“I just don’t know where to start…” Karen said.
Karen was a small business owner with whom I had the pleasure of working. She knew she needed to focus on marketing her business, but she was overwhelmed. Marketing wasn’t her strong suit, she ran a restaurant. She had excellent recipes and could cater a meal for hundreds, but the thought of posting on social media and advertising in the local newspaper left her feeling a little outside of her wheelhouse.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably felt that way before too. Most small business owners are known for their craft, whatever that might be. But marketing that craft, however, might be a different story.
Here are five tips I offered to Karen that I’ll share with you. These simple steps will lay the foundation for the rest of your marketing strategy.
#1 Use Professional Photos
Karen’s food was excellent, but the photos that represented her food were amateur to say the least. Whether you hire a photographer or use some fancy settings on your iPhone, make sure you’re using quality, professional photographs to represent your business and your products. Creating a folder of stock images for your business will make advertisements, social media posts and other content so much easier to create.
#2 Establish Branding Guidelines
I’m assuming you already have a logo for your business. If not, start there. But most business owners stop after a logo has been created. Don’t. Rather, create a branding guide (also called a style guide) which outlines your company’s colors, fonts and any logo variations that might be used in your marketing collateral. This is something you can provide to vendors who are developing materials for you, which will ensure consistency across your items.
#3 Use Pre-Designed Templates
If you haven’t started a Canva account, I strongly recommend it. Canva is a web-based service that allows you to create various graphics, from business cards to brochures and flyers and everything in between. I use it to create graphics for my social media posts. My favorite part is the ability to save your preferred fonts and colors, helping you execute step #2 as well.
#4 Decide Your Tone and Audience
This is an important, yet often overlooked, component of marketing. The tone you use will shape the content you create, from the copy on your website to the context of your social media posts. Do you want to create content that uses a casual language with your audience? For example, will your Facebook posts use the phrase “Hey guys!” or would you prefer something more formal, such as “Hello to our valued customers.” Sometimes this is a matter of personal preference. Other times, it can be determined by your industry. Healthcare facilities may prefer a more professional tone while local restaurants may opt for a more casual voice. While you can be somewhat more relaxed on social media than in printed materials and TV commercials, you’ll still want to establish the general tone that you’ll use to communicate with your audience, regardless of platform.
#5 Establish a Marketing Plan
Once you have taken the other four steps, the next step is to develop a marketing plan for your business. You’ve already established your branding guide, the tone you want to use for your business, and how you’ll create marketing materials using professional photography on Canva. Now you’ll want to review your business goals and determine how your marketing efforts will help you get there. Narrow your audience if necessary and determine the best path to reach your ideal customer. If you need help creating your plan, please reach out.