The concept that you have to spend money to make money is true. Without marketing, people don’t know who your small business is or what you do. These tips can help you market your small business on a budget.
5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make in Alaska Web Design Everyone in business understands that your web presence is a vital part of small business marketing and your company brand. Whether your market is in Alaska or beyond, it’s importance is understood.
You did everything right. You wrote developed your vision, got a great looking logo, have your brand “story” to tell……and still nobody knows who you are, or what you do.
Whether you are just starting out or your business has been open for years, one thing that I’ve learned is the missing piece in most start-ups, dying, or stagnant businesses is lack of ongoing brand management. In other words, you’ve built the brand….but it has no push.
So you say brand & marketing, web design and social media management is expensive.
Well, yes…….I’ll agree…….It is.
And being a small business owner myself, I get it. Although I don’t have to pay directly for a designers time, or a marketing strategy….. I do pay with MY time.
Often times, my marketing and design take a back seat to looming project deadlines. My portfolio updates are left for Christmas Breaks and strings of influenza when I’m stuck in bed. As a matter of fact, as I type this blog – I’m sick – Not a coincidence, but I digress.
Even though I am the designer, and I am the marketer, and I am the social media manager…..My business takes a back seat. I don’t give it the time it needs. I’m often the last to update my blog and branded content, last to have something meaningful posted on my facebook page, and last to interact to really track after clients.
What I’ve realized is that I’m not alone. I find that most small to medium sized businesses are in the same boat. They don’t have time to begin to figure out what they may need but they know they need something, and they realize they are losing traction by doing nothing at all.
I’ve said before, that if you have no budget you have no brand. This is the same concept as losing traction by not marketing and consistently keeping your brand in center focus.
It’s a frustrating position to be in when you are trying to keep your head above water managing the day to day operation of your business. You think of potential business ideas and see opportunities slipping by because you simply just don’t have the time to “make things happen.” You look at the well oiled machine of a business someone else is running and you wonder…how are they doing all of that and growing at the same time? You begin to feel overloaded and defeated, until you realize why you got into business for yourself to begin with. People have misconceptions about business ownership and you feel like you’re drowning.
Always caught in this catch 22 of not having enough, and needing to do more.
So how is brand & marketing costing you money without spending a dime? Well….. you are losing money, by lost opportunity. When you don’t send a message out…it’s never received. Growing your brand equity and brand recognition in the marketplace is essential to staying relevant to your target demographic.
So….for my fellow business owners I have some food for thought for you. 3 simple steps to take to start moving in the direction of gaining traction and getting things done.
Step 1 for Brand & Marketing Your Business | Find Your Purpose
Get OFF of the focus of how to make more money, save more money or grow. First things first is that as a business owner you have to figure out who you are and where you’re trying to go. Rationalize it, analyze it, speak it, and eventually write it down! Do not ask other people (unless they are co-owners of the business) what their opinions are. You have to be able identity for yourself why you are doing what you’re doing and why your customers and potential customers should even care.
Some key things to take inventory about:
- Why am I in business for myself? Money? Time with Family? Passion for the Industry?
- What is the purpose of this business? Am I helping someone? Am I providing a Needed Service?
- Where am I trying to take this business? Am I trying to leave a legacy? Am I trying to Grow it, to sell it? Am I just working until retirement and then close it?
- Why should anyone care that you are in business? (sounds harsh) but this is by far the most valuable question I ask my clients. If you don’t know why someone should care why you’re in business, then you shouldn’t be in business. You won’t be able to sell yourself to anyone if you can’t sell yourself to YOU.
Step 2 for Brand & Marketing Your Business | Work with People
The best of the best of the BEST see the value in TEAMS. You can’t be a one woman/man show and expect to be able to take over the wingbat technology sector. You have to formulate a plan and that includes having people around you that round out your strengths and weaknesses. Key people you may need:
- Small Business Administration – Utilizing places like the Small Business Administration is of great value to small business owners.
- Accountant – if you aren’t good with money or budgeting this is essential.
- Alaska Small Business Development Center – Another great resource for Alaska Small Business owners.
- Anchorage Chamber of Commerce – Offers networking events to tie into others in your sector or partnering with businesses to lift one another up.
- Brand Consultant and Graphic Designer – You will spend more for a designer but the impact of having a strong aesthetic, unique brand asset, color and typography will push your message further and consistently.
- Marketing and Social Media Management – Keep your brand equity growing means keeping a tangible place in your market, and in the face of your target audience.
Step 3 for Brand and Marketing Your Business | Execute Your Plan and Stay Consistent
A sure fire way to make sure that your business grows and remains relevant is consistency. No you don’t have to come out of the marketing gate blazing trails, but you do need to have at least a small drip of movement. Small businesses are expensive to open, operate, and run but you do not want to have a brand that has zero gas behind it.
You have to utilize the vision, brand, and plan that’s been developed and consistently put that message out into the marketplace. Alaska is a small enough market that luckily it doesn’t take long for the word to get out about your business. Especially if you do things the right way.
Content is King and Consistency is Queen!
Contact Bianca Frank Design today to see how we can help increase your brand equity!
Bianca Frank Design offers a comprehensive brand and brand development package that can be utilized to begin or reinvigorate your small business marketing strategy. Whether you are in need of small business marketing strategies, graphic design, brand design, web design, or just need brand or design consultation on where to start. Drop a note and we will be in touch soon.
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So many misconceptions about being self-employed and owning your own business. Here are a few I’ve experienced in my business life that maybe you can connect to also.
Misconception #1 of Small Business Ownership: Obviously, You’re Rich
Anyone who is an entrepreneur, or has started a small business of any kind, has had to deal with the perception that because they own a business, they must be rich. Oh how I wish this was true. And, logically thinking, if it was, then the small business failure rate wouldn’t be running at around Y1-25%, Y2-36%, and Y3- 44% (staticbrain.com).
Although, most start-ups begin on varying budgets, the idea here is that most entrepreneurs are entering into this area of their lives because of one of two things. Either necessity, or passion. The biggest being passion. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s the elusive desire to work for themselves, provide a much needed product or service, or the freedom of being their own boss.
I actually started my business in design from a desire of both necessity and passion. My necessity pushed me further into growing my business and that passion kept me consistent in my desire to grow as a business owner. Both for financial and personal freedom.
Whatever the reason may be, assume that at the start most entrepreneurs are barely making ends meet. That most are definitely fearful of what their financial future looks like. That they have risked a great deal in order to have taken this leap to pursue their passion in entrepreneurship.
So to be safe, this would not be the best time to be hitting them up for a loan. In fact, if you are friends or family with a new small business owner in your circle….take them to lunch. Trust me, they will appreciate it.
Misconception #2 of Small Business Ownership: You Have Copious Amounts of Free Time
It’s not unreasonable to think that self-employed individuals definitely have some flexibility in their schedules. As a matter of fact that’s one of the greatest benefits of working for yourself.
However, don’t confuse that with “copious amounts of time” it’s just not reality. Honestly the opposite is true. Especially if you’re building your business with sweat equity. You literally don’t have “hours” you work because you are willing to work at any hour for pretty much any client. Ok, well that doesn’t sound great, but you know what I mean.
As a designer, the term “starving artist” takes on an entire new meaning. I understood that I was willing to take any job, any specs, and pretty much at any rate just to get SOMETHING in the works.
Anytime you perceive “free-time” in all reality is lost opportunity to work. Small Business owners will learn either by reading what I’m saying, or learning the hard way, that they have to stay busy. There is always work to do, even if it’s building your business. You should always be your first client.
Misconception #3 of Small Business Ownership: As Long As You’re a “Friend” We Won’t Charge You
I mean you’ve been a friend since 1st grade why wouldn’t I give you something for free? Well, probably for the same reason that you can’t go into your job and give them a week worth of free employment. If the purpose of your business is to make money then I will charge you. You won’t get free work, whether a friend or family member. If you’re making money in your venture, then expecting free design work really isn’t fair.
One lesson I learned early is if you DO discount a rate, show it on the invoice. Not to let the client know how much they are saving, but to show the value of the work they received. Nothing hurts your business worse than you undervaluing your product or service. Sure it may be necessary to cut your rate, put a product on sale, in order to get the customers attention….but don’t do it blindly. Make sure your client knows they got a deal. Yes, even friends and family.
Misconception #4 of Small Business Ownership: We NEVER Work for FREE
Ok, so I’m not a complete stickler. I’d be lying if I said I never work for free for friends and family, but I’ve found a way to incorporate that into some specific boundaries that I have established for myself and my business.
The first area that I work for free for friends or family are life events. Graduation Announcements, Wedding Invites, Funeral Programs etc….. I WILL design these for free. I don’t know why, I’ve just never felt right about charging for these. Maybe it’s the sentimental part of me, but if I can be a part of the atmosphere of the event, then I’m more than honored to do this work. That one for me was always a no brainer.
The Second, I am open to consider doing free work for ANY company/business/event that is a not-for profit business. It’s at my discretion and according to my availability. I do like to take on pro-bono work at least a few times a year, or when business is slow. It’s also a great source of inspiration because most non-profit work, in design at least, serves to be a great source of design exploration.
There’s a ton of freedom with design work in this field because the majority of people you are working for appreciate you helping them, and it feels good to do it. I’ve heard of designers using this as a means to gain exposure for their business. idk, I guess that’s ok, a free plug. But if you’re doing pro-bono work it should be done without any strings attached (and that means no notoriety). Of course, you find your boundary and work within them.
I think it’s important to not turn into a tyrant or scrooge, when you become a small business owner. Which means staying faithful to the friends and family that were faithful to you. Give back from your passion what you can. I’m not saying give away at the extent to damage your business venture, but “give-back” should constitute at least some value of your services and yes the recipients of that should be your closest friends and family members and those within the community that could benefit from what you do.
Misconception #5 of Small Business Ownership: You Need a Job? We’re ALWAYS Hiring
For some reason it seems like if you own a small business, long lost friends, family members, ex-colleagues, and old high school sweethearts…. reach out to you in order to find employment. U.S. Small Business Administration show small firms employ just over half of the private-sector workforce and created nearly two-thirds of nation’s net new jobs over the past decade and a half.
Now with that kind of figure, of course one would assume that we’re always hiring just because our neon open sign is lit, and we have purchased our business license. NOW, let’s understand that the term “small business” is a broader term on a national level than the small business I’m discussing. The SBA considers firms with fewer than 500 employees a “small business.” I’m discussing the mom & pop shops and the one-woman shows.
It costs money to hire an employee. Even one, and even minimum wage. There are taxes involved and most of the time the help we need isn’t in the menial tasks that we COULD potentially hand off to someone else. We need help in the areas that are usually more technical, more strategic with a specialized skill set.
So, is the first line of jobs available for my business going to be someone who can answer my phone, send out my invoices, or respond to emails like an administrative assistant? Not likely, because what I need are skill sets that will expand upon the businesses and services that I’m offering or wanting to offer my clients.
So for a designer, I’m looking to hire employees like an accountant, business strategist, blogger, content strategist, web developer. These as you can see are all specialized skill sets. Once I’m in a place to not have to answer emails personally to clients, well then this blog will no longer apply.
Misconception #6 of Small Business Ownership: Clients Shmiants
I swear it took me YEARS, and I’m not exaggerating to say YEARS to convince my family (especially my mother) that I had legitimate “clients”. That my design business was no longer just something I did for fun. That I literally worked with large corporations and legitimate business heads in areas of technology, real estate, service industry, media, etc…
For some reason, it’s hard for people to see the person I used to be, and the business person I’ve grown into . Honestly, I’ve had a tendency to keep my business and my family separate for a lot of the formidable years of business growth, because I didn’t want my already insecure spirit to be shaken. It’s hard being in business for yourself. It’s even harder to not have the people closest to you fully on-board with your vision.
Keeping your business plans, your expectations, hopes and dreams limited to a trusted “few” is something I highly recommend. Your business is honestly to be protected, and sometimes that protection needs to be implemented against a well meaning Aunt Sally, that thinks your business hopes are “cute”.
Until a point where your business is speaking for itself, so to say, keep it under wraps. Even Jesus was kicked out of his hometown because those that saw him growing up weren’t geared towards seeing him as anything other than the child he had been. This is a great lesson for business as well. Keep it under wraps. Let your family and the outside world see it’s growth from their own perspectives. All in due time.
One of the fundamentals of growing a business is good advertising and design.
Any business owner knows this and takes steps to ensure their target audience knows they exist. Your message is important and you want your potential clients to see it and understand it. Here are a few key elements that you need to keep in mind when utilizing design in your business advertising strategy.
Create a Cohesive Message in Your Anchorage Alaska Business Advertising Design Strategy
It can’t be said enough – a cohesive message across all of your marketing platforms will ensure your business’s advertising is consistent. If a client goes to your Facebook page, it should have the same look and feel as your own website. Print material should have a flow of ideas, language, and presentation that represents your company’s message as well as agrees with the rest of your advertising efforts. Design is the visual way to ensure all of these media outlets match and give off the same vibe, tone and voice of your company.
Professional Design for Your Anchorage Business
While creating advertising on your own may save you money, it won’t save time and it won’t give your business the polished, professional appearance it needs to get the results you want. Even if you have one simplified ad created by a professional to express your message, reusing that ad in multiple media outlets will still allow you to keep costs down as well as maintain a professional appearance. You can also hire a designer on a retainer basis, where you utilize their knowledge and feedback to ensure your materials are as effective as possible.
As a consumer, we all have multiple options on what company we choose to hire or purchase from. However, most people are drawn initially toward the advertisements that look most professional and put together. Think about how you choose from your available options. Without more information to assess the different options, the better design will draw you in. It looks better, and in turn expresses a more credible company and/or service.
Gaining Results from Your Marketing Efforts | Anchorage Alaska Business Advertising Design Strategy
With the help of a designer, you can see real results when you utilize proper design techniques in your advertising. Markets have many different trends and the design style that is effective in each will fluctuate based on any number of factors. Your target demographic, what your product or service is, or where you are connecting with your audience are all areas a professional designer can assist you. In turn finding a professional designer can not only gain you results but will also maximize your marketing dollars. After all, you get what you pay for.
The whole point of advertising is getting the results you want, which usually calculate to more clients! Make sure you are investing as much time in sending the right message to your audience, as they are in choosing to use a credible business for their needs.
Not sure where to start with design for your Anchorage business? Contact us today to see how we can help turn your message into a client!
Your Alaska business’s web presence is an important part of your business success.
Whether you use the web just for providing contact information or updating your customers on everything related to your business, there are a few things you should consider.
What is your goal?
You need to ask yourself what is the goal of your presence on the web? Some websites and social media pages are simply informational- a customer searches for a service and gets your FAQ and contact information. Simple. Other websites house information on products, events, customer portals, or athlete bios such as Joey Junker. Other considerations for your web strategy include more elaborate social media which is an excellent marketing tool when used correctly.
Who are you targeting?
Whether you are targeting new clients over existing clients with your web strategy, you will need to consider how information is being portrayed. New clients want to know about the company- the mission, the reputation, and the product.Existing clients want to know about upcoming specials, events, or news that they care about. Targeting new and existing clients is important and keeping a balance between these two targets will give you maximum exposure.
If you are a new company starting out, targeting new clients right now, over the next 3 or 6 months, or even a year, your web presence will need to adapt. An existing customer base has already seen the new company marketing.They want to see your plan for change and they want to see any new and exciting things happening with your company.
Working along with a designer for your logo and website, talk about your options and goals and make sure you are portraying the vision you want your clients to see.
Contact us today to see how we can help develop your Alaska business web strategy!
The idea behind any company branding is to catch your customer’s eye and get them to ask more questions. Your Anchorage Alaska Brand, Logo Design or Graphic Design needs a unique feel to stand out in the crowd. A few tips can help take your Alaska brand to the next level!
Fight the Normal Brand Direction
There are many Alaska companies that play into the weather and terrain of Alaska when putting together their brand.Images of mountains, ice, water, trees, and other natural touches can be found in many, or even most, Alaska branding. It doesn’t mean you can’t use these motifs, but make them your own with uncommon colors, textures, or accents that take your brand from ordinary to extraordinary.
Your Message is Already Unique, Ensure Your Brand is
Don’t forget, your business is already unique by itself. Your brand should reflect your own unique vision and message, meaning it will have its own unique feel without too much effort!Play into the things you like and that speak to the audience you’re targeting.
Use Different Marketing Tools
Once you have figured out the way you want to make your Alaska brand unique, use different or unusual marketing tools.For example, typical bottled water companies might use water bottles to advertise their company. What about ice cube trays? Key chains are common advertising but those with fun and custom shapes or bangles are usually the ones that end up on everyday key rings.Some of the different tools may be more expensive since they aren’t standard but the cost is worth it if you are constantly getting word of mouth advertising from your clients.
Make sure to pick something about your business that makes it the most unique and different and play those differences up! Your customers will appreciate the efforts!
Some examples of some great Alaska Brands that are not specifically calling attention to the typical motifs:
These are companies that Bianca Frank Design was not a part of creating, however, they are inspiring Alaskan brands that have stepped away from the “Alaska” status quo and I admire each of these brands for that reason.
Do you need help defining and designing what makes your brand different? Contact us today to talk!
Bianca Frank Design offers a comprehensive brand and brand development package that can be utilized to begin or reinvigorate your small business marketing strategy. Whether you are in need of small business marketing strategies, graphic design, brand design, web design, or just need consultation on where to start. Drop a note and we will be in touch soon.
Once we’ve established a brand that represents your company, maintaining that brand requires consistent brand development actions. A brand management package tailored to further develop and maintain the effectiveness of your brand is crucial. These steps include a regularly updated blog, search engine optimization (seo), and social media management.
The three winning strategies below are the foundations for a comprehensive brand management package that will bring your brand to the next level.
One of the ways to get more traffic to your website is maintaining a blog.New content added to your website on a regular basis with content that relates to your target audience keeps them interested and aware that you’re a trendy and a top player in your industry.You don’t need to be a writer to have a blog- that’s a service that can be purchased and tailored to your company!
Search Engine Optimization(SEO)
You want to come up in a search when your clients try to find a company that provides your services.Keeping content fresh and relevant ensures your name comes up in search engine results.Search Engine Optimization is a science that has been perfected by brand managers and designers. It’s vital to your business’s success and is a key part of helping your brand grow.
Social Media Management
Everyone has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr. Many people have multiples if not all, but maintaining all of these accounts on your own for your business is a full time job!Updating them on a monthly basis means your most important events, specials, and information gets sent to your clients in the manner that they are more likely to see.
Not everyone is going to see the ad in the paper or get a paper flyer, but if they have liked you on Facebook, they will see the update you post about an upcoming event. It’s the simplest and fastest way to reach your existing audience with information you want to relay.
Consider a Brand Management Package for your start-up or small business to ensure you reach your target audience while giving your more time to focus on products and services.
Your Alaska business needs online brand marketing Contact us today to talk about this and so much more!
Are you considering some new web design for your Anchorage Alaska business, but you’re not sure where to start? Tons of questions come up when starting to look for web design for your Anchorage business; we answer 3 common questions below.
What’s The Most Effective Kind of Web Design?
Each market is specific in its own “most effective” kind of marketing and design. Depending on your target clientele, you may find it more effective to put more time into your website over an email blast campaign, or vice versa. Knowing your market and your business will help determine the most effective design for your Anchorage business.
How Do I Get Started?
Everything starts with an idea. What do you want to tell your clients about your Anchorage business? Jot down a few ideas and key phrases. Sketch something if you’re artistically inclined. Gather color ideas in fabrics or paint swatches, look at other web designs that you like and see if you can explain why you like them. Voicing your idea is one of the hardest things about design- figuring out how to express WHY you like something is incredibly useful in getting your design to look the way you want!
Do I Really Need a Web Designer?
Of course you know my answer is going to be a resounding “yes”, but let me tell you why! A designer will help get the idea you have in your head onto paper (and the web!) as a real, tangible vision with a plan. Designers speak the language of color, line, and feel and can help bring your vision to life. Someone with experience in web design can ensure your concepts become something alive and effective for your audience.
Your Anchorage business needs a designer Contact us for more details!
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