I want to give you some tips for ‘DIY maketing – how to get started’, but honestly the first tip I should really give you is DON’T!  Whether you are a bueinss or a not-for-profit/charity, you are playing with fire when you try to save money on marketing and think you can do it all yourself.  Unlike building a desk yourself, where you can see if the legs aren’t even and the surface is not smooth, with marketing you often will not realise the imperfections.  The damage can be hidden.  You don’t know for example exactly who is coming to your website, made a decision that you are not what they are looking for and gone on to tell others of the bad experience.

If you think you have the skills to do justice to your business or nonprofit organisation by marketing it yourself, then let me give you a few useful things you should make sure you cover.  So as promissed here are my ‘tips for DIY marketing – how to get started’:

1. Choose a name carefully.  It is hard to find the perfect name for a brand.  Don’t be fooled into thinking this is an easy part of the process.  There are agencies who specialise in this and businesses can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get this right.  There is a definite science to choosing a name which includes market research.  A name needs to reflect the type of business you are establishing both in respect of what you do and how you do it.  (e.g. Rose Petal would not be a good name for a business hiring out rubbish skips.  Rose Petal does not exactly scream rubbish or offer obvious appeal to people who will be doing hard labour to fill it).  The only time when it is ok to use your name as part of the brand is when you are either a celebrity or you have no real intention of marketing yourself other than to people who already know you (i.e. your established network or your local community where you can talk to people directly).

2. Your brand should say who you are.  It may seem obvious but far too often I see brands that say nothing about the organisation.  If you don’t have a massive advertising budget to put behind your brand, then your branding needs to do all the work.  The name combined with the logo (which make up the foundation for your brand) should give people an immediate sense of not only what the business is about, but the market you are targeting (see tip 4).  Have a symbol that reflects where you want the business to sit.  Don’t use pink if you are appealing to a male market.  If you are one of many businesses in a line of work then you want the symbol to stand out for the right reasons.  Try to incorporate ideas about the image you want to project into your symbol.  If environmental issues are significant to your business and you don’t want to use ‘eco’ in the branding, then you can use green or something in the symbol that reflects ‘green friendly’.

3. A strap-line can add value to your branding.  A strap-line  or tagline is usually made up of 3 or 4 words that appear under your name and symbol designed to add further clarity to your brand and / or give it an edge to make it more memorable.  Even big brands need to add clarity to their brand so you not only know what type of business it is, but what gives them an edge.  For example, Woolworths strap-line is ‘Fresh food people’.  It tells you what kind of product you get and that you are going to deal with someone real when you visit their store.  It makes you feel good about shopping there.  On the other hand, you have someone like ‘Nike’ who use ‘Just do it’.  The strap-line gives you a sense of getting on with it and that you deserve to use their products while also relating back to the nature of their business being sporty.  If your business does not have the advertising budget of those two brands, the clever use of strap-lines is even more critical.

4. Know your target audience and appeal to them.  The messages you send, not just in the branding but in all your marketing materials (brochures, website, social media, ads, uniforms, signage etc) should always have your target audience in mind.  The first step is to identify the audience for your business.  If you are running a landscaping business, then your audience is not going to be under 30s.  If you do high end designs, then your audience is going to be in affluent areas.  Once you know who your audience is you need to think about what will appeal to them and make them happy to visit your business.  Use language in your materials that will speak to this audience.  Going with the landscape example, it would not be wise to have a brochure with a headline like ‘Fully sick cheap gardens’.  Always put yourself in the mind of your target audience and engage with them – that means listen as well as talking to them so you can continue to develop your business and the market.

5. Be able to define your business or not-for-profit quickly and consistently.  In all your materials you want to have a clear definition of your business that you use consistently, whether it is in published materials or when you or your staff meet someone face to face and they ask what you do.  A definition is a chance to elaborate on your brand.  It positions you in the market.  For example, going back to the landscaper here is a suggested definition.  ‘We are leaders in landscape architecture delivering unique gardens that offer form and practical functionality to properties who want to make an individual statement to reflect their environment.’  That sort of definition speaks to someone who has probably paid a lot for their property and wants a garden that they can show off to family and friends.

These tips are simplified versions of what I mentioned is a real science.  The foundations of marketing must be solid in order for you carry your business forward.

Whether you are establishing a new business or not-for-profit or if you have just acquired one, marketing should be a critical part of your ongoing routine.  The minute your are out there is the minute your marketing has begun even if you have spent nothing on it and only a couple of hours coming up with your brand.  Generally speaking marketing is not a DIY task.  Your spend on marketing should be relative to your business or nonprofit.  There is no hard and fast rule to what you should spend, because some models will rely more heavily on advertising.  For basic ongoing marketing, 5% of income would be a good guide to start.  When it comes to the foundations of your business, (initial branding, a brochure and a website) you need to be prepared to invest in your business.

If you do embark on this journey yourself, hopefully my tips from ‘DIY marketing – how to get started’ will at least give you something practical to follow. CommTogether is here to provide an affordable solution for your communication and marketing needs.  Your business or not-for-profit deserves a professional edge that will in time net you much greater returns than taking the DIY approach.