Many small business owners see their grand opening as the culmination of a lifelong dream of owning their own business. Indeed, it’s an important milestone, but it’s really just the beginning of a journey to build a brand that can attract and keep customers coming in the door.
Marketing is essential to the success of any business. It’s the way to tell people what products and services you offer, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to tell your business’s story and convey why someone should choose to buy from you rather than a competitor.
Start with a plan
Just as you likely used a business plan to get your company off the ground, you’ll need a marketing plan to guide you in promoting your business. A marketing plan should include an analysis of your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It should also define your target audiences with as much detail as possible.
With this information, you can begin devising the strategies and tactics that will best answer the challenges and opportunities your business is likely to encounter. The scale of your plan will depend on the scope of your business and the resources you have available, but you should include a wide range of activities, from advertising and printed materials to events and social media. It’s also a good idea to build metrics into your plan, so you can assess how your ideas perform and make adjustments over time. Also remember to include a timeline to hold yourself accountable for executing the plan.
Whether your business is brand new or you’re new to the idea of purposefully marketing your business, it’s important to know how you want people to perceive your brand and your company. Some of that information may be spelled out in your business plan, but for the purposes of marketing, it may be necessary to take it a step or two further to really tell your brand’s story. What do you want people to know? How should they feel when they interact with your company? Is there a reason your offering is superior to the alternatives? Ensure your marketing materials answer these types of questions clearly and concisely.
Make materials meaningful
For many small businesses, printed materials are the first impression customers and prospects have of your business. Printed materials can be any number of items, including direct mailers, business cards, newsletters, flyers, banners, posters and more.
Having professional, well-designed print items sends an important message about your business and your commitment to quality. Regardless of the format, all marketing materials should reflect your brand story. That is, the visual and linguistic ways you convey your brand.
Nearly all small business owners (90 percent) use printed materials in some aspect of their business, according to a survey conducted by The UPS Store. While marketing is the most common purpose, overall, small business owners use printed materials for a variety of other reasons such as internal documents, client documents and billing. Even those more functional pieces should consistently reflect your brand, the same as your external marketing materials.
Small business owners are often short on time and resources, but relying on a partner for print services can make things easier. For example, The UPS Store offers online ordering for print products and launched a "Print on Demand" program that enables customers to receive on-demand delivery service for everything printed from business cards and presentations to flyers and brochures. The print delivery service is the first of its kind and is available at more than 900 locations across the country. Learn more at upsstoreprint.com.