Let's set the stage. You are a new business owner of, let's say, a small boutique, sporting goods store, or even a deli located in a town of about 10,000. Your potential customers have the option of traveling some distance to find your competitors but are open to the idea that YOU might just fill the gap for them! Budget is tight but you understand the importance of advertising to get your name out there. Where do you even begin?

We've put together some basic Dos and Don'ts just for this scenario and, maybe, just for you! This list isn't exhaustive, but it is a great place to start!

DO: Attend networking events

First things first, who do you know that will come into your business just to support you as a person? These are your first customers! Once you get past friends, family, and community supporters, you need to find people who are not only excited about your business, they are excited about YOU! Joining the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis, and other organizations that involve networking is a perfect first step! You'll meet people that are in the same boat as you, care about similar issues, and might even lend an ear or give advice when you need it most.

DO: Consider all local media outlets

Local media can make some of the biggest marketing splashes in a small market like the one you are in. Get the media on your side to begin with and you're likely to see better coverage and more positive street talk about your business. They also attend many of the networking events previously mentioned and are far more likely to write about you if you are an advertiser! Not only that, smaller outlets usually come with smaller overhead and, therefore, smaller price tags. Never underestimate the power of a well-thought out, well-placed, ad during the Friday night game!

DON'T: Waste your ad dollars on markets you can't compete in

At this point in the game, your ad dollars have to go a long way. Yes, there are potential clients that will see that billboard 50 miles away, but how many other options in your sector do they have at their finger tips? Especially in the beginning, focus your efforts carefully and think about who you are really reaching with that media contract.

DO: Utilize social media as much as possible

In the age of social media, the biggest mistake a new business can make is not creating and maintaining a healthy presence on Facebook. This is, for many potential customers, the first place people will encounter you. They will either search you out specifically or come across a post that one of their friends liked. It is VITAL that all of your store info, business hours, phone number, location, be up to date. Going further, a business must post content to get noticed! If this is something you struggle with, find help! (Brushfire offers social media management at a reasonable rate! Contact us for more info!)

DO: Consider your web presence as one of your biggest assets

Think of the web as your big tool box to grow that new business. Social media is just one of the tools in that box! Search engine marketing can help you compete with businesses that have much larger budgets. Of course, a website is really the best way to pull all your marketing together and have one place where potential customers can find everything they need to know about you. And with mobile usage far surpassing desktop usage, make sure your web marketing comes across on customer's phones and tablets. This is what our team at Brushfire specializes in so, again, get in touch!

DON'T: Lock yourself into the first ad contract that knocks on your door

Opening a new business will also mean a lot of sales calls. Not all of these are bad - you'll be able to tell the difference soon! Many of them just want to help, especially those from the local media. Of course, you'll also get Google bots calling you and that's just obnoxious. Do not sign the first thing that walks in your door or holds your attention over the phone! Take a few weeks to gather all your options and make an informed decision. Signing a long-term contract for the wrong media outlet can have terrible lasting effects keeping you in a relationship that just doesn't benefit you. We would suggest avoiding anything longer than a 3 month contract early on. Be smart, think it through, and (again) call us if you just aren't sure!

Running your own business is a huge undertaking in itself, and on top of actually working the business, it's your job to get people in the door! If you're going to give it a go on your own, be sure to focus your budget and do a few platforms or outlets really well. It can be easy to stretch your marketing too thin thinking you have to do a little bit of everything. It's just not true!

If all this seems too overwhelming, I'll say it again at the risk of sounding like a broken record, give us a call! We can put together and execute a marketing plan perfectly suited to your business's needs. Maybe this is one thing we can take off your plate and let you do what you do best - run your business!