Marketing

Tell the world about your business

You may have the best idea in the world, but without marketing and promoting your business to your potential customers no one will know you exist.

Every business needs to market themselves to promote their products and services; gain new customers and retain existing ones to help grow your business. Here's our step by step guide on what to think about when starting to promote your business.

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Naming your business

First things first. You're going to want to choose a name for a business. You want something that reflects your business and provides people with an idea of what you do. If you don't have any ideas, then why not get some of your friends and family or even your potential customers involved and jot down some ideas. Once you have an idea, it's always sensible to check that your name hasn't already been taken, you don't want a legal dispute on your hands if someone else has the same name as you. Companies House has a search option on their website for you to check.

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Logo development

Your logo is the face of your business and is something that helps give people a positive first impression of your company.  A well-designed logo should appeal to your customers and tell them something about your business and it will be the starting point for all your design work, from signage and packaging to leaflets and your website.  

You may have friends with design skills or you may need to pick a design company to help you with this – either way your starting point is that you’ll need to do a bit of research and write a brief. Think about your customer and the sort of brands you think they like; look at the logos of other companies in your industry; explore colour options and styles that you like. Your logo will be with you throughout your business so it’s definitely worth investing in.

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Knowing your customer

Whatever your business, you’ll want to find out about your customers and the best way to do this is to keep a record of them. Keeping a customer database will be really helpful to you in the future both to help you keep in touch with them at key times for marketing but also in helping you to understand your customers a bit better to find more of them. This could be nothing more complicated than an excel spreadsheet but get into the habit of keeping details of your customers - get their details when they make an order or ask them if they want to sign up to the mailing list for special offers. And then get in touch when you have something new to say to them. 

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Encourage loyalty

Once your customer numbers start to grow and you've been collecting their information for your database, you can start to re-market to them.  It costs a lot more to find new customers than it does to keep an existing one so make sure you get your customers back time and time again. Think about getting in touch at particular times of year; send them incentives or special offers and even send them news of new products and services that you can offer. Make sure that your customers don't forget about you!

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Use your customers

People like to see what other people have said so use quotes from happy customers and shout about the positive feedback that you’ve had. Feature quotes on your website and even in your brochures and leaflets and if a customer tweets good things about you, make sure you thank them and retweet! 

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Advertising and promotion

The sky's the limit when it comes to advertising and promotion and the right approach for you will depend on the type of business you are setting up and who your target customers are. Advertising channels can also vary massively in budget but if you get it right and reach more customers then it is money worth spending. Advertising and promotion covers everything from Facebook and Google advertising; distributing leaflets in your target area; advertisements in magazines and papers right through to attending industry events. Before you go ahead it's best to plan ahead - think about your target audience and ask yourself who they are and what advertising channels will work best for them. Also think about buying habits, especially if you are selling a product that will appeal more at a particular time of year, and run advertising at times that work best for them.

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Social media

Everyone is using social media these days to promote themselves and social media platforms are a great way to engage with customers. This is especially true if you're on a tight budget, social media platforms are a great way to get your business out there. But don’t just jump in – have a think about which social media platform would be best for you (the ones that your customers are most likely to be using), have an advanced plan, and think about what you want to say and when you should be saying it. Don't think that you have to be on everything as you may find it difficult to update your channels if you have too many of them. Facebook and twitter are both great but if you have a business with visual products, then you may want to think about platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.

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Website

Nowadays, your website is the shop window to your company – whatever sort of business you have. A professional website does make all the difference but it doesn’t have to cost your whole start up business to get you started and with some digital skills you could look at using a platform such as wordpress to build your own website and there's lots of small web agencies in the local area that specialise in helping small businesses get started online.

Whether your business is selling online or offline, you’ll also want people to be able to find you online so it's worth spending the time looking into Search Engine Optimisation and Google Adwords.

Finally, don't forget to get yourself a Google Analytics account and link up your site so that you can find out more about who is visiting your site.