Branding is made up of all the aspects that help a consumer identify your company. It is the lifestyle you build around your brand. In order for your audience to gain familiarity with your products or services, you need to make sure you are consistent with your branding materials and pay close attention to every piece of content you use to market.
Marketing is a tool that may sound scary for a new entrepreneur or as we like to say young-trepreneur . You may be under the impression that other things are more important and that you have a long way to go before you can start marketing. But the truth is, you are ready to start marketing long before your product or service is even ready to hit the market. It’s all about building the hype!
3 Simple Steps to Start Marketing
First, let’s get down to basics. What is marketing? Marketing is the plan you develop in order to generate awareness for your brand and get the word out there about your company. Since the point of your business is most likely to generate sales, marketing will be your saving grace no matter what products or services you’re offering. Just take the ‘Pet Rock’ as an example or the Potato Gram. Both of these evil geniuses quite literally sold rocks and potatoes to people and made a fortune, all because of excellent marketing!
You may be asking yourself, what’s the difference between marketing and advertising? It sounds like the same thing but technically advertising is just one aspect of your marketing efforts. Public relations, media planning, product pricing, distribution, sales strategy, customer support and market research are all facets of marketing too!
As we mentioned earlier, the concept of marketing is simple, what can be difficult is the actual execution, but only if you don’t do the proper planning/research ahead of time. This logistical part of the operation is not to be taken lightly (yes millenials we’re talking to you!) because, if you don’t market, you don’t exist. So where do you begin? Here are the 3 steps we promised you in the title.
Step 1- Branding
Identity is everything. It’s what separates your from your competition and it’s what makes people fall in love with your brand. Before you can start any real marketing efforts you will need to make sure you have your branding down pat! So how do you develop your branding identity? It all starts by creating a branding kit or brand guideline. This guide should include everything from your logo, color palettes that represent your brand, font choices, icons, patterns and even branding do’s and don’ts. A great branding kit should leave no room for error and should help you to generate content almost effortlessly. This may sound like a lot of elements and may be overwhelming, especially if you’re not particularly artsy, but a great tip on getting started is to create a moodboard. This is essentially a collage of images that represents the look and feel that is the essence of your brand, this will help the graphic designer you hire to develop a logo that are absolutely in love with. Always remember to stay true to your branding kit, even in real life, if you start to stray away from your own identity it will negatively affect you and those around you. The same is true for your business and consumers.
Step 2- Market Research
Choosing color palettes and selecting fonts is fun and will definitely help your audience become invested in you, but branding is nothing without the proper research to back it up! A smart business owner must always study the market and their competition before launching a marketing strategy. It may sound like a no-brainer but checking out what your competition is doing can help guide you in the right direction by showing you who your target audience is, where the market is oversaturated and what calls to action may benefit you. Figuring out who your direct competition is can also help you learn from their mistakes. The most common mistake people who lack knowledge and experience make is using low quality images or graphics to market themselves or having a badly made website that is not user friendly. This is a huge turn-off for your consumer and will always have a bad influence on sales, mainly because nobody wants to enter credit card somewhere that doesn’t seem credible or dependable.
Step 3- Content Calendar
Remember that execution part we were talking about? This is where the hard work kicks in. In Step 3, both your research and branding efforts will come together to start kicking some major a**. We’ve all heard the term: “consistency is key” and usually most young businesses fail due to inconsistency. You need to be in people’s eyes and ears constantly in order to consider yourself a good marketer. Developing a content calendar is the best way for you to make sure you maintain that consistency. There are many sites that will help you create a content calendar and schedule your posts but whether you choose to do it manually or automate it, the most important rule of thumb is to make sure you are posting original content every single day. Most companies like to be a month ahead with their content scheduling, this is usually the best practice. However, if breaking news hits and it is super relevant to your industry, you may want add an extra post for the day or swap out today’s post for this time-sensitive post. Figuring out different hashtags that are relevant to the content you are posting (i.e #munchiemonday, #thirstythursday etc.) is also a great way to fill up your calendar and get your audience familiar with the content you will be posting.
Remember, the first step is always the hardest. Taking that leap towards doing something scary is always worth it in the end. The biggest regrets you will always have in life are the things you were too scared to try, so let this be your 3-step guide for success and start today. Because remember, if you don’t market you don’t exist.