You’ve found the perfect business idea, mapped out your business plan, and have everything up and running.
And now you are wondering how to promote your business, and get those customers calling and/or coming in the door.1. Make sure every printed piece of paper you hand out or send out has your business information on it.
Every letter, receipt, estimate, fax and proposal should have your business name, address, phone number and the URL of your website if you have one.
And all email you send out should have contact information in your signature line.
And that leads us to #2…
2. Have a professional logo and quality printed promotional materials.
Your business card, business stationary and other communications represent your business and convey an image. Take the time to create something professional and use high quality materials.
You can use a number of online services to create and print your own business cards, or you can design and print them yourself using business cards blanks from stores such as Office Max.
3. Make sure you have a dedicated phone line for your business if appropriate.
It's not going to project a very professional image if your customers call and have to talk to your 10 year old.
You also need to use a professional answering service or buy a good answering machine. Record a professional and friendly sounding message too and be sure to check and answer all calls in a timely manner.
Be sure to have listings in the local phone directories and internet directories too.
4. Send Out Press Releases About Your Business
Promote your business locally and on the web by sending out a press release to your local newspapers and radio stations. You can also do this online if you have a website or online store of interest.
And if you get some publicity make sure to use it well.
Make copies of the article and send them out with monthly billings, post it on your website and mention it when you do other marketing promotions.
5. Have a business mission statement.
Just what is your business about? What value and services can you provide to a prospective client?
Think about this and have a clear concept in your mind so you can always talk about your business with clarity and confidence when you get the opportunity.
6. Think of your business as part of a larger circle.
Offer your business cards to vendors and other companies who do business with you and keep theirs as well.
When you meet new clients or have an opportunity, mention your vendors services if there is a need. You may get an opportunity to talk about your business too, but you will also be helping someone else grow their business, and in the circle, this comes back to help you too.
7. Get involved in civic organizations in your area.
Become a member of the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations that might be appropriate.
Be sure to have your business card handy to give out when you introduce yourself, and be sure to ask for the other persons card too if they have one. Ask about what they do and really listen - they could become part of your circle.
And make real contributions to these organizations, don’t just be an opportunist. You’ll only give yourself and your business a bad image.
8. Write articles about your area of expertise.
Send them to local papers, trade magazines and if you have a website, online article sites. Use these articles to educate people about some aspect of your business, not as a selling or marketing tool.
But do work your contact information into the article or resource box in a friendly and non-intrusive way.
9. Build a website to establish a local presence on the internet.
While the internet is a global phenomenon, the trend is becoming even more local.
If you are serious about building a business, you will need an internet presence to showcase your services, and as a place for prospective clients to "get to know you" and to view a portfolio of your work if you have one.
This will save you lots of time having to do this in person or on the phone, and will also build your credibility and that of your business.
Be sure to read the articles
The Best Reasons To Build A Website,
The Best Way To Build A Website
to understand this more, and to learn more about what your best options are for building your website.
10. Network with other businesses who are in your field or similar fields.
Perhaps you have a contracting specialty that most contractors don’t want to deal with. Let them know about your services and they can send that part of the job your way.
11. Consider offering your speaking or teaching skills to the local community.
For example, let’s say you have a
Baby Proofing Service,
offer to speak to the local moms & kids club about how to baby proof their homes.
Create a flyer to hand out that highlights your tips and also has your business info on it. Include a special discount offer or coupon for your services or products on the flyer.
12. Teach What You Know.
Let’s use the
Teach Baby Sign Language
Teach The Benefits Of Color
small business ideas as an example.
You are already teaching classes on this subject as part of your business, but offer to do a free informational class, and teach some basic info or highlight some fun and interesting things about your subject.
If your area offers Community Education programs sign up to be a teacher, and present a class curriculum that you would teach. This is another way to earn an income from your business and area of expertise.
If you are a crafter or artist you should certainly check out this avenue, and also offer to teach classes at your local arts and crafts stores and galleries.
The local small book and yarn shop in my town offers an ongoing variety of classes taught by local artists and crafters. Some are series of classes and some are just one night or afternoon.
13. Demonstrate and/or exhibit your business at local conferences, seminars and shows.
Does your area community center have a spring Home & Garden Show? If your business services this area, book a booth, create display and informational materials and be ready to meet new customers.
And if you can make it work, try to demonstrate something about your business. My husband did this at our local Home Show demonstrating his carpet cleaning technique on a small area rug.
People stopped by to watch and we built a lot of loyal clientele from the show.
And there are always arts & craft fairs, flea markets and local festivals. If you are an artisan or if your type of business could find an outlet here, be sure to take advantage of it.
And you don't have to limit yourself to local venues. If you are a serious artisan and would like to find more opportunities to exhibit your wares,
has listings of income and exhibition opportunities for artists.
14. Have good quality signage on your car or truck if appropriate.
Your vehicle can be a moving ad, and it’s important to take advantage of this. You can do this inexpensively and temporarily with magnetic signs, or you could invest in having your vehicle painted professionally.
And here’s a neat tip, get one of these stick on
that you can leave on your vehicle with your business cards in it. People walking by your parked vehicle can just help themselves to a card. No worries about trying to find something to write on.
14. Mail out information about your business to anyone you think might be able to use your services.
Introduce yourself and your business in your letter, and offer them some special rate or incentive to consider doing business with you.
15. Post flyers in public places.
If it’s appropriate for your business, posting flyers on public bulletin boards or any other public spaces available is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get word out about your business.
16. If you make something that you could provide samples of, get these out to as many possible prospects as possible.
Let’s say you make
quality pet toys,
bring some to the local humane society and veterinarians offices. This is a great way to get some word of mouth buzz.
And take some samples to local stores who might sell your wares. This way they can try out the product and see if it’s something they want to carry.
17. Offer your goods on a commission basis.
If you make a product to sell but local stores can’t afford or don’t want to commit to ordering stock outright, offer to work on a commission basis.
They can stock your product at no cost to them initially, and then deduct a commission from the price of the product when it sells.
It’s a win win situation for both you and the shop owner, and many art and craft galleries operate on this basis.
18. Run a contest.
Let’s say you have a service that
repaints front doors,
run a contest for entries for the Ugliest door in town.
Or just run a regular contest with a theme, perhaps a Spring Time Spruce Up contest, and the winner gets their front door and entryway rejuvenated.
Be sure to publicize the winner and get the local papers to cover the event and also the transformation.
19. Offer your services or products to local charities for free or at a discount.
If you have some special skills they could use, this could get you some free publicity and also good word of mouth.
20. On the same vein, donate a service or product to a local fundraiser.
My husband donates a gift certificate for his carpet cleaning services to the local Home & School auction, and by doing this we get to help support our local school and also get some free publicity and exposure for our business.
21. Donate your services to local events that might help boost your public exposure.
Lets say you have an
eyebrow shaping service,
you could get in touch with the organizer of a local fashion show and offer to work on models for free. Or perhaps you could offer to do a bride and her bridesmaids as a prize for a local bridal show.
22. Use regular advertising resources if you feel they would benefit your business.
Putting ads in newspapers or local magazines, or doing a bulk mailing promotion could boost your business if done carefully.
But be sure to track and test carefully to see that you are getting a good return for your advertising dollar.
23. Send out advertising to your regular customers too.
If you have a repeat service such as a
carpet cleaning business,
send out timely reminders to your customers that it’s time to get such and such cleaned and/or serviced again.
Or perhaps offer a seasonal special. Look for any good opportunity to send out a special promotion for your business, (just don’t overdo it!)
My husband’s carpet cleaning business reached the 20 year mark last year, and we sent out a special promotion to all our loyal customers offering a 20% discount in honor of the occasion. And we got an excellent response to the promotion too.
24. Use a door to door flyer advertising service.
Have you ever come home and found one of those door hanger flyers hanging on your door, or a flyer tucked into your screen door?
Well this is something you could do yourself or hire a service to do. And it would be especially pertinent to any home & garden or maintenance type service business.
Have some of these flyers with you every time you are out on a job, and take a few minutes to walk the neighborhood and leave them on doors or porches.
25. Get in touch with any other businesses or professionals in your area that are related to your service.
If you have a
pet related business,
you need to let all the local veterinarians, pet groomers, pet shelters, pet daycares, kennels, and pet supply stores know about your business.
And ask if they will let you leave some of your advertising materials in their establishments or will let you post a flyer somewhere.
26. And last but not least, give away your services or samples to family and friends.
Friends and family members are sure to be the best way to get word of mouth buzz started about your business.
If you use some of all of the tips here that are appropriate to your business, you are sure to increase your public presence and get that phone ringing, and those doors swinging.