How to become your own marketing manager

To start your own business, you need to have an idea you believe in and be passionate about the product or service you are hoping to offer.
“Start by defining clearly what it is you’re trying to achieve and with whom,” says Kathryn Huxtable Marketing Manager at

“Are you looking to source new customers? Or drive repeat custom with existing clients? This clarity will enable you to tailor both your message and your choice of marketing materials – and save wasted time and effort.”

New entrepreneurs will also have to figure out who their customer is and what it is that customer is looking for, as well as focusing on core strengths and offering something different to rival companies.

“Pick out one thing that you will stand for and be better at it than your competitors,” says Huxtable.

“Then communicate this clearly and consistently to your customers.”

When faced with marketing and promoting what they do, many new business owners don’t know where to start. In fact, a recent survey by Vistaprint shows that 26 per cent of small business owners are not sure how to network to get themselves and their offering out there.
But one place to start is by using tried and tested marketing tools such as postcards, flyers, business cards and brochures.

“They are easy to produce and quick to distribute,” says Kathryn.

“You can adjust your selection of paper stock and quantity according to the volume of clients you want to reach and the premium nature of your business.”

Emma Gooding, from Essex, is one entrepreneur who knows all about the importance of marketing materials. Since launching Four Paws Dog Grooming in 2009 with her partner Chris Rowell, she has used posters, flyers and branded stationery to market her business.

“When we first started Four Paws, we had posters printed and displayed them in as many places as possible, to let people know we were open,” says Emma.

“Business soon picked up through word-of-mouth, but we needed to take our marketing to the next stage and make our business appear more professional.”

After searching online for business cards, Emma discovered Vistaprint and, after playing around with designs, she found the perfect look for Four Paws.

“For my business cards, I typed ‘dog grooming’ into the search box, so I could browse the looks and see what identity I wanted for my company,” says Emma.

“It came up with a few different templates that matched my key words – one with a poodle image, which was perfect. I was so happy I didn’t have to spend hours trying to transform my old design and that I didn’t have the added expense of someone designing it for me.

“I love that I can add my own touch and make it personal. On some of my products I have used my own logo.”

Vistaprint’s marketing materials came in handy earlier this year when Emma relocated to bigger premises. Not only is she now able to offer a wider range of services at the grooming salon – as well as a “relaxation room” for dogs – but she also has opened a small shop selling everything from dog collars to perfumes for pampered pooches.

“I ordered postcards to let people know about our new services and any special offers,” says Emma.

“I also used Vistaprint for banners and lawn signs, to direct customers to our new salon, as well as accessories such as mugs, key rings, car door magnets for our vehicles, stickers, calendars, pens, T-shirts for staff, flyers, business cards and appointment cards.

“Owning a business is quite daunting, especially when it comes to the thought of the costs of advertising and promoting your business, but Vistaprint has helped us to create so many different, professional-looking and eyecatching items on a budget.”

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Kathryn’s top five marketing tips …
Know your customer. Who are the “low hanging-fruit”? That is, the people that are most interested in what you have to offer, and will require the lowest effort to convert to purchase.
What is it that they are looking for? Do they expect a premium offering, or something more basic? Be clear on who you are, what you can offer, and to whom this will be most relevant.

– If you have a strong message, don’t be afraid to repeat it. Put your logo and slogan or statement on everything from business cards to stationery so people don´t just know who you are, but understand why you are right for them.

Create a special, time-limited offer. Discounts, gift with purchase, free samples or consultations that are time-bound will create a sense of urgency among potential new customers. This is often all it takes to push someone over the brink of consideration to purchase. Shout about it with posters and flyers, which you can hand out in the street, drop in letter boxes or leave at your local café.

Create an event, such as a summer sale, VIP event or grand opening to excite new customers to check you out. Make sure people know about it by distributing flyers, posting postcards and pasting posters around your area.

Sign up for trade shows. The benefit of these events are that everyone there is open to hearing what you have to say. It’s a highly effective way of meeting new potential customers, and an opportunity to showcase your business. It’s also a great way to check out your competition and learn from other people in your industry. Put your best foot forward and invest in quality signage such as a vinyl banner, presentation folders, brochures and promotional items such as pens.