Marketing step #1: Establish your brand experience

Start-ups and small businesses are time-intensive.  That’s no surprise.  You juggle every role in the business.  And today… you’re the CMO (chief marketing officer).  You go online and see others with thousands of fans on Facebook, down the street you’re handed flyers and even ads in Matters Magazine are taunting you.  Take a deep breath and log out of Vistaprint. 

You’ll get there.  But before you start driving people to your business, make sure you know what they’ll see. So, where to start?


Start with 1 hour per week.  Stop at 6 hours per week.

Give yourself enough time to think regularly.  But, don’t let marketing become your job.  If you find yourself spending a weekly 6 hours or more on marketing, it’s time to get some outside help.  You may very well be on the right track and the expertise will make things stronger and more efficient.  Or, you may have found yourself spinning wheels.

Have no idea what to think about?  Start here:


You may already have this.  AWESOME.  In that case, think about your objectives for a minute and then build some tangible and quantifiable goals:

  • Identify some quantifiable goals

  • Tie the objectives and any additional goals to a time period

  • Do the numbers. How do they impact your bottom line? Did you just go into debt? Adjust until it feels right.


“Branding” is just as important for an independent consultant as it is for a large corporation.  OK, please don’t roll your eyes. “Branding” is simply ensuring that “who you are” is what the rest of the world sees, too.  

Your brand includes your name & logo (often referred to as a “brand identity”), but it also includes your language and visual tone, the customer experience (storefront/web experience, brochures and you) and ultimately, the word on the street. How customers speak of your business is a direct reflection of your brand.


Feel good about your brand experience?  Cool.  But, make sure others feel good about it, too…

Tap into the word on the street.  This could be Yelp, and Facebook groups, or casual chats truly on the street.  Social media has given us a great way to not only market ourselves, but to get a feel for what others think of our business.

What the word on the street tells us:

  • If you like what people are saying, then you’re doing a decent job of fulfilling your desired brand experience.

  • If there’s a gap, then it’s critical to address the brand and customer experience prior to a marketing push.

  • If it’s the same 5 people talking about you. Then, they’re awesome ambassadors, but may also be overshadowing areas for improvement. Do a focus group and let them tell you where things can be improved.


And by the way, regardless of your business area, a website or appropriate online destination is essential.  But, we’ll save that chat for another day.


With your brand and online presence in place, you’re ready for marketing.