Bringing In Business – A Blueprint To Grow Your Business!
As much as we would love it, business does not just wander into our laps. We all have to get out there and hustle. I’m giving you tips here in a series of blogs that I know will be beneficial to you and help you find the customers you need. You may want to print this out, post it up and get ready for sales.
- Create quality marketing tools
This means you need to put deep thought into the image you want to present. Sit down and make a list of everything you’re going to need each time you make contact with a prospective customer or client, including a stationery package, brochures and presentation tools. If you can’t [afford] to print it all at once, at least work with a designer and a copywriter to create the materials so you have them on disk. If this is still a little too “out of budget,” hire an art or marketing student from the local university, or barter your services with other home based small business owners.
- Greet clients with class
Voice mail may not seem like a part of your marketing plan, but if a potential client calls and your kid answers, you will lose them before you can even refer to them as a client. Go ahead and get yourself a professional voice-mail system.
- Have a narrow focus
Instead of trying to reach all the people some of the time, narrow your target audience to your best qualified prospects. Instead of marketing to 5,000 companies, [find] several dozen highly qualified companies and make regular contact with them. Call them, mail your marketing materials, and then ask to meet. It’ll save you money and time.
- Make the most of trade shows
Rick Crandall has put out a hodgepodge of tips that I believe you find helpful.
- If you don’t get a booth beforehand, try to find someone who might want to share their space with you. You help them run the booth, and they get a local who can show them the town.
- If you decide not to get a booth, go anyway. You can always do business with the exhibitors, just be sure to respect their time with “real” customers before you approach them as a peer looking for some B2B action.
- After the seminar, be absolutely, positively sure that you follow up on your leads.
- Conduct competitive intelligence online
As a home based business in the ’70’s, there was really no way to even find out what your competition was doing. It was very hard work to find all your competitors were up to. Now, home based entrepreneurs have it a lot easier. Guess what? We have the internet at our finger tips and can find this info at a click of a button. Get on that thing and start clicking away!
I encourage you not to be timid in this area of “finding business.” Get out there with gusto and pursue!
- Get Friendly
We all want to be known as a good businessperson or just an all-around good person. Well, guess what? You are going to have to learn to help others out. This is the fastest way for others to find out you are a great person. It will spread by word of mouth like wildfire. Be the first to help another, and it has do it with sincerity. People will learn to love you and want to be part of your success. It is good for you and your business to align yourself with a nonprofit organization. There are also perks for setting up a fund-raising program that benefits a school, such as a discount card. As the same time the kids are selling them, they are also promoting your business.
- Offer samples of your work
If you are a web designer, you could surf the internet, find a potential client and send them a few tips they can use to improve their site. Or you can offer a small job for free just to show the potential client the quality of your work, and to get them used to working with you. Go out of your way for your potential customer. Getting business up front is hard work, there is no doubt about that, but I have discovered that as time goes on it balances out.
If this piece of marketing advice sounds like something you’ve heard before, there’s a good reason: It works, plain and simple. Join your local chamber, or groups like your industry association, or Rotary Club.
When you go, ask the people you meet what leads they’re looking for, and really listen to what they have to say. They’ll repay you in kind.
- Cross-promote with other businesses
Who do you share customers with? Find them and figure out how you can promote one another. If you’re a PR person, hook up with a copywriter or graphic designer for client referrals. You could take note of the collective, The Wedding Mafia, a group of several wedding professionals (a caterer, DJ, dressmaker, photographer, etc.) who work together through referrals. Another option is to add a brief note at the bottom of invoices referring your accounting clients to “an excellent computer consultant,” and have that consultant do the same for you. Be fair and honest with each other and you will create good comradery.
- Get Online
Look for newsgroups that will cater to your audience, and join the fray. Participating in online discussion groups can generate business, as well as be a great way to find information for yourself on a myriad of subjects. That alone can end up being one of the single best marketing tools you may land upon. It costs only your time. It is not uncommon to find that one list alone can get you as many as you can handle if you are a new start-up business.
Continue to be courageous as you press forward!
- Don’t wait for customers to find you online
As an alternative to purchasing an e-mail list for mass advertising, spend some time trolling the Web, looking for businesses that will have some sort of connection to your own business. Once found, write them a personalized e-mail telling them why you think they should build a business relationship with you. This is you opening a door.
- Spread The Word
This really is a pretty easy one to do. Get flyers made professionally. It is key that they look professional. I can’t stress that enough. The last thing we need is tacky advertising! If you have a pet-sitting business, ask your local vet office and groomer if you can display brochures. Are you a landscape artist? Offer to do a display for the local nursery. Do you throw children’s birthday parties? Buy a slide at the local movie theater to be shown before their family films. If you’re a business consultant, you’re not going to run ads on the movie screen. Advertise somewhere where people are likely to be thinking about what you are selling.
- Offer an e-newsletter
Again, this establishes you as an expert, but it also provides another very important marketing tool: e-mail addresses of potential clients. You’ve opened up the gates to creating a relationship with these folks by offering free information. Now they may approach you to do business, or you can use these “opt-in” addresses to offer your services.
- Make sure you are an expert
Develop your business know-how into a marketing tool by writing online articles. Write articles that show your talents and give them as filler to any Web site owner that you feel is fitting. This will not only bring you more traffic and potential customers, but it will provide you with a business portfolio to demonstrate your business sense and your product or service. Also, answer questions in online forums; get yourself listed in a directory like Experts.com, Profnet.com or The Yearbook of Experts. You can send tip sheets to local media outlets; write a book or pamphlet; or do the next tip on our list.
- Host a seminar
Scary thought? I know, but it’s cheap and it’s easy. It’s also a pretty good way to get over your public-speaking fear. You will be getting free publicity, you’re getting prospects to call you, and you’re building your level of expertise.
- Make a guarantee
This can be scary as well, but more people will be willing to try out your business and recommend your business if you offer “satisfaction guaranteed.” People are pretty much the same everywhere when it comes to this topic. We want guaranteed satisfaction or our money back. Period!!
Don’t let something like this freak you out. You are already good at what you do and this also helps hold all of us accountable so that we do the best that we can do. Every customer deserves that!
- Get local news coverage to cover you
Play up your locale as much as possible with personalized news releases. Your local newspaper is looking for stories. The hometown folks want to know what is happening right under their noses.
Even if you used to live someplace, write them a letter. They want to do stories about one of “their own.”
- Go Public
Does TV sound out-of-reach for a home based business owner on a budget? That is just not the case! Get yourself a cable access show. You don’t have to blatantly advertise a product or service, but it’s a good way to become better-known. For example, if you sell crafts, you could start an instructional craft show. You could give away something for free or have a contest. When people call or write in, you can start a mailing list and then contact them about your business. Some other benefits: It adds to your expertise and gives you a great hook for your publicity efforts.
Take advantage of as many public venues as you can. If you have a local county or state fair, have a booth with your products and advertising. Be sure and have a person at the booth as much time as possible. More people will stop and look and listen if they see a glowing face.
- Customer Service
Gracias, thank you! This is something you can hardly say enough. Go ahead and shower the top 20 percent of your clients who yield you the most sales (either in volume or dollars) with thank yous. Whether those thank yous are in the form of gifts, personalized notes or lunch, it really does not matter. Your customers just love being appreciated! Any of these forms of “thank yous” do not cost a lot of money, but it’s a great way to let your best customers know they’re special.
- Get them talking about you
Word-of-mouth marketing is just about the cheapest thing you can do to boost your business. The main way to attract referrals is to just do a great job! You have got to impress your clients, and they’ll tell everyone they know. But there are more aggressive tactics you can use as well. Ask everyone you know to spread the word about your business. Hand out several business cards to people rather than just one so they’re more likely to pass them on. Even go through your favorite client’s Rolodex (with his or her permission, of course) to find potential leads.
- Pick up the phone
Instead of complaining about your lack of business, drumming your fingers on your desk and forming new worry lines on your face, call a customer! Touch base with them and see how they’re doing, visit their office when you’re running an errand, see if there’s anything you can do for them, even if it’s not a paid piece of work. This will improve your relationship with your customer. After all, you’ll never hear that little phrase, “I’ve been meaning to call you!” if you don’t pick up the phone.
It is your responsibility to keep a great relationship with your customers. The harder you work for them, the more loyal they will be to you.
If you want to see how you’re doing in all of these steps, sign up for a free Digital Marketing Overview with PureDriven!