Marketing in a small business should be the implementation of your business plan. That is, your business plan should include a marketing plan, and your marketing efforts are simply rolling out the marketing strategies and tactics from your marketing plan.
Small Business Marketing Basics
A new business will create materials to communicate the business’ message and contact information to potential customers/clients. This will typically begin with a website and business cards.
A website involves two services: annual domain name registration and monthly web hosting.
A domain name is the name of the website, such as jux.law. Domain name registration is the cheapest part, and can cost $8-25 per year for a domain name. Web hosting can be more expensive, costing $5 or more per month. Get your domain name registration and web hosting from the same company to keep things simple. Also, the company you choose for web hosting will normally give you one domain name for free, at least for the first year.
For your website, compare the totally annual cost of domain name registration and web hosting at various companies. Popular companies for small business include Lunarpages, GoDaddy, HostGator.com (I use them), Yahoo!, and 1&1 (I use them).
To design your website, you can
- hire a web designer (most expensive option),
- purchase a website template (cheap option) at a company like DreamTemplate
- setup your own website using your own designing skills and a web design software (like Adobe Dreamweaver (expensive) or KompoZer (free but very basic), or
- setup your own website using WordPress (requires some technical skills to install) and a free WordPress template.
Business cards can cost a lot of money. Also, many small business owners create business cards, then change their message a few months later, and want to create business cards again to reflect the new message. In the beginning, some businesses may be better served by starting with a few business cards, and buying more later. Business cards can be purchased cheap online. For example, I purchased mine at Vista Print.
At VistaPrint, you can pick a generic logo for your business card if you want, or you can upload your own logo. I don’t recommend using a standard logo because the purpose of a logo is to build a marketing brand, and if you have a generic logo, anyone else can use your logo. However, a generic logo might be a cheap option for those who don’t want to spend money on a logo until they have made some money in the business and figured out what themes should be represented in a logo.
A number of websites allow you to create a logo online for a small fee. You combine various shapes or images, select your colors, add words if you want, and out pops your logo. For example, check out LogoMaker.com and LogoWorks.
There are two main ways to market your website online:
- Search Engine Optimization – Improving your site to get free traffic from search engines.
- Search Engine Pay Per Click Ads – Advertising on search engines (e.g. Yahoo!) to get people to visit your website.
Other Small Business Marketing
The ways to market a small business are endless. For a great guide, check out Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your SmallBusiness.