by Tracy Jensen | Featured Contributor
Whether you’re starting a web design firm or the sports store down the street, every business needs a marketing strategy because let’s face it: a great service or product is worthless if no one knows about it.
But with limited time and manpower, where do you start?
1. Set expectations – and be realistic.
Starting a new business, especially if you are a sole proprietor, is hard. First, there is the paperwork and logistics of starting the business itself. Second, you are taking the leap from providing a specific product or service and suddenly being required to understand the full scope of a running a business, including logistics, finances, marketing, communications and technical support.
Recognize that you have limited resources and set your expectations accordingly.
What will it take to set up your business, including both your physical workspace and all necessary paperwork?
How many clients do you expect to have within the first six months? The first year?
When do you expect to see a profit, and how much?
2a. Solidify your mission and vision statements.
For example, here is the mission statement for Disney:
“The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”
Their vision statement, or what they would like to achieve, is quite simple: “To make people happy.”
Your mission and vision are the overarching umbrella under which all of your goals fall. If you don’t understand what you are trying to achieve and what gap you are filling, your target market won’t either.
2b. Practice your elevator speech.
How would you explain your business to someone in 30 seconds? Take your mission and vision statements to craft an explanation of what your business does and who are you, succinctly.
Don’t just write it down – Practice it out loud. Make sure to pay attention to what comes out smoothly versus where you stumble: Do you get caught up because of the wording, or is it because you’re not sure about the scope of your business?
It is absolutely okay to tweak this over time as your business gains shape, so continue to update it. Your elevator speech should make you feel strong and confident. You’ll know when you know you have it right.
Why an elevator speech? You will use this blurb all of the time. Going to a networking event? Feeling confident about how to introduce yourself and your company makes it easier to meet new people and make meaningful connections. Adding your business to a directory? Ensure consistent brand messaging by using the same language each time.
Get in front of a white board, grab a journal or iPad, or find a quiet corner and write down all of the ways you could attract your target audience: Websites, directories, advertisements, events, inserts, partnerships, networking groups, etc.
4. Pick one thing and run with it.
Because you will be busiest providing the actual service of your business, make it easy to dedicate time to marketing. Pick one thing from that brainstorming list, the one that gets you most excited, and run with that. It does not have to be something easy, just something that is enough within your comfort zone that you don’t have to force yourself to tackle it.
In other words, set yourself up for small victories with tasks you enjoy. Once you are buoyed by those successes, you can add in more initiatives.
5. And of course – when you need it, enlist help.
There are resources out there for every area of your business: career coaches, accountants, marketing firms, website developers and even pricing gurus. You don’t have to do everything on your own.
Bonus tip: If you need help but don’t have the funds to hire out, don’t be afraid to barter. There may another new business that could benefit from your expertise, too – and you’ll be building a great referral network in the process.
Tracy Jensen is Founder and CEO of Frizz Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing firm. Tracy has over 15 years of experience in communications, branding and community outreach. Through Frizz, her focus is helping small businesses and nonprofits extract their central identity and voice, cultivating compelling and authentic content. Her specialties are strategy, email marketing and content creation.
Equally content in front of a group as she is typing from her home office, Tracy has spoken on a variety of topics from social media to fundraising tactics. As a writer, she has contributed to a range of platforms, including BlogHer, EverydayFamily, Mamalode, Scary Mommy, and BonBon Break.
A single mother to two, Tracy believes the only limitations to success are the voices within our own heads. When in doubt, fresh air, a good cup of coffee and a book can cure just about anything.