This article by Johanna Baker-Dowdell was published in the April/May 2008 edition of Business Mums Magazine.
It’s every new business owner’s Catch-22: getting word out that you have set up shop, but not having any money to do it. You need customers to create the money to market the business, but to get customers you need to tell them you exist!Before you do any sort of marketing, you need to work out your strategy by answering the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve through your marketing? For instance, is it to build your brand, attract customers, or tell potential customers you are there?
- Who is your target market? Such as fellow business mums, teenage boys, men aged 25-40 years.
- What is the best marketing method for your business? For example, brochures, website, direct mail or networking.
- What are you going to say? Will your marketing include a special offer, opening specials, or your business tagline?
- What makes you special? Work our your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that makes you stand out from your competitors, such as “We are a networking group for business mums” or “We only sell Fairtrade products”.
Once you know what you want to say, to whom and how, you are ready to get started on the marketing itself.
There are many marketing techniques you can use to build your business profile. Some will just cost your time and others may involve a small outlay, but the results are worth your effort and money.
- Give something away for details – it could be a free pen with every purchase, your monthly newsletter or a free e-book, but make sure you use the opportunity to get their information at the same time. In return for the item ask them to supply their name, email address and phone number so you can add them to your list and market to them in the future (with their permission of course!).
- Think local – find out who your local media is (newspapers, magazines, websites, radio, newsletters, TV stations) and tell them about your business’s grand opening, new product line or new service. Local media always like local stories so make sure you promote the local angle prominently.
- Competitions – give away something of value to your target market and before long you will have a healthy list of interested prospective customers.
- Team up with other businesses – cross-promote each other to build customer lists for both. You can offer a prize from one of the businesses or discount vouchers as an incentive and share the cost.
- Editorials – make a list of your industry magazines, appropriate sections in metro newspapers, radio and TV shows that cover your industry and tell them when something important happens with your business. Remember that while editorials carry a lot of credibility with the public, you are not paying for the media space or time and you have no say over what is included or when.
- Online PR – after sending your press release to the media, upload it on the free PR websites, like Free Press Release and 24-7 Press release, to increase your search ranking.
- Be an expert – use the knowledge you have in your industry to position yourself as an expert by writing for an industry magazine, website or newsletter, speaking at industry events and information sessions or publishing your own blog or e-book.
- Use the Internet – list your business on free industry websites and business directories like Aussie Web, Hot Frog or Linked In. Make sure your listing contains all the key words potential customers are likely to type in to search engines so you come up in searches.
- Network – find out about your industry associations and networking groups, as well as complementary groups, like Business Mums, and become a member. All you need is your business card and a willingness to talk about your business.
- Don’t forget your existing customers – keep in regular contact with your customers through an email newsletter. This is a great way to tell them what is going on in your business and keep you at the top of their minds. A good content mix is an informative article, special offer or giveaway and tips or tricks to help.• Word of mouth – an often forgotten marketing method, but the one that I think is the most valuable. If someone is happy with your product or service ask them to tell their friends.
All these tips involve some research on your part, but very little (or no) money. They are a great way to get your name out there and get customers clambering for your product or service.