All too often, new business owners come on strong when they start. They spend lots of time and money telling people all about their new venture. But then they run out of ideas and slow down. They sit by the phone waiting for it to ring, all the while wondering why people have forgotten about them.Getting people to pay attention to your business takes more than money. Yes, it takes even more than time.
It takes a willingness to think past the obvious and explore the unique and different. We pride ourselves on being creative with our products. We must be equally creative with our marketing.
Standing out in a sea of businesses boasting similar offerings can be difficult, which is why entrepreneurs need to strive to differentiate themselves and their products or services from the competition.
During this series, I will be sharing with you some of the marketing ideas that I have used as well as some that I have learned from others. Take what you can use and discard the rest as what works for one business may not work for another.
Marketing should be constantly on our mind. To be successful, we can’t rely totally on direct mail, social media, search engine optimization, cold calling or anything else. Just as marketing is everything that you do to make people aware of your business, you have to combine a variety of techniques and ideas.
So here are just a few to consider:
Make your business card one that your customers will want to keep. This mini-billboard reminds your customers who you are and what you do. Think about turning it into a sales tool. How about making it a a coupon offering a small gift or discount when presented for the first purchase? Or make the back of it a billboard for your products.
When you attend those networking events, it’s better to collect business cards than to give them. Don’t just hand out your business cards. Collect cards from all those people you talk to. Make notes on their card so that you remember your conversation and then follow up with them either by phone, email, or direct mail.
You may be thinking, “But my business is only on the Internet. I can’t hand out business cards.”
I’ve got an answer for you as well. Create a special page on your website that you call your online business card. This online business card will also offer a small gift or discount when someone uses a special code or link to order from you. Then use Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social media you are using to send potential customers to that special page. Some people use pop-ups for this purpose but beware. Many people hate pop-ups which interfere with their reading a webpage and will immediately close them without reading or even leave the site.
A successful marketing tool used by Realtors are small magnetic calendars or notepads that are personalized by sticking their business card to the magnetic top. These are inexpensive year-long reminders.
They work for us as well. I use them frequently at networking events, trade shows and even to include in gifts that are going to the person who ordered it. It's more than just a business card that will be tossed in the trash.
When making a purchase and writing a check, offer your business card or one of these magnetic notepads saying, “You’ve been so helpful. If I can ever help you, please give me a call.” You’re advertising what you do without being pushy.
Do you market on Twitter or Facebook? Instagram? Pinterest? How about regular emails to your customers? If so, how do you stay true to your brand without overselling your brand? How do you balance promoting your products without spamming your followers with ‘buy, buy, buy’?
You balance marketing with information on products that enhance your brand and promote who you are as a business. That balance can include information that goes beyond sales and product description. If you are selling gourmet gifts, in addition to promotions you would also want to keep people up to date with the latest gourmet products or provide tips and even recipes about how to use the products.
If you started a business, you are creative even if it is not in a creative industry. Use your creativity to come up with those ideas that make you stand out from all the other companies in your industry.