EntreKey founder shares insights on brand marketing in Field Center webinar

The Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship welcomed business consultant Chirag Nijjer to discuss the importance of effective marketing in the latest installment of the center’s “Entrepreneurial Lunch & Learn” webinar series on March 1.

Titled “Becoming a Confident Strategic Marketer: Going Beyond The Logos & Colors,” the webinar aimed to help small business owners navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.

While he works for Google during the day, Nijjer is self-employed at EntreKey, a content platform he created to make business knowledge more accessible to entrepreneurs.

Drawing from his experience with EntreKey, Nijjer shared practical strategies, research-based practices and real-life examples from brands to help business owners elevate their marketing strategies and become more effective leaders.

Nijjer grew up in a family that operated a small business and learned about the struggles that come with running one firsthand. He realized that lack of access to knowledge is a significant problem for small businesses trying to get their footing.

“You don’t have the resources or the access to knowledge to be able to combat a lot of the problems you’re facing,” Nijjer said, referring to many small-business owners.

This led him to study business during his free time while earning his undergraduate degree in economics at Lafayette College, after which he started sharing his knowledge with local businesses and entrepreneurs. He created EntreKey after relaying information to his father about a marketing concept that aided in his own business’s success.

Nijjer said that his work at Google as platinum customer success lead allows him to “solve new challenges and work with interesting people on a daily basis.” This role also influenced his desire to help others with their businesses.

During the webinar, Nijjer emphasized the importance of building a brand versus just marketing a business.

“A business is what you sell, a brand is who you are,” Nijjer said, adding that branding is about building a relationship and creating an experience for customers. “I’m not as worried about that immediate sale or that one-time sale. I’m worried about how they are perceiving me and connecting with me. Are they going to stay in for the long term?”

The business consultant said he believes in prioritizing a long-term connection with customers. He explained that the relationships between businesses and customers go through various stages, starting with the two groups as strangers and eventually becoming loyal customers. The complexity of the questions that customers ask increase as they learn more about the business’s brand, leading to an increase in brand loyalty.

Nijjer further explains the difference between branding and marketing — while branding tells customers what the business is, marketing tells them how to connect with the business.

“To elevate your business into a brand, you have to learn how to be able to tell stories about them,” Nijjer said. “But then, the more important thing from there is using marketing in order to get those stories out to your audience.”

Nijjer assisted brands in marketing products by creating brand stories and building relationships with customers. He advises solopreneurs or student-run businesses to not “overcomplicate” anything. A tip he provides is to keep their branding simple and focus on a few words or feelings they want to be associated with.

He supported his point by citing how the marketing team behind Heinz Tomato Ketchup chose the words “slow” and “red” — referring to the condiment’s high quality and richness — to advertise their products. This helped boost the product to the well-known brand it is today.

Nijjer advised student entrepreneurs to learn the basics and long-term strategies to excel their brand, including the four P’s in marketing — product, promotion, placement and price. He also explained the “AIDA” marketing funnel, which consists of four stages: awareness, interest, desire and action. By understanding these concepts, student entrepreneurs may develop effective marketing strategies to attract dedicated customers.

In addition to running EntreKey and his work at Google, Nijjer also creates content dedicated to helping businesses expand on social media apps, such as TikTok. He encouraged attendees to check out the videos to learn more.

“Once you start taking these abstract [marketing] concepts, they aren’t perfect. They’re too simplistic to be perfect, right?” Nijjer said. “But what they can do is help you get out of your head. Just sit down for a moment to be able to process your thoughts, look at the world of marketing around you and break them down into strategies.”