Do you have an abandoned Twitter account? Has your LinkedIn account remained untouched for months due to login failure or lost password? If you had to name your businesses fonts and color palette – in RGB too – could you easily access it?
I truly enjoy working with small businesses. Whether that means organizing a new venture into social media, creating messaging that resonates with a new untapped audience or planning an event, the issue isn’t a shortage of ideas. Most often I find the hurdles to any new marketing initiative (aside from budget and expectations) are capturing an accurate picture of past efforts and gaining access to graphic design assets, various accounts and a list of client emails. If you as a business owner are ready to step up your marketing efforts, there are some steps you can take to prepare.
Why is this necessary? In a word: efficiency. The more background information you can share with a marketing consultant or someone within your company taking on various marketing roles, the more efficient and informed your new direction will be. Laying the groundwork for successful marketing starts with your history and your brand identity. And in order for the marketing pro to assess your accounts and stats to present a plan, they will need access to your website and social media accounts. Take existing stock based on the outline below. This will indicate if you’re ready to begin and who you need to involve. If your graphic identity is lacking, it’s best to start there, perhaps working with a marketing and graphic design professional.
What marketing have you done to date? As an exercise in marketing, formally summarize your thoughts chronologically, by medium (print, web, direct mail, social media) and measurements – How many did you reach? How much did it cost? What was effective? What didn’t work as well? Who are your current clients? What do your potential clients look like? Who are your partners? What does the competition look like? A simple two-page or so snapshot of this history is very helpful as a starting point.
Taking stock of your existing graphic assets – your logo in all forms (low res, high res, eps, jpg, png) your logo type, your logo in circle, square, whatever the format, is important. You also want a file of any graphics for advertising and marketing purposes created for your business not only in pdf but in original artwork form. Designers have to recreate art files if you only have a pdf or final artwork. So essentially every time a new designer touches your brand, it changes it. I see this happen a lot when publications offer design services for small businesses. Or when business owners have multiple initiatives where many hands touch the brand across different channels that either don’t offer the level of customization needed or coding knowledge is required to customize i.e. email marketing services like Constant Contact.
Photography comes in many forms and with the increasing wealth of social media channels to share your brand, capturing and tagging your images is essential. I just read a post from The Creative Group about the high level of interest generated when businesses show the inner workings of their companies. Instagram is a great tool that uses filters to further convey the look and tone you’re going for with a photo and messaging. It’s forgiving to amateur photographers no doubt. Get in the habit of recognizing these photographic moments if not to post now, they can be great to have in your archive to reference and post later. This applies for video too.
Do you have a set of fonts for your brand? Businesses can have several fonts, but starting with a core of three is a good rule of thumb. Consider a serif, sans serif and a web-friendly font (see Digital Operative’s post). Typically this range of fonts can achieve the look and feel you’re going for whether it’s an event invite, an email, blog post or e-newsletter.
I recently worked with a client, LTI Management, who worked with Nancy Wojack Henderickson, a graphic designer, to expand the palette beyond her company’s three main colors of gray, green and orange. It now includes a blue and red. More choices can help clients discern different elements of your brand and fine-tune the look and feel you want to convey to different markets. Be sure to know your CMYK’s and RGB’s – see Crux Creative’s overview. In general, CMYK is for print and RGB is for web. When you’re creating anything on the web, the RGB’s should match your palette. Email marketing services and more typically have fields where you can specify your RGB, rather than guessing at it.
Access to Accounts
Many telling facts can be found in website analytics and social media following and traffic. Make a spreadsheet! This is a key tool for you and your marketer to access. Include the media (i.e. Facebook), email associated with the account, username, password and existing followers or participation. Doing this step upfront will assure you can keep the momentum going on your marketing efforts.
Build your Lists
Maybe you’ve been doing a stellar job collecting client emails and information, but haven’t done anything with them yet. Or maybe you haven’t been collecting this information (and categorizing it) in an organized way. This is something you can start on your own right away. It can take some time… For your list, create it in Excel with categories like company, first and last name, title, email, phone, address, website, social accounts and whatever categories are relevant for your business (client, partner, vendor, potential client, media, etc). The list can be exported for use in various marketing outreach tools and it serves as your main distribution channel for all of the great marketing ideas you want to share.
There you have it. Take inventory, collect, then contact a marketing professional to put your plan in action.