When your business first launches, it’s important to build a good foundation for growth. You need to make your business visible, start attracting a first round of customers, and start creating a reputation that will carry your brand forward -- hopefully for many years. Unfortunately, new business owners face a number of unique marketing challenges that their more-established counterparts have long forgotten about.
- Limited resources: Most new businesses have little working capital and few team members. Spending that money on marketing or hiring a marketing expert is demanding for most early-stage businesses.
- Limited knowledge: Even if you have an expert on your team, you have no brand history, which means you have limited information on how certain messages might play with your demographics.
- Greater risk: You aren’t as established, so one bad message can completely blow your reputation. Plus, if your marketing campaign fails, you’ll be out a proportionally larger sum of money.
With all these challenges in mind, it’s no wonder why some new business owners avoid marketing altogether. But marketing isn’t a superfluous investment -- it’s a necessary one if you want your business to grow. Instead of opting for marketing or no marketing, think about the specific strategies you can adopt to minimize your risk, compensate for your lack of experience and knowledge and attract customers while still remaining affordable.
These five important marketing strategies usually get the job done.
Branding comes first, no matter what your business is or what other marketing strategies you choose to pursue. Branding is your differentiating brand identity. It sets you apart from the competition and gives your customers something familiar and consistent to start building a relationship with.
The trick is that your brand needs to convey some emotion or some idea in a concise, visual and interactive way and do so consistently across all your messaging channels. Executing this is difficult but important -- because if your branding is inconsistent or poorly thought-out, the rest of your marketing initiatives might fail before they even begin. Spend some time developing an ideal brand for your business.
2. Content marketing
Content marketing is the next foundational pillar almost every business needs. You need a business blog and other forms of content that communicate your expertise to your audience -- and attract new people to your brand. It shows people what they’re getting by working with you, increases brand trust and positively influences purchasing decisions.
Beyond that, it serves a role as fuel for search engine optomization, social media, email marketing and dozens of other marketing campaigns. In case that hasn’t yet convinced you, understand that there’s no minimum budget for content -- you can get started even if cash is tight.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
The vast majority of people find their news, information and potential purchases through search engines alone. Getting your business to rank for those searches is a near necessity in the modern world. Paid advertising can get you there quick, but organic ranking can get you there for a long time. And if you’re doing content marketing anyway, it won’t take much extra effort. If national SEO seems too competitive or too intensive for you, local SEO is always an easier, more affordable option.
4. Social-media marketing
Social media marketing isn’t a magic formula that will earn you thousands of customers or millions of dollars, but it offers a few unique advantages that make it a necessary staple for new businesses. It’s easy. It’s free (mostly). It can enhance other marketing strategies. And it can grow really fast if you support it properly.
To get started, syndicate your cache of content and start reaching out to people individually. The more you engage with your community, and the more unique content you push, the wider your audience will grow.
5. Email marketing
Despite email marketing being passed over as a relic by entrepreneurs chasing the next great technology, email marketing is still highly effective -- and cost efficient to boot. Using your content as fuel to give users something of value and tying in some kind of social media integration, email marketing can serve as a type of glue to hold your other strategies together.
It also gives you recurring opportunities to reach out to an interested, dedicated lead pool, giving you compounding returns as your number of subscribers grows. As long as your offers are valuable, this strategy will eventually pay off.
Every business is unique and will have distinct marketing needs, but for the most part, these marketing strategies can work for anyone. They’re foundational building blocks for even bigger and better campaigns and can be effective on almost any level of budget. If you’re just starting out, start small with a moderate targeted investment and only scale up as you feel more comfortable and acquire more capital to invest.
By: Anna Johansson Contributor, Freelance writer
January 7, 2016