You have the business plan, the cool product or killer service. You’ve figured out your business model, your three core strengths. And you’ve got a phone (goes-without-typing essential) you’d love to be ringing off the hook with folks wanting to give you large piles of cashy money.
Next step: tackle that Marketing P known as Promotion. Or not.
I did an ad layout for an Atlanta small biz, and what hit me were the missing pieces I had to find for a basic print ad. Customers may not notice or comment when you have it, but they will notice if you don’t.
Things you can’t NOT have to market your business
It’s how you “brand” so do it.. just not comic sans. (Designers joke.) That investment shows you mean business, on your “still gotta have them” business cards, print materials, free coffee mugs and this newfangled thingy called the Internet.
Website. First, a counter argument. Rare is the business that with the right product (booze) and right location (intersection shopping center) can do fine and dandy, sans website. I was told, license to print money. True ‘nugh.. and EXCEPTION.
“Well what about Facebook?” whines the small business owner. Sigh. Are your customers active on FB or your own site or forums elsewhere? People are social creatures, the trick is finding where.
That said, your website is where YOU have control, a way to tell your story, where people can contact you with your ‘branded’ email. Domains are cheap, WordPress is free, websites still matter.
Images. Can you imagine visiting a website, flipping through a brochure or scanning a magazine without them? Bor-ing! Photos and videos breath life into marketing because they humanize your business.
If your product or service is your custom work, hire a professional for eye catching images. It’s an investment that will pay for itself every time you run an ad, share them on your website and Facebook page, submit them to a magazine for big, fat “free” publicity.
If you’re a reseller or installer, look to your vendors and co-op some marketing, use their product photos. When it’s a “generic” business without need anything custom, there are plenty of royalty-free houses for professional photos; for SMBs on a budget I’ve got two words: iStock account.
Story. Talk to your customers, talk with your employees, your vendors; hone your elevator pitch. You want that great website, that “free” double-page spread in the local living magazine think story, not sales.
Beyond talking points, ass-numbing bullets, your small business has a tale to tell. If you don’t know who and what you are, you’re in big trouble. What you do, how you help others, where, when, why do you offer extra services? W’s are right there, waiting for your answers to tell that story.
What’s another “can’t afford to skimp on” marketing essential?