For any business to be successful you need to know how to attract customers. As a small business owner you’re probably limited by budget concerns, but the following tips are some basic and inexpensive ideas to help you get the word out about your small business.
Give your business card to everyone
Don’t ever be shy about giving your card to anyone. Even if you’re not in a professional setting, you never know when a social contact can quickly become a business contact. These mini business “bulletin boards” should contain all of your contact information including your name, your address, telephone and fax number, e-mail address, and website, if available. You should also consider posting your card on public bulletin boards, as found in libraries or supermarkets. Lots of people read these boards and may just be in need of your services.
Create a brochure
A creative and colorful brochure can be a helpful marketing tool. Like your business card it should provide all of your contact information, as well as a brief overview of your business and the services you provide. Pictures and other graphics are eye-catching additions to a brochure and will entice the reader and hold their interest. Try to stay away from “cutesy” language or overselling yourself (i.e. Making claims you can’t live up to). Self-promotion is great; exaggerating the truth will only get you in trouble. Before taking your final draft to the printer, proofread it and then proofread it again. Now is not the time for careless grammatical errors or typos. If you have the available funds, designing your own logo and stationery is another excellent idea.
Set up a website
In this day and age of the computer, you are putting yourself at a complete disadvantage if you don’t have a website to promote your business. A website gives you the opportunity to provide current and detailed information, provide lots of photos if applicable, and even take orders or conduct other business on-line. Of course, a website won’t do you any good if no one knows it exists. Therefore, contact as many website hosts as possible to get your site listed. To build a website, find a reputable web designer to help with structure and design and then hire a Webmaster to actually take your site “live” to the Internet. Make sure you are continually updating your website anytime you make changes to your business, especially if you change your rates or prices for merchandise.
Sponsor a contest
For example, if you own a hair salon, make all of your customers eligible for a drawing in which they can win a free haircut. Announce the contest and the winner in the local newspaper. Always take advantage of local media, whether it’s TV, radio, newspapers, etc. This type of publicity has the potential to reach a wide variety of potential new customers.
Give out coupons
Never underestimate people’s desire to save a buck. Everyone likes to feel as though they are getting the most for their money. So, the next time you take an ad out in the local newspaper, why not include a coupon for a discount of some kind for merchandise or services rendered. This is a good way to entice new customers to your business or offer an incentive for past customers to keep coming back.
Establish yourself as an expert
People will be more likely to do business with you if they see you as an expert in your field. Look into writing a weekly column for a local publication and offer tips and advice on your specific area of expertise. Again, this is great publicity.
Effectively marketing your business can be the key to your success. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your ideas. Be diligent in your efforts and unique in your approach and you will reap the rewards of watching your business thrive.