Starting a business is exciting! You're finally going to do what you love and be your own boss. But in the excitement and the hastiness that often goes with it, many entrepreneurs neglect some key marketing tactics right out of the gate. Here are some tips to consider as you launch your new business:
1. Research and take time selecting your business name
Your name is probably going to live with your business for as long as your business exists. So although you may have a name that you find really catchy, take a moment to do a little research. Search the name or term in search engines like Google and Bing and see what comes up. You may find that the name is already taken by another business or organization. You may find that the search results are not something that you want people to come across if they're searching for your business. Also, it's wise to ensure availability of the domain name. For example, if your considering the name "Joe's Landscaping" and you know you'll want to have a website at some point (see point 3 below), then see if JoesLandscaping.com is available. If that domain name is unavailable, you should consider adjusting your business name; perhaps "Joe's Landscape Design" or "Landscaping by Joe" is available.
2. Develop a consistent brand identity
Nothing makes your business look more amateur and less professional than having no brand or inconsistent brand use. It's worth the small expense to hire a marketing professional or graphic designer or at least a family member or friend who can help create a logo and select a color scheme and type fonts that you will use consistently. The look and feel of your business card, signage, letterhead, menu, vehicle, website - whatever - should all be the same. This makes your business look professional and helps people identify your business and remember it.
3. Get a website up and running immediately
You’re wondering where to get customers or clients for your new business to be a success, but your prospects are looking for you online. These days, the Internet is the first place most people go when looking for a particular product or service. Businesses in today’s economy need a web presence to promote themselves and attract customers. If you have some computer skills, you can find easy-to-use website builders online that are pretty low cost (Yola, Wix, Weebly). If you break out in hives thinking about this, consider hiring someone to help. If you do some research you can find a marketing expert who can understand your needs and develop a professional website for you at a reasonable cost of anywhere from $500 - $2500 depending on the complexity of your site. If web visitors aren't finding you, there's a good chance you'll have trouble finding or maintaining a strong customer base to ensure your business succeeds long-term.
4. Engage in social media
Hundreds of millions of people (yes millions) use social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Failing to include your business in these networks is a missed opportunity to find and engage potential customers or clients. Do some research to determine which social media network is the right fit for your business. For example, if your business provides products or services to the general public, Facebook or Twitter might be a perfect fit to reach a mass audience. If your business provides products or services to other businesses, maybe LinkedIn is a way for you to connect to potential clients or business partners. Once you add your business to these social networks - engage your audience! Don't let your account sit there idly - what's the point of that? And on the other hand, don't drown your fans or followers with status update overkill. If they see your business trying to sell itself constantly, you'll lose them. Find the right balance and have a fun conversation with those in your network.
5. Get your business listed in as many places as possible
While there is not as much of a need to list your business in the Yellow Pages these days, there is definitely value in listing with search engine's local places and business listings. This will help prospects find you more easily. Some of the big ones to consider are: Google Places, Yahoo Local and HotFrog. It only takes about 5 - 10 minutes to add your information and even photos if you like. It's free, fast and easy...what's not to like about that!