Guardian masterclass roundup - telling your business story in a new market

We recently joined the panel alongside global marketing experts as part of Guardian Small Business Network's branding masterclass: how to tell your business story in a new market. Here are the highlights from the Q&A.

How can you apply the rules of business branding on a more personal level as an entrepreneur/consultant?

"The key thing is to really understand what your want your brand to stand for. If it was a person - how would you describe him or her? What do you want your brand to be known for beyond just the day to day functionality of your business."
Sarah Bell, Communications Manager, UPS

"With a very limited budget as a start up, I see myself as a brand ambassador of my own brand and use social media to the max on a more personal level with my clients."
Akosua Afriye-Kumi, Founder, Aaks Design

"If you are entering a new country with your personal brand, you need to invest in relationships with people already established in your world. The US in particular has a very supportive entrepreneur community. It would be worth investing time getting to know them and getting yourself known within the network.
Sarah Aitken, CMO, Iris

"Leveraging local knowledge and building relationships is crucial. It's all about getting out there and building a network of advocates."
James Cotton, MD, Onespacemedia

"I think it all comes down to content! If you put out beautiful, well thought out, well written content - consistently - you will find yourself building a micro community and following on social networks. The difficult part is staying true to that and maintaining the same engagement levels when your business really starts to blossom following all of your hard work!"
Gemma Price, Co-founder,

How do you build contacts in a new market?

"Networking groups are extremely valuable for building contacts. Cambridge has a really vibrant networking scene and I've met scores of entrepreneurs looking to start or extend their ventures into the area. Networking isn't for everyone but fortune favours the brave - just make sure you've got pitch and materials spot on so that you can be confident in what you are trying to sell/achieve."
James Cotton, MD, Onespacemedia

"For me personally, I find most of my contacts through LinkedIn and Twitter. At a recent e-commerce summit one of the speakers stood out. A quick look at his followers and the people he followed on Twitter soon led to a host of new contacts. Much of my business is relationship based and so joining local business associations, and attending trade shows and key industry events are the best methods for me to grow my network of contacts."
Iain Bluett, Founder, Ticket Alternative

How does a brand expand into a new country with a limited budget?

"My experience of expanding with very limited budget was to focus. Know precisely who your market is and ignore everyone else. It sounds obvious but when you're just starting you desperately want to chase every opportunity. Not following this instinct is really hard."
Adam Elgar, Co-founder, Passle

"The key thing is really research - make sure you have done research on the market and understand how your brand and business will translate in the market from language to cultural nuance. See what the competition is like and what part of the market they are hitting. Finally, social and digital media offer really cost effective ways on getting your message out. Find out who the influencers are in your area and get your unique story about your brand to them."
Sarah Bell, Communications Manager, UPS

How can a business owner decide on the details they should include in their promotional materials?

"There is a big trend for technology start-ups to tell the founder's story - it's a strategy that helps to humanise a business. If you can find a way to tell that story in an engaging way then it can work as a great conversation starter. It's all too often forgotten that business is ultimately about people."
James Cotton, MD, Onespacemedia

"A good story is the foundation of good content. While brand storytelling is key - you must remember that people have short attention spans so you need to be able to tell your story quickly and clearly in terms of what your business or product does for people / the world. Focus on what your purpose is in your high level pitch and leave the longer stories for people to discover in more immersive media - e.g. on pack, in social media, your website, video etc. All of those stories should back up your clear and simple brand purpose."
Sarah Aitken, CMO, Iris

Catch up on the full Q&A with advice from the whole panel here. If you have anything to add, please feel free to comment below.

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