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Is it possible for me to do the branding and marketing myself? If so, where do I start?

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I own a project-based recruiting firm, where we do the sourcing/pipeline development, talent segmented recruitment marketing, and much more for companies. I’m in need of branding and marketing tools. Is it possible for me to do the branding and marketing myself? If so, where do I start?

Answer:    We do not know your marketing experience and your timeline for implementing a brand strategy and new marketing plans for your business; however, it is certainly possible for a small business owner to develop branding and marketing plans. Also, many businesses find it productive to utilize outside advertising agencies to help develop branding and marketing strategies.

Brand development: There is no single best branding strategy. Developing and maintaining a good brand often takes considerable time and effort. As discussed in the following article, “The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.
 
Therefore, it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
 
The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
 

  • Delivers the message clearly
  • Confirms your credibility
  • Connects your target prospects emotionally
  • Motivates the buyer
  • Concretes User Loyalty”
What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Marketing Strategy: about.com
 
There are several considerations to keep in mind for an overall branding strategy. For example, the following discussion gives a sample list of branding considerations:

Concepts
 
1. Brand name
2. Brand identity
 
Branding approaches
 
1. Company name
2. Individual branding
3. Attitude branding
4. “No-brand” branding
5. Derived brands
6. Brand extension
7. Multi-brands
8. Own brands and generics:
 
Brand: wikipedia.org
 
To help you develop and manage your brand, you can review helpful discussions like the following:
 

 
Marketing plan: Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets in marketing. Regardless of the form of advertising, a business must be aggressive and break though the promotional clutter of many other businesses to attract customers’ attention. Marketing methods are influenced by the industry, local competition, brand recognition, target customers, available capital, customer base, and other factors.
 
Also, trial and experimentation is usually required to determine the most effective promotional methods for a particular market. Businesses normally determine by experience which marketing options provide the greatest response with the lowest cost. Business owners test, adjust and measure their marketing efforts to make sure they are allocating their marketing dollars cost-effectively. Even with a well thought out marketing plan in place, some trial and experimentation may be necessary to develop the most cost effective approach for reaching your target market. Also, marketing is most effective when it includes a call to action and is focused on your target customers; therefore, clearly identifying and reaching your target customers will be a critical element to developing an effective marketing plan.

Referrals from satisfied customers are one of the better advertising methods for professional service businesses. To develop a better understanding of the referral marketing process and develop a referral marketing strategy for your particular business, you can review website resources like the following:
 

 
Direct, or B2B, sales: B2B sales activities can be performed by small business owners, in-house sales staff, and independent or outside sales reps. Also, using a telemarketing firm can be an option. Letters of introduction, brochures, resumes, and other methods are used to make initial contacts with commercial accounts; however, B2B sales generally require some level of direct sales activities to introduce business products and services and to develop business relationships. For example, businesses often have established recruiter relationships; therefore, it can be important to meet with your target business clients face-to-face in order to have an opportunity to explain all of the benefits and advantages of your services and try to establish a business relationship. You can locate additional suggestions and tools for developing your B2B sales methods in bookstore and library publications and websites like the following:
 

 
Professional networking: Networking, presenting at business seminars, and networking with other professionals (bankers, insurance agents, etc), business owners and organizations can be effective marketing.
 
Online marketing: Business websites are common today to market business products and services. You can make effective use of a business website with search engines, banners, keywords, blogs, or other website marketing tools. Also, social media websites and blogs are very popular at the moment and some may be able to reach target customers (individuals or businesses) and create interest in certain business products or services. These methods are newer, there is considerable competition, and business networking and marketing results will vary by situation based on various factors. We do not have any quantitative results on the business marketing success rates of the many networking websites. Basically, you would have to research and then test this type of advertising in order to determine if it reaches your target audience or otherwise can be effective for your business. Business and social networking sites generally have explanatory information for business advertisers on their websites.
 
Contact lists: Letters of introduction, brochures, resumes, and other methods are used to make initial contacts with commercial accounts. Target customer lists can often be compiled for free, or for a nominal cost, from various sources: Chamber of Commerce, local government agencies, Yellow Pages, Internet business directories, and others. However, the most efficient source of businesses by industry, revenues, number of employees, location, income, and other criteria is a commercial list service, though they may cost a few hundred dollars. You can also use the Yellow Pages or an Internet search engine to locate commercial lists and directories that may provide you with target customer information. The following are example websites:
 

 
Free publicity: There are often opportunities for free publicity or public relations in local or larger markets by providing public interest stories to local newspapers that lead back to your product or service. Being a new business owner in the area, providing a niche or unique service, being elected business of the month and other factors can qualify you for free publicity in your market. Companies should certainly take advantage of press releases and other media public relations that they can obtain for free, by bartering or on an economical basis. There are numerous companies offering publicity advertising services. You can check with local radio and TV stations, advertising agencies and PR firms regarding free publicity. You can review suggestions and tips for obtaining free publicity at websites like the following:

 
Business directories: The Yellow Pages, business publications, Internet business directories, and effective utilization of an Internet website. Be sure you track to see that your ads are actually driving traffic.
 
Competitive review: For marketing ideas, research how the competition and industry advertises their services.
 
Testimonials: Develop customer testimonials that you can incorporate into your marketing materials to have prospects realize that you are offering valuable business services that have been well received by other business owners and individuals.
 
Advertising agency: Businesses in competitive industries often use outside marketing professionals to help develop brand and marketing strategies. If you need to consider engaging a professional ad agency to help with developing your branding and marketing strategies and plans, you can review the typical considerations when selecting an advertising agency at industry websites like following:  
 

Published: June 11, 2013
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Matt Tarkenton

Matt Tarkenton is Executive Vice President at Tarkenton Companies. He was part of a group that started Renova Partners, a boutique investment bank, and was recognized as a “40 Under 40: Up and Comer” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2009. Matt performs business planning and marketing training for hundreds of professionals across the country, and co-hosts a weekly coaching program on entrepreneurial education. Matt graduated from Princeton University, where he was a member of the 1989 Ivy League Championship Football Team, and received an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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