Four important steps that you can use to develop your Marketing

One of the most important topics of getting your business started is marketing.  At its most basic level, marketing means attracting attention to what you sell. If they don’t know what you’re selling, customers can’t buy it. Marketing educates prospective customers about what your business does and how it serves a need they have. It also creates a lasting image of your business that stays in their minds after the transaction is over. By doing so, marketing builds your brand. 

This is the eighth in a series of columns that provide several helpful business topics for the new small business.  It is based on one of SCORE’s recent projects that was developed with the help of and in partnership with FedEx.  This project is called “Startup Roadmap” and outlines every step in starting a business.  A SCORE mentor may use this program to help you reach your goal smoothly.

In this column I will share four important steps that you can use to develop your marketing for your business.

Step 1: Revisit Your Marketing Plan

Starting with the basics of what you are selling, for how much and to whom will help you develop an effective marketing plan. Go back to your business plan’s marketing section and gather this information:

  • Products & Services: A clear definition of the products and services you are selling. What are they and what benefits do they provide to customers? You must know the value of what you’re selling to craft effective marketing messages. 
  • Target Market: A definition of who you are selling to (that is, who are your target customers?) Knowing who you want to reach will help you determine where and how to market your business. 
  • Pricing Strategy: How will you price your product or service? Is it a bargain item or a luxury product? Your product pricing drives your marketing strategy.

You should be able to succinctly convey all three of these terms to your SCORE mentor. Talk to him or her to fine-tune and clarify these items.

Step 2: Implement Your Business Identity or Brand

Your business’s brand identifies your business to the world. A strong brand adds value to your business and attracts customers to your door.  Here are some key tasks:

  • Create a Logo.  Your company logo will be the foundation of all of your visual branding efforts, from your employee uniforms to your store signage and product packaging, so it’s important to make sure it truly represents your company.
  • Trademark Your Logo and Any Other Marks.   Once your logo is completed, the next step is to protect it with a trademark. This is important because your logo will become one of your most valuable assets.
  • Once you have your trademark:
    • Declare it. Once your trademark is approved, add the ® symbol to your logo. 
    • Use it. Your logo is the basis of your brand identity. Use it everywhere you can — at the end of your email signature, on your invoices, on your menu, on your shopping bags and, of course, on your business cards. Any communication with customers or prospects should have your logo on it.
    • Renew it. To keep your federal trademark registration in place, you must regularly file renewals with the USPTO proving that you’re still actively using the trademark. 

Step 3: Build Your Online Presence

Every business needs a website for credibility and for marketing. Think of your website as the “home base” for your online presence. All of your marketing and advertising activities, such as social media, online advertising, and email marketing, should direct customers to your website, where they’ll get the full picture of your business. 

A business website makes your startup look professional. If prospects look for your business online and it doesn’t have a website, they may assume the business is not very sophisticated or hasn’t been around long enough to trust. 

Finally, a website is something you control, unlike a social media page, where you have to follow the social media platform’s rules. You can put whatever you want on your website. 

Step 4: Set Up Social Media Accounts for Your Business

Social media is an important marketing tool for every business. It can help you stay in touch with your target customers, drive traffic to your website and generate leads. 

Social media also offers a two-way street for communicating with your customers. By listening to what they have to say and responding, you can learn what they like and dislike, which can help improve your business. 

For a startup, social media is a great tool to build awareness and generate excitement before your business launches. Until your website is up and running, you can use social media as your primary online presence. 

With your branding and pricing strategies in place, business website and social media accounts set up, you’re almost ready to open for business. 

In my next column, I will discuss how to develop your sales strategy and distribution channels.

About the Author(s)

Dean Swanson

Dean is a Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE Chapter Chair, District Director, and Regional Vice President for the North West Region, and has developed and managed many businesses. The Rochester Post Bulletin publishes his weekly article on a topic geared toward the small business community. The articles here are printed in their entirety.

Certified SCORE Mentor for the Southeast Minnesota Chapter

Key Topics

Marketing Your Business