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Starting a new small business. How to start marketing.

Should I pay for advertising? How to develop my new business?

I see a lot of people asking these questions so I thought I would write up my thoughts and give you so insight to what I do. I am no advertiser or marketer I just hope this will help someone along their business journey.  

If you are wondering who I am, I have my own small entertainments company. ( I mostly work part-time however in my first few years of growing my business I worked pretty much full time hours researching, learning and implementing marketing techniques and also developing my creative skills. It does take time and mistakes along the way, however if you have the perseverance and commitment then things will happen for you. I remember reading a similar statement years ago whilst doing my research and never quite believed it at the time.

I started my business 10 years ago. After having my first baby and working in part time employment I knew I had to pursue my entertainments business to be my own boss and earn good money for less hours and less costs (childcare being the biggie). This was my main aim in life! I wouldn’t label myself as an entrepreneur I would say I was a hard working mum who wants to provide for my family whilst also being at home to take them to school, have play dates etc.

It’s not been easy, but another baby later (7 years after staring up) I was in the position to leave my part time employment and be a stay at home mum whilst also running my own business. I am now 10 years in and things are good and stable. I earn a good part-time wage and now am starting to experiment with new ideas.

1) Do not pay for advertising

Like most start ups you will not have the capital to be spending large amounts of money on advertising. I had many a phone call from advertiser trying to persuade me to buy enhanced listings but be prepared to say NO thanks. My rule was ‘No paid ads’ what so ever.

The exception here would be if all of your competitors are paying for adverts and enhances listings then maybe you should look into it but for most small niche markets I doubt this will be the case.

I would suggest pretend to be your potential customers, go online and search what your customers would search. For example ‘Face painters in Bristol’.

Make a note of all the existing companies to research later. And make a note of all the advertising sites that in the first 2-3 pages.

You know have a list to start you adverts but choose the free listing options.

2) Get listed on Google Business Places

3) Research existing companies

If you have done number one you should have a list of existing companies to research. Look around their web site, make notes of things that you could try. Do not copy and paste any of their text, firstly this is unethical and this could make you lots of enemies fast but also Google and other search engines will punished your website for this.

Also type their name into Google see what else they do, where they are listed, what type of work they undertake, what other things they offer. Also like their Facebook pages, follow them on twitter or whatever social media you use. Use these companies as inspiration a place you see yourself at one day. Try not to envy them and get yourself down about how far you have to go, remember we were all at the beginning once.

4) Build a web site and learn about SEO – Be found!

I was lucky I did an introductory to building web sites at university however if you didn’t and are a bit computer savvy I would recommend learning to build your own website and just as important to this is learn about search engine optimisation. Either do a short course or learn yourself online, we live in great times where you can find tutorials online for almost anything! And you don’t have to spend lots of software I use I don’t need to know how to code I just build the website up visually.

5) Business cards/Uniform or Banner – Be remembered!

Have business cards handy and on show when out working. Or a banner or whatever is -appropriate. If you are starting out keep the cost low as if you are anything like me you’ll want to change your business name, brand etc at some point so just do what is necessary. As you start working more you will start to realise new problems that need solving in your branding, uniform and face to face selling.  

6) Network & Find Face Book Groups

On social media you can follow people who are doing the same, start commenting and be a part of the online community. And if there isn’t a group start one! When out at work be friendly if you see someone doing a similar thing be interested and ask them questions and share your journey.  Don’t see competitors as your enemy you may need to contract out work in future or they may even give you work or refer people to you if their busy and visa versa. Making good reliable connections does take time however it will happen and be beneficial to both parties.

7) Think about your USP, Unique Selling Point

I say think about it as I didn’t really develop this until 7 years in (I am still working on this really) Think about what your business offers that stands out from the rest. This helped me develop my strap line ‘ Book Quality, Spark Imagination Create Fascination’.

8) Have a business plan

If you anything like me you’ll have 1000’s of ideas whizzing through your mind (especially at night) but you need to prioritise a 1 or 2 jobs each week so you don’t become overwhelmed. Take small steps, it’s a journey, you’ll learn, grow and become more confident in your approach.  

9) Most importantly keep developing your skills, be good at what you do – Word of Mouth

This is when the most free and rewarding method of advertising starts to pay off, Word of Mouth. This may take a couple of years to kick in. But at the beginning you don’t want to be super busy you need the slow start to learn, make mistakes and implement better methods of working.

I hope this brief article was useful, I would love to hear your thoughts and if anyone feels there is something I missed! I would love to know so I can edit this document to help more and more.

Also if there is any areas you would like me expand on for my next blog, let me know.

Best wishes,

Cheryl Holley