Affordable, attention-getting ideas to help get your company noticed
Keeping your brand top of mind with your target market is paramount to growing your business, and it doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. “Your brand isn’t your logo or website. Think of your brand as your reputation. It’s what people will say about your company when you’re not around,” explains Kim Speed, Founder and Creative Director of Purple Moon Creative, a company that helps small businesses brand themselves properly, and the author of Branding on a Shoestring. Here are six of her top brand-boosting tips.
1. Actively network
When Speed started her company nine years ago, she joined her local BNI chapter to meet other entrepreneurs, learn from them and identify her target market, and she continues to network to build her business. “When you meet people, don’t start by selling; start by listening to them to find out what they’re doing, what they’re involved in and what challenges they have,” she says. “Take the sell out of selling.” That will help you find common ground on which to build a relationship. Business owners can also discover more networking opportunities on Meetup, LinkedIn and various Facebook groups.
2. Join associations
Start with your local BIA (Business Improvement Area). You’ll meet other business owners in your area and will be able to refer each other to your respective customers. Industry associations can also prove invaluable, offering member benefits such as discounts and workshops. “If you can spare the time, volunteer to serve on a committee or board,” adds Speed. “It’s amazing the connections you’ll make through it.”
3. Share your expertise
Establish yourself as an expert by responding to questions posted on social media, offering to do a guest post on a popular blog, or hosting a webinar or podcast on a topic in which you’re well-versed. Remember those Meetup groups and associations? “Some would be thrilled if you’d come and speak to them. So offer up a free presentation or workshop,” advises Speed. “That’s a great way to start getting leads and letting people understand the value you provide.”
4. Connect to a cause
Find a charitable organization that resonates with you and connect your company to it, whether by donating products, services or a percentage of sales for a particular item. You can also tie a charitable donation to a social-media milestone, such as receiving a certain number of Facebook-page likes or Twitter followers. Word will spread. “People love to know that your company is doing more than just making a buck,” says Speed.
5. Attend tradeshows and conferences
“These shows are an opportunity to see what’s ahead, learn from experts and discover who’s out there in the market,” explains Speed. You can also see how other businesses promote themselves and what makes them stand out from the others.
6. Follow up
To add to this list of strategies for boosting your brand affordably, Speed offers one last piece of advice: “After you’ve completed a project or made a sale, follow up. Find out if your customer is satisfied and if there’s anything you can do better next time, and use that learning.”