smiling customer reading a catalog

Business Evolution Timeline

After a recent coaching call when answering one particular question – it dawned on me! I get asked this question all the time.

So, I thought this would be a great place to give a detailed answer and that the answer might help a few other people in the process!

Question: When do I dive into which marketing service for my business? There is so much information out there – how do I know which direction to head in first?

Well – here it is friends! My (probably too detailed) answer for where to put your focus when. 

SIDE NOTE: Focus is a HUGE key word here because I know how hard it is to read conflicting information in a google search and feel that you need to do all the things all at once, but in reality you will move the needle further by putting your focus in ONE place at a time.

I like to look at this like building a house

Start with the foundation

#1 Strategy:

This one will surprise some people because it is so easy to want to jump right in to the pretty stuff. PLEASE don’t overlook this step. If you don’t know who you are as a brand and where you want to go then it will be increasingly difficult to get everyone else on your team and outside vendors on board with your vision. Also, this will allow you to budget (ugh I know) and plan for what you can realistically do in terms of marketing and design projects and a bit of timing discussion for when they need to be done.

#2 Branding:

Your brand is the inspiration for almost all other marketing material created for your business. Creating a cohesive look is so important to catch the viewer’s attention. Think about your Facebook newsfeed for a minute – you probably have everything from big national brands like Apple to the little boutique around the corner to your adorable nieces and nephews – Oh, that’s just me? 🥰 Your brand is not just in competition with your direct industry competitors, but with everyone on the internet. Eek! This is why having a solid foundation is SO important and makes it so much easier to be consistent over time when using your branding elements in various ways.

This consists of:

  • Logo Design
  • Branding Elements such as patterns, alternate typefaces, color palettes, secondary logos, ect..
  • Brand Photography
  • Product Design
  • Packaging Design

Now that you know who you are as a company and have a basic idea of what you look like – it’s time to decide how you want to speak to your ideal audience and what information is best to give them.

#3 Website Design

I know the title above says design – but I firmly believe that the MOST important part of your website is the content (the message). This is why my website design process = content first! Yes of course you want the website to look great and have all of the bells and whistles, however, I firmly believe that content drives design. For myself personally, if I start designing a project with dummy content then the project gets to feeling a bit cookie cutter (because its made to throw any content in right?). However, if I start designing with the exact content that is written to set the company apart from others, then naturally the design becomes more custom because my job is to bring that content to life visually.

With website design above almost anything else – it is so important to start down the right path. Pick a system that works for your budget and business – but also one that is positioned to grow with you! Read the information they put out and look at other sites designed in that system before making a decision. THIS is where you own and control your customer experience and set the tone for what they will experience with your business. 

#4 Print Design

People may say print is dead – I say NO WAY! Instead, I think that cheap, mass produced, mass mailed print is dead. As consumers we have widened the gap between good printed marketing pieces and average printed marketing pieces. If you are doing your job as a business owner, you are most likely TALKING to people about your business. Let’s see how this typically goes.

“Hi! I’m Crystal and I own a creative solutions company that specializes in design and marketing for small businesses.” And they say, “Wow! That is fantastic, I own a small business and I know how hard it is to find someone who really understands.” So what if I replied, “Well, yep! If you ever need me feel free to reach out.” and I end the conversation and walk away. To be honest you guys, I go to networking events where this is the other side of my conversation and I cringe every time!

Instead what if it went like this:

“Hi! I’m Crystal and I own a creative solutions company that specializes in design and marketing for small business.” And they say, “Wow! That is fantastic, I own a small business and I know how hard it is to find someone who really understands.” Then I reply, “Oh! Exciting! Tell me about your business.” After listening then I reply, “You know what, I would love to speak with you more about your vision. I actually offer a FREE 30 minute Discovery Session so we can get to know each other a bit and see if it might be a good fit for us to work together. Here is a business card and a service menu of the various services I offer. Also, at the bottom there is my website address where you can see some of my work and sign up for my newsletter full of free tips!” 

You better bet that piece will be well designed and printed on paper that will grab their attention. They go talk to 30 more people that day, but in their bag the next morning is not just my business card, but extra information about me to help them remember who I am. Hint: I almost ALWAYS get a call back this way!

#5 Marketing Services

NOW is the time to dive wholeheartedly into marketing your company. So many people go to this step first (because they want sales) which I understand, but until you have the foundation set you may be turning off potential customers that may have turned into raving fans of your brand had they been introduced to it in the right way. Now this does not mean do ZERO marketing until you get done with steps 1-4 – this instead means don’t put your full focus on marketing until you get to this step.

This consists of:

  • Social Media
  • Newsletters
  • Blogging (can’t do this until you have a website right)
  • Traditional Advertising

#6 Photography

I put this at the bottom of the list because most likely you did an initial shoot or two in with your brand design. If not, this should move up in the list above website. However, we are going to assume you followed this path that I laid out for you. That means by this point you need NEW photos to market your brand with! One set of photos for the life of your brand is NOT enough. On top of that – only sharing iPhone shots is also NOT enough. I recommend doing a shoot no less than once per quarter to gather new content to share.

#7 Consulting/Coaching

By this point you have been eyeballs deep in the details of your brand (not to mention running your business) for a while. It is so important to step back and bring in an outside perspective to give you some feedback on what you have so far and where they would recommend you go from here. This can do a few things:

  • Re-align your brand with your ideal customer
  • Re-energize you and your team about your brand (burnout amiright?)
  • Re-structure your goals list with what your focus should be now – hopefully it will be business growth and sales growth!

Even I do this on a regular basis – I get frequent critique and feedback on my brand’s content all the time.

Whew! I told you that would be detailed, but I’m hoping it is helpful not only to give you a roadmap to follow, but to also to explain a bit of my why behind placing each step where I did.

Did I leave something out? If so, let me know! I’ll help you figure out where to place it in the roadmap.

Transform Your Sales Strategy!

Learn how to perfect your customer journey from first impression to retention. Gain insights from Crystal and the Oakes Creative House team through interactive sessions, expert guidance, and hands-on activities.

When: June 21, 2024, 9am-3pm

Where: Sandler, OKC

Cost: $175

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