Marketing for a start-up or new business

By Renata Mathewson, Maple Marketing

If you’re starting a new business, getting your company image right from the very beginning is crucial. As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Here are a few pointers to start off on the right track.

1. Decide on the image you want to portray

Long before you launch, decide what you want your business to look like. How formal or corporate do you want it to look, versus an image that is more fun or playful. This should not be a subjective decision. You need to do the right marketing preparation to know what will work with your target customers and in the marketplace for your goods or services.

2. Invest in professional branding and graphic design

All too often start-up businesses try to save money on their branding, thinking they just need something low-cost or free to get them started. Sure, we all know a friend of a friend who has done a design course who is willing to do something for free to build up their portfolio. But your branding and/or design person should be a long-term strategic partner for your business – someone who understands what you’re trying to accomplish with your branding and not just someone who can whip a logo together on the cheap. Invest in this crucial aspect for the long-term. Do it right the first time and you won’t have to spend more money on a rebrand or refresh in year two or three.

3. Put the right image out there when looking for funding or backers

The need for professional branding is even more important if you’re presenting a business plan or business concepts to a bank, funders or to potential business partners. If you do things right at the start, you’ll get more support and people will have more confidence in the success of your business. Make sure that every piece of communication has your company logo and url on it, including emails. This all helps raise brand awareness and create word of mouth.

4. Make sure you have a full suite of marketing materials

Don’t just print your own business cards and wait until you have customers before you print marketing materials. One of the most unprofessional things you can do when launching a business is hand out homemade business cards – or worse, tell people you don’t have them printed yet. Make sure you’re prepared from day one with what you need, whether that is brochures, postcards or printed letterhead. A small investment upfront will pay huge dividends in terms of brand image in these early days.

5. Set up your online presence

Imagine yourself telling everyone you meet about your new business. They’ll want to be able to visit your website and social media pages. So make sure you have these set up. They don’t have to be fully complete – just 80% there will do at the start. If you obsess over waiting until they’re “perfect”, chances are they’ll end up delaying your business launch (exceptions to this are where ecommerce or online transactions are involved). With a good content management system for your website and the ease of updating social media pages (or getting help doing this), you can update your online presence regularly and as the business develops.

6. Have a well written positioning statement and marketing copy

Make sure you have a succinct marketing blurb written that tells people what your business does, for whom, and what benefits it offers. I suggest having a few versions of this of different lengths so you’re prepared when marketing opportunities arise. For example, have a one paragraph blurb written that you can include in presentations, seminar brochures, other companies’ websites, at the end of magazine articles, etc. Also have a one sentence version that you can use in written form on a social media page or after your name where you might be mentioned. And lastly, have a version of this one-sentence description that works in spoken form (this may be slightly different than the written version). This last one is your 60-second elevator pitch. You should be able to tell someone about your business in one sentence. If you can’t tell them a full description, you should at least be able to give them a sentence that makes them ask you a follow-up question where they want to know more.

 

Following on from these points, you should always have a written marketing plan when launching a new business – or at the very least, a part of your business plan that deals specifically with your marketing activity for the coming six to twelve months.

If you need help with any of these, or with developing a marketing plan, please contact us for a free initial consultation.

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