I understand that, with this list, I may be shooting myself in the foot. After all, dispensing this advice is how I’m accustomed to making a living. However, I feel that underutilized knowledge is the same as lack of knowledge, and I can only help but so many people from nine to five. With that said, I would like to offer a brand strategy to the budget-impaired that will cost you little or nothing to set up. Use it for your business, your personal life, your bowling league, whatever – and feel free to leave your ideas.
- Consider consistent branding. Put plainly, make sure that the design of your web & print collateral carry the same theme. In the world of sales, it’s wise to expect ten touches with your target market before you can expect a sale; ten different times that your company is presented, either in print, radio, press, etc. Each time you use a piece that doesn’t offer a visual reminder of previous attempts, you are starting over. I’ve seen this often when businesses market on a tight budget, while they wonder why they have to stay on a tight budget.Changing photography is expected. Varying layouts are expected. But each piece should be consistent in color palette, typeface, and representation of your company’s name – in other words, your logo.
- Find your message. Creating an elevator speech seems simple, but when many entrepreneurs are tasked with summing up their business is 30 seconds, they end up stammering and stumbling and offering nothing memorable or unique. Avoid yourself a missed opportunity and develop your own. Start with figuring out what you do that your competitors don’t – do you offer an underserved market? Do you give quicker results? Is it convenience? Is it price? Figure out what makes you different and go from there. Customers won’t realize they need you unless that need is recognized and solved by you.
- Craft your message. Now that you have a clear offering, put it in words for your website, brochure, etc. If you’re not an experienced writer, don’t go it alone. There are far too many freelance writers starving for work – do you both a favor and get the job done right. You’ll see that working with a professional makes a difference.Make sure that your message is clear, simple and honest. I can’t stress this enough. If you say that you offer a friendly, high-class experience, deliver on that promise every single time, regardless of circumstances or budget. You never know who’s talking about you the next day.
- Broadcast your message. Submit articles (with the blessing of your handy copywriter) to local trade publications and websites. They are both typically hungry for new perspectives and content. I do advise, however, that if you want to go after regional and national exposure, it’s best to work with someone that knows how to get their attention. In other words, call me. Workshops are an underutilized resource, particularly if you have a lot of peers in complementary industries. If someone in your circle has suitable space, it costs you almost nothing. If you have pinpointed your niche from #2, you can easily offer a seminar that will draw your target market. Advertise it on social networking sites, trade websites, etc. It’s an easy way to gather potential customers and partner with colleagues in your industry that can pay in dividends many times over. I’m assuming that, by this point, you have an effective website. If not, stop this list now and get one. In other words, call me.
- Grow your brand. As your exposure and reputation grow, it’s time to take it to the next level. A couple things to consider are:
- Appearances on local talk shows, newspaper columns, local radio – which are always looking for expertise.
- Walking tradeshows. Not only will you run the risk of gaining a client, but you may also learn a few things about their industry that will help you serve them better.