Every start-up business goes through phases of needing to try something different to increase exposure and bring in new clients. Even established businesses need to revisit their marketing strategies every once in awhile to help bring in new and repeat business.
During a recent business chat at Staffcentrix.com, in which I was honoured to be the Mentor of The Month and chat moderator, several Virtual Assistants (VAs) with varying experience in the small business sector shared their ideas and know-how.
The consensus among the chat participants is that certain marketing techniques will work for some small business owners but may not be as successful for others. It was also agreed that the cheaper the method, the better.
Myself and all the other VAs found this chat very informative and beneficial. So, with the hope of passing on the great ideas that were bounced around, to up and coming VAs or any small business owner, I have put together a list of the marketing strategies that VAs have found successful during their start-up phase and beyond.
1. A company website. This is probably one of the best and most cost effective forms of having your company visible to your potential clients….and its available 24/7! If you have the time and patience to learn to put something together, give it a try! Or, consider hiring a professional designer in order to get an exceptional site. The benefits of having a website are definitely worth the expense. But remember to shop around and be comfortable with your designer… and the money you pay.
2. Signs in or on your vehicle. Window decals are fairly inexpensive considering their lifespan. Remember to include your website address. If funds are really short, make signs on Bristol board and put them inside the windows. You can also get Licence decals. These can include your website address, company name, and phone number and fit nicely around your licence plate.
3. Join your local business associations. And don’t forget to get involved! Your local Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce can provide an abundance of opportunities for your business. The networking events are a way to meet other business professionals in your community. Getting involved in the committees allows you to share your expertise and be recognized by your fellow members.
4. Pinup Flyers. Include a tear-off section on the bottom and put the flyers up at your local stores and other locations that may have bulletin boards.
5. Fax Broadcast. Design an informational or fun page, similar to a newsletter, and send it out to fax numbers for your target market. Please note that fax broadcasting is not allowed in some areas of some countries, so be sure it is okay in your area.
6. Keep in touch marketing. A personalized thank you to a new client or contact, a Christmas card that simply says thank you, and a monthly newsletter (print and/or online) to all your customers and contacts.
7. Iron on transfers. As a small business owner you already eat and sleep your business, so why not wear it too. You can purchase the transfers at your local business supply store and, I imagine, at craft stores. Then it’s just a matter printing your logo (or whatever you want on the shirt) onto a transfer and ironing it on.
8. Articles & Press Releases. Writing articles is a good way to receive exposure and it also helps you to become regarded as an expert in your field. Press releases can be used to announce a new business, when you provide a new service, or any other time you have some news to tell. There are 2 keys to a press release… is the Headline. Make sure it doesn’t sound like an advertisement, but more like it is news.
9. Networking. This is another highly beneficial and cost efficient way to get the word out about your business. Attend designated networking events as often as possible. Also, when possible, follow the Three Foot Rule… if appropriate, strike up a conversation with anyone within 3 feet of yourself and be sure to bring up your business.
10. Testimonials. These can be implemented into many pieces of marketing. Include a sentence or two in your advertisements, brochures, newsletters, and you can even dedicate a whole page on your website to the kudos you receive from satisfied clients.
No matter which marketing efforts you use, keep track of where your inquiries and new clients are coming from. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they heard about you and/or your business. Asking only takes a couple of seconds and the results will show you which strategy is working for you the best.
Put your imagination to work… instead of your wallet and watch the business roll in.
Janice Byer is the owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services (but you knew that already when you read the first paragraph :-). She invites you to visit her website at http://www.docutype.net and sign her guestbook (another opportunity to get your business name out there).