What kind of business do you want to have?
Who are you and who do you want to be?
That may seem like an easy question, but you must know the answer to that before anything else can be done. Most small business owners already know what kind of businesses they want to be, but the question is deeper than that. For instance, if you are a manufacturer, do you want to sell directly to the consumer or are you only wholesale? Do you only want to sell locally, nationwide or even internationally? Do you have a target staff size or are willing to grow as much as possible? There are many, many paths and options to consider when starting your own business. You need to have a clear vision of the small business you want to have. This does not mean that this is set in stone. Write this down, keeping in mind it can certainly be altered or amended at any time, but your initial vision of your business is crucial to setting up a successful advertising plan.
Make a list of the market you want to target
Think about the types of customers you want to have. This list should include, but is not necessarily limited to, gender, age, language spoken, socio-economic status or other qualifying demographics. This is not to imply that you can or should discriminate against anyone. This is the common sense audience for your business. For example, if you sell kids clothing your target age is not senior citizens, if you sell English as a Second language classes you don’t want to target people who already speak English. You also need to determine your geographical boundaries. Certain types of businesses allow for nationwide or international sales, others are very specific to cities, counties or states. In addition to the customers you want to have you need to make a list of the types of customers you do NOT want to have. Whether this is based on language barrier or type of business you run, it is good to keep in mind people that you cannot help or sell to. While this list should be what type of customer you want to have it is not meant to limit the types of customers you will have. This list simply allows you to begin creating a picture of your business.
Start creating the image that speaks to your target market
This image depicts the company you want to be. Your image consists of everything you will use to set yourself apart from your competition and it should make your business memorable and recognizable. This image will be used on everything from your letterhead and business cards, to your website, email signature and more. This image starts with a color and a logo. This can be as easy as picking your favorite color, but there are some other things to consider. Colors on computer screens can look drastically different in print and can make the difference between a website that draws and maintains a viewer and one that is illegible and hard to look at. You would be best served by picking a web safe color. These colors will translate well to print and will make designing your website much easier.
Deciding on a logo
Majority of small businesses use nonrepresentational, unrecognizable symbols. While these images are perfectly acceptable, using such abstract images contradicts the idea of setting your business apart. A better idea would be to find a unique logo that represents your business. Perhaps using your initials or other distinctive characteristics of your name to design a logo specific to you. If you need some ideas for picking logos you can use any of the free image sites out there to get ideas. If you are still having a hard time deciding on a logo there are many companies that can help you at very reasonable prices. Additionally, most website design companies can help you with this for a small fee. This minimal investment is a small price to pay to make your ads stand out among the rest. In combination with your color and logo you need to consider the font you use. Much like colors, there are web safe fonts that are easy to render on a web page and translate well to print. You need to make sure that you chose a font that is easy to read on mobile devices and desktop computers. There are web sites you can use to test various fonts. If you do use a logo design company make sure that you are clear that your logo will be used on your website as well as print, letterhead, business cards, etc. Make them aware that the font needs to be legible and the logo image needs to be scalable. Any reputable designer should be able to provide you with your completed logo in various file types that can be used later for all of your branding and marketing purposes.
Jingles, Slogans or a Spokesperson
The physical image you chose is critical to the mental image you make. Now that you have a good idea of your persona you can start thinking of things such as slogans, jingles or maybe even a spokesperson. Remember to review any applicable advertising rules that apply to your profession before instituting any marketing plans, especially those using a spokesperson. Some states have very specific rules regarding these types of marketing materials. Your logo, slogan, and jingle broaden your brand development and create a mental connection with prospective customers. By determining the type of business you want and the target customer you want to attract you can begin to see your advertising blue print unfold. It is important to decide on these things first because they are crucial to creating a well-rounded marketing plan and they are the building blocks for the rest of the concepts and decisions outlined on this site.