For many people, starting a business is all-encompassing to their life — even just the part where they have to figure out how to commercialize and scale their craft to be profitable. So, to add in bookkeeping, vendor relationships and marketing, it can be overwhelming.
However, the importance of marketing/communications (MarCom) and public relations cannot be overstated. In order for anyone to know about your upstart, there has to be at least some marketing. Sure, more growth and aggressive marketing can come when you have more resources in the business, but as the song goes, “You can’t have one without the other.”
Words Matter — and the Look and Feel
Key, foundational components of marketing your new business are brand, messaging and website. In many ways your brand is your messaging: What are the value-adds you provide potential customers? What are the words you use often to describe those? Those are all part of branding, as are your logo, of course, and even the colors you use. Many companies have a color and graphics palette that a designer has drawn up to accompany their logo and to guide any future collateral designs. Generally, the promotional items you present to the public should seem like they fit together and are in the same “family.”
Your logo is central to your marketing and recognition. Unless you are gifted in graphic design, you should probably consult with a design or marketing firm to create your logo. However, you can observe other company logos, typefaces and even your environment for inspiration. You will have a big role in determining the look and feel of your brand.
More on Messaging
Without messaging, not only will the general public not know your specialty or values, anyone working for you may not be able to promptly sell a potential client on your service. You won’t draw people in to your website, either, without a concise message that doesn’t require a lot of clicking and research within your site. If you don’t succeed in stating how you can serve them — and better than the competition — how would they think you are better?
Messaging includes more than a mission statement (but that’s good, too) and talking points in case the media interviews you. (That may be off in the future, anyway.) It can be the first motto or sentence they see on your website and a deeper dive into your values, processes, founders and staff on the “About” page. You should also come up with and have any employees memorize an elevator pitch. This is how you would sum up your company if you only had a short elevator ride in which to do it. An example would be “We build custom fireplace covers to reflect styles and personalities because we also happen to love showing off our awesome ironworking skills.”
What Your Prospects See
The website will not only showcase the same look and feel of the logo and brand, but it can serve as a gatekeeper. Who, now, doesn’t go to a company’s website to check them out first — or at least their Facebook page (which can and should also contain branding elements)? And, if a company doesn’t have a website? Depending on the market you’re in, well, that can be a nonstarter right there. Further, what if the website has misspelled words or offers such vague information prospective buyers leave feeling like it’s all smoke and mirrors?
Aside from the more finite marketing needs mentioned above, they have to be delivered well philosophically.
A Word from the Business Experts
Entrepreneur.com advises startups to sell the benefit, not a comparison. They say you can do this with cost, quality or value (or a combination). Benefit shows how the customer’s life will be improved, which takes it a step further than just being a feature.
Another not so top-of-mind tip the article gives is to market your product before it’s ready. You should try to build up a demand, so you don’t have to start at zero once you go commercial. Once again, “sell the benefit before the product has arrived.”
Follow a few of these tips and “you will only come to this conclusion,” as Old Blue Eyes sang, that marketing and obtaining customers through PR “go together like a horse and carriage.”