Marketing. *Cringe*. You can think of a million things you’d rather be doing. The ice bucket challenge in the middle of winter. A half marathon with your ridiculously fit niece, a Toastmasters table topics competition in front of 100 unknown people.

Two months into business, you’re busy making sure staff morale is high, productivity is at its peak, pitches for jobs are turning into paid work not to mention getting to grips with your awesome cloud-based project management software, establishing training for all your staff, and yeah, developing a kick-ass workplace culture.

But with all of this going on, how are you supposed to find the time OR the capital to invest in marketing?

Unfortunately, in order to run a thriving business you need clients, and to get clients you need to invest in some marketing. It’s a vicious circle that doesn’t seem to get easier no matter how you look at it. And to make it worse, your competitors have big budgets, fancy above the line campaigns and bigshot ad agencies at their beck and call. So what can you do?

Step 1: Understand the difference between Branding vs. Marketing

At its core, branding is who you are and marketing is how you build awarenessabout your brand. Knowing where one crosses over into the other is critical – you can’t simply develop your brand assets and then wait, hoping for new business to come flocking in. You need to put your brand out into the world, and that’s where marketing comes in, using the right tools, channels to (at the right time).

Tip: You can find out more about what’s involved in branding and marketing inthis post by Kissmetrics.

Step 2: Write a compelling story…

…that you can repurpose across your touchpoints. The long form will probably live on your website, with shorter versions tailored for other channels.

“Analytics often shows the [about us] page as one of the most frequented on any website.” via Moz

It can be uncomfortable transcribing your story into words – where do you start? How do you explain the five years of thought, stress, uncertainty, ups and downs, that went into creating this business?

Try to think about the main message you want to communicate. To help you out, let’s simplify it further. Break it down into WHY – WHO – WHAT

WHY is your purpose, your business’s reason for being.

WHO is you, the founder, your team, everyone who makes the business what it is.

WHAT is all about the tangible stuff you offer: your services, capabilities and/product.

Try to cover AT LEAST these three things in your business “about us” section. Use language that is commonplace in your industry (e.g. “multi-channel retail experiences” “professional services”) – something you could rank for if it’s specific enough and something that potential clients would be searching for. But remember, don’t keyword stuff your homepage with it!

Tip: Check out keyword planning tools like or answerthepublic to make a list of relevant keywords you could use. Check out your competitors’ website to see the kinds of terminology they are using.

Step 3: Set up the right social media channels

Let’s be honest, you don’t really need 100 business cards for all your employees or five boxes worth of branded brochures. Printed collateral quickly goes out of date, whereas expanding your digital presence can be done at minimum cost and relatively easily.

Check out Which Social Media Channel Is Right For Your Business? for our tips on finding the right channel. Resist the temptation to spread yourself across every social channel under the sun. And don’t be limited by stereotypes in your industry either. For example, increasing numbers of engineering, construction and professional services firms are using Instagram to promote their business, despite not being in industries typically associated with “visual content”.

Step 4: Make it as easy as possible for people to find your business

Include links to your website and/or social channels wherever you can, e.g. in your email signature and personal social profiles and get listed on major directories online like Google (Google My Business) or Bing (Bing Places for Business).

Step 5: Capture your contacts’ email addresses

Email is still hailed as the holy grail of communication. In fact, according towpbeginner “email marketing had never been more alive as it is today”. Marketing through e-mail is flexible, cost-effective and easy to measure (assuming you have the right tools and have put the right tracking in place). Best of all, it can be personalised and targeted.

You might use email to let your customers or clients know about new services you’re offering, a peek into the behind the scenes at your business, trends in the industry or to profile other customers in case studies and excerpts. Here at WorkflowMax one of the ways we use email is to help nurture our customers through the onboarding process when they first sign up to WorkflowMax, and we also use it to provide helpful, insightful content (speckled with a touch of humour!) to our blog subscribers in our weekly email The Unconventional Guide To Work. (Subscribe now and transform your work life!)