Marketing yourself in your area or on the internet is a daunting task when you’re also spending 15 hours a day just trying to get all of the work done to keep your new business operating. Early marketing strategies need to be a little bit different than those of larger or more stabilized companies because your resources are much more limited and because you haven’t built up any momentum to help you generate sales or to keeps business moving without manually pushing the entire time. First let’s look at a few basics, and then a few more involved methods for setting up a business that builds itself.
Optimize Your Space
Put the name of your business and what you have to offer right on your door. Place a sign out front indicating what’s special today and pointing an arrow at the door (arrows are psychologically useful, even if someone doesn’t buy anything they’ll be much more likely to look inside). If you don’t have a big friendly sign on your door, make sure that it’s standing wide open. Immediately inside you should have clear signage indicating what your business is, what you do, and where they should go.
Target a Demographic
Before you can bring in customers, you need to know who your potential customers are. For example if you’re a dance instructor, do you want to target schools and teach high school and college students? Or do you want to focus on young couples looking to learn a few moves before their wedding day? Do you want to accept walk-ins?
Reach Out and Recruit Other Customers
This is where it gets scary. While larger businesses can afford to take out an ad in the radio or on TV, your options are confined to more low-cost alternatives. Fortunately nowadays those often work better than traditional methods. There is no reason for any business to not have a Facebook page, and if you’re selling any kind of visually representable deliverable then also Pinterest. Offer small incentives for people who post about your business on social media (like free access to a group lesson if you’re the dance instructor or a free ice cream if it’s an ice-cream shop etc…).
Give Things Away
Small businesses don’t have a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean there are no forms of physical advertisement available. Give punch cards for customers that you already have, but instead of rewarding them for their business, give them a punch for every customer that they bring in. Depending on what your business sells those 5 (or whatever number you choose) customers will be worth differing amounts of revenue, but whatever the case the reward to your recruiter customer should be proportional. If it’s small, give them a t-shirt with your company logo on it and something nice indicating that they’re local business supporters or something. If your customers are other businesses and involve more valuable transactions then reward your recruiter with a special discount.
The reason these types of methods work is that they don’t require you to pay much for your marketing until it has already brought in revenue, at which point you’ll be able to afford it.
Reyna Ramli is a writer for CareerBliss, an online community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. When Reyna is not writing, she scours fashion magazines and blogs to satisfy her crave of fashion tips and trends, or takes random pictures with her iPhone for her Instagram obsession.