Business Marketing – Bootstrap Method
ShopSquawk suggests that you advertise your new business by implementing a multi-tentacle, octopus style marketing strategy.
The strategies listed below should be integrated into a staged and coordinated marketing roll out. With some effort on your part, a well-conceived marketing strategy, implemented over time, will assure the steady and rapid growth of your business.
Your company should be established as a brand that represents your mission and principals in the promotion of your services. Sales and marketing strategies will maximize the abilities of established and evolving media to communicate with customers, including Internet social media, publications, printed collateral and public relations.
Strategic partnerships should be created with city, county and regional marketing organizations through your membership and participation in local organizations. This one step alone, can be very beneficial to the growth of your business. When possible, consider becoming involved in your local Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Optimists Club and Toastmasters among others. Referrals from satisfied customers are your number one target. Print ads get some notice, but are not as effective or quantifiable.
Person-to-Person Social Networking
Never underestimate the power of simple word of mouth advertising. Your new business is unique, and people will talk about it, and what a great new idea it is, if they are simply informed that this new business concept exists. Take the time to enthusiastically tell your friends, acquaintances, previous work buddies, and your family that you now have a business, and ask them to spread the word. Make sure that the people you trust have a supply of your business cards or postcards to hand out. This is especially important for people who you consider “centers of influence”.
There are many ways to network with people who can help your business to grow. One of the best ways to meet new people is to spend time in settings where you can meet, greet, and get to know others. This can be an exercise class, a golf class, a professional association, a community association or a networking club.
Toastmasters International is an excellent organization where you can develop your public speaking skills, get over inherent shyness, and expand your network of potential customers. Find a club near you and get involved.
Another excellent organization that has been set up to bring people with common interests together is Meetup.
Wikipedia says that “Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies. Users enter their ZIP code or their city and the topic they want to meet about, and the website helps them arrange a place and time to meet.”
Within Meetup, there are many, many groups that meet for the sole purpose of networking and to promote their businesses. Your business should be one of the businesses represented and promoted through this method. People will be glad to know that you exist and will consider you a valuable resource to have.
At these networking and social gatherings, you will have an opportunity to tell others about the unique services that you offer and meet people who have access to many others through their own businesses. We encourage you to network one-on-one as often as possible and let your natural charm shine through!
When you attend networking events and meet new people, be sure to make the conversation about them. Get to know them, find out everything you can about them and take the time to develop a relationship. This could take weeks, or months, but in the end it will be worth it because it will broaden your local network in a way that advertising cannot, by word of mouth.
Add to your growing list of potential customers by telling everyone you know. To jog your memory, here is a short list of people with whom you may come in contact that might use your business and/or tell their friends about you:
Develop relationships with established, non-profit organizations and governmental organizations. Your continued efforts in these areas will reward you with increased revenues, credibility, and market presence.
- Chambers of Commerce (click for a Chamber Directory search page)
- Convention – Contact your local convention center and obtain the schedule of their upcoming conventions and events. Contact the directors and organizers of the convention and inform them of your services. Ask to be listed as a resource for the attendees.
- Visitors Bureaus
- Clubs and Organizations – Contact particular Clubs that you frequent with clients and utilize other business owners to promote/market your company exclusively. Introduce yourself and your services to Clubs and organizers of events in your area. Make a point of introducing yourself, in person whenever possible, to the owners of any company you may meet. Help them to promote you and your business by always making it easy for them to get in touch with you. Make sure they always have a ready supply of your marketing materials with them to pass out to their members and patrons.
- Non-profits. Contact your local branches and provide your information. Inform them about the services that you provide. You’ll be surprised at the positive response that you receive. Use cause-marketing to help their cause and yours.
- Walk-In Marketing
- Develop a systematic walk-in marketing campaign to companies in your industry. Plan your marketing efforts with care so that you can devote a certain number of hours during a certain day of the week to each type of establishment, or area.
Walking into local area outlets and asking to speak with the correct person provides a great opportunity to make face-to-face contact with decision makers and people who can help your business. It’s important to always keep in mind that you are actually doing them a favor by offering a service that help them!
- Identify companies in your service area that fit the criteria for your target clients.
- Dress in the appropriate dress, and where applicable, a shirt with logo. If you feel comfortable in highly professional wear, wear it. It's always best to overdress.
- Take your business cards with you.
- Take Marketing Material.
- Take a small gift (new packaging and wrapped candy or chocolate) with your business cards or postcards attached with ribbon or a rubber band. Of course, you’ll want all the staff to know who brought them.) Ideally, your customized pre-printed label, clearly visible on the side, top, or bottom of the package is the best identification.
- When you meet with those who you are marketing to, walk in confidently, and with a smile on your face, say: “Hello I am (Your name) with (your company) and I’d like to tell you about a great new (product or service) that I believe you will love.”
- Tell them, “We offer (your one sentence pitch).” Take a moment to make sure they understand you, and don’t say anything until they say, “WOW! What a great idea”. At this point, you can go into more details. Then proceed with your explanation.
- When they ask about cost or your rates, proceed with your discussion: “Our rates are….” Do not proceed with a longer discussion unless they ask questions.
Internet Digital and Social Media Marketing
One of the best, most efficient and cost effective means of marketing IF you understand how to use the tools available prior to spending time on them. Go to this lesson by clicking here.
P.R. (Public Relations)
Public awareness of your business can also be created via traditional press releases, photos and articles. Some of us are familiar with celebrities and handlers who masterfully manipulate the media to promote their careers and their agendas. You could do the same thing. Your company should utilize an on-going public relations campaign that includes a focused effort for creating public awareness about your product or service within your community.
Media Objectives – Focus your attention on promoting an awareness of your company to the general public, establishing your brand image business as a credible and trustworthy organization that is professional and reliable.
In addition to standard advertising practices, we strongly suggest that you consider promoting your business via the web, blogging, print and on television news magazines with stories describing the organization’s innovative approach.
As a call to action, your advertisements and media campaigns should address what your product or service does for solving a problem. Awareness of your business will be raised via social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, etc.
We have found that the best Press Release service is PRWeb (click to go). This service has the ability to segregate PR to specific geographical areas, niches, and resources. They can tailor a press release specifically for your requirements. Remember, their rates are negotiable.
Direct Response Radio
Only utilize for inexpensive radio buys prior to large local events.
Telephone Page Ad
Make sure that your business can be easily found in the white pages and yellow pages of your local phone company.
Yellow Pages is an OK way to go, but remember that most effective marketing is done on the virtual front.
The 80/20 Rule - Maintaining a Customer Database and Repeat Customer Program
Repeat customers is the key to success. Provide your clients with a reason to come back. There are several techniques that have proven to be very effective for many businesses.
Offer superior service and strive to exceed the customer’s expectations.
Think long-term. Develop the ideal that every customer is precious because they are your best advertising.
If a client is unhappy with anything, make it right with them. Call your customer and ask for comments and feedback.
Once a year, send established clients an email with a specially discounted rate or offer only for repeat customers.
Execution of Ideas and Sales & Marketing
Success is the relentless, quality execution of a great idea. The need is to combine the stellar execution by people of an innovative idea for the greater chance of success. Success is about execution by people, an idea cannot create itself but people do need an idea, a goal and a vision first, to realize successful outcomes.
Execution is the combination of people and an idea into an effective outcome. Being too reliant on either the idea or the people creates vulnerability from the start. Failure can be instigated by either incompetent people and/or poor ideas. But the fact is, it is rarely one or the other. Either a great idea poorly executed or bad idea well executed is problematic. ‘Failures’ are more about the successes to be found in them: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/warren_buffett.html
The lesson: An idea alone is not enough. Regardless of how technically effective the product might be it will require the selection and molding of group, capable and experienced, to form the core of the senior management team to take it profitably to market. How often have I heard of the “Better Mousetrap” concept, where the entrepreneur is so taken with his innovative idea that he assumes that people “will beat a path to his door”. Sales & marketing skills are crucial!
Marketing Material - Coming soon
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