Marketing Basics for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs
A blog post from The Venture Center Marketing Team
The Venture Center is gearing up for a jam-packed summer of programs to support entrepreneurs. Check out the calendar of upcoming events here. The Venture Center is also preparing to introduce the 2021 FIS Fintech Accelerator cohort to the community. We’ll have a virtual kickoff on June 9, at 11 a.m ., and we want you to be there! RSVP here.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has ushered in myriad changes across the workforce, and all signals point to an imminent rise in entrepreneurship and a crop of new small businesses. The opportunity for change certainly exists, and Arkansas has a wealth of support for budding entrepreneurs through entrepreneur support organizations like The Venture Center, The Conductor, Startup Junkie and more. Marketing and communications are fundamental to any business, whether new or established, but many people struggle to begin.
Recently at The Venture Center, we held a workshop to help outline our favorite marketing tools and strategies for those who are starting on their own or are looking to redouble their efforts as life continues to ramp up to full speed. In our workshop, Mimi San Pedro, Molly Mitchell and Becky Pittman shared their favorite tools for helping with marketing and communication that can be executed quickly and on a shoestring budget!
The Venture Center marketing team imagined a new coffee shop led by women entrepreneurs to provide a case study for how a business can implement a DIY marketing plan. The full workshop video is linked here.
Now, let's get started.
Step 1: Make a marketing plan and creative brief
Creating a marketing plan is critical. Failure to plan is really planning to fail, so don’t skip this step! Write a plan and uncover strategic directions, identify goals and practice discipline in execution to meet and exceed those goals.
Here’s a template of a marketing plan that may be helpful for those who’ve never created a marketing plan. A creative brief is an important component of an overall marketing plan because this will guide the look, feel and message of the content to be created. Here’s a template of a creative brief to download and use for any effort that needs creative clarification.
Step 2: Create content
You may have heard it before, but content is king. And not just any content, it has to be relevant, strategic, on-brand and polished. DIY marketers need the basics: graphics and written content. (Video is critical too. We cover video basics in this linked workshop.) For design work, Canva and Spark are great drag-and-drop design tools that can save enormous amounts of time and energy. These platforms have multiple templates for any marketing activity.
For written content, blogs and articles are great at helping with all marketing efforts from search engine optimization and social media to helping potential media learn more about your business. If you need great blogs and articles and want to produce them quickly, Temi and Grammarly can help!
Temi allows you to interview blog subjects, record the interviews and have them transcribed in minutes. Writing life before Temi meant a twenty-minute phone call took an hour to transcribe. Busy entrepreneurs need a better way to transcribe content, and we vote for Temi.
Additionally, Grammarly is essential. When creating content, poor grammar and typos hurt your efforts to promote your brand. Entrepreneurs may not have time or capacity for proofreading content, so Grammarly is a huge help. Grammarly analyzes copy written in English and catches typos, grammatical errors and scores your work. We highly recommend it!
Step 3: Distribute your content
Your website is the core of your online presence and anyone who visits should be able to easily find the who, what, where, why and how of your business.
Fast and easy website builders include Squarespace or Wix. Like Canva, there are beautiful, customizable templates available. For marketers who want a bit more customization, WordPress may be a good option. The learning curve is steeper, but that comes with greater control and a wider array of options.
No distribution strategy is complete without social media. The key to effective digital marketing and marketing on social channels is consistency, timeliness, accuracy and relevance, and there are many tools to help automate these efforts. AgoraPulse is our favorite. It’s economical and has features that enable on-platform communication with social media users from multiple channels.
The most important thing to know about marketing is that expertise is not required. All you really need is curiosity and organization. Every area of marketing has incredible depth and requires constant learning. YouTube is an incredible source of free tutorials, and also, The Venture Center is here to help! We have a mentorship program that provides help for people in all areas of business, including marketing.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you connected!