Updated: Dec 1, 2021
I have been an entrepreneur all of my life. Been doing this “Earning from Creativity” thing since I was about 6-years old. So I know that starting a small business is an exciting, terrifying, and exhilarating adventure! Before many of the barriers of entry were getting knocked down, it would take years of planning and recalculating before a business even opened to the public. Nowadays, with so much technology at our fingertips and the low costs of so much, you can have your business up and running literally within a few days if not hours. Although, just because you build it, will they come? “Who are, ‘They?’ you may ask. Well if this is a business and not an expensive hobby, then you need customers, but before even that you will need your audience to know that you, and more importantly, that your solutions exist to solve their problems. This is where marketing comes into play and this is why marketing is the more important aspect of running a business. If you don’t have a consistent pipeline of leads (an interested person/group), then generating new business will be hard, and generating consistent revenue will be an issue. To say it plainly, without leads, you will have a hard time getting paid to do what you love to do.
A critical part of business marketing comes down to some essential marketing materials that promote your brand and keep it top of mind for those people you encounter. These marketing essentials are universal as they ground themselves in the core ways small businesses connect with their target audiences. Today, we are going to break down five marketing material ideas for every small business starting out, so you can prosper in the marketplace.
It may not be the first thing you think of when you want to make your own marketing materials, but what’s a business without a logo? A logo goes hand in hand with a business’s identity and is a necessary piece of a small business’s marketing material suite. You may be thinking, “I don’t have a design background, nor do I have the budget to hire a freelance designer.” Don’t worry! Designing a logo doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. There are PLENTY of affordable custom logo design services that allow you to work directly with a design expert to craft the perfect logo in no time. And yes, I meant to capitalize because there isn’t a valid reason not to have a professionally designed logo with so many options out there.
A professional logo is worth the upfront investment because when it’s done well and professionally, a small business can use it for years to come. A logo goes on every promotional item and digital component of your business. And becomes the key element of how your audience will remember you. Get your logo set before you dive into any other marketing efforts, so you are prepared to create branded materials.
It is the year 2021, no matter the industry, a small business must have a website. Gone are the days when websites were nice to have; they have become a necessity for any business that wants to thrive. At one point, many businesses thought that as long as they were on social media, then a website was optional. I’ll be blunt, if you don’t have a website and strictly use social media, your brand and how you communicate is not in your control and easy to lose credibility. Your website is your “digital storefront” and more importantly, it's your “digital home’. You will own a piece of the internet and your customers will have a hub to connect with you.
Much like your business card, which for decades was a professional standard, a website provides a level of professionalism and credibility to your company. Number one it shows that you took the time to invest in your business, you took the time to invest in yourself. More and more, people are searching online in order to verify a business as trustworthy before they even step foot in a store or make a purchase. But even more so as you can see if for any reason your customers cannot physically visit your store, they can still be a loyal customer by shopping on your business website.
When I started out with EMPro, Ltd, the third thing that I did was build my company website, the first thing I did was buy my domain name and created a logo, because I wanted to own my marketing identity and create a place for people to find and connect with my solutions.
A small business website provides everything a potential client needs to validate your business as legitimate. As we can see the world is always changing and unpredictable, businesses with websites have a better opportunity to survive with all of the uncertainty in the world. Especially as business becomes more and more global, you have to give your customers - both local and global - the best method to connect with you. In addition, to establish trust with your prospective customers, they will look for you online. Do you want them to find what you are saying about your products and services first, or what others have to say about you, or worst yet, they don’t find you at all instead they find competitors that are online and do have websites. Your website is one of the first places they will look for and what they should find when they arrive on your website:
Brief “About Us” section
Phone number, email address, and physical or mailing address
Hours of operation
Social media widgets/links
Basic product offering information
This initial effort will help your business in the long run. Being listed in local directories and having strong SEO will all benefit your marketing efforts. They put your website in the right search results and get your business in front of the people who want your business.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of crafting a professional website, don’t fret! There are resources available to build the perfect website that are simple to use and design. For some useful tips, take a look at our article breaking down the things you need to start a website for your business.
Postcards and Flyers
Small businesses can do wonders with postcards or flyers as they are wonderful promotional marketing materials. Think about it: you probably encounter at least ten business postcards or flyers on any given day. Why is that? Because they are cost effective marketing tools that can be repurposed in a variety of ways.
Postcards and flyers are easy to leave behind at events, tack up on community boards or mail out to prospective clients. Their unique size and stock quality makes them stand out from regular mail, so people notice them more. They also have enough space to include promotions and more details about a business than a business card, but in an economical size. Order them in bulk and use them for various events and promotions. You’ll never regret having an ample supply when a last-minute opportunity pops up.
A brochure is a great printed marketing material to hand out to prospective customers. This format is large enough to include a lot of information about your business and allows much more space for you to interact with your audience than a business card or leaflet. Think of your brochure as a printed version of your website – it should highlight your background, your services and products, and contact information. Much like the importance of an “About Us” section on your website, your brochure is your opportunity to present your business story, which will help to engage customers.
It’s also a flexible marketing tool that you can adapt to your needs as your small business progresses over time. Introducing a new product or service? You can create a brochure to highlight all the details. Attending a trade show or event? It has enough space to act as a sales pitch for your business as a whole. They can also be included in package mail outs and at points of sale.
Brochures can be a great takeaway for customers to read later, or to get some further information about who you are and why they should purchase from you. For more in-depth information on what to include in your brochure, take a look at our our guide to writing a brochure.
Small businesses often purchase business cards first because they are useful, relevant, and budget-friendly. They offer the perfect place to feature your logo and begin crafting a whole offering of cohesive branded materials. Beyond handing cards out to prospective clients and investors, business cards offer different marketing opportunities. You can leave a stack of cards behind at relevant vendors or local stores. As we all know, building community awareness is a critical step for small businesses, and business cards are an easy way to spread the word. Make friends with your neighbors if you have a physical storefront. Stop by, say hello, and give out a handful of cards to the proprietors as well as their customers.
If your business is digitally-based, business cards still provide incredible marketing value. Your business may be online, but you and your employees are in the real world, interacting with other people and businesses daily. Use business cards to generate buzz and curiosity about your business. Even though it may feel very different than a traditional storefront business, online businesses have just as much need for business cards.
Business cards are portable, professional reminders about your business. They include all pertinent details anyone would need to contact you and begin a customer relationship. Always keep a handful in your wallet; you never know who you’ll meet and how that person will impact your small business.
For small businesses, understanding the benefit of custom marketing materials and how they play into long-term business success is a top priority. Each component plays an important role in creating authority and notoriety in the market. Now that you have this marketing materials list, get to work and make a splash with your comprehensive small business marketing strategy.
Now let's get it!
I devote my professional life to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners reach their goals. So stay in touch by dropping a comment and connect on YouTube and Twitter!
I'm Ehren Muhammad, Founder of EMPro, Ltd
YouTube: Ehren Muhammad channel
EMPro, Ltd - Branding & Digital Marketing
Digital Solutions for Small Business
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