Column: How does one master marketing for startup business?


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of monthly columns provided to Current Publishing by the Indianapolis office of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). The aim is to help startup and small businesses succeed.

If you’re aiming to elevate your business from best-kept secret to household name, it’s time to step into the spotlight and captivate your ideal customers.

Through the magnetic pull of effective marketing, you can introduce your products or services to the right audiences and explain how what you’re offering will meet their needs better than the competition.

We’ll zero in on your dream customers, devise a plan to grab their attention and craft a compelling brand identity.

Step 1: Decide who you are

You can’t be all things to all people. All you need to do is serve as the right solution for the big problem facing your target market.

It’s a good idea to revisit your business plan and gather the information you’ve already put together about the people you serve, the value of the solutions you offer and the price at which you offer them. This will help clarify your purpose and the messaging you’ll use throughout your marketing campaigns.

Step 2: Determine how marketing will define your brand

Branding isn’t just for big multinational corporations. It’s for small businesses, too. Developing a visual brand is important because it identifies your company and makes you instantly recognizable.

For example, your logo is the face your business presents to the world. It should be on everything from your employee uniforms to your company signs to your product packaging. It should be emblazoned on your website, your email signature and more.

If you’re not artistically inclined or don’t have experience in designing logos (or both), consider consulting a graphic designer to help your logo come alive. You might even want to consult an attorney who can help get your logo registered as a trademark locally, nationally, or even internationally.

Step 3: Create your website

A website is all but a requirement in today’s business landscape. Without one, many potential customers will question the legitimacy of your business. And if your business is new, they may question whether your longevity is worthy of their trust.

A social media presence is also important, but your website, on your domain (i.e.,, is still the best way to provide potential customers with important information about who you are and what you do. It’s the engine for your marketing, a place where visitors can find your contact information, hours of operation and any reviews or testimonials you’ve earned. Your website can even offer ordering information and checkout options.

If you want to build a website on your own, you can use a DIY platform (such as Squarespace or Wix), which lets you drag and drop components onto a webpage. If you’ve got some web design skills, you can go it alone on a platform like WordPress, which offers a wide variety of customizable pre-built templates. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to do it for you.

You’ll also want to learn about search engine optimization (SEO)— configuring your site so it’s easily found and appears in search engines like Google. You should also explore content marketing or paid advertising (or both) to drive traffic to your site. You can find any number of free and paid online resources to learn about these topics, or you can turn to a mentor familiar with digital marketing to help you get the most out of your online presence.

Step 4: Build an audience on social networks

If you create compelling content that engages your audience, social networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube or TikTok can be a great way to build a following and generate interest in your products or services. They can also be another channel to open lines of communication with current or future customers.

You’ll probably want to focus on one or two channels at first, so you don’t spread yourself too thin. Research to determine where your demographic hangs out online, and then create a presence there to get in front of them with content they’ll find valuable.

For more information, visit SCORE Indianapolis (Service Corps of Retired Executives) offers free, expert mentoring and resources to guide you through your small business journey.