Marketing doesn’t always require a big budget. In fact, some of your most important decisions can cost a lot less than you might think.
The key to effective, long-term, small-business branding (and that includes the writer and the artist) is baby steps. As Jules Bass writes and Kris Kringle states in the classic Christmas song from 1970, “put one foot in front of the other.” Consistent action, even if they are baby steps, will get you to your destination — provided you have a simple and effective marketing plan.
Branding is delivering a consistent message and image in multiple platforms. In other words, the message and the image on your business cards, website, postcards, and social media pages should connect to each other. And the simplest way to do that on a budget is to invest in a quality logo and then use that image on all your marketing materials.
Here are three baby step branding decisions to help you update your marketing image.
1) Lead with the logo.
In the early days you won’t have money for half of your best ideas — leaving you with a series of choices. Do I need a logo? Is a customized website necessary at this point? Can I afford a full page ad in the local newspaper and is that the best decision?
Here’s the quick answer: get a quality logo and then use it on all your marketing materials. If you use a generic website or a template to create your brochures in order to save money, you can at least add your logo. You’re going for consistency in your image. You don’t have time for a junky logo, unless you’re selling trash.
2) Leave a calling card behind.
Life is hectic and I can barely remember everything I’m responsible for without a list. Your people need something to remind them that they saw you.
Instead of tagging the bathroom wall (remember high school?) — you leave your business card, brochure or postcard behind. And yes, put your logo on those items and your picture. Real estate agents do it. Why not you?
3) Enlist a custom header for your blog website.
You don’t need big money for a fancy blog or website design. You need a website strategy and you can develop that on any budget. In fact, on every budget content matters, but so does image.
You need an image that looks and feels like you and a custom header is just about the easiest way to move your blog away from that generic look that often comes with using templates. If you don’t have the money for a custom website, then the right template can be a great start. Plus, you can customize it a little at a time — beginning with the header.
Baby Step Branding Homework
Ultimately, all branding begins with how you think, so get your marketing mind on track.
- Have a marketing brainstorm session with yourself by walking through the mall. Pay attention to your favorite stores. What gets your attention? Notice the images in the windows, on their print items, in their emails and on their websites.
- Start looking at logos, business cards, websites and blog designs that you like. Keep copies of each in a marketing ideas folder on your computer or in your file cabinet.
When it’s time to design, you will have examples to inspire you and to inform your branding team (designer for your logo, header, website, etc) of what you are looking for.
Above all, make sure you understand, respect and adore the image that you put out — or it doesn’t need to represent you.