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When you're first starting out as an entrepreneurs there is one trait shared by each and every businessperson on that path – budget. A budget dictates how your business will be run on the beginning, what promotions you will have, where your business will be located and in some cases what kind of products you will have. So without deep pockets, how exactly should you go about trying to create your business brand? Possibly the most important thing about your business is the image it reflects to the public. Your business brand brings customers through the doors, online and off, and creates the almighty buzz. To get some ideas for fitting branding methods on a budget we asked some entrepreneurs for their insight.
Be nice to people and know your stuff
The best and easiest way to build your business with no budget is be nice to people and know your stuff. All those little things (the “One Percenters” if you listen to the modern marketing jargon) such as showing up on time and wiping your feet before you enter their house can make the difference between you and the other guy that is worried about breaking even instead of building a business. I have been working for a large well known national bedding company for about three years now – they approached me from a referral and about six months ago, I asked about my future with them. The reply – “We will keep referring you because every time we speak to one of our customers, they said you were nice to them and you knew what you were doing”. Three years of my business being promoted for the total cost of ZERO.
Thanks to Darryl van Rooy, Sunbury Carpet Cleaning
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The key is consistency
When it comes to branding on a budget the key is CONSISTENCY. You also must have a professional image and this doesn't have to cost a bomb. Seek out a designer within your allocated budget and ensure your logo and corporate identity are classic and professional. It is tempting to go with the latest trend but keeping a classic look will stand the test of time. Ensure you have a mini style guide, this is a guide for correct use of your logo, corporate colours, font and typeface. Whenever you commission any type of marketing, for example; signage, brochures and website, this style guide will ensure your brand remains consistent. Small businesses often use different designers to keep costs down, this is a recipe for disaster as it often means different designers have free reign on your brand. A style guide will keep everyone in check – including business owners and internal marketers! Finally, always remember that your website is the face of your business. Investing in a professional website is the smartest way to showcases your brand. An allocated budget for online advertising will get enough traffic for most small businesses on a budget. The last step is to ensure you are capturing the lead.. but that's another article!
Thanks to Leigh Heywood, Face Advertising
Be your own brand
I never raised money so I have had to run operations on a tight budget from day one. So I had no choice but to be the brand. Since my mobile apps help people plan and start their businesses, I am very active in helping people in my local and tech community in New York plan and start their own businesses. Online and in person to person settings, I am getting to be thought of as the person who helps other entrepreneurs and is willing to spend time and effort helping them. So that is a way I have been able to extend the brand of my business. Wherever I am, I talk about starting companies, and help others brainstorm theirs.
Thanks to Alex Genadinik, Problemio
Heavily utilize social media
The biggest method to brand your business, especially when on a budget, is to heavily utilize social media. For my start-up company Hype Up Your Day, we focused heavily on social media and we blew up to over 6,000 followers and a reach of 100,000 people worldwide in under a year. You just have to carefully allocate your resources to give you the most competitive edge when you are branding on a budget!
Thanks to Nihar Suthar, Hype Up Your Day
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The most effective and inexpensive way to spread a brand message always has been, and always will be, word-of-mouth. In this age of social media, people constantly post about brands and the key is to find the platform where your target is most active. As a workout supplement and nutraceuticals company, our customers take great pride in appearance, so naturally, we focus on Instagram, the platform of pictures. Our sponsored athletes have different followings and they push brand messages to Instagram followers in a way that appeals to their particular followers. Speaking to people how they want to be spoken to is advice that I received a long time ago and social media allows businesses to do just that. If a mother posts a Facebook status complaining about a problem that your business has the answer to, don't hesitate to offer condolence and a solution. The mother might not immediately, or ever, become your customer, but she knows you're listening, knows you understand her, and most importantly, knows your company name and service. When the mother's friend posts about a similar issue, because of her positive social media experience, she will be able to speak about your company to someone in her circle.
Thanks to Arvin Lal, Beyond Genetics Supplements
Email marketing and a lot more
So you've started a business or at least you have an idea for a business but you're not quite sure how to get off the ground? Depending on your budget, you have two options, #1, you hire a company like RETRO Media who can do it for you from building your website to creating a logo, developing your social media, videos, or #2, you do it yourself. If you have any creative bone in your body then the latter might be your option. Some business owners think they can do it all on their own and some may have those capabilities, but if you're really serious about building your brand and company, it's important to allocate a certain amount of funds to really develop it the right way. There are a few economical options you can look into. First, is creating your logo. Think about the colors, symbols or letters you want to represent your company. Some designers will design a logo for less than $300 or throw it in for free if you can negotiate a package deal which may also include customized social media backgrounds and cover photos. Second, is your website, the face of your company. You want to design something that is easy to navigate and the more simple the website is, the less it will cost. Always drive traffic to your website so that potential clients can get a feel of what your business is all about. Also include a blog that will help brand and market your company. You can use wordpress or tumblr, which are both free. Creating a blog can also be an option if you have no funds for a website and want to have an online presence. WordPress templates have a multitude of options that look like real websites. Third, is social media which is all free but takes a lot of time to develop. You can either hire someone to help you with postings and generating new followers and fans or take the time each day to do it yourself. Create posts that are meaningful to your business and that target your customers. Include your logo and cover photo on both Twitter and Facebook, and if your company is heavy into photos then also sign up for Pinterest and Instagram. These are all free options and can do a world of good to help brand your company. Fourth, is email marketing. Sign up for either constant contact or icontact to create an email marketing campaign. Design the newsletter so that it aligns with the design of your brand, website and logo. Include a call to action and allow folks to click on icons that will lead them back to your website or to your social media networks. You can create contests and giveaways to generate more leads. Last, is video, yes, a very powerful way of branding your company. People are very visual but have short attention spans. Keep it short, no more than two minutes. This is an incredible way to help brand your company but be sure to choose the right person to represent your brand. If you have a camera or even iPad you can create your own short videos and edit them in iMovie. However, the best option would be to hire someone who has the experience in making a quality video or even someone who is looking for more experience and would create the video for free or for a small fee in order to build their portfolio.
Thanks to Natalie Maniscalco, RETRO Media nyc
Identifying how much time and money you have first
Social media has made it possible for the smallest businesses to create the biggest brands. However, most business owners still face the limitations of time and financial resources. Building your brand on a budget can be achieved by first identifying how much time and money you have to dedicate to your brand. Next, you need to figure out where your target market is receiving their information. This is will be the primary place that you want to place your efforts. Finally, you need to have a system to measure your effectiveness. With limited resources, you can't afford to continue throwing messages on your wall and wonder if they are sticking. Consider using source code to track the effectiveness of promotions or Google analytics to see where your web traffic is originating. Most importantly, remember that people want to connect with your brand. Ensure that whatever strategy you chose to implement, has some components of conversation or dialogue. Don't just talk at your customers, find creative ways to engage them in conversation.
Thanks to LaKesha S. Womack, Womack Consulting Group
Be more creative and aggressive
Organizations on a tight budget may feel disadvantaged, but it could also be viewed as an opportunity for more freedom and creativity. Instead of having the resources to be able to spend and blanket media platforms with very vanilla messaging, these organizations have the opportunity to be much more aggressive and creative with their message. With the virality of today's technologies, just a simple – but extremely creative – YouTube video, billboard, online ad, etc. can catch on and spread like wildfire, extending the lifetime and reach of the campaign well beyond the hard dollars invested.
Thanks to Harry Long, 81 Shop, LLC
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Educate, engage and entertain
In order to brand your business you must first connect with your audience. Connection with your target audience is a MUST. In order to connect you must first date them.wine and dine them.you may have to provide something for nothing..but ensure it is done very strategically. In order to have a connected audience you must 1st provide content that will keep them coming back for more. Content can be created through the 3 E's..Educate, Engage and Entertain. If you utilize social media you can effectively use the 3 E's in a variety of ways. *Educate your audience includes giving them relevant information that they can digest and use. Questions such as “Did you know” will spark interest. *Engaging means asking 2 way questions that allow you to get to know your audience. Questions such as “What's for dinner?, What are your weekend plans and Who wins the Super Bowl?” Are ways to get a conversation that will lead to relationship. *Entertaining means having fun, motivating or inspiring your audience. Use motivational or inspirational quotes, funny pictures or videos. Branding is essential to any long term, successful business. It can only be done by connecting with your audience in a manner that keeps them hungry for more of what you offer.
Thanks to Rhonda L. Nails, Project P.U.S.H, Inc.