The rules in the game of marketing for a new business are constantly changing. With the advent of every new technology and social media platform, a new opportunity to promote your business emerges. It puts another item on your marketing to-do list. There are a ton of marketing tools for new businesses to consider and it may be difficult to decide what you need to do first and where to invest your marketing dollars. One thing is certain: doing nothing is NOT an option.

Every business should have a full set of marketing tools in their “marketing toolkit.” As you know, toolkits hold the supplies needed to complete a specific job. As a new business owner, your job is to launch your business. Although there are some tools that always remain in the marketing toolkit, what you do and where you focus your energy depends on the stage of the business.

Here are the 5 must-have marketing tools for your new business:

    1. Effective company logo

      An effective company logo is the most important marketing tool in your new business marketing toolkit

      Left: An example of a poorly designed logo (hard to read, too much going on) Right: An ingenious logo that’s clean and meaningful (infinity symbol, “bad guy” mask)

      It’s common for a new business owner to get overwhelmed and fail to take time to develop an effective logo. This logo will be the first item your potential customers will see, whether it be on a business card, a website or a flyer. Your logo is the most important marketing tool for your new business. Make sure it is one you are proud to display and will be proud to display for years to come. Changing a logo every couple of years is not only time consuming but a detriment to your business. Take measures to ensure that your logo is professional and effectively portrays your company brand. You want everyone who sees your logo to immediately know two things:

      1) That you are a professional company, and
      2) That you are dedicated to your mission and committed to providing a top-notch service.

      Nothing sets a negative perception more than an obviously homemade-looking logo. And yes, people can tell. If there were ever a time to hire a professional, it’d be now. And when I say professional, I don’t mean a friend with a Mac computer. Look for a marketing agency or graphic designer that understands both your mission and your services. Take time to interview potential companies. If they don’t get you,  they won’t be able to design an effective logo for you and it is time wasted for you both.

    2. Every company needs a website

      Marketing tools for new business - website. Responsive websites are becoming a necessity these days

      Your company website is an essential marketing tool for your new business. A RESPONSIVE site (one that scales to your device) is soon becoming a necessity.

      Don’t even think about not having one. Once you have your product and services firmed up and hopefully you have finalized your logo, you need to immediately look into having your website created. When you browse the Internet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Just remember your website doesn’t need to be multiple pages – it need only be effective. The primary goal for creating a website is twofold:

      1) To provide a resource for potential clients to review
      2) To substantiate your business

      In this generation of the Internet, most potential clients will seek you out on the Internet first. They will want to  validate their decision to hire you or buy from you. Without a website you could lose dozens of sales without ever knowing it. To be an effective marketing tool, your website should relay what you do in less than 5 seconds and allow the visitor to easily find what they are looking for. Of course, the website should look professional and incorporate your company’s branding. For more information on website development see our blog, 4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Company’s Website. With so many users accessing information from their smart devices, building a responsive website, a website that adjust to the platform it is being viewed from, is highly recommended.

      For a quick list of must-have web marketing tools for your new business, check out this post that reviews some popular DIY tools.

    3. Arm yourself with professional business cards

      The key to successfully launching your company is to tell everyone. The best way to do that is to attend as many networking events as you can. Share the news with your supportive friends and family and leave your business cards with anyone who will take them.

      Initially, you may feel that sharing your new business with your friends and family is pushy and feel uncomfortable with doing it. When done properly, it’s not only sensible but also effective. After repeatedly learning of friends hiring someone else for the exact services I sold because they ‘had no idea I offered it,’ I learned this lesson the hard way. I now buy large quantities of business cards for myself and my employees and hand them out everywhere. I keep cards with me wherever I go – every purse, my office, my car glove compartment and my pockets. When asked for your information, for either personal or business reasons, give them your business card. This card will say something about your company when you aren’t there and, with any luck, it will be passed on to their friends and associates.

      It goes without saying, then, that these business cards – a must-have marketing tool for your new business –  are well-designed. Yes, there are plenty of sites out there that will create a card cheap and fast. You can even design your own cards using their WYSIWYG online tool and templates. I discourage you from utilizing this type of service for your initial design. Use these and your cards will look like those of a hundred other companies (you’re using a template that a million other folks have access to). Just think, how many times have you seen similar floral designs? Or that one picture of a customer service lady that EVERYONE uses on their “contact us” pamphlet? They are all pulling from the same database of clip art and stock photography. The idea is to set yourself apart, not blend in. If done right, you should only have to design the card once. After the initial design, the only pieces of information that will change are names and addresses. It will save you time down the road to do it right the first time plus you’ll make a great first impression on your new prospects. If hiring a design agency is an option, then do so. They will work to not only incorporate the basic information but also look to incorporate your company brand into the design. See examples of business card design.

    4. Put together a company promotional brochure

      As you hit the pavement and start promoting your business you will want to have some item in addition to your business card that you can give to those you meet. You may be surprised to hear it, but not everyone is going to want to hear your sales pitch. Yes, you can leave your cards or direct them to your website and maybe one or two might actually check you out, but the overwhelming majority will not.

      The promotional brochure marketing tool will allow the potential client to read more information about your company when they are ready. It also makes it easier for them to pass on your information to a friend. And just as importantly, a well-done handout will make a statement of professionalism. The piece need not be large. A simple tri-fold or even a postcard can be effective. It should be large enough to state your services and products and sturdy enough to withstand being stuffed into a briefcase, backpack or purse. Be sure to have a great ‘call to action’. This gives them a reason to contact you. Maybe it’s a discount or special offer that only the recipient of the handout can receive – just be sure to tell them what ACTION you want them to take to further along the sales process.

      Lastly, be sure that the content of the brochure gives your potential client a ‘why you’. This is the reason to choose you over all the others; maybe it’s how you clean the shutters or the speed that you do it. That’s up to you to determine, but the ‘why you’ should somehow help the customer understand why you’re different and better than your competition.

    5. Develop some type of social media strategy

      Feeling the stress of small business social media marketing?
      Don’t get scared. Most new owners hear the words social media strategy and immediately have nightmares of Facebook postings multiple times a day, seven days a week. While that would be great if you had the time, it isn’t necessary initially and Facebook alone is not a full social media strategy. Check out our post about the cost of social media marketing.

      Take time to determine what platforms are right for either the services you offer or the target audience you’re trying to engage. For example, if you are a chef, Pinterest might be a good option for you with their wonderful ability to display pictures of beautifully prepared dishes and link directly to your website for cooking directions. But if you are a financial planner, Twitter is better, with its loyal following of business professionals. Do your due diligence and research each platform, look at the audiences they attract, genders and age. To begin, choose at least two platforms that work best for your company. I do firmly believe that LinkedIn is a must for any B2B company and Google+ is a must simply because it’s run by the #1 search engine.

      Word to the wise: whichever platform you choose, commit to it. It reflects poorly on a company for a customer, or worse a potential customer, to visit a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated for months.

Starting a business is hard but running a business is even more difficult. It may seem like a daunting task to equip yourself with these marketing tools initially but in the long run your business will run much smoother with them ready at your fingertips. As you progress in your business you’ll find yourself trying to both grow the business and maintain the customers you have. That’s no small feat but when these items are given the attention they deserve at the onset you’ll be better off. You’ll find that updating your website or business card is far more enjoyable than fixing a lousy one.