It’s never been easier to launch a start-up business. So many of the necessary tools and communication platforms are now available at your finger-tips. So if you have a great idea, there’s nothing to stop you from making the dream a reality. 

It can be tough to elevate and define your business when competing with big companies and even bigger marketing budgets. But there are plenty of ways to make an impact without spending a fortune. 

So what are the most effective and affordable ways to build a professional appearance for your start-up business? Check out the ideas below to get you started.

Branding and Marketing 

If you work in a competitive industry, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. So clear, well-communicated branding is crucial in elevating your business into the spotlight. 

Your brand should always reflect the goals, ethos, and perspective of your business. It is the character with which your audience is connecting, so it needs to feel fresh, personal and distinctive.  

You want to build confidence in your business and strongly associate that with the visual brand that you promote. Clarity, transparency, and originality are fundamental here. 

If you’re creating content for your website or blog, keep it simple. Be clear in what you are communicating about your business. Avoid jargon or confusing information. Include helpful images, and make sure your website is designed to fit the screen of any device. 

Rather than delivering facts, bullet-points and results, focus on a storytelling approach. With any business, the questions you need to answer are; who are we? What problems do we solve for you? And how do we do that better than anyone else?  

Branding and marketing are so crucial, it may be worth spending the money on professional advice and support in this area. 

If you can, hire a social media manager, pay a designer to get your logo and visual materials right – for example, get your logo on stick pads and stay top of mind – and spend time connecting with your audience on a personal level. 

Website 

Many start-ups initially opt for a pre-made website template from sites such as Squarespace. Custom-built websites can be pricey for a startup and there are some great free options available in the meantime. 

But once your business is up and running, you may find that a template design is not quite right for your product, audience or branding. In fact, you might find it’s shoddy design actually off-putting to customers. If so, it might be time to get a website designer on board to help you create a slicker, more professional looking website. 

Even if you have a coding whizz in your team, you may be missing out on the creative side a professional website builder could bring to the table. Your website is very often the first point of contact your audience has with your business and you don’t want to waste the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.  

Social Media Presence 

If you’re not making use of the customer interaction opportunities that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram provide, then you’re missing out on a big opportunity.

These are all live, interactive, malleable forums where you can promote your brand consistently, give specialized advice, and interact with your audience on a personal level. 

So be original, and allow the company’s personality to shine through. You don’t have to make your posts all about business – connect with other topics, share useful information and videos, and keep conversations flowing. 

Don’t forget to show your customers the appreciation they deserve and keep them updated on how the business is growing as a result of their support. Giving your audience an inside look will help them feel included and invested.

Real-Life Connections  

The internet is a rich, colorful, exciting world via which to conduct your business. It provides a huge customer pool and support network and reduces business costs in a multitude of ways. 

However, for customers, businesses operating online can often feel impersonal or even untrustworthy. Audiences are increasingly wary of online scams, manipulation, or cowboy businesses operating under a false online persona.

So the more ways you can connect with your audience in real life, the better. You want your customers to feel they are doing business with real people, who take responsibility for their service, for the exchange of money, and for the quality of their products. 

Make sure you always provide options for customers to get in touch with you or your customer service team with complaints of queries. It’s brilliant if you can provide a phone number, email address, or social media platform via which to contact you. 

It is always worth asking returning customers or even your suppliers to put in a good word for you, or leave a good review, to help build trust. 

And there we have it! As a start-up, you are fighting to define yourself in a crowded market-place. Use these pointers to inject some personal professionalism into your business and win your customers’ hard-earned trust. 

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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