Branding for Entrepreneurs

by | Jan 15, 2010 | 1 comment

The other day at a meeting I heard Michael Bell from The Modern Brand talk about what to do when your small business revenues are down and business is slow. His pitch was to existing company owners and entrepreneurs, many of whom are hurting financially right now. While listening to his advice for marketing in hard times, I thought his ideas where excellent for start-ups – those entrepreneurs who have yet to escape cubicle insanity. So I have taken his six points and reworded them for those of you looking to break free of cubicle insanity and go it alone. In other words, branding for entrepreneurs.

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons / jkirkhart35[/featured-image]

1. Think about your business goals. Define them and write them down. A good thing to do when starting, but as we grow we need to continually rethink and recalibrate. Most businesses –no ,  most people—- do NOT have written goals even though we have been told that those who have written goals do more, succeed more, and make more. Yes, even when the stats show only 3% of the population has written goals – so with this easy step you could set yourself apart from the crowd .

If you already have your goals written down, congrats! If not – do it! Note that most entrepreneurs and businesses I council do not have any written goals. Shame on them.

2. Make concrete offers in your marketing. As an entrepreneur with a start-up,  you cannot be thinking of ads that are just there to brand you – like the NIKE branding campaign of “Just do it”. You need instead to think of a specific offer so that your marketing dollars can be tracked to real results. For instance, a Facebook ad for an ebook should be trackable so you can measure the effectiveness of that particular ad. I have recently pulled some magazine ads for this very reason – I could not track results. The editors tried the old tried-and-true trick of reminding me about exposure you get from magazines – but I happen to think that getting a solid return on investment works best for me. When you are starting, this is critical. Make your offers concrete and track them.

3. Make sure you are making the RIGHT offer. In others words, find out what matters to your customer and then deliver it to them. Appeal to the 6 basic human want-tos:

  • Want to be happier
  • Want to be smarter
  • Want to be richer
  • Want to be healthier
  • Want to be attractive
  • Want to be safer

Remember that people do not buy features – they buy benefits. How does your product or service benefit them? How does it make them feel? How does if fill their “want-to” needs?

4. Find bargains. When people quit advertising, those in the advertising business get really flexible. You can get some real bargains right now if you are a start-up. But this can be true when business is hot. Advertisers often will work deals for start-ups, hoping if they can get their business early and prove themselves as bringing in the business, they will have a loyal customer later. Remember, everything is always negotiable! Do not be afraid to ask for some discount – ever.

5. Market to existing customers. While this is a little harder for a start-up with NO customers, you should think about the people who got you into the business. Who has been asking for your help? Who have you served on a volunteer basis? Reach out to them and their friends. After all, they know what you can deliver. Just get with them and offer them some tangible benefits beyond what you did for free.

6. Use social media. I am sure Michael was thinking to himself – you big dummies – you should do this ANYWAY. Social media is hot – and while not all your customers will be plugged in, you can get a long way by doing just social media. Brian Cauble, one of our IEM alumni, has touted to me the glories social media has won for him. Brian knows social media is NOT a toy, but a serious business tool. So look at your market and then play with tools like Linkedin, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. Test things and see what works.  After all, they are almost free. (I say “almost” because they do take time and effort)

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Dale Callahan

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1 Comment

  1. Joe

    Great article, and i finally put my feet out into the world of social media. I am loving it, i should have started earlier.

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