In any marketplace, many things set small and large businesses apart. A major universal factor standing between large and small is a level of distinct personality and emphasis on you and your employees in branding. Many customers and clients prefer to take their business to smaller firms and be self-employed because of the level of detail and involvement; you get a personal touch that isn't present in large corporations.
For example, picture the difference between a large big box store like Walmart and compare it to a small family-owned grocer. Walmart might have a large selection, but the personal service and quality products may be significantly lacking. This is where the local shop will have an edge in attracting customers that are looking for more. In the local grocer, you likely will interact with fewer individuals in the store. They have a greater knowledge of their products and services, much of which comes from lower employee turnover and passion for what they do. Most of those running these businesses have a vested interest in their employees.
You will see similar distinctions between Realtors or Real Estate Agents. Many large teams offer competitive commission rates, but the vast majority of very successful Realtors are independents that provide customized and personal attention. Those are typically the ones who focus on their clients on a more holistic level. The same can be said for insurance sales, credit union employees and lawyers.
The uphill battle that small businesses, the self-employed and independent contractors face is advertising and marketing. Being able to market effectively and convince clients and customers that you are the best is challenging. This is mainly due to the number of methods and intense competition against larger businesses with larger marketing budgets. It can also be daunting when you wear many hats in your business to take on another role, but there are ways to build your image efficiently. That leads us to the question of how do you effectively build the marketing in your Toronto small business? Personal branding is the answer.
Personal branding seems like a vague term, but it's your business or service's external image. So it's the signage, web pages, social media presence, print advertising, and customer experience. This seems like a lot of areas to tackle, and it is, which is why many big companies have entire departments dedicated to it. However, there are ways to get it done without committing all of your time to it.
It's difficult for businesses nowadays to forgo having a website. Potential customers want to see what you offer and how you are different. The best way to tackle this as a small business is to use a service such as Squarespace or Shopify. They have pre-made templates that you can customize, and you don't have to learn coding to get a site up and running. If you would like to move away from doing it yourself, hiring a marketing or design agency will help you build a more robust and cohesive website.
Having accounts on the major social media sites will help you reach a larger audience and show that you are active. Aim to create one post a day and place it on all your accounts; we strongly suggest you have fresh photos for each. These could be quick snaps of your store, a product, a property, an employee or even a stock image.
We suggest working with those who offer print services to have a quality ad going out for print advertising. It isn't easy to create convincing and not-so-cheesy print materials. We suggest using a marketing agency such as Break and Enter.
Across these platforms, you will want to have clean, well-put-together cohesive materials. The better and more professional they look, the stronger confidence potential clients and customers will have in you. One great place to start, which is often overlooked, is portraits. If you or your employees will be interacting heavily with clients or customers, it is good to have a portrait featured digitally or in print as it gets to the heart of the personal service. A clean, professional business portrait will show clients you take pride in yourself, are at the heart of your business, and don't cut corners.