No matter how big or small you are, your success is pretty much dependent on your marketing strategies. Even though you may have the best product or service out there, it means very little if no one knows about it. In fact, you may find that your competition (even with an inferior product or service) will overtake you with a slick ad campaign.
Couple a superior product or service with a well planned out marketing campaign and you’ll be unstoppable. This is the type of foundation that many large, successful corporations have built to allow them to corner the market in their industry.
As a fledgling business owner, your marketing campaign needn’t be complicated or expensive. As long as you’re able to identify your target market, explain how you can help them, and deliver value, you should do all right. Whether you spend a fortune on newspaper and radio ads or simply distribute fliers door-to-door, the most important thing is knowing your customer and delivering a compelling offer.
Choosing a logo should be one of the first things you consider. It’s never too early to start branding your business and developing a catchy logo is a big part of that. In fact, people just tend to take you more seriously if you have your logo on everything (website, business card, invoices, etc.).
Do an online search for “logo design.” Deal with a reputable company, but there’s no need to spend a fortune either. Fiverr.com is a decent place to look because the vendors are all rated and they have real reviews from people who have used their services. You should be able to get something made for under $100, including a few revisions. Have the designer deliver the final logo in the following formats: eps/png/jpg.
Advertising On a Shoestring
In the beginning, you aren’t going to have a large advertising budget. That’s why it’s essential to keep costs down and spend wisely. Your business hasn’t proven itself yet and much of your income at this point is speculative. Once you’ve got money coming in, you can scale it up.
Free Classified Ads
Using free classified ads (Craigslist, Kijiji, Gumtree) is one way to get the word out. Just don’t abuse the service. Test more than one ad and once you get something that is working, consider paying for higher visibility. You’ll find that their rates are more than fair. Pay for a permanent spot at the top of the page in your category of choice once you find an ad that brings in customers.
It’s going to cost you money to start a flyer campaign, but not much. Get a design made, print your flyers, and distribute them yourself to save money. Do a small test run to gauge the response and scale accordingly. There is nothing better than getting your message right to your prospective customer – and nothing does that better than a full page, graphic-rich flyer!
Don’t underestimate the business card for getting new clients. As a start-up, this is one of the first things you should be doing. Make sure you include your logo, website url, and phone number on your design. Pass them around to everyone. Especially to your current customers. They need something to refer to when recommending your services to their friends and family.
Enter your card in draws. Post it in established businesses where they allow it. Give your card to related businesses. For example, your apartment cleaning service card to a property manager.
Talk to people. Visit businesses that might need your services. Pass out that business card!
Have two different cards printed. One will be high quality and you’ll use this to give to customers, potential customers and businesses. The other will be less expensive and passed out anywhere and everywhere.
Get a website online. Even if it’s only a few pages with photos of jobs you’ve done, your logo, and your phone number, you must have a website that people can go to. Not having one just screams amateur (and maybe even scam) and is a red flag to prospective customers. The url should be present on all company stationary and your business card. Make sure it’s a site that you actually own. Do not use free blogs for your company website because no one is going to take you seriously.
Though it’s a little time consuming, you can get the word out by visiting relevant websites, blogs and forums. Take your time. Join their community. Add value to conversations. Include your website url as a link in your name, or add a signature to your profile if permitted.
A word of warning: Webmasters are hyper-vigilant when it comes to spam and if they suspect you are only there to promote your business, you’ll be banned in no time and labeled a spammer.
Once you have an advertising budget, contact the owners of relevant sites and see if you can buy some ad space. For example, imagine you have a moving company… Well, the best place to advertise would be on a real estate site or apartment rental website. Your customers will already be there, waiting to give you their money. Talk about targeted marketing – even better than advertising in the local paper, radio station, or television. The conversion rate from something like this will be extremely high.
And it’s all about getting the best bang for your buck.