How Entrepreneurs Can Create Attractive, Informative Marketing Material
As an entrepreneur, you hold hundreds of positions within your own company. While you’re starting out, you probably can’t afford to hire a whole marketing team. You might struggle to pay for logo design. Marketing done right though leads to more leads, more sales, and more earnings. While you may feel you need to do it all, your earnings statement will thank you if you have a pro complete the work. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire someone. Attend local business and entrepreneurial meetings to meet other business people just starting out. Get to know at least one publicist and one graphic artist, and work a trade.
Whether you are a plumber or a hairstylist, they probably need what you offer. Don’t, however, ask someone to do work for you without an even trade. You’ll earn a bad reputation. If it’s in the budget hire a pro. They are a small business, too, and we all do better when we support one another. Now, let’s talk about the marketing pieces you’ll need.
Business Cards, Logos, Letterhead
Many people don’t think of these basic business tools as marketing materials, but they rank as the most important. Everyone sees them. You hand people a business card when you meet for the first time. Any mail you send goes out on your company letterhead. Your logo functions as the backbone of both. Avoid the do-it-yourself desktop publishing route. These pieces must look as professional as possible. Have them printed on a hearty stock with an accent color if the logo warrants it, at a professional printer.
Flyers and Posters
Advertise locally using flyers and posters. Pass out flyers door-to-door and in parking lots. You can obtain a permit for this for a few bucks from your city government.
Design and print posters to advertise in your shop’s windows, in display cases around town, and to use as giveaways. You can subtly advertise to other businesses by creating posters to display in poster sessions at conferences, conventions, and meetings. There are many ways to utilize poster design in the Chicago area and in other locales. These meetings usually require attendance at a one-hour presentation session, but during the rest of the meeting your poster displays with an information card describing your business. It also includes your contact information. Most meetings allow you to display your business cards with the poster.
Social Media and Websites
Today, successful businesses require a well-designed, informative website and active social media presence. Your website needs a blog, too. Provide high quality educational content about your industry or service type on your blog. This isn’t a place for hard sell advertising. Your blog should educate people about the type of work you do, industry issues and cutting edge developments. Help people do things better with your content. If you’re not a writer, you can hire a publicist or freelance writer to create content for you. You may work a trade with a fellow startup to exchange services.
Your business should have an active social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Add Pinterest to that if you sell a product line or have catalog. Add YouTube to that if you work as an actor, actress, artist, comedian, musician, performance artist or have an interesting creation process. For instance, a bakery might create You Tube videos showing the creation process of bagels vs. donuts, or how it creates and decorates a wedding cake. Think of what others who don’t do what you do remark is cool about what you do. Make a video of that.
Social media isn’t the “Field of Dreams.” If you build it, it will just sit there with no followers unless you post, like others’ posts, make comments and follow other industry leaders. Social media requires daily work, but it can be fun. It only requires a few minutes each day to keep an active presence and build a following.
Direct Mail and E-Mail Marketing
Direct mail didn’t die, but it did transform. Think postcards, instead of letters. Keep your message short and meaningful. Use a breathtaking or memorable graphic on front. Hire or trade with a local photographer for this product. Offer a coupon on the text side. “Bring in this postcard for 20 percent off.” That gets you displayed on the fridge with the kids’ artwork until it’s used. That means you are on display for every visitor to the house, too. That helps your word of mouth marketing.
Once per week or month, email your list with informative content that also includes a small sales ad or discount. You can repurpose your blog content as your newsletter content. This gets more visitors to your website, too.
Entrepreneurs don’t need to spend a lot of money on marketing, but they do need to devote time and care to it. You can accomplish a lot for free or a small expense. The sooner you get started, the more you’ll earn from it.