In this article, we will discuss some methods and techniques that a new entrepreneur can use to get started in marketing and advertising their business. Of course, this information is not meant solely for brand new businesses, anyone can use them, but the article will primarily focus on a startup company.
Before we dive into the meat of this topic, let’s take a brief moment to define exactly what advertising and marketing are. For one, advertising is marketing, but marketing is not advertising. This may seem a bit strange, but let’s explore it further. For advertising, it’s simple, advertising is a direct form of marketing with a very straight forward purpose, to get people in the door, to get the phone to ring, or to get them to click to your website. Where the line becomes blurry is when we speak about marketing. Marketing is a far more ethereal concept. But since this is not the main topic of this article, let’s say in short that marketing is the management of perception. In other words, attempting to influence what people think of you, and therefore, how they feel about using your services or buying your product.
For example, the friendliness of your wait staff, or the cleanliness of your office, or the care you take in the landscaping of your hotel, all these things are marketing. And often, they are the most overlooked, because most people think of marketing only as advertising.
With this in mind, let’s begin in earnest to discuss the topic of this article, how you can advertise and market your new business. Well, as mentioned in the last paragraph, let’s start with the free stuff. What should be the simple stuff, but often is not. And this is the perception that you are giving about yourself and your company. Sit down and make a list of all the things that you can change, if need be, about your company now. Things that don’t cost you any more money or much time. For example, the neatness and atmosphere of your office or facility, if you have one. Spruce it up, put a few plants in, invest in a couple of plug-in air fresheners, and do what you can for the outside appearance, the “curbe appeal” if you will. Focus on your staff, are they well groomed, well dressed as appropriate to your customers, and are they outgoing and personable. Smiling and friendly employees, including you, go a long way in closing sales. Be sure that you and your people are quick to respond to calls, emails and the like. Keep in mind that the number one need of all people is to feel important, so if you can project that to your clients, that they are important to you, you will almost guarantee success.
Now, before we move on to another tip, let’s make it clear that this article is not meant to be an in depth exploration of this topic. That would really take a book. This is just meant to give you a few ideas and get those creative juices flowing.
The next thing to think about, and preferably before you have created any of your printed material, signage or website, is uniformity. To put it another way, your business cards should look like your signs, which should look like your flyer, which should look like your website, which should look like the side of your trucks. This is a key component of branding. And building a solid brand that people identify with quality and also with you is hugely important. So no matter what you do graphically, be sure that everything has a nice, uniform look and feel.
Now, a big area to focus on, and one that is relatively cheap, even with a complex application, is your website. Whether you are selling products online or just want to showcase your company, a quality website presence is an absolute must today. One of important reason is that now, over 97% of people do all there research into new products and services online. Even direct referrals will still want to check you out on the web, be it with their computers or their hand held devices. But equally, if not more, important than this is that the internet offers a huge amount of marketing opportunities that can expose you to new customers like never before. With the use of search engine optimization, blogging, social media, video marketing, article marketing, and link building, just to name a few methods, your website can be put in front of a large number of targeted eyeballs at a fraction of the cost of more traditional marketing and advertising methods.
As for advertising, this is a bit more difficult to pin down. Different businesses have different techniques that work for them. What works for a restaurant may not work for a lawn care company. What draws attention for a furniture store may not be as effective for a bar. The thing to do is to do some research into your particular type of business and see what is working for others like you. Also, if you know your target audience, then you can devise some cost-effective methods for reaching them directly, be it through radio or TV ads, direct mail, street level marketing, shows, billboards and so on.
Keep in mind the old marketing creed of AIDA, Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This is what any advertising and / or marketing campaign should be built around. So no matter what you do, plan it out before hand with these four steps.
Now, not to be too vague, although it’s hard not to be with such a huge and diverse topic, here are a couple of starter points. First, tweak those elements in your business you can control without spending money. Then create a series of visual pieces, a business card for you and anyone else who may come in contact with customers, a brochure, a flyer, vehicle lettering and of course, a quality logo. Put up a good website. Not a cheap do it yourself thing, but a real, professionally created application and tie all yoru other material to it. Promote that site as much as possible, both on and offline. Invest in some internet marketing, both pay per click and in someone to do the organic work of promoting you. You can get quite a lot on a small budget here.
Do not be afraid to consult a professional. A good advertising and marketing firm can help you with all of these things, and with other more expensive methods, such as creating videos, filming your TV commercials, writing and producing your radio spots, strategizing mailing and other campaigns, and more. Promoting your company is a lot like being lost in a dense forest, and sometimes having a guide who knows the way can be of immense benefit, and is often the best use of your marketing budget.