3 Marketing Tips for New Business Owners in Chicago

Cloud gate in Chicago

Welcome, new business owners! You should be proud, because we know that starting your own business is like climbing a mountain — it requires lots of time and effort, but it’s undoubtedly worth it.

To get to where you are now, you’ve built a business model, possibly raised start-up funds, hopefully received your business license and permits, and definitely put in a lot of work to get here.

So, now what?

The first years of a new business — the “learning to walk” years — are critical to long-term success. Actions you take now ring loud into the future, so it’s important to know which ones you want to take. (Like the Caterpillar said to Alice; “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”)

USA Today says that 20% of new businesses fail, and about half of all businesses won’t make it past the five-year mark. We’re not sharing this to scare you. We’re sharing this because the businesses that fail are usually the businesses that don’t take the right actions in the beginning. That’s why we want to set you and your new Chicago business up for success with these three tips.

1. Get to Know Chicago

Whether or not you’re brand new to Chicago, it’s important to get familiar with the city, its personality, and its people. You’ve got to know the audience you’re marketing to and not make assumptions. It’s critical to both do research from behind your computer and connect with real people out in the world. Your new business needs boots on the ground, so to speak.

If you want to get to know your customers, you have to go where they go, hang out where they gather, even listen to their favorite radio stations (and the DJs that run them). We highly recommend that you regularly attend community events and mingle, listen, observe, and connect. Do for your business what you would for yourself when moving to a new city; get out there, make friends, and build a network. (And not because you want to sell them something, but because you’re truly seeking community.)

2. Stay Focused

Don’t take on too much. It’s more important to focus on doing just a few things extremely well than it is to take on too many things and end up performing mediocre on all of them. Too many marketing objectives means your attention and energy will be scattered and less effective. For example, social media is important, but you don’t have to be everywhere at once. Pick one platform — two at the most — to start with, and focus on being 100% your authentic brand and delivering high-quality content.

Whatever campaign or advertisement you’re working on, it must include a clear approach for defining success. What results do you desire? What is your goal for this campaign or that ad? When should you focus on branding campaigns to grow awareness, or action campaigns to promote certain offers? Your approach must be clear and focused, every time.

3. Stay Humble

Smart people surround themselves with smarter people. High-performing CEOs don’t try to do everything themselves. Know your strengths, but more importantly understand your weaknesses. When you’re aware of which 20% of your efforts produce 80% of your results, you can hire experts to do those tasks that fall outside your immediate area of expertise. Hiring experts is just one shortcut to faster success.

For example, if you’re new to Chicago, it’s a good idea to connect with a Chicago media expert who knows the city inside and out, has a large network of connections, and specializes in marketing solutions to get brands up and running.

The infant years of your business are critical to your future. You’re laying a foundation, so make sure it’s a sturdy one built on principles, and not a house of cards built on tactics for quick wins. If you concentrate on getting to know Chicago while staying humble and focused, and surrounding your brand with experts, you’ll find yourself on the path to sustainable business success.

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