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Free advice from someone starting their own marketing business

(10 Posts)
Sonders Wed 06-Jan-16 17:07:37

I've worked in marketing agencies for nearly 10 years, this year I got royally fed up with working for other people and decided to work for myself instead.

Although I've worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, now I will only be focusing on start ups, small businesses and local charities, helping them to compete with the big guys I used to work with.

Anyway, I want to keep myself sharp so offering totally 100% free advice here if you have any questions or want any guidance for your business. I promise I'm not selling anything, I just want to help and keep learning!

Things I can help with: planning a website, social media, email marketing, search engine listings, finding local customers, blogging & bloggers, working with suppliers, buying advert space

DameDancealot Wed 06-Jan-16 18:25:28

Hi there, I think I could do with a bit of advice.

I have an online site selling scented soy wax candles in stylish , colourful, cans. Need help with finding customers and possibly need to start a blog on site.

I have had a good Christmas period with customers at craft fairs and repeat business I just need to find more
Advice greatly appreciated
Thank you

Sonders Thu 07-Jan-16 09:50:44

Dame I've sent you a PM smile

Howmanyminutes Fri 08-Jan-16 17:19:40

Hi sonders, I'm really glad to find your post! I'm in the process of having a skincare product formulated (by a cosmetic chemist) with the intention of selling via shopify. I should have the design and formulation locked down in a few months. It's in the natural skincare market and getting the message across about how it differs from other products on the market is really important. I'm planning to do an initial short run of 500 by summer this year. I know I have to build up interest before this - where do I start? Is it possible to get the marketing going myself due to limited funds or is this foolish? Thanks!

Sonders Sat 09-Jan-16 12:27:32

Hi Howmany, I'd probably aim to start talking to potential customers no more than 3 months before you're ready to launch - although it's true that you need to build up interest, you don't want people to forget about you and your product if you wait too long!

It's definitely possible to get started by yourself first, there's loads of services you can set up in advance:

1. Make sure you have your brand nailed down - including logo, your colour palette, fonts you'll use and the right kind of imagery (search google or pinterest for 'brand boards'). Make sure you have a really good idea of what you want and then have a designer make it come to life! If you don't already have one, sites like PeoplePerHour can put you in touch with designers for a very reasonable fixed price and on a fixed timeline .

2. Start creating your full site on Shopify, fill in everything you can in advance (using placeholders for the information you don't have yet) and get friends, family and people you think are your target market to give you feedback. Make sure to tell them you're not doing it for praise and they should let you know if anything doesn't look right or make sense.

3. Create a splash/landing page to go up before the full launch. I think Shopify has the ability to do this built in, but a splash page is a single page with a succinct coming soon message and description to get people excited. It needs to have a call to action, an prompt for what your users should do next...

4. Set up MailChimp! MailChimp lets you create and send beautiful emails for free. Start collecting emails from your splash page straight away (this is really easy to set up), and then send emails getting people excited for launch, 1 week before, 1 day before and launch day. Make sure each email you send says something new about the product too. You can send emails for free too!

Never, ever, ever buy email data though - it's against the law to use it and it just makes people think you're a scammer even when you're not sad

5. Create your social media accounts. Only create accounts for the networks that you're confident you can maintain, an inactive account is worse than no account at all. Make sure all of the accounts are professionally branded and start posting regularly, follow people of interest and make sure you interact with people as much as possible - as long as it feels natural/unforced.

Encourage people to like & follow from your splash page.

6. Start finding people to write about your product. Find beauty bloggers and read some of their work, then send messages saying how much you love their blog, that you're developing a new product and you'd love it if they could review it. Most people will do this for free/for the product.

When you send the product, make sure it comes with a letter describing the product and why it's special, describing the business and all of your important links - your website, your social media etc

7. Check the legal stuff. There's loads of laws that apply to online selling, and it's really, really boring to make a website compliant. However, it's so much better to be safe than sorry! If you google 'legal UK business website' there should be a few checklists you can follow.

Hope that's helpful as a start, PM me if you have any specific questions smile

MarkRuffaloCrumble Sat 09-Jan-16 12:30:37

Place marking as I run a small business and want to expand this year. Don't want to say too much on here as it is very identifiable, but look forward to reading more tips! Thanks OP

Howmanyminutes Sat 09-Jan-16 15:31:54

Thank you so much! That's incredibly helpful, I appreciate the detailed reply. I'll be taking up your advice, you might hear from me further down the line if I do need freelance services (if this area's your kind of thing).

Chippychop Thu 11-Feb-16 12:35:55

Hi Sonders, It was great to come across your post, thank you. I'll start with saying I've worked in corporate marketing for 15 yrs or so, at a mid senior level, mainly customer aqusition & retention, channel marketing. So I'm not novice however, my digital marketing knowledge is weak non exisitant I want to start a small business ( I can PM details) and whilst I may have been good in the office environment .. setting the business up by myself with no one to speak to is daunting especially as the main tool of the business will be the website. Logo's, soft launches, trad media I can cope with a website and social media choices I could scrape together but SEO daunts me (there was always a more junior MM and web team to deal with this at work). Have you got any words of wisdom? shall I take a digital course ? do I just plunge in get the business going? is updating the website and creating copy any different using the web as the channel? or do I have to be very careful with the key words? Any advice would be really grateful received.

Chippychop Thu 11-Feb-16 12:38:15

p.s. havent worked for 4 years = lack of confidence!

Hi Sonders, I'd love some advice on how to market a web development business effectively for very little money. I'm building a portfolio of sites by doing community project sites for free/at cost which I love doing, but need to attract some paying customers smile Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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