mindmap with pencil pointing to "marketing"Marketing can be one of the most fun and most intimidating parts of starting your business.  Choosing a company name can be exciting and fun, while making your first presentation to a prospective buyer can be scary.  The truth is whether fun or scary, marketing is what drives the sales of your company.  Without a properly trained sales force, the materials to support their efforts, and an appropriate brand image, you will have a hard time driving business.

The three most important marketing items that you will need to start with are your company’s name, logo and slogan.  As you try to find a name for your company, try to think of a name that will reflect your company’s image.  When you have narrowed down your choices to a select few, ask your friends or professional colleagues which ones they prefer and why.  You will also want your lawyer to conduct a state and national search of that company name.  If it is not taken, you will want him or her to register that name.  This search and registration insures that no one else has, or can have in the future, marketing rights to your company’s name.

After securing a company name, you will want to have a professional graphic designer create a logo for you.  Look for someone that has experience, and ask to see their portfolio.  Choose someone that you think understands your company.  Your graphic designer or marketing professional should sit down with you and review your thoughts on who your company is, what it sells, who your target market is, what your company’s future goals are, your advertising plans are, and what other people view your company as.  The answers to these questions will help them to derive what your brand image is and represent that visually. 

Typically, your graphic designer will present you with several designs that you can reject, change, or accept.  As you review these designs, you will want to look for something that:

  • Jumps out at you.
  • You like.
  • Represents your company and product or service.
  • Can be represented equally well in color, black and white, or inverse.
  • Can be enlarged or reduced and retain its clarity.
  • Can be reproduced and retain its clarity, such as photocopied, scanned, faxed, etc.
  • Can be reproduced on a variety of materials, such as letterhead or business cards and promotional merchandise.

It can be debated that some of the most iconic and timeless logos are the most simple and unique.  Understand that occasionally you may find wonderful graphic design work that is inexpensive from a student.  However, you will probably have to invest a little more to be guaranteed quality work that will last the life of your company.

Your final piece of marketing will be a slogan.  A slogan will be a phrase that will be associated with your company, similar to your logo.  It will probably appear on business cards, letterhead, and your promotional materials.  Your slogan should be short, to the point, and represent the function or mission of your company.

After finalizing a company name, logo, and/or slogan, you can create your letterhead, business cards, website, and any other information sales tools needed.  In addition, you will want to announce your company’s launch with a press release and perhaps some advertising.  A marketing firm can help you to accomplish these tasks.

No doubt if you begin to search for a marketing firm or consultant, there are many available.  Larger firms may have experience in a variety of fields and more access to graphics designers or the ability to obtain lower advertising rates for your company.  Oftentimes, this is balanced with higher hourly rates.  Smaller boutique firms typically specialize in a certain type of client or industry and can provide more personable service at a lower rate.  You will want to investigate several different options and evaluate who understands your company’s image best and can represent that clearly.

Before interviewing advertising consultants and publicists, research or ask for their client list.  It is important for you not to use the same agents that your competitor’s do because of the conflict of interest.  A client list will also allow you to evaluate the quality of that consultant’s and agency’s product.

When comparing agencies, you may want to evaluate them on the following points:

  • Their rates or fees.
  • Their specializations in both clients and industries.
  • The number of years in the business.
  • Their portfolios.

While reviewing portfolios, don’t be distracted by glossy pages and bright colors.  As you evaluate, make sure that their creativity has logic.  They should know their client’s marketing goals, show the method they chose to accomplish those goals, why they chose that method, and how effective it was for each client or project in their portfolio.  They should also let you know how much each project costs and why.

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