Starting a business is never easy, but keeping it running profitably is infinitely harder. There are so many things you need to keep in mind that sometimes you tend to forget one of the most important aspects – getting new clients.
No matter how well you can do your job or how good your products are, if your potential clients never get to know about your products, then there is no way you can ever have a thriving business.
Most people seem to worry that marketing is a very costly exercise, however, we beg to differ. If you’re wise about your efforts you can start building your path to greatness step by step.
We’ve gone and collected a set of things you can implement. Not all of these will work for every kind of business, not all of them are free, and not all of them are easy – but you can surely find a combination of these that will work for your business.
Running a business without a Facebook page is a major wasted opportunity. Setting one up can be a matter of minutes and you can use it to connect to all your customers. Do your best to keep it updated regularly with relevant information, even if you only use it to tell your brand’s fans about your latest products, services or offers.
Word of mouth
If you do a good enough job and keep your customers happy, then you should, politely, ask them to recommend you to any of their friends or colleagues who might need your service. This is a double edged sword which also works on keeping you on your toes. If you depend on something random (like walk-ins) then you have no incentive to give a great service. If you depend on word of mouth you have to always keep your customers satisfied.
A business card is much more than a simple way of helping someone contact you. Let’s face it, if someone wants to find a way to get in touch with you, all they need to do is google you. There’s a big probability that they’ll find a way to contact you (they’ll probably find ten ways.) So use your business card as a good sales opportunity. Use the front for contacts but use the back to let people know what other services (or products) you offer. Once again, if a client is happy with you then don’t lose the opportunity for cross-selling.
A website is rarely free (unless you’re a web pro), however you can get a basic one created for very little money if you do your homework well. There are some great web design companies around, and the money you spend is usually an investment that will last for years. A good website makes a major difference in the level (and type) of clients you attract.
This is completely free, and possibly one of the most powerful ideas if well executed. It only really works for businesses in which clients are built on relationships (rather than transactional ones like retail). Keep your eyes open for things that might be helpful to your clients and let them know by sending them an email. Found a mistake on a client’s site? Send them an email letting them know. Heard of a supplier that might solve a problem they’ve been trying to solve? Send them a link by email. These little things show your clients that you’re willing to help even when there’s nothing in it for you.
Your email signature
Your email signature is the modern-day equivalent of a business card, but with two main benefits. First of all, you have an “excuse” to send it to people you transact with much more regularly (you typically only hand out a business card on your first meeting) and secondly you can change it as frequently as you want. So make the best of it. Use it to link people to portfolio items, to cross-sell services, to promote items you have in stock, and more – the options are limitless. And if you do it company-wide you could be getting hundreds of extra messages out there every day.
This might sound a bit far-fetched, but you never know who’s going to be stuck in traffic behind you. If you drive around quite a lot, then make sure to let people stuck in traffic behind you know what services you offer. Larger brands can afford to just brand their fleet in order to build their name, however smaller businesses can use their vehicles to basically list their services. One word of caution, though. Only do this if you tend to be a respectful driver. If you tend to cut across lanes and drive recklessly, then scrap the idea (or fix your driving habits) – otherwise you’ll be doing more harm than good.
Gather your client’s email addresses and send frequent newsletters. If your list is small you can usually find free services to use too. Don’t spam your clients, and try to keep the content of your newsletters interesting and relevant to your business, however most people don’t mind receiving an email or two a month if they feel they can get real value out of them.
Donate your product or service as prizes
This is not free, however it will cost you very little (or only your time). Team up with charity events and offer them your product or service as a prize in one of their competitions. This has multiple benefits: it will help get your name out there, it creates a positive image for your brand and, most importantly, can help someone in need.
Last, but definitely not least, you should always have your listing with Yellow updated and, if you can afford it, promoted. By paying a small monthly fee you can improve your positioning in the listings and you’ll increase your chance of getting more traffic all year round.