Accountant chosen? Check.
Business bank account set up? Check.
Business plan ready to go? Check.
Looks like you’re off to a flying start with your new business. Now it’s time to put those plans into action and get down to some serious small business marketing tactics.
Around 80 new businesses are set up every hour in the UK, and a staggering 99% of those are SMEs (read the Government statistics). That’s a lot of competition, so let’s make sure yours stands out…
Step 1: Let’s start with your name
Choosing a business, product or service name is harder now than ever before.
With so many businesses starting up, competition for the best names is heating up. This is particularly true when it comes to securing matching domain names, which is incredibly important for brand consistency and ensuring your customers can find you.
There are three main types of names that most businesses use:
- Descriptive: e.g Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut
- Associative: e.g. Mint, Bold
- Abstract: e.g Sony, Kodak
Knowing exactly what you want to communicate to your audience is the key to choosing which type of name you want to go for, and ultimately the name you settle on.
The criteria for a good name are:
- It should be easy to say, read and write. Avoid quirky spelling errors where possible, which can make it difficult for your customers to find you.
- It should be as unique and relevant as possible. If your name is too similar to another established brand you are likely to inadvertently to push more traffic their way. If it has no relevance to your product or service you can confuse your clients and cause distrust.
- It should be short, punchy and memorable. You want your brand name to roll off the tongue and stick in the minds of your customers. A name that’s five words long will drop out of their memories like a stone.
- It should ideally evoke an emotion, feeling or idea among your customers. This is tricky to achieve, but if you manage it you’ll have a truly winning brand on your hands.
Our advice? Don’t attempt to name your business all on your own. Working in a bubble rarely generates the best solution, particularly with creative tasks. Ever been to a business naming workshop? These are run by branding professionals (like us) and can really help get those creative business-naming juices flowing.
Step 2: Define what makes you different
Have you noticed that every Tom, Dick and Harry (sorry Tom!) seems to be setting up a business these days? Well you are none of these people. You are here to disrupt your industry and do something nobody else has done before.
But nobody knows that yet.
Every business needs a crystal Clear Sales Message (aka: value proposition) to ensure customers and clients know exactly what you do, how you do it differently to everyone else and, importantly, why they should choose you. If more customers understand what you do and what it means for them, the more likely they are to buy from you.
Creating a clear and unique sales message and branding strategy can help ensure your business and brand communicate clearly to existing and future customers. Getting this right from the beginning can help craft and convey your brand personality, who you are, what you do and why you’re different, all while ensuring your messaging targets the intended audience.
Step 3: Build your brand
Now you have the basis for your brand mapped out, it’s time to bring it to life. The best place to start is a logo, which will be based on the cracking business name you created in step one.
Your logo is the first thing your customers see when they come into contact with your business, and the last thing they remember afterwards, so you’ll want to make sure that memory is a good one.
A professionally designed logo will act as the key identifier for your business and create familiarity and trust among your customer base, all while remaining a consistent point of reference across the entire customer journey.
This consistency is crucial to successful small business branding, and your logo is only the beginning. Your overall brand identity is so much more than just your logo. It extends into the fonts you use, your colour schemes, graphics and even the type of language you use.
And remember, people DO judge books by their covers.
Your customers will make a decision on whether or not they want to engage with your company based on your branding. Your branding is an investment, and it translates directly into the quality of your product or service, in your customers’ eyes, so it’s got to look the part.
By hiring a professional. Creating a brand from scratch is tough enough, but it’s even tougher on your own. Working with a professional branding agency is essential, affordable and well worth the money.
Step 4: Get the basics right
This is the fun part.
Seeing your slick new branding applied onto all the essential items of business stationery is when the whole thing starts to look and feel very real. But these basics need to be ready to go before you start shining a spotlight onto your business with wider marketing.
Start with designing your business cards. Seriously, business cards. These are still incredibly powerful marketing tools even in this digital age, and they help create a professional first impression.
Then, depending on your business and what you do, you can move on to applying your branding across other important touch points such as:
- Email signatures
- Social media accounts
Remember, consistency is key. Make sure your branding is recognisable across each and every point of contact.
Step 5: Tell the world
Now you’re finally ready to start shouting.
No point in developing a game-changing product or service if you’re not going to tell people about it. Besides, sitting and hoping for people to stumble across your business isn’t going to make you any money.
It’s time to get cracking on these:
- Your website: you won’t go far without a solid online presence where customers can land and find out more about your company, make purchases and get in touch.
- Your presentation decks: yes, the design of your business pitches is just as important as your other touch points, or you risk losing your professional image in front of clients.
- Social media marketing: devise a strategy for social media to spread the word about your business to a very specific target audience, and to build a rapport with your customers.
- Content: start a business blog and build a content marketing strategy to begin positioning your business as an authority in your field, and to help answer any questions your customers might have.
- Advertising: if relevant to your business, you should consider various forms of traditional advertising to further raise brand awareness.
Following these five initial steps in this order will see you and your new business on the way to success, but only if you do them properly.
We’ve heard so many business owners say they can’t afford to hire professionals, and this results in them opting for cheaper alternatives and, ultimately, ending up with some very amateur branding.
At (hug) we understand the pain points of small businesses – heck, we’re a small business ourselves. Our SME packages are perfect for starting you on this journey for a price you can get on board with.
We’re experts in big business branding for small business budgets. Visit our business startup page for all the info on our branding and marketing communications services, or get in touch if you’ve got questions for the team.