Running a business is a hard thing to do. The path of self-employment isn’t an easy path to walk. For a start, when you begin the journey, it’s likely that you will be performing every task yourself. You may have a business partner or even a family member who helps out, but you may very well be doing this as a lone wolf.
Doing things on your own brings a great deal of stress. You’re going to forget important tasks; you’re going to get overwhelmed. Things could fall apart quite quickly if things get on top of you while you’re trying to run your own start-up.
The key to getting past all of this is to plan. Plan very far ahead!
But there’s a bit more than that, right? If you’re planning that far ahead, not only do you need the idea for your business, you need to design your brand, then find your product, stock your product and of course, sell your product.
There’s quite a lot to do, but if you focus on one thing before all others, right at the beginning (though, in truth it is never too late to start). You need to find a way to promote your product and market your brand.
Why? Well, if you don’t, will anyone know about you? Yourself or your business? Your products? Your services? Well, they won’t unless there was an extreme stroke of like. You need to help engineer ways for people to find your business, because it’s highly likely you won’t be seen without some form of marketing or promotion.
How do you get started, though? Well right from the very beginning! If you’ve got an idea, then surely the name of the business may have entered your head. Maybe you’ve even thought of a logo. Naming your business is key, but developing a logo? That’s the brand. Branding is so important because it can take ideals and images and make people think of you! Red and yellow – it’s McDonald’s. You see? If you market well from the start, you can become synonymous with names, places, images and even theories! Play it safe, smart and simple and don’t try too hard here. Work with an agency if you’ve got the capital. If you don’t, you can still get started on your own.
Firstly, define your brand. What is it? What purpose does it serve? Analyze your business and find the exact gap in the market it is targeting. Find the needs and concerns of your customers and bring them into your strategy. Think of your brand as a character or human being. We are all unique and have our own path in life, so why not your brand? At the same time, you must be transparent – there’s no point hiding ulterior motives here – be you and let your brand be what it is meant to be. Don’t dress it up as something it isn’t as you’ll fail to build the long-term relationships with customers that you are going to need. Create trust by being honest, and you’ll have a great starting platform for your business. Now that trust is a part of your business; it’s time to be consistent. This can bolster and support the message of your business and keep that trust running for an extremely long-term.
Consistency doesn’t mean repeating the same ideals and message over and over again. Make your ideals, and messages work together. Make them link. You aren’t Subway; you can’t keep saying ‘Eat Fresh.’ Instead, craft your identity and allow your brand to thrive in it’s space, don’t let it be covered in the shade of big business. Your brand has the air of authenticity right now – foster this. Your brand is authentic, unique and original; you’ve got that going for you. What that means is that you are already a step ahead of most.
Well, that’s the theory behind branding at least. Doing all of this is going to get you somewhere, but marketing, branding, and promotion isn’t something that simply ends when you lay all the groundwork. You’ve got to keep going. We already wrote about some unique ways of marketing your business and these ideas should be focused on by you at some point in the future, but if you’re not doing the basics right, you’re not even going to get the point where you can splash the cash on billboards.
If your website is failing, you’re going to fail at some point. Your website is crucial and a major key to the success of your business. Think about it this way – if your business sells goods via the web and via the web only, then your website needs to work. If your website doesn’t work, you’re going to lose customers, not sell your goods and lose money.
You need to make sure that your website works. You, as a business owner, need to take this extremely seriously. Your site needs to give customers all the information about the business that they could want or need; it needs to be able to efficiently sell your product via a marketplace. It also needs to promote you and your brand.
That’s a lot of work, so if your website is breaking under the weight of old code, or if it doesn’t exist at all, that needs to be fixed. Inefficient coding can wreak havoc across your page. Educate yourself, or contact a web design company who can help build your site, or give you feedback on a site you’ve built. Your business might live or die on the quality of your page, so knock it out of the park. Ensure that it matches your brand and all design is consistent with your physical product and brand. But remember, while being flashy is good, please make sure that your website can be run on all sorts of devices, it’s likely that the majority of your visitors will be using a mobile device to access your site – consider them in your design.
What about promoting your brand, though? Your brand is going to be consistent and ready to enter the world at this point, so it’s time to push it through.
Ideally, you need to be using social media as a free promotional tool. Make sure your design across your website, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook is consistent and use them to the best of your ability to get your message and products out there and seen. Not only can you use social media sites for basic promotional messages, but you can also be very experimental with your promotional material. Viral content isn’t something that can be easily crafted, but social media is the perfect platform for it. What you must remember to do is share interesting, compelling and enjoyable information. If your business has something to say, people will follow you. It’s a long-term process, but there’s not a better time to start than right now.
Remember that there’s a thin line between promoting your message to your followers and spamming them. Social media presents an ever-present conversation held in the public domain – this isn’t for you to constantly abuse and lay the hard sell on. It’s for you to get involved and get your message out there.
It’s not just about what the internet can do for you, though! The physical world can manifest your brand in many forms. Your packaging could reflect your brand, for instance. Make everything work for you! Bu what about getting out and about? Have you thought about networking events, parties or even a conference?
Speaking to real people about your brand is a great way to not only find new customers but to network with potential affiliates and collaborators. Getting your name out there and working with new people is an amazing method of organically marketing your brand. You aren’t doing anything unnatural here.
You might even want to host your event! If your office is smart, spacious and funky enough, you could do well hosting it on your property, but if you want to be adventurous, there are plenty of spaces out there which will be suitable for an event. Make sure you connect well with your target audience and make sure your branding is recognisable and try to make sure the event has a purpose other than just being an event. If you’re there to market, sell your products! If you’re there to connect, shake some hands and meet new people!
Marketing and promotion don’t need to be a hassle, ideally – it should be fun. Ideally, this should all be fun, but we all know that isn’t true for most of it. It’s hard work, running a start-up and you should be doing it for the right reasons.
If you are, it could be the best thing you’ve ever done, but if you aren’t, then you might have issues in the long-term. Just remember to plan, get your products out there, and you’ll succeed. None of this should be a strain or a hassle!
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