Where to begin?! It can feel overwhelming when the time comes to start marketing your small business. Everyone who has ever launched a business, product or service has been there.
One of the main concerns clients of mine have had in the past is what to do first. And it’s a valid question! Because as handy as it would be, starting a business doesn’t come with a built-in marketing roadmap. And while “just start somewhere” can be useful from a productivity point of view, unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
For example, you need a company name, branding and logo to create a website. And creating your brand without knowing your target market and how to position yourself within that market will make your life (and marketing) a lot more difficult down the road.
But fear not. I’m here with a 7-step to-do list to help you start marketing your small business. So if you’re starting from scratch, with absolutely no idea what to do first, keep reading!
As you go through each of the following steps, you’ll see how one underpins another, and how in turn they create a solid foundation for your marketing. Pull one out and try to place it earlier in the list and you’ll start to see why following this process gives your business the best possible chance at success from the start!
Step One – What are your Brand Values?
In order to fully understand what your marketing strategy is going to look like, ask yourself: Why do you do what you do? What’s your reason for existence? This helps you to be clear on your own brand values. It’s what underpins your entire business.
So take some time, before you so much as look at Instagram, and outline the key values of your business. These will look different for every brand, but they don’t have to be anything fancy or complicated.
For example, if you sell reusable straws, a clear value for your company will be sustainability. But you might also value innovative design and creativity, finding ways to make sustainable products appealing, even to people who aren’t already invested in eco-friendly brands.
Therefore, in every product you design and every marketing campaign you launch, you will approach every step with sustainability and creativity in mind.
Step Two – Identify your Target Market and Position
Step 2a) Your Target Market
Before you do anything else, it is crucial to identify your target market. Because who you’re selling to will inform every other marketing decision you make.
It can be really tempting to jump in headfirst with the branding when you start marketing your small business. But before you start picking out fonts and logos, ask yourself – who is my target demographic?
Having identified your own brand values, you can begin to think about your ideal customers. What matters to them? What are their priorities? Are there other brands, products or services that they are interested in? What values do they share with you?
Also ask yourself if there is any geographical restriction on your business, or if you can work globally online. Is your product designed for a certain age range? All of these questions will help you figure out to who you are going to start marketing your small business.
Step 2b) Your Position in the Market
Using your shared values to identify a target customer means you can also identify your USP. What makes you different from the competition? What sets you apart? How do your competitors position themselves in the market?
This step allows you to create a unique position for yourself in the market. Knowing where you sit in comparison to your competitors is extremely useful, and will certainly impact the decisions you make next.
For more tips on defining your marketing strategy, check out this post.
Step Three – Branding and Logo Design
Now comes the time to start designing! This is the step that many people attempt first, but by having steps one and two under your belt, you’re much better equipped to get it right.
Keep your target market in mind when creating your branding. There are lots of handy platforms (like Canva) available to help you design a logo, but if this isn’t your area of expertise, consult a professional.
A graphic designer can help you bring together all of the elements that will become your recognisable branding. This includes a logo, fonts, colours and even post templates. They will help you define a brand design that reflects your values and sets your business apart from your competition.
They can also help you find the right style to appeal to your target customer. For example, if you’re marketing a luxury product, your marketing materials will have to reflect that to catch the eye of your chosen customer.
Once you have your branding solidified, you can finally move on to building a website! Designing your website from the start using your unique branding, influenced by your brand values and positioning, is a huge plus. From the moment your ideal customer visits your site for the first time, they’ll feel understood and at home!
Need a little help in creating a strong brand? I have lots of advice over here in this post!
Step Four – Choosing your Online Platforms
Narrowing down what platforms to be on can be a minefield. From choosing the right website platform in the first place to identifying which social media channels are right for you, it’s a lot to consider.
Here is where having spent time earlier identifying your target market comes in handy again. Because while liking the platform yourself is a plus, the most important thing is that your customers are hanging out there.
Sure, you might not be Facebook’s biggest fan. But if you are running a B2C business and the majority of your customers are women aged 50+, the reality is, Facebook is where you’ll be most likely to find them.
So before you rush to set up everything from LinkedIn to TikTok, spend some time on each of these channels and check out their overall demographics. Not just age and gender, but what industries are popular on each of them. When you start marketing your small business online, you’ll be off to a much stronger start if you do your homework here!
If you’re still struggling with which marketing channels to choose, have a look at this post for my top tips.
Step Five – Identifying Offline Opportunities
These days it’s easy to get caught up in the online side of marketing. Anyone with an internet connection and a phone can start to talk about their business online, after all! But don’t be quick to discount more traditional, offline methods of marketing too.
If your business serves a particular local community, flyers can still be a great way of getting noticed. From coffee shop notice boards to libraries and leisure centres, there are plenty of places you can position yourself to get in front of people! And now that you have your website built and social media platforms set up, you can include those web addresses and user names. Catching the eye in person and driving them to connect online!
Even more crucially, offline events like local business networking groups are a great way of building connections and spreading the word about your business. So before you lock yourself away in front of your computer, take the time to research what’s out there.
Networking events can also lead to opportunities like public speaking, which is a great confidence booster. Having the chance to talk to people about your passion can really show off your skills and expertise!
Step Six – Creating your Content
This is a major stumbling block for many business owners. They create their logo, choose their marketing channels and then they freeze! Because setting up the Facebook page is the easy part. Working out what to say is where the overwhelm often sets in.
When you start marketing your small business, it’s important to come up with a solid content plan. Knowing in advance what you’re going to post and when is a game-changer. I’ve written several posts on this in the past, covering a range of content types. I’ve collected them together here, so be sure to have a read for inspiration!
- Engaging Content: Why good marketing focuses on more than just your products & services
- Content Marketing Ideas – A Brainstorming Tool for Small Businesses
- 4 Types of Social Media Content You Should Focus on
- How to Create a Social Media Content Plan for Your Small Business
- 7 Reasons to Get a Blog for Your Small Business Marketing
- Small Business Email Marketing: The Alternative Guide
Step Seven – Establishing a Goal
All of the previous steps will go to waste without this step – so don’t rush to the end and miss it!
When launching your business, you have to have a defined end goal. What is it you want people to do? Are you looking for them to purchase a product? Fill out an enquiry form? Or make a reservation? Whatever it is, you have to define it and make it clear.
I have an entire post dedicated to the importance of your customer flow. Setting a clear call-to-action in everything you do, and arranging your website and social media content in a way that makes it easy for customers to follow, is crucial!
So before you launch, take the time to ensure your content and platforms reflect your end goal. Otherwise, the results you’re looking for will be much harder to come by.
It’s time to put yourself out there!
After following all of these steps, this can sometimes be the hardest thing to do! Putting yourself out there – launching your website, posting on social media for the first time or attending your first networking event can be scary!
It’s easy to procrastinate, even once you know what you have to do to start marketing your small business. The truth, however, is that you never know what exciting moments might be just around the corner. You can’t edit a blank page, as they say!
So now that you’re armed with this roadmap, it’s time to get to work and then get your business out there. You’ve got this!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it
How to Choose the Right Marketing Channels for Your Small Business
How to Identify a Target Market for Your Small Business
A Checklist for Your Successful Marketing Campaign Launch