Marketing Tips for Small Businesses: 4 marketing must haves for start-up companies

by Sep 17, 2014Tactical0 comments

“As a service provider, especially in the start-up phase, you no longer need to have an office or physical location, but you better make sure that your business can be found online!”


AUTHORS NOTE: Ever since I started the Marketing Workshops for Small Businesses Meetup in Ottawa, I look for ways to help entrepreneurs and small business owners with their marketing. I asked what our Meetup members (AKA “Smarketers”) want to get out of these workshops. I was surprised at how many Smarketers said they joined “to learn new marketing tips and trips”. We’ll get to that, but let’s start with the essentials first.

Every business starts somewhere and most start with very little cash. Having limited financial resources can be extremely stressful for new business owners. As such, their mentality towards spending cash can be summed up by this one sentence: Only spend on what is absolutely necessary and make damn good use what you spend! Naturally, the marketing budget is also subject to this mentality. So, what little that is invested in marketing must be used optimally.

Answering questions such as “Which marketing medium will give me the best bang for my buck?” are outside of the scope of this article. It is hard to get into specifics about what you should do because this is highly dependent on the product or service you sell, the industry you operate in, what your competitors are doing, how much you are willing to spend, and so on. Instead, I have compiled list of marketing must haves for all new business owners.

You absolutely need these.

1. Business cards


Yes, business cards are so typical and traditional. But trust me, it is the most important form of print advertising you will ever spend money on. And they are very inexpensive too. It is easy to spend less than $20 for 500 business cards and at $0.05 apiece, it is arguably the most efficient way of promoting your business. If you can, spend more money to get higher quality or even customized business cards. They go a long way to help you make a great first impression with potential clients and this will likely increase your future retention and recall rates.

2. Website


Having an online presence is a must. As a service provider, especially in the start-up phase, you no longer need to have an office or physical location, but you better make sure that your business can be found online! You save a lot of money by working from home, and you should consider using these savings to invest in a beautifully designed and well built website.

3. Brand


Most new business owners don’t spend enough time thinking about their brand. Consequently, they end up rebranding after a year or two only to waste any brand equity that was established, while confusing existing customers during the process. It is so important to spend the time and or money on creating a well-thought-out brand. One that fits your product or service offering, one that can be easily remembered and especially one that customers can identify with. Make sure that a professional designs your company logo. Above all, make sure that it is the same one that is found on your business cards and website. Consistency is key.

4. Short term marketing plan


Take the time out of your busy schedule to do some planning. Write down the most important marketing-related goals you want to achieve within the next 6 months. Then compile a list of marketing activities that you think will satisfy them. Even a basic marketing plan will allow you to focus on achieving the set objectives and it help you figure out what works and what doesn’t, for future reference. Generally speaking, a start-up’s marketing plan should focus on creating brand awareness and generating revenue.

Work harder and smarter.

Believe it or not, having very limited working capital during a company’s start-up phase can be a great thing! Being cash poor often pushes business owners to work harder and smarter. People can think of the most ingenious ways to market their products or services when they are forced to think outside of the box.

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Meet the author.

Taro Abarbanel-Uemura

Marketing Strategist

Meet Fortified Marketing's founder and lead marketing consultant. Taro loves reading fascinating articles on various marketing-related subjects, just as much as he enjoys writing about them. When he isn’t savouring a latte while working on his newest blog post, he can be found at a coffee shop in Ottawa's Little Italy, or marathoning shows and documentaries on Netflix.

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