Branding your small business requires a lot of specialized effort. Unfortunately, small-business owners must wear multiple hats and sometimes miss opportunities. Some promotional efforts don’t matter as much as others, but others can make or break how the outside world sees your company. Whenever you can, invest time and energy into big branding efforts, as well as some small ones.
According to the Small Business Administration, there are about 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. Each quarter, companies start and fail. For example, in one quarter, 240,000 new businesses started, but 215,000 closed. What if the ones that did not survive had taken advantage of more chances to get their names out in the community and reach just a few more customers?
While there is never a promise of success, you want to know you’re doing everything possible to ensure your business thrives instead of dies. Branding and marketing are vital parts of any operation. Here are five typical missed branding opportunities you may have overlooked and why and how to take advantage of them moving forward.
1. Build a Website
Many small businesses don’t worry about building an online presence, particularly if they are a locally based company such as a restaurant or service industry. In a survey of 351 small-business owners, researchers found only 64% have a website. That means nearly one-third of them do not have a basic online presence. However, you need to be online to reach people, as many start their searches for a local business on the web.
A website is an absolute must, even if it is just a free, single-page site offering your location and hours of operation. Your site should, of course, be consistent with the rest of your brand image. If you have social media pages, the logo, colors and even tone of voice should all match up to your website so users know who you are and what you stand for.
Takeaway: Get a website up and running, even if you just take out a free site on a platform such as WordPress for the time being. You can always expand on your site later. The key at first is to let people know you’re open and how to find you. As your business grows, you can add additional pages and your own domain name, and start working on search engine optimisation.
2. Invest in Signage
If people can’t find your store or they don’t know what you have to offer, they are much less likely to step foot in the door. Invest in indoor signs that guide customers to specific areas or sales. Outdoor signs can be placed in front of your store to draw in foot traffic or even along the highway or a busy road to entice customers to come in and check out what you have to offer. Signage comes in many shapes and forms, including static signs, digital signs or lighted signs.
Takeaway: You need signage that indicates where you are located, what is on sale and other special announcements. Signs are a fairly inexpensive investment, but they should all have a similar look and feel. You can even use floor signs in a busy mall to direct people to walk into your shop or wall signage to create an experiential experience for visitors.
3. Create Videos
In Demand Metric’s report on The State of Video Marketing in 2018, researchers found 83% of marketers surveyed felt video was only growing in importance. You’ve probably noticed more businesses using videos to inform their customers, engage their audiences and reach new leads. Videos are easy for the viewer to digest, present information quickly and are relatively inexpensive to produce. Adding them to your marketing efforts is well worth overcoming any slight learning curve.
Takeaway: At the very least, create a video to introduce your brand to new potential customers. Target it to your ideal audience. Videos can be uploaded to a platform like YouTube for added exposure and then embedded onto your website to help inform your visitors.
4. Team up With Influencers
You may have seen celebrities mention brands, such as when the now-defunct Fyre Festival turned the internet orange with celebrity endorsements. While the people behind the festival were charged with criminal citations due to their dishonesty and failure to provide what they promised, their branding efforts were nothing short of brilliant. It’s a good case study in how to spread the word.
You may not have the funds to hire supermodels, but you can still find influencers who have the same target audience as you’re trying to reach. Team up with them to get the word out about your brand. Develop a relationship and then talk to them about your budget and what ideas they have for helping you get your name out there.
Takeaway: Find the right influencers on social media to help you spread the word. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Some will even work with you in exchange for free products. Do pay attention to how engaged the influencers’ followers are and make sure you want to invest time and money into working with the person.
5. Create a Style Guide
Small businesses don’t always see the need for firm guidelines on what colors and styles should be used for their brand. However, presenting a consistent image allows people to get to know who you really are and keeps you fresh in their minds. A style guide keeps everyone on the same page, from your designers to your marketing team.
Your style guide should include, at a minimum, your brand colors, a logo and where and how to use them, as well as typography details for your website and social media pages. The more you look the same across different mediums, the easier your brand is to remember.
Takeaway: Spend the time now creating a style guide, so as your business grows, your look and tone remain consistent.
Learn to Say Yes
You’re extremely busy, and it might not be possible to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. However, anytime you can, then do so. You can even delegate a branding task to a well-trained and trusted employee. If you get invited to talk on a local radio show, take the opportunity to reach some new potential customers. If you get offered booth space at a local festival, send your well-trained employees to represent your business. Learn to say yes so you can get your brand out there and start making an impression on consumers.