You’re starting a business and you want to build a brand. That’s great.
Now how are you going to raise the capital you’ll need? How will you get the word out about your brand, as well as endear ideal customers to it, when you barely have the money you’ll need to run one marketing campaign?
I’ve been in this for long enough to know that the most expensive options aren’t always (or are rarely) the best options. Branding is about so much more than hiring the most exclusive brand designer or spending your entire budget on a website.
Instead, it’s about reading your audience and creating and communicating a brand that gets their attention, keeps it, and makes them want to tell their friends all about it.
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to continue reading to get my top tips on how to create a branding strategy that works…for little or no extra cost to you.
Your Branding Strategy: Thriving on a Diet
Branding can be described as the process you go through, as a brand, to position your business in the market and to create a space in your ideal customers’ minds for your brand. You have created a brand, and now it’s time to put it work, being sticky, being memorable, being enticing…to all the right people.
Sound expensive? It can be. However, I like to think that you’ve got two choices: Use your money or use your brain. Both will get results, but I’ve found the latter is generally more effective, more affordable and longer-lasting.
Here are a few pieces of advice I’ve compiled for branding on a budget:
- Make your business card a brand ambassador. Your business card should be so unique that no one wants to throw it in the dustbin. It should scream “my brand” in a visual, tactile or other sensory way. But that’s not all. I also suggest using it as a call-to-action or a ticket to a free offer. Remember that the back of that card is open space. Invite recipients to visit your website, or imprint a URL where they can claim their free gift. As a general rule, I recommend that you always provide your ideal customers with a next step…and your business card should be no different.
- Create and maintain a blog. I think blogging is underestimated as a branding strategy. Build your blog around the idea that you will serve your ideal customer with unrivalled value in every post, promote each article through social media channels, link to other well-established blogs…and your blog will not only prove to be an indispensable branding tool, your blog will SELL.
- Promote your brand with your email signature. This an area filled with missed opportunity. You send a lot of emails every day, and if you’re not using the email signature for branding purposes, you’re allowing too many chances for ideal customer connections to pass you by. Include a link to your landing page, social media account(s), website…or tell people about an upcoming event (and how they can sign up).
- Operate a consistent-contact email campaign. As you build your list, it’s important that you remain in contact with the people on that list, in order to stay top-of-their-minds. Regular emails are a fantastic way to do this. Always focus on serving rather than selling (with a 4:1 ratio), imparting relevant information that your audience can use to improve their lives on a daily basis. The content of your emails should be written directly to your ideal customer, so that each recipient feels that it’s been created just for them. Do this right, and your emails will work to establish deep, long-lasting connections with all the right people. There are software programmes available to assist with this (like InfusionSoft), and I have found that any subscription cost is more-than-covered by the responses I receive from emails.
- Never forget that social media is powerful and FREE. Unless you pay for promotion on social media, all of your interactions come at no cost (other than time) to your business. This is how today’s consumer communicates. It’s how they shop. It’s how they learn and make emotional, lifelong connections. Find out which channels your ideal customer is using, put up profiles on each one, and get social! Always respond graciously to comments and offer advice freely. I have seen brands (my own included) rocket to the top of their industries by establishing expertise and trust on social media alone.
- Involve people with your business. Have a new product coming out that needs a name? Are you chewing over a number of different t-shirt designs? Or in the process of choosing venues for upcoming events? Never underestimate the power of asking for help from your audience. Not only will you get a better idea of what appeals to them, when they answer, they will feel invested and more likely to stick around and support whatever they weighed in on.
I never want your branding strategy to be limited by your budget. Instead, I want it to be limitless…fuelled by your own imagination and the needs of your ideal customers.
Pay attention. Listen. Respond. Soon, you will have many unique, branded ideas of your own—none of which will cost you anything but a bit of time and attention.
Need more ideas for branding on a budget? Are you interested to learn how other entrepreneurs and business owners are doing it? Then I recommend you join the How to Build a Brand Facebook group, where you’ll meet other motivated business people who are breaking new ground. You’ll also get expert advice, networking opportunities, peer support and weekly live B.R.A.N.D. Breakthroughs sessions. And did I mention Ask the Experts live sessions? Oh, the possibilities.