Read for 5 minutes
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
The first thing to do when starting a new business is to create your company's digital identity. Basically, think of all of the places you want your future marketing campaigns to attract customers: your website, your Google business listing, and your social media. You need to create all of these platforms before considering a marketing campaign.
So, to get started, here is a quick list of must-haves that you need to set up before hiring a marketing team. Think of it like a digital package that you can complete. Here is the gist.
First, create your website
Before you spread yourself on the internet, first set up your home base. Build your website and make sure it is bug free and fully functional before submitting people to it.
Your website becomes a conversion point for your products or services. Everything we address after this point is going to be a way back there so that your website is truly the most critical aspect of your brand identity.
Some important aspects of a good website are:
- Make sure you have a clear and easy to spell domain name
- Make sure your domain name is your business name in case this property is not already claimed.
- Make sure your website hosting is secure and scalable when the time comes to expand – for that I would recommend a dedicated server hosting plan. It's the more expensive option, but you get what you pay for.
Finally, make sure you have a good understanding of SEO and incorporate all relevant keywords into your website to maximize traffic opportunities. Do a thorough keyword research to anticipate what terms your customers might be looking for to find the products or services you are offering and add as many as possible.
Similar: The 6 Best Small Business Promotion Strategies
Claim your territory on all social media channels
Even if you think your brand will have no use for a Facebook account, claim one anyway. Consistency is the key to branding. If possible, you need to be consistent across all social media.
If you claim @mybrand on all social media channels, you are only protecting yourself for the future. First of all, it's just more customer friendly than @mybrand on Twitter, @mybrandUS on Instagram, and @therealmybrand on TikTok. Second, having control of your handles on social media prevents potential interference from competitors who might otherwise claim the handle.
Notice how social media is performing. When a new platform emerges, take five minutes to create a profile and stake out your territory.
List your business on Google and elsewhere
Enter the name of a company you visit frequently on Google or the name of a competitor. What should come up first is their Google My Business listing, which tells you what the company is doing, where to find it, their contact information, and a summary of reviews.
Because of Google's supremacy over other search engines, this is the first and last stop for most of the people trying to find your business. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't list your business everywhere you can. Similar to social media, the main purpose behind this is to claim that space before a malicious competitor or similarly named company could do it.
Related: 5 Digital Advertising Tips You Need To Know
Check out a few email platforms
Email marketing creates credibility, a customer base, and content. In short, you need to look into email marketing technology as part of your digital package.
All of the email marketing platforms out there have different pros and cons, so the one you choose should be able to tick most of the boxes for your audience. Consider this: 43% of people now check their email on their smartphones every day, but does that overlap with your demographic? If your core audience is 50 and older, maybe not, so you don't have to worry as much about mobile optimization as if you were targeting millennials.
Also consider the automation capabilities of these platforms. You don't want to manually reply to every email. Instead, most platforms have automation software. So, plan what kind of conversations you and your audience will have.
Skip advertising – for now
Advertising seems like the way to get your business front and center, but it's not. Up front it will just be a waste of money because if you don't have your digital package together, you have nothing essential to promote. Let's break down the item by item.
If social media channels are not being used and your website is fully functional, where will your ads take your customers? How are customers without the right listings supposed to know whether the company that is showing up on Google is yours or not? At best, they are confused when they cannot find a trace of your digital presence. At worst, they'll give clicks to a brand with a similar name.
If your digital identity is not fully formed, spending money on advertising is a serious problem.
Think of your brand and digital presence as one and the same – you need to enforce your identity in every available space to get the most momentum. By going through these steps in your digital package, you position yourself so that you are fully responsive and able to handle the influx of business that will be the result of your well-planned marketing campaign.
Similar: The cookie actually crumbles in advertising: Here's what you should know versus B2B versus B2C