“When it comes to marketing, what do I actually NEED to launch my business?”
I get some variation of this question a lot. There is a stereotype, I believe, around how a “start up” should look. The picture includes a fast-talking hot shot forgoing sun and sleep to take a prototype public before seed investors start knocking down the door for a payout.
No judgment here. I used to subscribe to this too until I found myself at the proverbial crossroads of going out on my own or being absorbed back into the corporate fold. Like ripping off a Band Aid, I set up a business bank account and transferred as much as I could spare from my personal savings. I gave myself 3 months and $5K to make Front & Center work or it would be back to the job boards with me.
I share my story because I find the majority of our clients come to us from similar walks. Whether it’s daring to turn side hustle into a full-time venture or finally taking a leap of faith on a dream, these bold entrepreneurs are often bankrolling their own business baby.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T! With that said, when it comes to launching a business on your own (and on a budget), these are the three things I recommend you start with on the branding and marketing front.
Tagline, slogans, elevator pitch, core services/offerings and introduction/mission.
As the daughter of an English teacher, I dig words. For the entrepreneur, I find starting with the black and white of words brings direction, focus and intention to forming what will become your business. Putting pen to paper on who you are, what you do, who you serve and the why behind your work not only drives the direction of every marketing initiative to come, but also clears the path you are about to walk as an entrepreneur.
In black and white, you have to know who you are as a business before you can hope to convey it to anyone else, and this exercise is integral to creating that strong sense of self.
Logo, marks, colors, font-palette and brand guidelines
Once your messaging is complete, now it is time to create a visual to represent your business. I find this phase is when the business becomes “real” for my clients as they start to see words and graphics come together into a cohesive, authentic brand. When I say Hatch Tribe you see a triangle with a bold font and signature purple. When I say Frothy Beard, you picture sweet Finn on a brew-filled adventure. Investing the time and resources in your brand from the beginning will help you make your strongest, lasting first impression.
This is also an ideal point for getting business cards printed. I am a big fan of Moo.com as it marries designspiration with quality printing and the convenience of online ordering.
Website and select social media channels
This is the rabbit hole down which mental widgets and money fall ever-so quickly. Here’s the reality, when someone wants to learn more about you and your business, they will likely start on Google. That’s just the way of it. However, having a solid digital presence does not have to mean signing over your first born. Start with a polished, professional landing page on a clean, branded domain with one or two social media channels. No need to boil the ocean here.
Remember that ah-mazing messaging and brand guide we just tackled? They will make establishing your digital presence infinitely easier as you already have the content and graphics done for your website and social media channels.
Keep it simple with the essentials for your website – you can always build out more bells and whistles as you grow. If you want to add some more flair, consider doing a photoshoot for your business – I find having professional lifestyle photos really makes the leap from good to great on a website.
If you take one thing away from this post, I hope it is this: you do not have to burn your dollar bills all at once to get the good word out on your new business!
Yes, marketing your business is critical, but pace yourself, speed racer. Take some time to get to know your business and your ideal clients. Give yourself permission to tinker, test and tweak. After all, friends, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you are interested in learning more about Front & Center’s kickstarter package covering these launch essentials, let’s chat.