Don’t Sweat It: Your Ragtag Marketing and Branding

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I have a confession. I’m sometimes embarrassed to hand out my business card. I picture the potential client looking at my card, typing in my web address, and wondering why my site looks completely different from my cards. The logos look nothing alike, the colors don’t match (orange vs. blue), and even my tagline is sometimes askew. Will this person think my business is a mess? Will they not call me because of it?

I know I’m not alone. Many of my small business owner clients are embarrassed by some part or another of their marketing & branding. Maybe you can relate with some of them: the telecom consultant who stopped handing out his brochures because they’re so out of date, the marketing agency who directs clients to their Facebook page since their website was built in the Stone Age, or the architect who hated networking because her elevator pitch no longer reflects her work.

Today I want to tell you: great branding is important, but it’s OK if it’s not 100% perfect and coordinated at all times. There’s no need to be ashamed; in fact, ragtag branding is a normal phase of a growing business.

I do recommend major branding overhauls by skilled professionals, but time and budget constraints mean a lot happens between these big projects. Today I’m going to share some secrets for keeping your marketing effective at every phase along the way.

Businesses are always evolving

To state the obvious, every small business is in a constant state of change. You’re facing both internal and external factors.

Internally, it’s normal to see an evolution both in the work you’re doing, and the way you’re talking about it. Perhaps you’re working with a different type of customer than you used to, or you’re focused on a different product or service. And you’re probably getting smarter about how you market yourself, updating your value proposition and selling points.

Externally, design and technology are changing whether you like it or not. In website technology, for example, mobile-friendly and social-friendly are must-haves now, while just a few years ago they seemed much less important.

The question is, how do you keep up with these changes?

Evolve your branding organically

I worked with a boutique law firm that had fallen into a very common trap. They were waiting for an upcoming major brand overhaul to update their marketing materials. Each tweak they considered seemed minor by itself, and they didn’t want to mess up the overall look of things. The big new website and logo update was just around the corner, they thought. But with a crazy client load and a constantly tight budget, the branding project got pushed out, and pushed out again, and again.

I encouraged them to make some ad hoc updates, and be OK with some mismatch and a little less polish. For example, they posted information about a new service offering in a blog post, rather than integrating it into the “Services” section of their site. To their relief, clients responded positively, grateful for more accessible and updated information. It became easier for them to close potential clients into paying clients.

As your business evolves, it’s natural for your marketing and branding to evolve organically as well. Savvy entrepreneurs see marketing mismatch as a normal step in their business’ growth, and not as something to be embarrassed by.

Quick branding wins

Here are some tips for keeping your marketing as functional as possible as your business changes. By doing one of these every few months, you’ll keep your marketing sharp between major brand/website overhauls. Sharp marketing means easier client attraction.

1. Update Your Elevator Pitch

Your elevator pitch should always reflect the exact client you want, with the message you’ve refined over time and experience. There’s no technology or graphic designer or anyone else involved, so no excuse for letting this languish. You can get my simple, powerful elevator pitch worksheet here.

2. Tweak Your Homepage Copy

As your pitch evolves, your homepage should reflect this. No, you don’t need to hire a web guru to overhaul the page. Here’s the DIY version: look at the first paragraph of text on the page, and update it to resemble your elevator pitch. You want the first thing a potential client reads to entice them to keep reading.

3. Print New Business Cards

You can get a new batch of cards for twenty bucks, so there’s no excuse not to have the latest information on your cards. When your tagline, title, or contact info change, print a new batch. It’s okay if you’re still using an old logo or design; just keep the text updated.

Share your tips & questions

Have a suggestion for a branding update? Have a question for me or the community? Leave a comment below!

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about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.