Marketing, Networking, Brand and Branding are essential and mutually dependent things.
The most important thing about starting a business is that you define your business brand and message, your product or service, and your target customer.
How will you be a solution? How will you stand out? How will people know about you?
These are some fundamental questions you MUST answer:
- What do you do?
- Who do you serve?
- Why would someone want to do business with you?
- How you are going to let people know about you?
- Who is your competition?
- Is your pricing realistic and competitive?
- Is your product or service marketable and bank-able?
Don’t romanticize this. Do your research and homework, especially in the local area where you are going to be doing business. Google your industry keywords: training, flowers, bakery, auto repair, etc. See who is on the first page and what they are doing. Study their websites, marketing activities, and brand messages.
Most start-ups usually fall short because they don’t have a marketing plan and a sales strategy. In the dramatically competitive and challenging business environment, it is not enough to do something well; you must be a good communicator, seller, and marketer. That means knowing how and where to market, and developing a defined, clear sales message. The customer wants to know if you are credible, that you know what you are talking about, and that you can help them.
What is marketing? According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, marketing is “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” Other sources define it as “the discipline required to understand customers’ needs and the benefits they seek.”
What is a brand? It is a symbolic representation of what a company is and does.
Understanding the importance of marketing and having a unique, stand-out brand is an absolute must!
You will need to develop and have a marketing tool box that includes:
- A logo
- A slogan
- Business cards
- A website
- A Unique Selling Principle (USP) — why someone should do business with you
- A blog if others in your industry have one
- Clear and compelling marketing copy and materials
- Mobile 2.0 connectivity
- Social marketing platforms
- Traditional marketing platforms
- Professional affiliations
- Community affiliations
- A one-sentence brand statement
- One word that describes you
Don’t underestimate the power of a business card, a professional photo, a simple rack card … each one contributes to building your professional persona. Think relevant, current, fresh, now, BOLD, YOU!
Please do it right from the beginning. Take some classes. Invest in some consulting. Get referrals from your network of people’s work you admire. Create your own unique look and style.
One more important thought: YOU are the brand. Remember you are behind all the logos, the slogan, and the marketing copy. WE are still at the heart and soul of the company we start.
Think about all the key people who are, or were, their brands: Bill Gates/Microsoft, Steve Jobs/Apple, Mary Kay Ash/Mary Kay, Richard Branson/Virgin, Oprah Winfrey/Harpo, Coco Chanel/Chanel, Malcom Forbes/Forbes.
They all are, or were, the face, heart, and soul of their companies. They made sure you knew who they were, what they stood for, and what they wanted you to remember them for! You don’t need to be Oprah or Coco, but you do need to be you, out there being the bridge to your brand.
“Perception is reality”
It’s not so much about age. It’s more about attitude, persona, language, and culture, and how you stay in tune with and on top of today’s world.
When you use the platforms, play in the playgrounds, and speak the current language, no one cares how old you are.
There are four areas you can cultivate your relevance, where people focus more on you and what you bring, rather than how old you are.
Seriously, look at your personal and professional image. Invest in a style update and makeover, with regard to your hair, grooming, and clothes. Get some professional current pictures taken that flatter you. Put all of your accomplishments on your resume including, jobs, internships, committees, volunteerism resume. Create your professional ‘younger image’ by looking, acting, and speaking more professional and current. Bring your essence out in a fresher way. Build your communication skills and a bold persona. Join Toastmasters, volunteer to speak, teach a workshop, or take an acting class.
Make sure you do a serious evaluation of your personal, professional, technological, and social skills! Invest in some classes from your local adult education programs, or chambers and professional organizations. Check out the Women’s Business Center or Small Business Development Centers in your county. Get up to date on how people communicate, where they are gathering on and offline.
People watch and observe how we do things. How we operate says a lot about us. How do you operate? Are you in the game or on the sidelines? How do you tell your story? LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, blogging?
It’s NOT negotiable anymore to say I’m not using any social platform if you’re networking online and/or searching for a job or career. You must have a LinkedIn profile and you must start using your Facebook account more! The benefits of using social platforms are far reaching. Ask a friend or get some coaching. Make the time. It’s an investment. You do realize that people are checking you out by “Googling” you right? If you are not linking yourself to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube you are not going to be considered a player. You don’t have to be on everything, but you do need to be on one or two. They all work together to put you out there, make you available and accessible, and give you a much broader reach to make the important connections that just may lead to your next big job, sale, break, or lead!
This information was provided to you by MBA Highway. We hope you have found it useful to launching your own venture.