How solid is your small business marketing strategy?

Carolyn F Sampson Writer
Carolyn Farmer Sampson

As you close the books on the past year and envision generating record gross revenue and profit for your small business in the coming year, do you have a solid marketing plan for meeting those lofty goals? The pressure is often on your sales team to close more deals, but have you provided them with a solid branding and marketing strategy to generate leads? Do they have sales tools and exceptional customer service to reinforce their sales efforts?

Marketing tactics have changed a lot since I first contracted a website designer for my employer 18 years ago. Advertising dollars that used to be spent on direct mail, printed newsletters, yellow page ads and telemarketing are now being directed toward “inbound marketing”: websites, pay-per-click website ads, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, smart phone apps and email campaigns.

As a small manufacturing business owner for three years, I met many other small business owners. Many dream of hiring a salesperson (at a minimum of $30,000-$50,000 a year) but wouldn’t think of spending anywhere close to that on contracting website development, SEO and blog writing to drive traffic to their website.

A carefully planned marketing strategy and budget can bring a far greater return on investment than adding another salary. In addition, your marketing expenses can flex with your business’s seasonal needs.

Continue reading “How solid is your small business marketing strategy?”

How to brand a small business

Once you’ve chosen a business name and designed your logo, it’s time to begin branding your organization. The most obvious element of branding is consistent use of your business name, logo and tagline, but branding is about communicating much more than just the products and services your business offers. Branding can also communicate:

  • Your company’s culture, mission and values
  • Your targeted customer demographic or product niche

Providing Your Customers with a Consistent Experience

Consistency is the most important element in building a strong brand and attention to detail is critical.

Employees and vendors often cringe at a large company’s thick manual of strict branding guidelines but consistent use of logo colors, fonts and a tagline is actually the simplest element of branding. Other, less obvious ways to brand your business include focusing on both excellence and consistency in a number of harder to control areas:

  • Website Presentation and Content
  • Social Media Content
  • Printed Materials
  • Buildings, Vehicles and Dress Code
  • Customer Service
  • Community Involvement

Continue reading “How to brand a small business”

Six tips for designing your small business logo

Networking with others in your industry and related industries is the most important thing you can do to get your small business off the ground quickly. But before you start networking, you will need a professionally designed logo, an attractive business card and a polished, interactive website.

While you might never be recognized worldwide by just a symbol, like Apple® or Coca Cola®, your logo will be very important in communicating your professionalism and attracting repeat customers. As with your business name, it’s often best to keep your logo as simple as possible. A complicated logo design will have hidden costs in the future; for example more expensive building and office signs.

Today I’ll talk about some important considerations in creating a strong small business logo. Continue reading “Six tips for designing your small business logo”

StarTribune Newspaper April 13 2016

Effective copywriting: Readability matters

I was surprised to learn today that, according to National Assessment of Adult Literacy surveys, the average American adult reads at a 9th-grade level, prefers to read two grades below that, and will tolerate two levels above. Interestingly, most popular novels are written at a 7th-grade level while most newspapers are written at an 11th-grade level. Maybe if newspapers reduced their reading level by four grades, the general public would be more informed about critical issues.

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Even Stephen King needs a good editor

On-Writing-Stephen-KingWriting and editing are two very different skills. While I’ve written countless feature and news articles over the years, rich descriptive language doesn’t come easily to me. My real strength and passion is for editing other writers’ work. In fact, many of the most imaginative writers seem to have little or no regard for grammar, sentence structure or other language technicalities.

Even a prolific creative writer like Stephen King needs a good editor. In his classic “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, King spends a fair amount of time promoting the importance of grammar and the brilliance of William Strunk’s classic writing guide “The Elements of Style”. He then goes on to describe his writing process: a first draft followed by one or more passes to reorganize and refine his original thoughts. Even so, as he describes it, his trusted editor still has a lot of work to do, massaging and shaping the story into its final printed form. Continue reading “Even Stephen King needs a good editor”