Over a decade of experience helping new businesses has taught us that although a new business may have a laundry list of marketing needs, there is something to be said for starting with the must have items and working from there.

Yes your business should have a web presence, a professional logo, and professional marketing materials, but these items can be created on a time line that works best for you and your business.  As with most of the new ventures that we’ve helped launch, the owners often end up offering very different products and services than they initially envisioned.  And if this isn’t the case, the new business owner will most certainly end up working with target markets that she never initially considered when putting her proof of concept together.

If asked to list four must have marketing items for any small business, we’d recommend the following:

  1. logo / identity design
  2. quality business cards
  3. professional web presence **This may only consist of a 1 page website at the start
  4. professional email address **yourname@yourdomainname.com gives off a much more professional feeling than superman7@aol.com .

With these simple items in hand, you (as a new business owner) can confidently get out there and network both at local business events and also on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

When attending real world events like chamber of commerce and specialized group meetings – it’s important to realize that the point of attending these meetings is to make connections not immediate sales.  These events allow you to expand your professional circle, which will certainly result in later business referrals.  Before you even step into one of these events, remember to dress appropriately and yes your outfit should include a smile.  We recently read an employee manual that included “a smile” as part of the company uniform.  In life and when networking, make sure that a smile is a part of your ensemble.  No one wants to approach the grumpy girl in the corner, that’s for sure.  Along with your professional outfit, also come prepared to explain what you do in a clear and concise manner.  Think of this as your elevator pitch or what you’d say if someone in an elevator asked you what you do.  Keep your pitch free of industry jargon.  Just simply state what you do and how you help your end clients.

When you do begin a social networking campaign for your business,  start with a goal in mind. The best advice on social media is to focus on becoming a resource to your connections.  Offer something valuable and position yourself as an expert in your field.  Educate, help and listen to the members of your social networking community.  The same principles apply as they do at real world networking events.  Quality business relationships take time to build both online and offline.

We’re interested in your comments and thoughts on the subject, so please share what you think is most beneficial to new businesses entering the marketplace.