When I started out in my career, business cards were a must. These days, they’re all but obsolete. What do you do with those things anyway? Do you hand them out in meetings? On the street? And when you receive them, what do you do? Personally, I no longer save them. I immediately scan them (using an App like CardMunch) and then throw them out. If they’re very clever, I’ll add them to my “idea” file.
Times have certainly changed. And the marketing tools that we once took as standard – sales brochures, tri-folds, pamphlets, ad slicks – have become non-essential at best. If you’re starting a new company, what are the new essential marketing tools for business? And what can you do without?
Regardless of what type of business you’re in, marketing yourself and your company is a necessity. Creating materials that highlight your capabilities, show off your work and get noticed are imperative.
Here are 8 tools for marketing your business that I believe are essential:
1. A Website. You must, must, must have a website. More than a way for people to find you, and learn about your products/services, it’s often consumers’ first – and lasting – impression of you.
2. A Social Media Presence. Especially if you’re touting your social media expertise. Please don’t make the mistake of saying you’re a social media guru if you’ve got 25 followers and haven’t tweeted since last October. Scratch that. Don’t say you’re a social media guru no matter what. Ever. Many b2b companies – especially smaller ones – think there’s no reason to have a social profile. Think again. Your customers are social. Period. Find out where – whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or another site, and engage with them. They need to know you care – and you need to know what they are talking about, interested in and sharing. There is absolutely no reason not to be social in today’s world.
3. A Blog. Your blog is the best way to reach potential consumers, share knowledge, increase exposure (SEO!) and establish credibility in your industry. Hands down.
4. A Logo/Look. How will potential customers recognize your brand? What colors/font style/image represent your brand?
5. A Personality. Are you serious? Playful? Energetic? Calm?
6. A Plan. What are your core objectives? And how do you plan to reach them?
7. A Target. Who is your main audience? What types of people purchase your product or service? Know where they live, work and play. Understand their habits, then make them your own.
8. Business Cards. Yes, I’m adding this one. I still use them, even if potential clients don’t file them alphabetically on a wheel, or store them in a leather bound card holder (remember those days?). If you do decide to create cards for your business, be sure you include the most pertinent information – company name, tagline – or core competencies – so that people can see at a glance what it is you offer, your name and contact info (phone & email), your website, blog address, and social profile handles (@a1972bmw is my Twitter handle, for example, and is sufficient).
Communication is so important – especially in this era of transparency. There are dozens of ways to reach consumers. Be sure you’re using the best tools to communicate with your consumers in the most effective, engaging way possible. Still not sure what those are? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like help brainstorming the best ways to successfully market your business.
Your Turn: What marketing tool(s) do you find indispensable?