I was going to post some advice about brand building, but I’ve noticed that many (newer) small businesses jump far to quickly from the branding strategy and marketing strategy phases to the tactical; meaning they go straight to “how can I advertise my great product/service, asap?” You see the result of this in Toronto area advertising all the time.
The result of this well-meaning but compulsive thinking is money spent (wasted?) without a strategic fulcrum to underpin or justify the tactic. Hence…
5 things to do before you spend your first advertising dollar
1. Understand that consumers buy brands, not products or services. How strong is your brand awareness and appreciation vs. the competition?
2. Get a solid marketing plan. If, like many small businesses, you don’t have a comprehensive marketing strategy to inform your actions, don’t spend any money on advertising. The proverbial cart is in front of the horse. You are the horse, in this instance. If you don’t have a marketing plan, get one.
3. Consider that your competitors have probably already done it. Which should not preclude you from considering a given advertising tactic (provided it aligns with your marketing strategy as per point #2 above.) Monitor how competing brands engage consumers. Make sure they are the same consumers. Consider if you should adopt a me-too approach or investigate other channels of communication. Remember that leaders don’t follow.
4. Look in the mirror. Does your brand belong on TV? Would an unaddressed mail drop be more efficient? Will a flight of 30 second radio spots really do a better job than 4 hours at an industry convention? Don’t go big just to do so. Look at your marketing plan. What fits your brand?
5. Find out what media your customers consume. Just because YouTube is hot doesn’t mean your target consumer likes it or uses it. Find out how your customers and potential customers use media to research, shop, and purchase.