Starting a new business
Promotion – the basics
Setting up in business takes some planning to get all the pieces in place and get trading. If you’ve done all the leg work, have spoken to an accountant about your business structure and your tax position, have got the right product at the right price and are set up to start trading, then it’s time to start promoting your business.
You may feel overwhelmed by the number of possibilities both on and off line, not to mention how much money you could spend. For many small businesses the costs of promotion need to be kept down, especially when you are just starting out. So if you have just set up in business whether you are a carpenter, plumber other tradesperson or delivering a service like hairdressing or accountancy, then there are two basic promotional tools you will need to help you find customers and help your customers find you.
Your promotional starting points are a business card and a website. Your business card will support your networking and presentations to new customers and your website will back up your sales pitch and give your business credibility as well as more information on your products and services.
Your business name
For both of them you will need to settle on name for your business and a logo or brand mark. This is personal to you, but ideally your business name should either tell your customers what you do, for example, ‘Brilliant Bathrooms’, who you are ‘Bill Sykes, Plumber’ or evoke an emotion or image that your customers will remember and associate with you, for example, ‘Spa Luxury’. Get some help from a good marketing consultant if you feel a bit stumped, they LOVE to advise on names and branding!
Getting a logo drawn up has never been cheaper or easier. There are many, many graphic designers who can help you and often for a very reasonable price. Take a look at the Hourlies offered on People Per Hour, or find a freelancer on elance.com. You might find that your logo costs you £50 rather than the £500 you thought it might.
When you commission it, think about how you are going to use it and build these details into your brief to the designer. There’s a big difference between a logo that’s right for your business card with one that’s also right for your shop front. You need to think about colours too especially if you are going to be running receipts and invoices off on a black and white printer!
It's absolutely essential that you have business cards with your contact details on. Be aware that no everyone has perfect vision, so avoid pale grey print, or reversed out type. Make sure your cards are clear, easy to read, say who you are, what your business is about and shout out how easy it is to get in touch with you.
If you have social media presences you may want to include them too. You could also include a QR code so that people can scan and get straight to your website. A QR Code is a personal barcode, they are square and can be scanned by smart phones to link you to web addresses and other locations.
You will need to have a domain and sometimes hosting in place to put up a website. Doing this is easy and cheap, see 123-reg.com or other sites to check for your dream domain name. Websites don’t have to be expensive. In fact they can be free, if you look at Wix.com you’ll see that building something really smart can cost you nothing.
Domain and hosing packages often include simple website building software too. If you want something bespoke or are looking to really hit hard in the Google ratings, you will need someone to build something for you. Go and get some quotes from web designers and developers on People per Hour or Freelance.com.
Building a website is an activity that should always be 80% planning and 20% building – so it’s really up to you to work out what you want from your website, how someone moves around it and what you put on each page. The best way to work out likes and dislikes is to go through other people’s websites and make lists!
Ultimately, your business will sink or swim on your ability to promote yourself, so it really pays to get good tools for promotion at the outset and your website is the ultimate promotional tool.