes all the difference. Making it up to the customer with acts of good faith, credit, understanding and ensuring you put processes in place to stop it happening again, is good customer service.
You should be running a great business model with a product or service that is wanted and needed. “Build it and they will come” still works, but if customers continually come to your business, and wish they hadn’t – it’s a slippery slope to kaputsville.
3. Traditional & Tangible Marketing
This is in no way out of date, even if you’re a techno-guru with bionic implants, and a gadget for everything – do not forget traditional marketing. This includes all printed media, such as business cards and compliment slips as well as vouchers, offers and advertisements in the local paper and text-message marketing. Tangible items such as a business card or flyer, can be kept for reference and don’t require an internet connection to revisit.
Text message marketing is really useful for filling empty slots. For example if you operate a hair salon, or photography studio. It’s also a great way of instantly letting customers know you have a special offer or discount available. However, you should always fill your texting list with genuine customers with their approval. Don’t buy personal data, it’s illegal, and about as effective as writing your intended message on a piece of paper, screwing it up, and throwing it at passersby from your window.
Your business cards are essential. Make sure they’re personal, don’t get a generic, ready-made design. If you don’t feel creative, a block colour will do, with all your relevant contact details in an appropriate font.
4. Internet Marketing
Internet marketing begins and ends with a website. Even if it’s a small holding page with your details and information on – your customers will look for you on the internet, and if you don’t have a website or can’t be found, customers will find your competitors or an alternative.
If you don’t fancy learning how to code a website, there are a lot of website-builder websites available – but these are extremely limited and prone to error (you’ll experience the epitome of awful customer service trying to get errors fixed on a website-building platform.)
You’re much better off paying a professional web designer or developer to make you a website. There exists such a thing as CMS (content management system) which allows for the building of a regular website over a system that allows you to go in and edit the text and images on pages with no coding knowledge whatsoever (works a little like Microsoft word). Popular CMS systems are WordPress.org and Joomla, but discuss your options with a developer.
The other bonus to having your website built for you is that there will (or should be) continued support, and the option to scale your website as your business grows. The scope for adaptability in pre-made templates and website builder systems is limited, and will become frustrating down the line.
Having a website opens up a multitude of other advertising methods such as Google Ads and Bing Ads, which allow small text ads to appear in obvious places on the search engine results page for a “per click” price (CPC/PPC.) This is a hugely popular method and ensure that you only pay when you get a visitor!
5. Social Media
Social Media is basically turbo-powered word of mouth that feeds and grows off of the good service you provide your customers. You don’t need a website to make use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter but they do work well together.
Social Media is great for boosting your website’s renown, and provides a medium for customers to give you all-important feedback, and gives you the chance to respond! You can hold competitions, share pictures of new products or services as well as special offers and voucher codes.
You can make social media work offline to online, by including it on your paper advertisements, leaflets, business cards and gift vouchers as a QR code or just include an icon with the web address.
Whatever you decide to do, do it well! Plan for the future, and don’t get stuck in a rut. Try different methods and revise your plan of attack on a monthly basis to avoid stagnation.