You'll want to create a polished image from the beginning and some kind of unique visual hook for your company, and then splash it on your business cards, stationery and anything else you can think of. But that doesn't necessarily mean spending thousands on a designer to come up with an icon that expresses your business. You can network with other entrepreneurs, and there's bound to be a graphic or web designer among the group who will charge significantly less than big design firms, and they may be willing to trade services or be open to payment plans.
Many marketing gurus say that a great business card can be your most effective marketing tool. Pack it with as much information as it will hold, not just contact information. Good graphics are important, but not as crucial as actually describing what your company does in a line or two. Maybe put the contact information on the front and list your products or services on the back. Consider a fold-over business card for twice the display space! In any event, your business card must be different, memorable and prospects must want to keep it.
You should get this up and running before you open for business. You don't need to spend a lot of money on one, with all the site-building options now available. But it should be well-designed and helpful. You might even want to start putting a blog on your site right away to start up a "conversation" with your customers. Using the website as a primary ‘marketing material' for a start-up is good because you can't tell the size of a company by their website.
This can be a virtual one, in PDF format on the internet, or a black-and-white, two-colour or even four-color paper handout. In any case, it's important to have one, because it can cover a variety of general needs that no other single marketing document can handle, ranging from distribution at a trade show to a handy mailer for people who want basic information about your company.
Be your own billboard! You might want to consider putting this really high on your checklist. Wearing clothing with your company brand can start tongues wagging everywhere you go. People will ask you what you do, and then you can recite your pitch and ask for the order.
Don't let any e-mail escape your computer without tagging it as a marketing message. Come up with a catchy e-mail signature and include your name, business name, contact information, tag line, web address and even a one- or two-line announcement at the bottom of the signature about a new book, product, seminar or service offering you've announced.
Packets for specialised needs
Depending on the initial focus of your company, you'll need to develop packages of materials that are formulated around particular needs. If sales are hugely important at the beginning, you may need to come up with a folder full of brochures and spec sheets. If public relations are an important early consideration for you, you'll need to produce some press releases and a media kit.