10 affordable small biz brand communication ideas
As small business owners, we usually don’t have a trust fund to spend on advertising – we have to get creative. Join me today on a power branding brainstorming session on how you can get the name of your brand out there without breaking the bank!
First, of course you need to have a strong brand, something that’s worth talking and getting excited about (See my recent blog post about the 5 things you MUST do BEFORE getting a logo for some pointers on how to do that). Assuming you’re all set with this, you launched and you’re ready to rumble, here are first ideas for you to kick-start your brainstorming session!
10 things you can do to get the name of your brand out there:
- AMBASSADOR PROGRAM Set up a program with a reward system where people (students, interns…) can help you with social media / networking / blogging / and other communication activities. The start-up fashion resource the fashion potential has such a program in effect – in fact, Melissa McGraw, founder and 15 year NY fashion industry veteran, inspired me to introduce it to my jewelry line possibility – and I’m super excited about working with my ambassadors – they’re really helping and inspiring me too: we were able to start kind of a brand-buzz already behind the scenes of possibility! Meet my ambassadors here!
- PHOTO SHOOT COLLABORATIONS If you’re a fashion start-up this will be especially useful for you: Look for photographers who love your brand and would like to shoot with your products. Instagram is a great place to connect – also with really talented and successful people! Follow who you love, give them (authentic) compliments, start a conversation! Great contacts for photo shoots can also be make-up artists / stylists, even models… go for people who are ambitious, collaborative-minded.
- TRADE FOR TRADES Everyone needs money to run a business, and it’s my philosophy that good work should get paid (often you will get the best people when you pay them, too!). However, sometimes there’s good fresh talent out there who will work for you in return for some benefits and / or exposure. This may work for web designers / graphic designers / copywriters and other service providers you need for your brand communication. Use trade for trades with caution though: you want to present your brand professionally, consistently, and on brand! If possible try to pay service providers at least something. That way it will be more like a professional business transaction, and they’ll sense your appreciation. Pick service providers and talent who are a good fit for your business. Pay them if you can, or brainstorm with them how you can help each other.
- PRODUCT PARTIES Also inspired by fashion start-up coach Melissa McGraw (she’s amazing!), I’ve done jewelry parties before with my accessory line possibility – think about it as the “tupperware concept” – could this be interesting for your business too? A get-together among friends, and they can buy your product? Maybe a sample-sale? Friends are a great starting point for brand buzz – if they love your stuff, they’ll tell others!
- TRUNK SHOWS Are you selling your fashion / accessories in boutiques? Then a special trunk show event with them could lead to additional exposure (and sales). Think creative, brainstorm with your boutique – how can the event be set-up so that it may be most interesting for their customers? Invitation only? A special seasonal fashion night? Maybe in context with a happening in your city? For instance, one of the boutiques who carries my jewelry in Phoenix was involved in a Superbowl fashion show and did an exclusive event for her customers beforehand…
- CREATIVE SALES CHANNELS which sales channels are most promising for you? As emerging accessory designer at Phoenix Fashionweek 2014, I first followed what all emerging designers in the program were invited to try: to build a network of boutiques. This first worked relatively well for me (I got interest of 6 boutiques while I was in Phoenix!) – however, brick and mortar boutiques turned out to be not the most cost-effective sales channel for me. Super time-intensive to get in touch with and to stay in touch with, while I have low price points to begin with… Think creatively for a moment: Which can be YOUR best sales channels / sales model? May hosted product parties work well? Online boutiques? Exclusive sale on your website? Sale through a special event concept? Limited time sales online, kind of at thelimited.com? Or an invitation-only VIP sales model, where you target a specific (but shopping-eager) audience?… Optimizing your sales model can really boost not only sales, but help you spread the word about your brand – and in the right places!
- PRESS OUTREACH at some point you may want to hire a press professional (email me for pointers, I usually know start-up budget friendly press professionals!). You can also start on your own: compile a press list for yourself and do a bit of targeted outreach! I’ll cover this later in more detail at some point in my start-up branding insider newsletter – to get started you can DIY this by googling this and just get the ball rolling. Make it targeted – and be realistic – which publications may be particularly interested in your brand? Why? Who is the editor/journalist/writer/contact for brands like yours?
- CROSS-PROMOTE Consider teaming up with brands that have a great synergy to yours and share the same audience. For instance with my accessory line I can pair up really well with some emerging fashion designers. Consider doing photo shoots together, then pitch them to magazines and use them in both of your brand communication (and always mention the other, of course!). You can multiply your exposure that way immediately! Similarly, you could also do special promotions together, or go as far as promoting each other’s products on your websites – adding affiliate sales to your sales model – and again increasing the reach of your brand. What brands could you team up with to widen your exposure? What could be great ways to collaborate that benefits both brands? Reach out! Brainstorm!
- BRAND PASSION EVENTS: Do you believe in a special cause or a mission that you’re trying to accomplish with your brand? If yes you could do events that further your cause! This can help you spread the name of your brand, and give it meaning! Consider involving your community / a university / student clubs / other business owners / brands / a charity / … Who would be interested in becoming involved in your cause? How could you both benefit? How can you tie your brand into it?
- SOCIAL MEDIA – of course! I put this last for a reason. Ha! Everyone talks about social media, ALL THE TIME. Yes it’s important. But it’s also important to keep the invested time reasonable here. I’m starting to feel that actual real person connections can have a wider reach and stronger connection. Nonetheless, social media is a free tool (as long as you don’t spend all your precious time on it!) – so brainstorm on creative social media activities you could do to spread the word of your brand! Join a fashion chat? Do a styling challenge? A photo a day challenge? Look at other industries too – what buzz stuff did other brands do that got people engaged and excited? How could you use it for your brand?
There are many more possibilities to get the name of your brand out there! What additional activities can you come up with?
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Cheers! To your success!