Branding on a budget can be difficult for a small business or solo entrepreneur, especially when starting out. Unfortunately, no matter how big or small your brand/company is or whether it competes in the B2B or B2C arena, it resides within a competitive ecosystem. Therefore it needs to draw attention to itself.
The good news is that there are still several ways in which you can build brand awareness without breaking the bank. I’ve listed a few ideas below and depending on your unique circumstance, you may select which serves you best. With the assumption that you already have a quality product or service on offer, let’s proceed.
1) BUILD A WEBSITE
We live in a connected world. While branding on a budget, you cannot afford to pass this one up. Customers want to know whom they’re doing business with. Lack of a website or web presence is seen as questionable and untrustworthy.
A website is a great way to provide prospects with a window into your business. It adds personality and functions as a soft touch point. Luckily, you don’t have to be a web designer to create one. Sites like Wix, Square Space or Weebly offer customizable templates and digital assets to help you get started and build a web presence economically.
2) SOCIAL MEDIA
Now, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, everyone knows that social media marketing is booming. If you’re branding on a budget, there is no excuse not to take advantage of a free platform. Use hashtags ,relevant to your business, to find customers interested in similar products or services. Listen to what they are saying. It’s also great for research and understanding the sort of content people want to engage with.
Create platform specific content that resonates, educates, build’s trust and inspires action. Social media allows networking opportunities, sharing, referrals and the possibility of viral reach.
In the B2B segment, LinkedIn is a valuable tool to fine clients. Sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat allow you to create content, share, comment and like posts that are related to your business and customers.
While free to sign up, they also provide paid promotion/ads that aren’t very expensive, especially if you are looking at a more localized market.
3) DISTRIBUTION & ON PREMISE SIGNAGE
Use distribution means to build awareness – vehicles decals, uniforms, or on-premise materials like banners, stationery, roll-ups etc. Look for opportunities to stay within the line of sight. Websites like Moo or Vistaprint offer quality prints and branding merchandise at economical prices.
4) CUSTOMER SERVICE
Often overlooked, customer service dramatically affects long-term business. It also ranks high on word-of-mouth. If customer service does not live up to expectations, it could have an adverse effect on your business. On the other hand, great customer service builds long-term relationships and good relationships fend off competitive threats better. It also speaks of your brand.
Like it or not, perceptions matter. If I haven’t said it enough, I’ll say it again, “branding is the art of managing perception over time“. When your products sit on the shelf, the only thing speaking for them is the packaging. If you are in the service industry, things like on-boarding, presentation of documents and other formalities speak volumes. Colors, logos, verbiage, quality of material, typography, uniforms, etc. are directly reflective of the brand. Use them to reinforce your brand and proposition.
Seminars, conferences, and meet-ups are also avenues to promote your brand/company, even those that are not directly associated with your line of business. People usually exchange business cards at such events and having a well-crafted one helps. Ensure that recipients can find their way to your website or social media accounts and other touch points. Again, you can get high quality prints and innovative options at very economical prices from sites like Moo or Vistaprint.
There are several directories, print and digital, that offer free-of-charge entries. Being listed is a lot better than being absent.
8) WEB ADVERTISING
Leveraging internet search is a great way to drive traffic to your brand/company. True, it can turn expensive very quickly, particularly when you don’t get the conversions you need. I recommend starting out definitively in audience targeting. You may have fewer leads, but chances are, they are higher quality. The wider the scope, the higher the probability of poor leads and cost per acquisition.
GoogleMyBusiness is also a fantastic free tool that complements your business across Google Search and Maps. It’s pertinent to be present when customers are ‘in-market’ for goods and services related to your business.
When branding on a budget, never neglect the power of connections within your immediate circle of friends, family, business colleagues, groups, forums, etc. who could help spread the word about your business and testify to quality and value it delivers.
Branding requires consistency and building your brand requires perseverance. A brand built on firm foundations will always have a positive impact on the business in the long run. For information and tips on building a successful brand, read, “Define: Brand“, “Thinking About Building A Brand” and “The Concept Of Positioning“.
Hi! I’m Sheldon. For over ten years I’ve worked with brands and private labels bringing some pretty awesome products to market. I’ve worked on research-based product development and marketing to deliver the total package.
I’m instantly drawn towards products that are deep-rooted in consumer research. The type that ends up being simple and intuitive, yet profound and potentially disruptive.
I’m equally passionate about brand strategy. I believe that the only thing that trumps a good product is a brand that connects with people on a deeper level.
If this resonates with you and your current need, I’d love to hear more about it.