Successful entrepreneur and marketing expert Luke Lazarus recommends focusing on brand messaging as a path to success. With an extraordinary record of building and selling four new businesses in Australia in only 10 years, he counsels new business owners on the proven methods that led to his success instead of continuing as a serial entrepreneur.
Lazarus regards most entrepreneurs as “highly intelligent and generally talented,” but his experience as a consultant informs his opinion that they lack basic skills in branding their business. His solutions can increase their chances of avoiding the high failure rate of many startups.
The importance that Lazarus places on branding appears emphatically in a review of its components in Medium. A startup needs to “develop a brand identity before marketing a company,” he stated, and experts offer suggestions on how to do it.
Experienced professionals agree that all marketing materials need to present a consistent message about a brand in a company’s office or storefront. Outreach through content marketing and social media, printed materials, packaging and signage, sales, website, online advertising, and customer service must reflect it as well.
Following a logical sequence of the following nine steps can assist startups in establishing a brand identity that lasts. Lazarus believes that a brand reflects values that “set it apart from the competition.”
1. Defining Your Brand
Clarity in describing your brand leads to authenticity that provides a connection with your market. Before you can start developing materials, you must reach deep within yourself to identify the values that you want your brand to express.
You can start by noticing the qualities that draw others to you and what they like about you. By honestly assessing your characteristics, you can identify the passions that inspire you. A pleasant realization may occur to you when you live compatibility with your values. The energy that results from it can help you define your brand.
Building a brand takes time and thought, and you can take as long as it needs to develop something that represents you through the coming years of success.
2. Establishing a Budget
A budget of $1,000 or less per month can provide a starting point for marketing and branding, and startup founders can enhance it by trying different ideas to see what works before committing to a fixed expenditure. At the outset, getting customers sits at the top of your priority list, and about 25 percent of your time needs to go to find the best and least expensive ways to reach them.
3. Developing a Network
Networking produces results without expense other than the effort that you put into it. You can start by reaching out to influential people and opinion leaders online. Their sharing of information about your product may convince their contacts to use it.
A key to building your network lies in creating an online presence with them. You can follow them through social media and make supportive comments about the content. They want more people in their network as much as you do, and you can share their posts with your friends. By showing that you have an interest in them without becoming a pest, you can establish a valuable online relationship that lets you include a link to your site in your posts.
As you amplify their messages, they do the same for you. If you need a starting place, try a site that lets you use its content analyzer to enter a topic that suits your business and produces sites for you to contact.
Remember to include local contacts in your outreach campaigns. Your friends and family have circles of influence that can reach their friends and families. Local newspapers offer free advertising space that may let a reader find you.
4. Narrowing Your Focus
Startups can save money and intensify marketing efforts by narrowing the focus on a smaller and more reachable target. Instead of offering a product or service to an entire market segment, choose a subset of a segment and the people within it that you have a better chance to reach. You can use demographics, interests, location, pets, children or another market characteristic to develop a niche.
Remember to share your focus on a niche with the influential people in your network.
5. Growing Your List
Social media can help you expand your email list, but you can take a more active approach that focuses on your niche group. A sign-up form on your website gives you the email address of people who like your product.
To put social media to work for you, use it to post a link to your website. Contests appeal to almost everyone, and you can capture their interest by offering a prize for a winner. When you select a reward, make sure that it represents your product and the benefit that it provides. Your email list grows with every contest entry.
As you increase traffic to your website, make sure that it represents the best values that characterize your brand.
6. Starting a Blog
Lazarus recommends using your company website for blog posts. You have great freedom of creative expression with plenty of space to post infographics, original articles and explanatory videos. One or more of your startup’s founders can take the responsibility to develop interesting content or outsource it to freelancers.
Frequent posts can keep the content fresh, an essential aspect of building traffic to your site. Content that features topics tailored to your niche group creates interest that keeps them informed and returning often. Downloadables can give them something of value that costs your company almost nothing.
7. Putting Thought into SEO
Search engine optimization serves a valuable purpose on the web as it helps direct viewers to relevant information on your landing page, blog, sign-up form and social media pages. Your successful use of it can make your site appear on the first page of results, producing a high volume of traffic. Knowing your niche market lets you figure out the keywords that search engines can locate for your audience. The content that you put on your site needs to include carefully chosen keywords that focus precisely on the specific interests of your niche market.
When you regularly post niche-related content, you can hone your skills in choosing the keywords that drive traffic to your site.
8. Listing with Local Directories
The Yellow Pages have disappeared with other outmoded advertising approaches, but technology offers new and better ways to get exposure for your business. Your presence in online directories can expand your audience and increase customer traffic. It takes a while to complete the submission or sign-up information, but the free online directories cost nothing but the effort that you devote to the task.
9. Promoting Your Brand with Public Speaking
Even if you have always hated speaking in public, the chance to tell others about your brand and its values can reach people who may not find you online. Your passion for your business and the need to share it with any group can get you past the challenging aspects of public speaking.
A spark that ignites the passion to start a new company can provide the motivation at the heart of entrepreneurship. People who have it can no more ignore it than a hungry person can refuse a meal. As it offers an opportunity to implement original ideas and avoid working for someone else, the spirit of entrepreneurism does much more.
The concept of creating something from nothing provides the energy and determination to start and grow a new enterprise with confidence and vigor. Emerson contended that “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” and entrepreneurs recognize the truth of his premise.
Enterprising owners of new businesses have an unshakeable belief that hard work, innovative thinking and determination can lead to success.