How Should a Small Business Market Itself?
With the current economic climate resulting in numerous layoffs and companies downsizing, individuals are searching for other means of income. Many have decided to start their own business.
What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
It does not require a four-year degree, 20 years of experience, or another complicated formula. To become a successful entrepreneur, it simply takes the ability to "Think Outside the Box".
This means you allow yourself to dream, explore, learn, and create. Don't limit yourself, your desires or your possibilities! Thinking outside the box, will give you the ability to accomplish any goals you set, not only in business, but also in life. Surround yourself with positive people their energy is wonderfully contagious!
Many "would be" entrepreneurs become overwhelmed when they think of what it takes to run a business. Remember, you don't have to understand every aspect of a business. There are numerous resources to help you put together a successful business and marketing plan. Most business owners don't handle the day-to-day financial or marketing aspect of their companies. Instead they outsource the work to companies whose expertise is in those areas.
When considering becoming an entrepreneur, there are several questions you should answer:
- What products/services do I have to offer?
- Who is my market?
- Where is my market geographically located?
- What medium(s) of advertising will bring me the best results?
- Who is my competition?
- What makes me unique?
- What image do I want to project?
How well you market yourself directly impacts how successful you will be. Some elements to consider are:
Discuss your ideas with anyone and everyone. The more you brainstorm, the more ideas that get brought up for consideration. Talk to others in the same business and find out what has worked for them. People enjoy discussing their success stories and are usually happy to share.
Meeting others in business and sharing information about your company, requires no more than a little time and conversation. Capitalize on every opportunity you have to discuss your business but don't forget to LISTEN to the needs of the person you are talking to. You may find that information you receive, will spawn new ideas or allow you to form alliances that may steer you in a more lucrative direction. There are many networking events and you can't make them all, but select a few that you feel would be beneficial and regularly attend. This builds trust and a gives the public a good understanding of your abilities and sincerity.
Direct Mail -
Mailing information to your potential clients can be highly successful. Whether it is a postcard, brochure, flyer or a promotional product. The most important elements are: making sure that you "target a specific market" with a "specific message" and find the proper advertising medium to reach them. Be sure that the company you use has reliable sources for creating your database or mailing list and that their information is current and up-to-date.
Making a phone call to close a deal, schedule an appointment or do a survey, can be another successful tool. Telemarketing efforts seem to have the best results after a direct mail campaign. This can turn a cold-call into a warm-call and gives you the ability to reference the material they received in the mail. You can hire someone to do your telemarketing or make the calls yourself - but don't waste good leads. It's your "baby" and no one can nurture it as well as you.
Drop in visits -
Making a personal visit can be a good way of marketing your product/service, if your market is a very small company. In small companies, you may be able to walk in and talk directly to the owner or decision maker. Sending a mailer prior to your visit has worked well for many. A mail out will give you a lead in to your conversation.
"Hi, my name is Suzanne with Outsourcing SpeciaLists. I recently sent you a coupon for 20% off your next mailing list".....
Numerous other resources -
Other forms of advertising include, follow-up letter writing, press releases, email campaigns, web sites, mall marquees, trade shows, seminars, television, and radio. If you have friends with a store front, they can help you advertise your company by placing your business cards on their front counter.
Everything about your Marketing campaign no matter how large or small, depends on determining the most effective way to market your product or service.
Suzanne Geske has years of experience in marketing, running her own company, Outsourcing Specialists for a number of years. She presently is the executive director of the Foster Children's Foundation