How to market your small business as a new entrepreneur

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Marketing materials are often one of the first things small business owners think about when starting their company. Do you need a website? What about brochures? Business cards?

While the specific methods you use to get the word out will depend on your offerings, there are many affordable ways to market your business.

How to market your small business with strategy

Before you start designing and ordering marketing materials, give some thought to the type of person your business is going to help. If it’s a consumer, you’ll want to use different marketing materials than if you’re trying to get the attention of Fortune 500 CEOs. With some strategy, however, you can attract both customer segments — and more — using these ideas.

Create a website that wows.

Even if you don’t have anything to sell online, it’s important to have a website that tells your customers that you are legitimate, professional and able to market yourself in a modern way. Having a website is also essential for search engines to forge a digital path to your business. Without a website optimized with all of your key information, people will have a difficult time finding you.

VistaPrint Tip

Get started on your own site for free with Vista x Wix, a user-friendly website builder with drag-and-drop tools and creative templates at the ready.

Stand out with signs, posters and messaging.

What makes your business stand out in a crowded strip mall or among 100 event booths? It may be your signage. Create a crisp, clean design that tells customers where you are and what your brand stands for. Choose permanent signs, like metal door signs or A-frames, that show your business is here to stay at physical store locations. Or, opt for lightweight signs that you can take to events.

If you don’t have a physical business location, that’s OK, too. Car magnets or decals and custom packaging are excellent ways to let people know you’re serious about your brand and make your online presence visible in physical communities.

Put printed materials to work.

While the world has moved to digital in many areas, many people still appreciate a classic brochure or business card. Holding something in their hand can help them realize what a product or service might do for them. They are also more likely to take it home and remember or revisit it later, especially if you customize materials with your brand logo and colors.

Postcards, flyers, brochures and business cards can have the best of both worlds by using digital elements, like QR codes. Blending offline and online marketing techniques may help you reach a broader range of people.

Make your merch useful.

People are constantly looking for swag, and the right promotional item can leave a lasting impression for your most loyal fans. Merchandise like pens, notepads and reusable shopping bags are very popular. But don’t stop your creativity at what you’ve typically seen at tradeshows — merchandise can also solve real-world problems.

Consider events and ceremonies where attendees receive gift baskets of customized or even specifically themed goodies. Maybe a branded visor could help people stay out of the sun or a charging cord could keep their phones powered up. Even chocolate and treats can make an excellent merchandise option.

VistaPrint Tip

Order a small batch of promo items for your first merchandise giveaway to make sure you like what you’ve designed and customers are engaging with them. If it works out, consider bulk orders in the future, which can even be shipped ahead to an event to save you from having to haul anything.

Prioritizing marketing materials as a new business owner

How can you know which small business marketing tools to purchase first? Use these questions to guide your journey:

  • If I told someone about my new business today, where would I want them to go to learn more? Would a digital presence be more important? Or a physical one?
  • What events or in-person networking opportunities do I have coming up in the next 1 to 3 months? What can I hand to people I meet to keep my business top of mind?
  • What tools can I use to drive traffic from my physical business location to my online space? And vice versa?
  • Do I want to focus on low-cost items that can be given away indiscriminately? Or would I rather invest in fewer, nicer gifts that can impress high-value clients or prospects?

With a better idea of your marketing wants vs. your marketing needs, you can now build a plan to market your small business with the essentials first. It may look like this:

  1. Create a website on a budget by using a DIY website builder.
  2. Create social media accounts and secure on-brand usernames on a few major platforms (even if not using them right away).
  3. Buy signage for one retail location, plus another option for travel.
  4. Craft a custom business card that shows off your brand personality.
  5. Get a few select merchandise gifts for your next upcoming event.

As you grow sales, set aside a portion of your revenue for your marketing budget, and clearly separate what you will spend on these kinds of marketing tools. For example, specifically for refilling your merchandise closet so that you always have items on hand.

Whatever marketing options you choose, track any measurable outcomes so you know if they are having an effect. While you may not be able to tell if your bumper sticker brought in any business, other methods (like a website or direct mailer) are trackable and can give you insights for future ways to market your business.