So you've started a new business. Now what?

By Micah Slavens on Aug. 11, 2016

Congratulations–you’ve started a new venture! You’re embarking on an exciting and rewarding journey filled with twists and turns. You’ve got something great to offer and there’s a market waiting for you.

…What now?

To turn your dream into reality, you need customers. It takes two to tango. But in this hyper-competitive world, you have to cut through a lot of noise to reach your audience.

In the early phases of building your business, the questions are endless. How do I get the word out? What do I need first? Who should help? How much should I spend? All the uncertainty can be daunting, but simple solutions do exist.

We’ve worked with a lot (and I mean a lot) of new businesses over the years. They’ve ranged from new stores to tech ventures to non-profits, and have been in a variety of sectors across North America and around the world. Over time, we’ve discovered the perfect mix of marketing efforts to get new ventures noticed.

4 Basic Building Blocks for Building a Marketing Foundation

By getting a few critical things right, you can set yourself up for long term success. You don’t have to spend a fortune in the beginning. Instead, invest in efforts with high return.

The four essentials for successfully launching and marketing your new venture are:

  • Visual Identity
  • Web Presence
  • Print Collateral
  • Digital Marketing

Why start with these four efforts? Because these key pillars will allow new customers to find you, see proof that you’re legitimate and start engaging with you. 

Visual Identity

Lucile with notes

What’s a visual identity? At its simplest, it’s a logo—something that visually represents your business. A strong visual identity goes a little further by laying out the rules of your visual style. This includes fonts, illustration style, photography and colour. When a skilled designer constructs your visual identity, you’ll look more professional and more memorable. 

Clarification: Branding or Brand Identity is often confused with a logo or visual identity. Branding is actually much bigger than just a logo. A well-crafted brand includes everything from the look of your venture, to the way you write, to the way you do business. It takes time and money to build an established brand, which is why we suggest new ventures begin with visual identity and grow from there.

Rookie mistakes: Not getting the scope right. New businesses often don’t know how much to spend at the beginning. Make sure not to spend too much as you’re figuring out exactly who you are, but spend enough to do it right.

Web Presence

wco responsiveWhat’s a web presence? This one seems simple, but there’s more to consider than you may think. It all starts with a website for your new venture. This is the home-base online for your business or organization. The site should be mobile friendly (responsive) and follow web standards. In early phases, keep it as simple and clear as possible. Avoid gimmicks.

Once you have your own website, consider where your audience already spends time online. If your customers are likely to be on Facebook or LinkedIn, make sure you have a strong presence on those social channels.

Rookie mistakes: Not talking to a real expert. There are so many tools out there that let you DIY your way to a web presence. Be careful! The ability to get something online isn’t the hard part—the trick is knowing what you should put up in the first place.

Print Collateral

Mr. Derk Business CardWhat’s print collateral? It’s all printed pieces that represent your business.

The first, critical piece is a business card. Even in this digital age, a great business card can leave a lasting first impression. From there, (depending on your business) you may need something physical to leave with a customer to stay top of mind. The most common is a simple brochure or folder. Done well, these can impact your likelihood of making a sale.

Rookie mistakes: Doing too much too soon. Far too often, new businesses invest in large amounts of expensive print collateral too early, just to see it sit on shelves. Start simple by printing smaller runs digitally to test how they work. Make sure to tie things in to your online efforts so that your marketing is more measurable.

Digital Marketing

digital marketing

What is digital marketing? It’s all the paid initiatives you take online to boost your awareness and web presence. These efforts include search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), paid social advertising and remarketing (or retargeting).

These days, there are a plethora of options available for digital marketing. Costs and effectiveness vary, so having an expert on your side is a must.

Rookie mistakes: Pulling the plug too soon. It takes time to fine-tune your digital marketing. The good news is that digital marketing is highly measurable and testable, so with the right partner and some patience, the return can be significant.

Don’t be afraid to ask…

If you’re starting a new business, make sure you ask for help. There’s a lot to learn, but many have gone before you. If you’ve got specific questions about branding or digital strategy, send us a message—we’d love to help.

Micah Slavens

Principal

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