The Three Must-Have Marketing Pieces
You've designed your logo. Now you need to create some great marketing pieces to promote your business. But what pieces to create? There are so many options available that it can be difficult to decide which pieces will be the strongest and best way to publicize your business. No matter what that business is, we recommend these pieces as a first step toward marketing it.
1. Business card
Making a great first impression often begins with your business card. Your business card is typically the first of your marketing materials that a new client will see. It should clearly tell your client who you are and what you do at first glance.
A business card is a convenient way to introduce yourself at networking events, and it's key to passing your contact information along when you meet someone.
Important elements to include when designing your business card include:
1. Your contact information, including your business mailing address. Including a mailing address greatly increases your credibility and makes you look much more established! If you're concerned about privacy, a Post Office box or mailbox is a great way to go.
2. Your logo, as discussed in many of the other articles in our library.
Combining these elements will result in a business card that does more than just pass along your contact information - it will also build your brand.
The best practices for using your business card include:
1. First of all, be sure that you carry your cards with you at all times - keep a stack in your desk, your car, your briefcase or purse, and your wallet. This will ensure that you always have a card available when you meet someone who should have one!
2. Take your business cards with you to business meetings, networking events, conferences, trade shows - everywhere you go that's business related. And be sure to take some with you to the gym, the grocery store - you never know where you'll meet a potential client.
3. Don't pass business cards out at random - wait until you've made a connection with someone or until you've been asked for it. Making a connection with a prospect will lead to a sale far more often than just "dealing cards" to everyone you meet.
4. Include a copy of your card with correspondence or packages - it automatically puts a "business spin" on all of the mail you send out. It also provides a backup return address, in case the envelope has been damaged or thrown away.
5. Give copies of your cards to business partners and other possible sources of referral and business partners, so that they can hand them out when they're telling people about your services - it makes the referral more likely to produce results.
Having an online presence is a "must" if you want to be taken seriously in today's business world. A website is also a great marketing tool that can help you to find, educate, and prequalify prospects and to cut down the time and energy involved in your sales cycle.
Important characteristics to consider when designing your website include:
1. Design elements that are related to your logo and brand identity. The shapes of elements on your website and the color scheme should be evocative of your brand identity. We refer to these as your visual vocabulary.
2. Consistent, easy-to-use navigation systems that enable your website visitors to find the information they need quickly.
3. Making the site and navigation expandable - easy to add on to, so that your website can grow with your business.
4. Preparing the images properly for the web, to make them clear and quick-loading.
5. Clean, easy-to-understand text content. Pretend you're writing on a 10-year-old's level when you create your text, so that rushed clients can read and comprehend your message quickly.
6. Coding the site using style sheets and templates so that updating, revising, and expanding your site is as easy as possible.
7. Cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility, so that everyone will be able to access your site, regardless of the type of computer they use.
8. A basic level of search engine optimization. ALT tags, title tags, keyword-rich text coded in HTML, headlines, and META tags. These will help to ensure that your site gets great rankings in the search engines, so that people visiting Google and Yahoo can find your site.
9. Easy-to-maintain, which will enable you or a web developer to keep your site current with a minimum of effort.
10. A website promotion plan. Once your website is designed, coded, and posted, it is important to market the site. There are many ways to do that - ranging from exchanging links with other sites, to in-depth Search Engine Optimization, to including your web address in your email signature, to article writing.
3. Follow-up piece
A follow-up tool such as a post card, HTML newsletter, or note card is essential to make sure that your services stay "top-of-mind" with the people that you meet. It's said that a prospect needs to hear from you seven times before they will make a purchase. So it's important to create tools and a system to enable you to followup with your prospects once you've made that initial connection.
Steps to planning your follow-up method and system:
1. Determine how your customers prefer to receive information from you. Communicating with them in the method of their choice makes them more receptive to your messages and more likely to buy from you. Consider whether your ideal clients are "computer people" or whether they'd be more likely to respond to postal mail.
2. Then, consider which media you're most comfortable using to follow up. Do you have the technical skills to produce an HTML newsletter or the budget to hire a specialist? And do you have the time to create articles about your area of expertise? Do you have the time to apply addresses and postage to post cards? Or do you prefer giving the personalized touch of a note card, and can you keep up with the time commitment of following up in that way? Knowing your level of comfort and commitment, and understanding the time required, will ensure that you can keep up with your follow-up program.
3. If the previous two considerations are in conflict, find a way to make them congruous. For example, if you have the skills to produce an HTML newsletter and your clients are "computer people", but you don't have the time to write articles, you can explore online article banks that offer free articles for you to include in your newsletter, such as the one at http://www.ideamarketers.com . If you don't have time to address and apply postage to post cards, find a high school student who will do it for you at a reasonable rate. Be creative!
4. Once you've determined the method of communication to use for your follow-up piece, create a plan for how often you will followup. For example, if you're doing a post card or handwritten note, quarterly contacts might be enough. If you're using an online newsletter, monthly or bimonthly issues are probably best to really capture a client's attention - your clients probably get a lot of email, and it takes regular contact to stand out from the crowd.
5. Creating your follow-up tools. Finally, once you have planned your follow-up system, it's time to move on to the design and content of your tool: the postcard, newsletter, or note card.
Be sure that your follow-up tool:
1. Looks professional and uses elements of your visual vocabulary, to reinforce your brand identity.
2. Contains content that is both valuable and accessible to your audience. Be sure to give good, quality information in your newsletter or post card, so that people will look forward to receiving it. And write the newsletter with language on your prospect's level - don't use technical jargon if you can avoid it, and if you can't, define the technical terms so that your audience can stay "on the same page" with you.
3. Includes a call to action on non-personalized items like the post card and newsletter, and/or an offer such as a discount or special article. These can also be helpful in handwritten follow-up - giving the people that you're contacting a reason to get back in touch with you.
4. Has some personalized information. A handwritten note card is personalized by default. If you're using a post card or newsletter as your follow-up tool, you can personalize it by using stories from your life, news on your hobbies, or updates on what you're doing, to make your newsletter more endearing to your potential clients.
5. Offers your potential clients a way to get on and off of your mailing list easily - you don't want to be sending mail or email that's unwanted.
6. Is sent out regularly. In addition to letting prospects know when to expect the follow-up, following-up regularly will also show that you do things professionally and in a timely manner.
These three tools - your business card, website, and follow-up tool - are the essentials for marketing a small business. Using these marketing pieces in the ways described above will "get you started off on the right foot" in your marketing efforts.
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