Marketing is a dark arts to me, but essentially you need to make sure that your “brand” (effectively you and your business) are perceived in the market place correctly and appropriately with your goals and aims. A nice logo, fancy printed material or a flashy website are all well and good but it all needs to be consistent and give the complete picture. My tips are to keep it simple and low cost to start with , keep the message clear about what your business is about and follow this through to all channels (including LinkedIn profiling, Facebook, twitter). Don’t ignore the detail, if you change registered/trading offices then TELL People and make sure all your contact details are correct. If you change your logo – then make sure all material is updated, fresh and new. If you have email (essential these days), it is advisable to have business names incorporated into the email, rather than use personal emails. Take yourself seriously and others will too.
It is very hard to run a business single-handedly and at some point you will need assistance in order to complete that two-man job or that rush job that is due by Friday. It is essential that you employ people that you TRUST to be ambassadors for your company especially if they are customer-facing. Remember it’s your reputation on the line so be clear and honest with your sub-contractors or employees what standards you expect. If you are sub-contracting make sure you have clear agreements in place, especially covering client confidentiality or disclosure.
Once you have an established customer base you need to COMMUNICATE regularly with them. It is much easier to upsell to existing customers who know you and your service or product than to try to develop new clients. To establish trust and rapport with your customers and to ensure that they come back for more (and even better – tell others about how great you are!) you need to be in constant contact with them.
No matter what your business is, your contacts list is the most valuable asset to your business when you first start off. Even if you have an amazing product or an essential service to sell you need customers! Make sure you keep all your contacts in one place (smartphones are ideal!) this includes existing customers, potential leads and useful people to network with. Keep notes of all conversations and possible ideas or selling opportunities, and never leave direct enquiries hanging. Communication is the key, cold calling is hard, but sometimes necessary to get your business known.
This week I will share my top tips for settings up in business, a tip a day, a bit like a countdown to the New Year or my very own business advent calendar, check this space to reveal the next tip....
Author: Catherine Wainwright
Useful stuff to help small business owners be more effective.