You've started your business. You have your clients. It's not uncommon for business owners to start without a plan to brand themselves, and that's okay! Since you've settled in, it's time to invest in some of the areas you neglected starting up, but where to start?
Now that you're ready to take the next step, there are a few musts. You might even already have a few of these things, but there's a huge difference between something you crafted in Word in 2004 and professionally designed materials. Here are five things you should think about creating or upgrading to put your business on the map.
1) A focused, well-designed website.
It's a new era. Businesses are now defined by their online presence. Many potential customers will Google you before they even walk in your door. Consider a website your first and best chance of making a sale. If your website looks outdated, under-developed, or lacking of basic functionality (such as a webform for customers to contact you), then your visitors just might decide to hire your competitor instead.
Don't worry, your website doesn't have to provide everything in the world if you don't want it to. If you don't feel comfortable with blogs or Twitter, don't feel obligated to include them. But you will need a few essentials, such as information about yourself, the services you provide, and how customers can get in contact with you.
2) Eye-catching business cards.
Ever get a business card that you knew was printed on a home inkjet and designed in PowerPoint? If you noticed, so can everybody else. Business cards are another one of those "first impression" marketing expenses you need to splurge on. A potential customer might not know you existed until you hand them a card, but the viability of hiring you can hinge on something as simple as font selection and color scheme. Scary, right?
We do it with friendships and dating all the time, but it's often overlooked in the small business world. The first impression is a lasting one, so make sure to do it right.
3) Professional letterhead.
Another overlooked marketing item, but one you can use on pretty much anything. From invoices to thank you letters, letterhead can provide a polished, established presence. What you put on your letterhead is up to you, but can include:
- Your company logo
- Your address
- Your tagline/motto
- A picture of a ferocious bear
4) Custom, branded envelopes.
You've got the pretty letterhead, but what are you going to put it in? When your customers are sorting through their junk mail, make sure your correspondence doesn't get trashed. Most people end up ordering basic white envelopes with their logo and address on them, but you're not most people right? If you can dream it, you can most likely do it, from full color designs to custom envelope sizes.
5) Some kind of marketing materials.
Let's say your potential client doesn't have web access, and doesn't trust your business card alone. You're going to need some sort of printed document that says what you do. A professionally designed marketing document can change a "maybe" to "when can I give you money?" Printed materials can really be anything you want, from brochures to one-pagers. The key is to look sharp and sound like you know your profession.
Most people will skim the content AT BEST, so bullet or bold the parts you definitely want potential customers to read. Pretty pictures on your materials might even sell your business better than words, so don't make any choices lightly.
The moral of this story is that first impressions are everything. If your company materials are limited, half done, or just downright incomplete, you may have already lost a sale. Do yourself a favor and spend the time and money it takes to get these five items correct.