The thrill of starting a business is exhilarating and at the same time the challenges cannot be ignored. Despite the existing challenges, new companies will continue to spring up; as such what is important is learning how to go above the challenges while setting up and running a start-up. While business owners spend time and resources setting up structures, an aspect that is most often ignored is marketing; as there is a general belief that this can be done later. Thus, missing a vital component of business growth opportunity.
Building a client base is crucial for the sustainability of start-ups as they strive to gain traction, the role of brand building and marketing in delivering a stable business cannot be overemphasized. Brand building helps to create an identity upon which visibility and stand out can be achieved in the cluttered and competitive market. Driving awareness and visibility is important for any small company trying to make itself known for what it does.
Having established the importance of brand building, how can start-ups and SMEs position themselves in 2017?
- Low-cost marketing: There is a general perception that marketing is expensive and this can be discouraging to small and upcoming companies. Marketing does not have to be expensive as there are low cost tactics that can be deployed at the start of a company. What is important for any business that wants to build a brand is to be clear on the brand architecture – what you want the brand to be known as and how you want to position the brand going forward. Once this aspect is set up, it is easier to build the blocks.
- Think long term: When you set up a business, be ready to go the long-haul, think holistically and not tactically. Your plans should be long term and not just tactical brand campaigns that are immediate and at best within a few months’ range. A long-term perspective helps you to think of a sustainable platform upon which you can build your brand.
- Creating a lasting customer experience: What will make a customer choose your brand after a trial is the experience they have enjoyed. As a start-up, it is important to ensure that your customers are given an unforgettable experience anytime they encounter your brand. That is what will make them come back to you. The experience encompasses every touch point from the time they encounter your brand up till after sales. More importantly, a good experience leads to referrals and word of mouth marketing.
- Build Trust: Riding on the back of good customer experience is trust. For any brand that wants to stay around for long, it is necessary to get your customers to trust you. Trust is built over time from consistency of service, good quality and brand experience. You can start that journey immediately.
- Social media engagement trumps number of posts: Choosing a social network that is right for the brand and building a digital presence socially is a quick win for start-ups. Diligence however must be taken to ensure that proper profiling and targeting is done to communicate with the right people online. It may seem cool to have several posts done per day however, it is important to know that posts are appropriately targeted and your customer base/fans are being engaged by such posts. Contents that connects on social is what drives engagement.
Marketing is not what your company should think of as you get along, it should be an integral component of your business plan which if well executed, will deliver gains for your business.