By Ann Clarke
Home Office Computing magazine

Opening the doors of your new business is just the first step to making it successful! The first concept you need to recognize is simple: Being in business without marketing is like winking at a guy in the dark. You know you’re doing it but nobody else does!

If you aren’t willing to spend money on marketing, how can you compete with someone who does?

ESSENTIAL KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS:

#1: Make it EASY to do business with you by having a toll-free phone number and credit card sales.

Remember, paper money, checks and coins are rapidly being replaced by electronic money, credit cards, debit cards, “smart cards.” Why? Convenience, security, speed. The same reasons early societies moved from cattle as currency to coins. Today there are 600 million Visa cards worldwide, responsible for more than 6 billion transactions a year. And that doesn’t count the MasterCards, American Express, Diners Club, Discover and other widely used cards.

The message here for you: get a toll-free phone number. Get set up with your bank to take credit card sales. Make sure your advertising screams your convenience and accessibility.

Commit to advertising on a regular basis.

#2: Commit between 10% & 20% of your projected income to marketing.

I’ve heard so many people tell me, “Gee, I tried advertising once. I ran an ad in the paper. It didn’t do me any good–I didn’t get a single phone call.”That’s is called “flash in the pan” advertising. But guess what? People have to see or hear something at least three times before their brain even recognizes it.People forget fast! Advertising once or mailing one piece of direct mail is a waste of your time money and effort.

The point of marketing is to attract clients to WANT to do business with YOU.
You must not only focus on keeping the customers you have but develop new marketing strategies to gain new customers.

#3: Cover the BASICS: Business cards and personal brochures are the first step.

From that point on, the list grows and grows. In the beginning, something is better than nothing, but plan to build it better as you go. I’ve not advocating (as Adrienne Zoble says) “unknown to unknown” but you need to keep contact with “your herd” on a regular basis, and there are many ways to do it. Think newsletters, postcards holiday cards, and notepads.

#4: Your Web page is your best marketing tool.

#5: Make sure you get the most bang for your buck!

As with most small businesses with a limited budget, you’ll need every edge to get more bang for your buck. If you can’t outspend the competition, outsmart them! There are a number of ways to promote yourself and your company that cost little more than your time and energy.

#6: Create RELATIONSHIPS that open the door for OPPORTUNITIES so you show by your PERFORMANCE that lead to TRUST that result in SALES.

Here are some ways to meet people and build relationships:

  • Networking
  • Speaking Opportunities
  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Professional Associations
  • Seminars
  • Special events
  • Articles (you write or you are quoted)

#7: In your advertising, you feature yourself as well as your product or service.

You create bonds between you and the public, establishing things you have in common. This way your build not only name recognition, you make yourself more memorable and project your personality or image to people you’ve never met.

#8: Use these inexpensive tricks to help you put a little personality in your marketing to make yourself memorable!

  • Wear a nametag or logo shirt everywhere you go! You never know where your next customer will come from! Nametags are great conversation starters!
  • Put your picture on your business card.
  • Spend your money on the people who already love you.
  • Reward customers every time they do business with you.
  • Reward those who give you leads with a thank you note, a box of chocolate, movie tickets, TCBY coupons
  • REALLY reward them if the lead becomes a client with dinner at a nice restaurant, Carousel tickets, a gift certificate
  • Reward repeat customers with a discount or a punch card
  • Spend your money with those you know to create relationships. Give them leads, promote their business. They will promote you in turn!

By using these inexpensive tricks to personalize your marking program, you will create bonds between you and the public. Not only will you build name and face recognition, but you will create a professional image that they WANT to do business with. And you’ll build LOYALTY which will pay off in repeat customers and referrals for years to come.

You may reprint this article and make copies for your team.
©Ann Clarke 2002-2008
GR8 Ideas At Work!™
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