Most of the businesses I consult for turn over more than a million pounds a year, so they’ve got the basics sorted. But I also help start-up companies and self-employed people, through my one-day marketing workshops. They often have the business idea and a company name, but not much else. Here’s my suggestions for what a new start-up should look at first, before embarking on any tangible marketing programmes:
- Create a logo. A logo gives your company a visual identity and should be used on all your branded collateral: website, stationery, business cards, flyers, etc. It doesn’t have to cost the earth. I know a great designer who charges around £150. Or if you have an idea of what you want already, you could design your own for free using LogoMaker or LogoYes.
- Get a website. That sounds basic these days, but there are lots of local businesses without one. Personally, I don’t take a company seriously unless it has a website, which can’t be an unusual response? Even if you don’t sell through it, it can give you credence and demonstrate that you are a real company, with a physical address, and can be contacted in case of any problems. It will give your buyers confidence. The best option is to have it professionally designed. And you can get a customised WordPress website, from a theme, that you can then add to and change yourself. I charge from £600 for a WordPress site, but for many start-ups, even this is a big expense. If this is the case for you too, then you can create a free website from places like Moonfruit and Google Sites.
- Get a matching email address. You’ll be surprised how many small companies have a non-specific email account from Googlemail, or AOL or Hotmail . It just doesn’t look as professional as an account that matches your website URL. If you have a website, you can use the same address for your email. I go to a fair number of networking events and often come across companies that have a website, but they aren’t using the matching email address for their businesss. So they’re www.WHATEVERplumbing.co.uk but their email is email@example.com That’s bizarre. If they’ve bought the web domain, at least they should spend some time configuring the email so that it matches.
- Add your company to the main directories. First and foremost, add your business to Google Places. But also add it to the 25 or so other main directories (contact me if you want the list of them – I only charge a tenner for it!) And don’t forget local directories – by town or county – and directories that are specific to your industry. It can take a good day to add yourself to 30 directories, but if you do a little every day, the task isn’t so onerous.
- Sort out your basic business stationery. You may not need headed paper; if you have a laser printer, you can just print this out from your PC. But you will want business cards. Get your designer to create you some, or if budget is tight, Moo.com are great for good-looking cards at an affordable price.
I started Kerrmunications 7 years ago with no budget. I designed my own logo at LogoYes (it cost about £65 back then), printed business cards for next to nothing through Vistaprint, and was fortunate enough to have learned enough at an internet consultancy I once worked for to be able to code my own website.
Things have progressed a whole lot since then, and the resources available mean you can sort out the marketing basics for a business really easily.
As for your next marketing steps, well, you’ll just have to come on my Marketing in One Day course to learn even more!