We’re all guest posts all the time now on New Venture Mentor so here’s today’s post from Henri Hazougi about the fundamentals of marketing your startup: Continue Reading
Review: The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing and Digital PR
This week is a little different than normal because, even though it’s guest post week, I don’t actually have a guest post for you. Instead, I have a review of The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing and Digital PR from Charlie Marchant, Luke Nicholson, and Tim Cameron-Kitchen over at Exposure Ninja.
Before I get into the review itself, I want to make sure everything is transparent:
- Am I being paid for this review? No
- Is the link to purchase the book on Amazon an affiliate link (meaning I will make money if you buy)? Yes
- Did I get my copy of the book for free? Yes
- Do I honestly recommend the book? Yes
Just so you know, people give me free review copies of books often enough and I usually end up not actually posting the review because I don’t have anything nice to say. This book was the exception.
If I’m honest, when I started reading this book I was sort of dreading it because I had agreed to read it but was expecting it to be like most of the other review books I receive and be a waste of my time. I was almost immediately intrigued – and thought I might actually like this thing – though, when the book began by explaining the importance of identifying and understanding your ideal customer so that you’re not wasting valuable time and energy on marketing that won’t land with your target group and highlighted the importance of measuring the return on investment of your marketing activities. Amen to that! Anyone who does marketing for a living and goes out of their way to tell potential customers that they should actually track ROI and make sure they’re not just wasting money has me listening because I know they’re honest and not just in it to make a quick buck.
I also liked the structure of the book: in each section they started out explaining why a given tactic was important and for whom it would work and then went into the how of actually implementing that strategy, complete with lists of tools, examples, and step-by-step guides. This structure is perfect for someone without much background in the area because it allows them to get a good picture of both strategy and tactics as it comes to implementing some of the marketing methods covered in the book. It’s accessible to beginners but not so dumbed down as to be useless.
The examples provided – both good and bad – are also an excellent addition so that readers can see what a given tactic would actually look like in practice. I can vouch for the accurateness of the examples given in the section related to blogger outreach. I was actually chuckling to myself as I was reading because I have received countless emails that almost exactly match the examples given in the book, including the ones that seem too terrible to be real, and either deleted the email immediately, grumbled but responded, or was actually excited to work with someone and get something live based on whether or not they followed the guidelines in this book. I actually have a blog post coming up that will highlight this issue but these guys beat me to it.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can promote your business online, this is a great, quick read. It covers everything from goal setting to blogging to giveaways to social media and is full of enough value that you don’t even mind at all that they’re using this book to help sell their services. In fact, it makes you appreciate the advice more because you’re literally experiencing them succeed at content marketing while they teach you about content marketing, so you feel confident that they probably know what they’re doing. Plus, they offer a money-back guarantee so, if you hate the book, just return it. I doubt you will.
Guest Post: How to Market Your Small Business on a Small Budget
Advertising is an important aspect of any business strategy, especially when it comes to small businesses. As a small business owner, you need to figure out how to promote your company and get the consumers’ attention. Although this can sometimes require a lot of investment, you can still find low-cost, but effective marketing ideas for getting your business to the top. Owning a start-up means a lot of expenses and a limited budget, so you’ll be happy to hear that some of the following advertising options won’t cost you at all.
Creating a Professional Website
Nowadays, it’s impossible to expand and advertise your business without going online and building a website. Even if you don’t possess all the necessary skills, this has never been easier! All you need to do is find a free website builder and you’re good to go. If you really have no idea what you’re doing, you can either browse the Internet for a tutorial, or seek help from your friends, since the chances are that one of them will know how to create a website. Just one additional tip – when you get down to business, make sure not to build a website that is too complex to use, but follow the principle “the easier, the better”.
Starting a Blog
Another marketing strategy that anyone can afford is blogging. Similarly to creating a website, even if you don’t have experience in the area, you can easily find guides for starting a business blog. Once you start blogging, you should try to be consistent and publish on a regular basis. Feel free to write about various topics, from business-related to entertaining. This is a perfect opportunity to keep your customers up-to-date and in touch with you.
Joining Social Media
Social media play an important role in advertising, and, according to the statistics, 97 percent of the global businesses use social media for marketing. Depending on the nature of your business, you can create a profile on a variety of different social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. Once again, you should be active and post different materials regularly; otherwise, you’ll be forgotten in the sea of other posts.
Running Facebook Ads
The estimates show that there are more than 1.79 billion Facebook users who are active on a monthly basis, which makes Facebook a prolific platform for marketing. You don’t need a lot of investment for running a Facebook ad – with a limited budget you can reach out to consumers who differ in gender, age, education and interests. Even if they don’t immediately contact your company, they might like your page and become your potential consumers.
Content marketing is a strategic approach that has been embraced world-wide. This marketing strategy differs from the others in that it focuses on creating interesting and relevant material, rather than simply promoting a product or a service. This way, you are able to address the problems and issues of your customers and help them find the solutions. The key feature of this marketing approach is content, so make sure that yours is interesting, of high quality and based on credible information.
You don’t need to create high-budget commercials in order to gain public attention. All you need is creativity and a well-developed plan, and the rest is just following the steps. Just find decent equipment, develop a scenario and start filming. During post-production, you can add some filters or cut out the parts that you don’t like. Afterwards, you can upload the commercial to YouTube. This won’t cost you a dime, and, with little effort, your commercial can go viral!
Producing an Email Newsletter
This is a great way of staying in touch with your current customers and contacting the potential ones. However, make sure not to send them ads; otherwise, your email will end up as a spam. Instead, inform your customers about the latest happenings and provide them with valuable information. You want to establish a relationship that will make them think of you when they need your type of product.
Distributing Flyers and Business Cards
Distribution of printed material is a great opportunity for promoting your business locally. This is another strategy that doesn’t require a sizeable amount of money. You can develop your own design for flyers and business cards and opt for custom printing to create unique material. When it comes to distribution, you can hire some students to hand out the material, or you can do it yourself with the help of your friends and family if you have enough time.
LinkedIn is a great business platform where you can connect with other companies and potential business associates. You can form a LinkedIn Group with the businesses from the same industry and share your interests. Additionally, you can even use this platform for posting about job openings and recruiting employees.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on promoting your business as long as you use some of these strategies efficiently. Find out which marketing approaches work for you and then focus on implementing them in a creative and innovative manner.
Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She’s a contributor at Bizzmark blog.
And don’t forget to support me as I rappel down the side of a 35-story building in downtown Chicago to raise money for minority and female entrepreneurs!
Learn How to Make Information Beautiful from Visme’s Payman Taei
Today is a quick post just to give you all a heads up about a really awesome video series that Payman Taei, the founder of Visme, is offering to teach those of us who are not trained graphic designers how we can still make beautiful visuals to help us promote our businesses.
I know that, as an entrepreneur starting out, money is tight and we sometimes have to do everything ourselves, even if we know we’re not the best at it. Designing visuals and presentations is one of those things that often ends up falling to us, even if it takes us way longer than it should to create a less than spectacular finished product. We still don’t want our marketing materials or pitch deck to look like a color-blind toddler pulled it together though, so this video series from Payman will be incredibly helpful to help us make our visuals look as polished and professional as possible so that we can tell the wonderful stories of our businesses without distracting the audience with slides and infographics that are so ugly the message gets lost. Below you’ll find Payman’s intro to the video series and the first lesson. For additional lessons, please visit the Make Information Beautiful Series site and sign up.
And don’t forget to support me as I rappel down the side of a 35-story building in downtown Chicago to raise money for minority and female entrepreneurs!
Guest Post: Lessons a Small Business Owner Can Learn from a Professional Logo Designer
We’re back with another guest post this week. This one comes from freelance writer Melissa Lang:
No matter what size of business you run, every business needs a company logo. When considering changes or rebranding to your original logo think about what it currently says to customers that have no prior experience with you. The big question is, how likely are you to engage with a brand that had a poorly designed logo?
A small business typically needs a logo more than an established brand. Your branding style has the ability to connect with your customer, and your company logo design is a representation of your brand.
For that reason, a great logo should subconsciously influence consumers to believe that your business sells great products. Show your customers your high standards of business with an enticing, quality logo and it is sure to build a connection quicker.
SMALL BUSINESS LOGO DESIGN ADVICE
“Symbolize and summarize.”
Logo Designer, Saul Bass created some of the world’s biggest businesses branding from Kleenex to American Airlines. He believed that a logo should send a message to consumers, even at a glance.
Do you believe that first impressions count? Truthfully, Business owners only really have one chance to make a good first impression and this is why so many rebrand. If you are running a small venture, an impressionable logo design could be a great way to catch your future customer’s eye whereas a poor design could damage your businesses reputation make consumers distrust you from the start.
There is a lot of work behind the logo design process and it should not only look attractive but it should show your business’ personality from just one look. It should also be transferable and useable across multiple mediums. There are lots of things to consider, but firstly have a look at our logo design tips, to gain some inspiration for your design:
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL LOGO DESIGNER
Remove all personal connection between you and your business logo design. The colours or images you love may not fit in with your business’s needs. By hiring some assistance, a professional they will be able to tweak the design from your imagination for business use. A professional logo designer’s perspective will take a more systematic approach to your design than an amateur would as they will break the process into:
- final design
CHOOSE COLOUR WISELY
In a study by ColourCom, it was proven that colour can increase a brand’s recognition by a huge 80%. Every colour has a different meaning, by telling your logo a bit more about your brand’s personality they will know exactly which of the following colours to use:
- Red: signifies passionate, high energy and demands a call to action. Brands who use red: Red Bull and Virgin.
- Blue: portrays trust and stability, often used by banking and finance brands. Brands who use blue: RBS and Facebook.
- Yellow: stimulates optimism and positivity. Brand who use yellow: IKEA and Macdonalds.
- Green: Often used to symbolise nature, recycling, and wildlife. Brands who use green: Whole Foods and Green Peace.
- Purple: Effective when used for luxury and calm. Brands who use purple: Cadbury and Hallmark.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE
Has your business evolved and you would like to show this in your logo design? Social media brand Instagram have done just that. In recent years Instagram has expanded and have added several new additions to their brand. They created a new design that would reflect how the diverse way consumers are now telling their stories, not just through text and image but through video and collages. Ian Spalter, Instagram’s head of design believes that:
“Brands, logos, and products develop deep connections and associations with people, so you don’t just want to change them for the sake of novelty”.
Therefore, it is important to consider the needs and desires of your customers before you rebrand your logo design. Deciding to change your small businesses logo can be risky but changing to a professional logo design could freshen up the appeal of your brand.
LOGO DESIGN AND THE ART OF SIMPLICITY
“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.”
Lindon Leader, The FedEx Logo Designer hits the nail on the head with this statement. Any professional Designer should know when to close the design and accept that sometimes, less is more. Overworking your design shouldn’t distract you from other elements of your business.
Minimalistic design is becoming more popular for corporate organisations and millennials are starting to declutter their company logos. MasterCard is the most recent example of a brand which has stripped back their logo.
Creative Review claims that their “radically simple design that could only work for a brand as well-known as Mastercard” but there are many benefits of using a simple logo for a smaller business.
BENEFITS OF A SIMPLE LOGO
Clear: Sometimes a company’s purpose can get lost in a busy logo design. Your small business should create a logo which future customers can associate with your brand. By keeping your logo simple you are keeping it targeted. The message your small business will be sending out will be clean and clear.
Memorable: Think about it this way, what would you find easier to remember – one sentence or one paragraph? The fewer elements there are on your logo design, the easier it will be for your customers to remember, think McDonalds and Coca-Cola! These may be larger organisations but they have barely touched their logo designs – proving that simple can be just as effective.
Understandable: Consumers connect better with designs that they can understand. If a consumer can describe your logo it makes your business more accessible and familiar. This will also be beneficial if your consumer is trying to recommend your brand, as they will be able to describe it.
Convertible Across All Media: The simpler the design they easier it is to publish across different media. Consider how your logo will look on anything from print, web, stamps, material, signs, transfers etc.
PROFESSIONAL LOGO DESIGN
Your logo is an extension of your brand just like your e-commerce website or physical business space. It is true that Humans respond better to images than they do to text and can process visuals 60,000 times faster than plain text
This shows the importance to small businesses about having a professional logo design which uses great imagery and typography. A visual identity creates a familiarity between your company and the customer.
Make sure your logo design strengthens your brand and supports your business’ message. There are lots of great logo designer’s out there that can design something that is both eye-catching and unique for your small business.
Melissa Lang is freelance writer from Glasgow, Scotland. She is currently working for Repeat Logo and has a keen eye for all things design.
The Tool That Helps You Define Your Business’ Brand
Today will be a quick post because I’m going to pull from a company called Brand Amplitude and will just give an overview and then send you off to their resources. Brand Amplitude has an awesome tool for helping business owners figure out how they want to brand their businesses and they’ve made it so much more accessible than the original version that they based their tool off of.
That tool is called the Brand Identity Prism and here are the basics:
The prism is a hexagon with 6 pieces that come together to form a rallying cry for your business.
Part one is your capabilities – what your business can do and do well.
Part 2 is your internal values and culture – this is about who are as a company.
Part 3 is your noble purpose – this is why your business does what it does – what impact are you looking to have beyond making money?
Part 4 is personality – this is about your business’ style and how it presents itself and relates to its customers.
Part 5 is shared values and community – this goes beyond your internal values and culture because it’s about which of those values overlap with the values of the customers you serve.
Part 6 is aspirational self image – this is all about what your customers want their use of your brand to say about them.
All of that comes together to inform your rallying cry – the rallying cry often becomes the slogan of a business – it’s what all 6 of the parts add up to and summarizes the core of your brand.
This tool is fabulous to help you define who you are as a company and what that means in terms of how to brand your business – and we all know that a consistent brand is vitally important for you to form a lasting relationship with your customers and to thrive as a business.
Please check out Brand Amplitude’s Slideshare for all of the details. I promise it will be worth your time.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, the best thing you can do for yourself is to just get started. Pick up my business planning ebook here to be guided through the whole business planning process for less than $5. More of a video person than a text person? Click here to try my ecourses instead.
Business Basics Review: The 4 Ps of Marketing
I’m still enjoying my vacation so this week’s New Venture Mentor will continue with a review of the business basics. Up next: the 4 Ps of marketing and how to apply them to getting the word out about your small business or startup.
Business Building Tips Weekly Round-Up: November 21, 2014
4 Ways to Offer Sales That Boost (Not Damage) Your Business
In this article for American Express’ OPENForum, Geoff Williams discusses how to best promote your startup or small business using sales that will increase sales and bring in new customers as opposed to costing you time and money. His suggestions include:
- Make sure you’ll at least break even
- Watch out for the deal hunters
- Know who you want to attract
- Know why you’re having a sale to begin with
Click the article title above to read the full piece and get all of the details.
10 Things You Most Likely Didn’t Know About Social Media
In this article for Social Media Today, Monica Wells shares some surprising tidbits about social media that will be helpful for any entrepreneur trying to market a startup or small business to know. Click the article above to get all of the details.
Best Gifts for Entrepreneurs
As we get deeper into the holiday season, in this week’s New Venture Mentor post I share my top picks at a variety of price points for the best gifts to give the entrepreneur in your life.
The 5 Worst Things You Can Say When Pitching for Venture Capital
In this article for Forbes, investor Josh Linkner shares the top ways entrepreneurs put their foot in their mouth when pitching their startups to venture capitalists and angel investors. Click the article title above to get all of the info.
8 Brilliant Facebook Marketing Tactics to Use Right Now
In this piece for Social Media Today, Betsy Kent shares 8 ideas for kicking your startup’s or small business’ Facebook marketing up a notch. Click the article title above to learn her tips.
4 Marketing Strategies That Paid Off for Small Companies
In this piece for the Wall Street Journal’s Small Business section, Chris Gay gives 4 examples of entrepreneurs who were able to spread the word about their startups and small businesses without spending a ton of cash. To learn how they did it and see if you can apply these tactics to your business, click the article title above.
Business Building Tips Weekly Round-Up: October 17, 2014
The One Mistakes That’s Killing Your Business
In this article for Entrepreneur, Alex Banayan explains why focusing on brand building isn’t going to help most small businesses succeed and argues instead that they need to focus on the strategies used by direct marketers. According to Banayan, when marketing a small business you should:
- Always in include an offer
- Give a reason to respond right now
- Give clear instructions
- Focus on tracking, measurement, and accountability
- Only do no-cost brand building
- Always follow up
- Make it look like mail order advertising
- Strengthen your copy
- Focus on results
- Go on a strict direct marketing diet.
To get all of the details, click the article title above.
Go Guerilla! 5 Unorthodox Ways to Market Your Brand
In this article for Entrepreneur, Mike Trigg discusses some of the most successful guerilla marketing campaigns in recent years and how you can utilize some of their strategies to promote your own business. According to Trigg, you should:
- Have a hook
- Be provocative
- Sell an idea, not a product
- Make it tangible
- Take a risk
Click the article title above to get all of the details.
Top Startup Mistakes: Not Properly Handling Money
In this week’s New Venture Mentor article I remind us, yet again, of the importance of properly managing your startup’s or small business’ money if you want to succeed. Click the article title above to see some of the most common money mistakes new entrepreneurs make, so you can avoid them.
The 25 Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Know About
Who doesn’t want to find inexpensive or free tools to make your life as an entrepreneur easier? In this article for Entrepreneur, Sujan Patel shares 25 of his favorites.
The Art of Setting Your Price
Figuring out what to charge for what you have to offer can be one of the most difficult decisions for new entrepreneurs. In this article for Inc., Eric Holtzclaw gives you some pointers for choosing the right price point including:
- Start with your direct costs
- Take into account ALL of your costs
- Ignore your competition
- Cover your opportunity costs
- Evaluate prior projects
To get all of the details, click the article title above.
5 Things You Must Do To Successfully Launch a Business
In this article for Entrepreneur, Christopher Hann reminds us of some of the very basics you need to make sure are covered before you can become a successful startup founder:
- Validate your idea
- Shore up your plan and budget
- Build the right team
- Establish a support system
- Respond to feedback and refine your model
If you’d like to learn more, click the article title above.
Learn From My Mistakes: Copyright Headaches
This week’s episode is going to be a little less structured and it’s really just a cautionary tale so that you can learn from my mistakes.
Entrepreneurship is full of headaches and mishaps that could easily be avoided if you knew what to look for, but when you’re a brand new entrepreneur you don’t know what you don’t know – so you often can’t even ask the right questions to be able to prepare yourself. Well, even though I’ve been in the entrepreneurship world for years, I’m still pretty new to this whole YouTube thing so I recently had one of those “oh crap” moments. I’m going to share what happened with you here so that, hopefully, you can avoid it yourself in the future.
As you know, I post a new video at least once a week on my YouTube channel. Now, these videos are designed to be helpful to my followers (that’s you!) and they’re the backbone of my content marketing strategy. I also monetize these videos.
Now, of course, in order to monetize these videos it’s imperative that you own the rights to all of the material that appears in your videos: that means logos, images, music, whatever. Nothing tricky here yet, right? Right. I was always very careful to not try to monetize videos in which logos showed up and I did a lot of research about where to find royalty-free music that I could use for the background in these videos. I read up on the different types of Creative Commons licenses and made sure that I chose a piece of music that specifically allowed commercial use and I made sure to give proper attribution in every single video.
I really thought I had covered my bases but then a few weeks ago – probably a couple of months ago by the time this video actually goes live – I received an email notification from YouTube that there had been a copyright claim made on one of my videos. I felt terrible that maybe I had inadvertently done something wrong or left the attribution off of that particular video so I double checked, but everything seemed to be as it should be so I decided not to worry about. But then a couple of days later I got another of these notices from YouTube, and then another, and another. Now I was really frustrated: If I hadn’t done anything wrong, why was someone making a claim on my video? I started reading up on the process for contesting such a claim but the information that YouTube provided made it seem pretty scary: they didn’t tell me how they would decide who was right or wrong in the claim and if they decided I was wrong they could completely suspend my whole account – not just the monetization on the videos.
Yikes! I couldn’t have my account suspended because then you all wouldn’t have access to my videos and I would lose all of the traffic to my website that they generate. I’d rather not be able to monetize than to lose my channel so I decided to halt monetization on ALL of my videos that used that song – and it was DOZENS of videos. I kept researching though and I eventually discovered the problem: While I had dotted all of my I’s and crossed my T’s on my end by choosing a song whose artist allowed commercial use and giving it proper attribution, the artist apparently hadn’t been as thorough. He’d sampled another song to create his and so didn’t actually have the rights himself. That meant his being cool with commercial use and giving it a Creative Commons attribution license was pretty much meaningless. Good thing I hadn’t contested the claim!
Why can’t I just go back and change all of the music on the old videos you ask? Well, because that would require taking down the videos that are there and re-uploading them with new music. That would make them completely new videos with completely new links and would create a slew of dead links from the past, so that was not an option.
I’ve now switched to using different background music – music I got from the YouTube Audio Library so there is no question about my right to use it and I will simply never be able to monetize those old videos. SUPER BUMMER!
So why the heck am I blabbing on and on about this stressful experience of mine? Because my job is to make sure you all avoid the most common pitfalls that new entrepreneurs fall prey to so hopefully I can save you the stress of this one if you’re planning to use YouTube videos as a part of your content marketing strategy.
Live and learn I suppose – but this time around you can learn without living through the crumminess yourself!
I know this format is totally new for me so let me know what you think. Do you want more anecdotes like this about my personal ups and downs as an entrepreneur or do you prefer the more structured episodes that you normally see? Let me know in the comments below.
If you liked this format and think someone else would find the info helpful, please give me a thumbs up on YouTube and Facebook and share it with your networks. And don’t forget to subscribe to my channel and to email updates so you don’t miss any info or tips to help you plan and launch your new business.