Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step in making your entrepreneurial dreams come true by starting up your own business. You’ve decided on what it is you’ll be selling, what the name of your company is, and the location of your storefront – all of the basics. So what comes next?
It can be easy for new business owners to be at a loss for what to do next after they get all of the initial business logistics out of the way. One way of answering the question “What comes next?” is to ask yourself another question, “Now that I’ve established my business, how can I set myself apart from other businesses in the same field?”
The answer is to start with some great branding for your business. Here are the first five steps to create a memorable, lasting brand around your company that will set you apart from the competition:
Step One: File a Trademark Application
First things first, you want to protect your logo and name from being used by another business. If you work hard to build up your brand, it will all be for not if another business, whether it’s in the same industry or not, swoops in and potentially threatens all of your hard branding work by using a very similar logo for their own. By filing a trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you can officially reserve the right to your own business name or logo.
Step Two: Start Spreading Word of Mouth
Paying for typical PR services (like television commercials, radio commercials, internet ads, and press releases) is a great way to get the word out about your new business… if you can afford all of it. Most new business owners typically have to stick to a pretty strict budget when they first open up shop and swinging for extra press with a tight budget can be difficult. Luckily, word-of-mouth technique is absolutely free of charge! Get people talking about your business everywhere and anywhere from chats with friends about your latest business ventures to striking up a conversation at a Starbucks with waiting in line for a latte. You’re excited about your business- it’s time to start letting the world know!
Step Three: Perfect Your Website
Your business’s website matters now more than ever. When a customer wants to search for a service to use or a product to buy, they turn to the internet to head to the company website and search for reviews so they have an idea of what they’re going to be buying. At first glance, your site needs to leave a great impression behind for a potential customer visiting it. The site should easily and clearly state what it is you do, the overall vibe of your business (Family friendly? Going green for the environment?), your prices, contact information and FAQs, and how you differ from the competition with any specialties you bring to the table included.
Step Four: Utilize Social Media
Much like using word of mouth, utilizing social media is another effective form of marketing that comes free of charge. Social media platforms are a great way to get your brand recognition online. By tweeting, posting to Facebook, connecting on Google+ and LinkedIn, and blogging, you are showing your audience what your business is all about and, more importantly, the personality of your business. By keeping up with your brand on different social sites, your customers are getting to know your business on a more personal level. But as a quick heads up to business owners everywhere, keeping up with social media outlets can prove to be quite the task if done correctly. Keep the option of hiring a social media manager in mind if you find yourself unable to keep up with every tweet or blog post on your own. The money spent on their paycheck is well worth the exposure they can provide you and your business!
Step Five: Keep Your Customer Service Consistent
Lastly, one of the best things you can do for your brand and for your business’s overall reputation is to provide the best possible customer service. If your employees are consistently kind, thorough, and genuine when dealing with customers, that is what your business will be remembered for, and that is what will ultimately set you apart from the competition.