So you have a great idea for a business! Cool! What do you do next?
When I started my first business venture, I thought of a cool name, then I got some free business cards from VistaPrint and then a Yahoo website. Really! Have you done something similar but found that sales are disappointing despite the great idea, killer product and unlimited enthusiasm? If you're in that same boat, then this article is for you. I have complied some critical and useful information for you of lessons I've learned both through years of research, trial and error.
Step One - Research
To begin successfully, you have to research.
Research your competitors. How many other people are in your city, state and country and even internationally that sell what you sell? Is there a need for your product? Is your product something that is a necessity or a luxury? These are all important things to know.
You need to research who your target market is. What gender, income range, education level, net worth, parents or not, homeowners or not, etc....
After you have identified your market and settled on a product to sell, the next step is to find out the psycho-graphics of your target market. Are they conservative? Liberal? Health Conscious? Energetic? And many other soft details like this. It helps to make personas which are fake characters that have the same qualities as your target market. It helps to name them and market to "Michele" or to "Oliver". Why is this necessary? You have to understand this data in order to market effectively. How else will you pique their interest or make your product speak directly to the consumer? Here is a free persona development guide for you to use.
Step Two – Be Unique and Fill A Need
Your product must be unique and it must fulfill a need. If your product does not fill a need for your target market, it will not sell. It is really that simple. So how do you discover if your product will fill a need? You investigate your target market you created above and what they consider a need.
Step Three – Find Your Name
Now that you have your research done and you know your product fills a need, now it’s time to choose a name to both describe your product and communicates to your target audience.
Avoid names that:
Sound outdated in a few years – Many people want to ride the pop culture wave, but pop culture changes so quickly that your name will sound silly in a few years.
Sound Gimmicky - People are used to being bombarded with sales messages on a daily basis so if you want them to pay attention to you, you have to show how what you’re offering will benefit them, not you.
Choose names that:
Identify what your product is
Speak to your target audience
Step Four – Design Your Brand
Colors! This is such a fun part! BUT – you shouldn’t just pick your favorite colors. Each demographic and target market responds differently to different colors. Color is fundamental to visual communication. The great people at HelpScout have a great guide that goes into much more depth than I will in this blog, so check them out!
Fonts! Another fun part! I have seen many business signs that immediately turn me off of their product because of the poorly designed sign. Fonts are vital to conveying the tone of your business to your client. A lawyer wouldn’t use the same font as a disco. However, you’d be surprised at how many business owners make this mistake. To get started, look around at sites that are dedicated to fonts to get an idea of the feel and style, as well as readability of different font options. Some of my favorite places to download free fonts are DaFont, 1001 Fonts, and FontSpace. As with anything for free on the internet, really check the licenses to ensure you don't violate the artists' copyright.
Step Five – Create Your Website
There are a lot of free website options out there that may serve the purpose for now, but what about in the future? You will need a website to grow with you.
I personally love to recommend SquareSpace to people who want to manage their own site. It is cost efficient, intuitive and has great features. It allows for basic analytic information within the platform, branding for colors and logos, blog, search engine optimization and more.
The other option that I like is WordPress, but most times, you will need to hire a web developer to do the integrations and special coding that you will really personalize the site.
This section can be greatly expanded but for the sake of staying on the branding topic, I’ll stop here.
Step Six – Social Media
We love social media, don’t we? We love to make it personalized and our “own”. For businesses, it is imperative that your social media pages match your logo, font, colors and website. Our friends over at Hubspot show some great examples to emulate.
It is important to remember that each social media channel has its own quirks. Posting very frequently (when you have a large following) on Twitter is so important, but you can’t do the same on YouTube, LinkedIn or Facebook. Learn the ins and outs of each platform and use them effectively. (More on that coming later!)