[caption id="attachment_26226" align="alignright" width="324" caption="Heather Prandini and Aly Anderson"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – The Engine is Red and Notion:Creative give tips to small business owners on startup and do-it-yourself marketing.

Think before your speak

At its core, marketing and advertising are about creating conversations that start relationships. Many companies make the mistake of focusing on which megaphone they want to use rather than figuring out what they are going to say. Take the time to hone down who you are, who are you talking to, and why they want to work with your company. The answer to these basic questions is the foundation of your brand and your messaging.

Seduce your pre-customers

You can learn a tremendous amount of marketing truth by the study of romantic relationships. It is all about communication. Take your time to find the right prospects and begin a conversation, adjust how you talk and what you are saying to who they are. Spend more time listening than talking, and don't be afraid to ask for the second date.

Focus on what you're great at

As an entrepreneur you probably have to wear many hats during the startup phase, accounting, sales, marketing, customer service, etc. Make sure that you are spending your time wisely, and getting the biggest results for your time investment. If you have a natural talent for writing and communicating, focus on sales and marketing messaging. Even with tight budgets it's important for a new venture to know when to bring in help. If it's not your natural talent, find the right partner to get you there.

Quality over quantity

Many start ups don't have the advertising budget they would really like, and usually have to make some tough choices and cuts to their plan. One common mistake is to execute a lot of small quick campaigns across many platforms, a 1/4 page ad in a local paper, a 2 week radio campaign, a coupon mailer, etc. It is far more effective to prioritize your media plan, and start with what you can afford to do really well. Creating a powerful and constant single campaign will deliver better results than three smaller, poorly executed ones.

Get creative

Before you instantly jump into spending your whole budget on bigger ad campaigns, make sure you have creatively evaluated some non traditional approaches. Whether it’s the advent of some surprisingly affordable digital approaches or some low cost guerilla tactics, spend wisely. Take the time to get to know your customer, and why they would choose you, and then focus on their day to day lives. Brainstorm ways you can cost effectively interact with the right person, at the right time, with the right message.

Identify your client

Know your market: know who you are targeting and know your competition. Who are your existing, potential and ideal clients; research what's happening in your industry on a local and national level; fit into what's happening but carve out a niche that highlights your uniqueness and sets you apart.

Create a brand

Hire a professional to develop a brand and that represents your business and appeals to your desired clientele. A cohesive brand includes logo, stationery, point of sale materials, ads, website and any other material that interfaces with the public eye.

Create a buzz

Promote, promote, promote. Talk about your business; attend professional mixers; offer your products or specialized services pro bono; send press releases, your product or a newsworthy story to a writer at a local newspaper, magazine or blog whose point of view and audience is aligned with your business goals. Since each generation receives and absorbs information differently, it's important to utilize the proper media platform for your message.

Build trust

Connect with your desired clientele and peers via your story. Do something for nothing; get involved in your community by sponsoring or volunteering at a local event; meet new people and spread your story in a non-business environment;  building trust with these new connections is an invaluable marketing tool that will spread through your clients' and peers' network of personal and business connections.

Maintain the relationship

Never stop marketing, even when business is booming. Maintain a consistent and broad marketing plan that reminds consumers why they need your services, highlights all facets of your business and targets multiple markets.


Notion:Creatve is located in Healdsburg and is owned by Aly Anderson and Heather Prandini. The Engine is Red is located in Santa Rosa and is owned by Chris Denny and Dan Sartin.