A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing your First Business

Nov 6, 2019

Need help getting the word out about your new business? Jonathan Birch is Creative Director at the digital marketing agency Glass Digital. Along with his team, he’s overseen successful marketing campaigns for countless businesses, from small start-ups to major household names. Plus, as a co-founder of the company, he knows exactly what it’s like in those hectic early days. In this article, he explains what you need to do to start marketing your new business venture. 

If you’ve taken the plunge and started your own business fresh out of uni, then congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step towards forging a rewarding career as your own boss.

Of course, the hard work isn’t over just yet: the first few years are almost always the most challenging for any business, and your decisions during this key period can often make — or break — your company.

Plus, with so much competition out there, it can be very challenging to stir up a buzz and get your name out there. So, it’s essential that you come up with a great marketing strategy as soon as you can. 

In this article, I’ll share the basic principles of creating a successful marketing campaign, so you can get your business off to a flying start.  

Create a detailed strategy 

Work out a detailed marketing strategy before you get started.

This should cover exactly what you want to do and when including how you’re going to prioritise your time and spending as your business grows.

Leave no stone unturned: you want to explore every plan, idea, and goal you have for your marketing in as much depth as possible. It can help to create quantifiable, time-sensitive objectives (e.g. ‘we will have 500 followers on Instagram by the final quarter’) as these will give you a clearer idea of what you need to be doing and when.

It will also make it easier to measure the success of your strategy later on. 

I’d strongly recommend setting out clear guidelines for your branding at this stage. For instance, what tone of voice will you use in your marketing materials and on-site content? What sort of colours, fonts, and design details best fit the ethos and attitude of your company?

Making these decisions now will help to keep your branding consistent further down the line. 

Set a budget and prioritise your spending 

Student life means living on a tight budget, and running a start-up is very similar. You’re probably going to be counting every penny during your first year or two of trading, so you need to work out a budget for your marketing, and make sure you don’t overspend.

Once you’ve got your marketing strategy sorted, create a list all of your focus areas, and do a bit of research to create some cost estimates for each area of your plan (like your website, social media, online ads, and so on). This should give you an idea of which tactics and ideas are financially feasible for your company.

It may be that some of your goals are a little ambitious for you just yet, but you may be able to achieve them as your revenue increases. 

When you’ve narrowed your budget down to your essentials, you can create sub-budgets for every aspect of your marketing, which should help you to avoid overspending. You can always scale up your plans if revenue increases faster than you first estimated. 

Get your site sorted 

Whatever industry you specialise in, it’s likely that your website will be the first port of call for prospective customers, so you need to make sure it makes a great impression.

Your site will also be the foundation for a number of other marketing techniques as your company grows, so it makes sense to get it shipshape from the outset. 

Ideally, you want your site to load quickly and look great, with consistent branding. And, make sure it’s mobile-friendly: nearly half of all web page views take place on smartphones these days (Statista), so you want to make sure you can capture that traffic.

All of these points are also essential for search engine optimisation so, if you want to add an e-commerce element to your business, this will be particularly important further down the line. 

Make the most of free tools 

You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune to market your business, and there are plenty of free online tools you can take advantage of.

Blogging and email newsletters are both free, and you can put those skills you learned writing essays at uni to good use, which is great for those early days when you’re running on a shoestring budget.

If you have a brick and mortar premises, you’ll also want to fill out your Google My Business profile, as this will help you to get listed on Google Maps, so you appear for local searches. 

A social media presence is a must-have for any business nowadays: it allows you to showcase your products or services, keep in touch with your customers, and strengthen your brand identity.

So, you’ll definitely want to set up Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook profiles for your company if you haven’t already. Remember to stick to the branding guidelines I mentioned earlier when creating your profiles to ensure consistency, and try to update them as often as you can. 

As the co-founder of a business, I know what a big step it can be to strike out on your own, especially for a recent graduate. But, with a great marketing strategy under your belt, and plenty of passion and determination for good measure, you should stand every chance of success.

Jonathan Birch, co-founder of Glass Digital

If you need any help making decisions after university, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Graduate Coach.

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