Opening a business is just the beginning. Entrepreneurs need to let people know their business exists and is worth their hard-earned dollars, so marketing is necessary for survival.
The problem is marketing is an art, and not every business owner is skilled at telling stories. While the internet makes reaching out to customers easier than before, it also makes poor messaging easier to see. Therefore, entrepreneurs need to develop brand consistency, know their audience and network in order to attract customers and maintain a professional image.
“Just changing the way that you’re communicating your story can really dictate how far that story is going to go,” Mike Pirtle, founder of brand consultant Enthrall LLC, said.
Be consistent in your branding
There are many parts of marketing in 2019, with business cards, radio and TV spots, pamphlets and social media only being the tip of the iceberg. Ellis Woolridge, founder of Woolridge Impact Marketing Group, advises small business owners to not “spread themselves too wide and too thin” otherwise marketing materials from the same company might begin to look different, as if each piece belongs to a different business.
“You’ve got to plan your time that you put into each of your marketing efforts, so you don’t let any particular piece go away,” Woolridge said.
A consistent logo can fix inconsistency in marketing by creating a unified visual theme among all marketing material. Woolridge said graphic designers are available for any budget, so entrepreneurs should find one in their price range and hire them. Once the designer creates a logo, business owners should place it on anything involving their company from business cards to social media.
Know your audience
Knowing one’s audience might be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. As fun as it would be for a business owner to think everyone in the world wants what they are selling, in reality products and services are more popular among some demographics than others, so entrepreneurs have to focus marketing efforts on who is more likely to become a customer.
“You can’t sell everything to everybody,” Woolridge said.
To learn who their audience is, business owners should examine who enjoys related products and services. For example, Pirtle said someone selling hair products could see who is reading Cosmopolitan magazine in their area, advertise in the magazine and possibly see if they could be a guest blogger for the publication.
“If you know that you’re targeting a certain circle of people, where is that circle of people spending their time?” Pirtle said. “That’s where your brand needs to be.”
One of the most important tools in a business owner’s belt is face-to-face marketing through networking. Woolridge said selling your product at conventions or joining organizations such as Indy Black Chamber of Commerce can help entrepreneurs inform influential members of the business community who they are and what they sell.
Lashell Daniels, founder of Everything Underground Network Marketing Firm, suggested those new to networking keep thing simple. Whenever she networks, Daniels opens with “Hello, my name is Lashell Daniels. What do you do?” The greeting is simple and allows the entrepreneurs to focus the conversation on what aspect of their business applies to the other party. For example, if Daniels asks that question and the other person answers that they are a musician, Daniels would talk about her history representing musicians. It’s important for an entrepreneur to identify what parts of their business would be of interest to different kinds of people while networking.
“You can’t just go and support one group of people that you identify with,” Daniels said. “You need to challenge your comfort zone and network with different people because it’s not about making friends. It’s about sharing your business.”
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.