It’s tough being an entrepreneurial start-up in any economic climate – balancing ever-so-delicate revenue streams with the all too often savage business expenses incurred by most start-ups can be a challenge all unto itself. Tight cost control is key – but it shouldn’t come at the cost of getting your business message out there, and building your brand so that it’s almost synonymous when people think about whatever industry it is that you operate in.
Here’s how to build your business brand on the cheap:
- Set-Up Complimentary Joint Venture Partnerships. Many businesses and brands have a natural and complimentary synergy. They can cross promote each other and both brands can enjoy increased exposure at no extra expense without being a threat to one another. SME owners should always be on the look out for potential collaboration partners to form JV’s with.
- Go Viral. Your marketing budget will be a tight resource in the early days. Consider setting up ad campaigns that have the propensity to go viral. This can create a whirlwind of free publicity and bring far more targeted clients to your door than you ever dreamed imaginable. One of the earliest examples of a successful viral campaign is hotmail – the company was one of the first to offer free email functionality, but the reason it went positively bezerk was that every email sent out included a signature link to the recipient, offering them a free email account too!
- Constant Contact. Getting your customers and leads email address is good. So is adding them on Facebook and having them follow you on Twitter, or whatever new social media site has the internet’s attention at this point in time. It’s all ultimately futile however, unless you’re continually in contact with them. A key part of business branding involves creating a business aura, and communicating it through your email and social media lists.
- Be Ruthlessly Effective With Customer Service. People remember good customer service. They remember bad customer service even more. How good your company is at dealing with customer enquiries, how it handles complaints and other issues will help shape the perceived strength of your brand. You’ll have to provide some level of customer service – why not make it a focus to put customers first and create brand value in the process.
- Keep Everything Short & Snappy. To better establish a unique and distinct brand identity make everything from your marketing messages to your domain names snappy. People remember short and memorable names and messages.
- Incorporate A Branding Plan For Every Stage & Department. Proper branding can be greatly facilitated by creating a focused brand strategy. Your SME or startup may have just a few people working for it – make sure everyone is aware of what branding message the company is trying to achieve. This can then be reflected in all stages of new product development – from planning, right down to marketing.
- Monitor Online Branding Reputation – Negative reviews can spread like wildfire on the internet. Having some sort of procedure to review and monitor what’s being said about your company on social media and other online sites is now part and parcel of creating and maintaining positive brand strength. Read more about online reputation management.