Be heard without screaming; be visible without cluttering.
Branding is much more than orthodox advertising. It is about recognition and establishing trust.
How, you ask? Read on.
Today, your start-up's existence depends on branding.
If you've thought, "At least I've been getting my name out there," of the advertising budget that you've spent without knowing what benefit you've gotten, you're not alone.
Advertisements work, but if you can't trace incoming revenues to the ads that generate them, you're wasting time, effort and money.
This article refers to low-investment marketing methods that will grow your new start-up without unwanted budget leaks.
Eye-catching, informative press releases give television news channels, newspapers, and magazines free filler material and you get a credible story about your company.
First, find something newsworthy to report about your business and you.
Do you have information that is timely, dramatic, captures readers' interest, or provides a noteworthy benefit to even a layman?
Craft a story that includes your business in one of these ways. Perhaps you've created six new jobs in your hometown or even a metro city you live in. You might be holding an upcoming open house.
Your company might save people time or money.
Never assume that people know which brand is the leader, that's the first step to failure.
Next, determine which media will be interested.
If the local newspaper's readership is primarily upper-income investors, it won't care about saving customers a small amount a year by buying your widget, but the same press release for a college publication may be perfect. The media you choose must speak to your target audience.
Use attractive letterhead. The upper margin, or banner will contain your company name, address, and phone number, a contact person who can answer more questions about the information, and the current date.
Immediately below the banner, centred and capitalised, it should read 'FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE' or specify a release-after date.
Skip a line, and write an article that could be used as-is.
After its conclusion, skip another line and type '# # #' to inform the editors that nothing more follows.?
Deliver it by e-mail, fax, in person, or via postal delivery.
Brands are built by companies and maintained by its customers .
Find your clients' online forums. If you sell athletic shoes, get on message boards where you can post updates about sales, new arrivals and educational information.
The college/school's sports team's social networking page is one way to connect with local people who regularly purchase running shoes, for instance.
An IPL site would be worthless unless you're selling nationally.
Post regularly, not repetitively. Alternate messages that ask for sales with ones that offer useful information and light humour.
If you provide newsworthy items, you'll gain customers' trust and confidence.
A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus.
Non-competing companies with similar target markets can be your best source of customers. That's why realtors and lenders often work jointly.
Athletic shoe stores can partner with sporting goods stores to share advertising costs and customers. Jewellery stores, bridal boutiques, and wedding planners all work well together.
What businesses complement yours?
Consider exactly what you can offer and what you want to see in exchange.
An effective pitch is specific.
"I'd like to print ninety 30-page how-to booklets for these high school sports teams. I'm including articles about styles of running shoes, tips on selecting the best brands, and a calendar of their cricket tournament for the year so they'll keep it handy.
"If you'll pay half of the Rs 60,000 printing cost, you can write up to 15 pages of information about the sporting equipment they can get here to help them have a great season."
Think simple: what branding builds, sub-branding can destroy.
Sponsoring a group that has high interest in your product can be highly beneficial.
If your shoestore pays for year-end trophies, you can negotiate to have your company's banners placed at every game.
Conversely, sponsoring unrelated events won't have much effect.
Reminder ads work great for mature companies like Coca-Cola, but a start-up shoestore won't see sales from sponsoring a Formula1.
The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its communication.
Service providers empower customers and build relationships by caring about them.
Follow-up phone calls let customers know they matter to your company.
Drip e-mail, text messaging, and social media can be inexpensive and beneficial if used sparingly and in a way that the customer values.
Like online forums, you'll need to provide useful information, not simply put out messages that say,
"Hey, look at me!"
If you sell expensive items likes houses or cars, personal contact is vital.
If you operate a discount store, you can ask for two-way customer feedback occasionally to communicate your concern for your buyers.
A start-up is built overnight. Success is measured over the years.But a brand is sculptured in decades.
Bartering may provide the solution you need.
Will the high-traffic petrol pump let you set up an advertising display with a new car in exchange for fuelling your cars there?
Finding the right trade can be challenging, but also can offer high payoffs if planned well.
If you remember the principles presented in the acronym, you'll be adept at marketing your business on a shoestring budget, without sacrificing your hair growth.
Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Garry Knight/Creative Commons