Small businesses out there, especially those in the service industry, take note. Many entrepreneurs have the vision and creativity for limitless branding potential for their new company, but all the capital is wrapped up in the startup’s essentials. While this can be seen as a burden to most, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. Branding on a budget creates an honest and up-front perspective of what your business is all about, and your potential customers will see those earnest efforts when shopping around.

Build Around Your Vision

Too many marketers out there tell themselves “I want to be a social media guru” or “I want to rock SEO” before they even know the vision of their company. Don’t create a mission around your marketing strategy. Create a marketing strategy around your mission. The best example on the top of the corporate ladder is Apple. At any point did you see Apple use a medium to create their vision? Steve Jobs would never have it — they knew their products created word-of-mouth buzz, so computers made numerous appearances in product placements in movies and TV shows.
Suppose your new startup is an IT consulting firm and your mission is a more personal experience with a small number a clients — use that mission to guide the mediums you advertise through. A vision like that would focus less on sponsored ads and more on social media and personal outreach.

Invent In-House Advertising

Here’s one for the service industry, which in my opinion, is the most competitive small business market in America. Especially in larger cities like Los Angeles, every single block has bars, restaurants, delis, sandwich shops, etc. It’s nearly impossible to compete.
Get ready to make word of mouth your best ally. Market to those who stumble in, even by accident, and keep them and their friends coming back. I was in a new pub the other night that had a few televisions sprawled across the walls. Most of them were playing different games on that night, but a few had rotating ads featuring specials, events and other happenings with the pub. I thought to myself, “Genius.” Advertising to essentially a captive audience. According to, a starting package for a satellite in your bar is around $30 (maybe more depending on how many TVs you have) so the rate of return on what’s really free advertising in your establishment could pay off big.

Be an Influencer

This is my personal favorite because it costs nothing but your personal time and effort. Let’s use the hypothetical IT consulting firm as the example again. The best way to make yourself known in the industry is to participate with others — write guest posts for blogs, tag other influencers on your social media posts, write posts for your own networks that speak to the industry as a whole, not just your own business and volunteer yourself to the community around you. It will show that you not only know what you’re talking about, but also exemplify your work ethic and passion for what you do.