When operating a home business, marketing is very important in building your brand. You should view your business as an entity that operates like one in a standard office space. How you handle your marketing efforts will make a difference in the success and longevity of your business. Here are a few tips:
Nothing beats the power of networking. This could be through taking a class, online, meeting people at the grocery store or just passing out cards. Many a business transaction has taken place from meeting the owner of a business in person. Although you may not be aware of it, you are actually networking all the time.
Whenever you talk to someone, you are expanding your business connections. Whether you start a conversation with the person next to you in line, meet a friend’s friend, talk to your neighbour or catch up with an old school friend, you are networking. Basically, everyone you meet can help improve your business. People primarily tend to work with people who they know and like. The best part is that you never know when you’ll come across someone who will have a strong impact on your business.
Even if you think you don’t have a powerful network, you already belong to many networks and each member of a network is connected to other people and therefore to another network. Essentially, the possibilities are endless. You just have to open your eyes and know what you’re looking for. Also, go beyond your field of expertise – you never know when you’ll need someone from a completely different industry.
It’s important to realize that every single person you know can be relevant to your business. Of course you don’t have to know most people, just the right ones; however, the job market is unpredictable and you never know who the right people for your business might be in a couple of months or years.
When you start reaching out to new people, don’t neglect the contacts you already have. Stay friendly and helpful, praise the people you know and work with and don’t take ‘no’ personally. Someone might have a stressful and busy day today, but that doesn’t mean you won’t reach mutual understanding tomorrow.
2. Create an online strategy
Having an online presence is a must. Creating a strategy that will work for you can do wonders in getting the word out. You want to show up in local search results and in places where your specialty is needed. User engagement is essential in promoting your business. We live in a technologically advanced age where most people use the Internet on a daily basis.
Whenever someone needs something, chances are the first place they are going to look is the Web. If you want your business to be successful, it is mandatory that you connect with people online. Your potential clients and customers need to see that you are both professional and available. Build strong relationships with the people you work with – create a customer database and stay in touch with them.
Contact them on a regular basis, send them newsletters, sales flyers or any new information they might find relevant. Mail them birthday cards or postcards: don’t forget about your clients the moment you seal a deal with them. Since almost every business has a website, make sure to stand out from the competition. And mind you, the competition can be fierce nowadays – that’s why you need to be unique and think outside the box. Remember that an online strategy is an on-going process that requires hard work and a lot of time.
There is no easy way to online success, but once you achieve it, the benefits will be numerous. When present on the Internet, you will be able to advertise and promote your business; sell your products; recruit and train employees; serve as customer support etc. Once you define your outcomes and plan a good online strategy, the possibilities are limitless!
3. Create a website
This is one of the first things you need to do as part of your online strategy. Whatever your business deals with, it is essential that you build a professional website. Your website will highlight your services, experience and help bring customers to you. Besides, you should also list your background and experience so potential clients could have more confidence when deciding whether or not to work with you.
Having it SEO optimized and mobile responsive is also helpful. All your social media platform icons should be front and centre on your website so your potential clients will know where to find you. As mentioned before, it is crucial that the people who want to contact you know you are available.
Also, due to strong competition, you need to show why you are the best. Businesses are fighting hard in order to attract new clients and if you don’t stand out, chances are your business won’t prosper. Think about the design of your website and hire an expert to build it as you imagined it. Everything on your website must be organized and easily accessible.
It is important that your clients are able to find any information they need effortlessly. Make sure your page looks professional and leaves an excellent first impression. Since a lot of people want to save time and avoid crowded stores and shopping malls, online shopping is becoming more and more popular.
If you’re selling products, it would be wise to include a shopping cart on your site. When you’ve developed your site, remember to maintain it on a regular basis. Always update information and try to add as much content as possible. Also, stay in touch with your clients and answer all inquiries in a due manner.
4. Create a Facebook page
Facebook is very popular for businesses. You want to make sure your Facebook page is tied to your website for cohesiveness. Facebook is the most popular social network in the world with over one billion active users. Having in mind the number of people who visit Facebook every single day, it is needless to say that anyone who wants to have a successful business has to create a FB page.
The best thing about using a social network such as Facebook is that you will easily reach your target audience. Once you collect a number of fans, the rest is simple. When people like your page, they will receive updates from you as often as you post them. You can update your statuses, share links, videos and any other relevant information with potential clients.
Your FB page will provide you with direct feedback from your target audience. Although your fans are there to learn everything they want to know about you, you can also learn a great deal from them. Through their comments, you will be able to see what they think, what they need and what they want. Besides, people will learn more about the person behind the business through Facebook interaction. Nothing better than the possibility to attach a face, name and ideas with a brand.
You could enhance your business by one-on-one communication and even engage in non-business conversations – and those could also prove to be beneficial as you will create warmer, more human connections with potential clients and customers. Also, you will save a lot of money on marketing since creating a Facebook page costs nothing! Additionally, maintaining your Facebook page is simple and effortless and doesn’t require a web designer. Besides, you’ll probably have fun using Facebook for your business since you’ll talk to like-minded people in an informal environment.
5. Create a twitter page
Tie your Facebook page and twitter together to increase popularity and user engagement. Twitter is an essential social network for business owners since it is one of the most popular social networks and microblogging services in the world. Over 500 million people use Twitter on a regular basis which is why you should join the network immediately.
Since Twitter short messages are limited to 140 characters, it is essential that you stay clear and concise. Like all social network, the biggest advantage of Twitter is non-stop communication with your target audience. Not only do you inform them about your services or products, but they also give you instant feedback, comments and suggestions.
However, you have to bear in mind that it is necessary to tweet regularly – you will lose followers if you don’t maintain your profile constantly. Besides, it is hard to gain followers in the beginning, but once people learn about your presence, everything will go smoothly. It might be a good idea to use Twitter as a customer service provider.
Since this social network operates in real time, you will be able to answer any question in a matter of minutes. Moreover, one of the perks of real-time operating social networks is that you can search for conversations that are happening right now. By doing so, you’ll get a better idea of topics that are interesting to your potential customers.
You will keep up on trends while at the same time finding new business contacts and opportunities. And it is easier and more fun to communicate with people via Twitter than through e-mails. When talking to a customer in a friendly environment, you can do wonders – people are more eager to engage in a conversation on a social network than they would be to answer a dull, formal e-mail.
6. Create a LinkedIn profile
Many a client has come from LinkedIn. It’s important to have an updated profile and interact with others. Linkedin reported having around 259 million users from 200 countries. Although Linkedin doesn’t have as much traffic as other social networks, it is undoubtedly one of the best sites for expanding your business.
Namely, Linkedin is a business-oriented social network where you can easily connect with all the people you might find useful. By using a simple search toll, thousands of potential clients will appear on your screen and all you have to do is pick the right ones. Since Linkedin helps business people meet each other, having a profile will certainly help you expand your networks.
Apart from making your own profile, you should also make a Linkedin company page for your business. It would be smart to join groups that are related to your business and take place in discussions. That’s an excellent chance to establish yourself as an expert and show people why they would benefit from working with you.
Another advantage of Linkedin is that you can post your recommendations from others. Once people see positive feedback, it is more likely that they would want to do business with you. You can post status updates, notifying your target audience about the projects you are currently working on. Another way to attract clients is to answer questions.
Namely, if you can provide a good answer to somebody’s question, people will notice you. Besides, no better way to prove you’re good at something than to solve someone’s problem.
To sum it up, any person who is serious about their business should create a Linkedin account since it has never been so easy to network and find numerous clients in one place. When you start exploring all the perks of Linkedin, you will discover various tools and features that will help you enhance your business.
7. Create a Google+ page
Google+ is quickly becoming the new Facebook of sorts. If you don’t have a Google+ page, you need one. Google+ has become a necessity for anyone who is trying to build an online presence. Since it is integrated into Google’s search engine, over 540 million people use at least one of its features (for example Gmail).
Apart from being a social network that connects you with your friends and family, Google+ can be quite beneficial to business owners. Having in mind the exceptionally high number of users, your clients and potential clients probably already use Google+ and it would be smart to make a page and connect with them.
One of the best features this social network provides is real-time streaming. That is to say, the moment someone posts an update or comments on a post, it will appear at the top of your stream. This will enable you to follow topics and trends that are appealing to your target audience. In addition, Google+ provides you with genuine feedback from the people you do business with and helps you learn more about the market demands.
As with Facebook and Tweeter, Google+ is beneficial because you can talk to people and listen to their criticism and suggestions. Also, you can post clients’ reviews which will boost your credibility. Besides, show the world your personal side: post interesting links, engage in non-business conversations, share GIFs and use hashtags.
The most important part is to stay active and add influential people. And don’t forget to connect your Google+ account with your website. The more people you engage with on Google+, the more +1s you’ll receive – and the more +1s you have, the better the search visibility.
8. Implement a blog
Customers like reading about new information and interesting things. Your blog will draw in more of an audience than just having a website. Distribute your articles on your social media platforms in order to spread the message and become viewed as an expert and authority in your field. Most importantly, you need to comprehend your clients and write content they are going to find helpful, appealing and entertaining.
First of all you need to target your audience and find them online. When you’ve created profiles on social networks, this should be quite easy. You will learn their problems, interests and demands and will be well prepared to address them appropriately in your blog. Of course, stay realistic and identify what kind of service you can provide them.
It is always a good thing to monitor your competition. For example, see what they’re blogging about and which blog posts were most popular. Once you’ve done that, think of ways to outshine them – be unique and innovative as originality will certainly attract clients to your blog. As with every other business strategy, it is important to set reasonable goals and objectives.
When you have prepared everything, it’s time to build your blog. You can implement it in a social network or you can build an entirely new page. If you aren’t an expert in creating sites, perhaps you should consider asking for professional help. The visual moment of your blog is extremely important and it is necessary that you make a good first impression.
Needless to say everything has to look professional and be well organized. Don’t forget to link your blog with other websites and social network pages. Also, share your posts on social network so a lot of people would learn about them. Finally, be creative and enjoy yourself.
9. Do cold-calling
The tried and true way of reaching out to new clients. Do your research and try cold-calling. You will be surprised how many appointments you may get. Although most people dread making a cold-call, you never know what could come out of it. It’s understandable why cold-calls aren’t very popular – you’re basically interrupting someone in the middle of god-knows-what in order to try and provide your services or sell a product.
Chances are a lot of people will hang up on you, but a great many potential clients will actually listen to what you have to say. First and foremost, you need to plan ahead. It is essential that you are well prepared. Do your homework on the person you’ll be calling and it will undoubtedly make a difference.
“Even if you’re not going to use the information, you will come across more confident and more powerful when you have information on the other person and their company,” says Sam Richter, author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (Adams Business Press, 2012). You should ask lots of questions during the call rather than immediately try to sell your product or service, says Art Sobczak, author of Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure and Rejection From Cold Calling (Wiley, 2010).
Another important thing is that you must keep records on who you called, when you called them and whether the calls were successful or not. Write everything down and stay organized. Besides, the next time you call the same person, you’ll be even better prepared. Finally, always try to find a common connection you can mention during the conversation. “You’re almost always going to get a call back when you have a referral that you mention by name,” Richter says.
10. Participate in community events
When they see your face, they are able to understand your product. Participating in community events as a sponsor or giving a donation will give your business credibility and visibility. Moreover, potential clients within the community will remember you which will help you expand your business. Even small-scale events can make a great difference.
For example, you could participate in community yard sales. Apart from advertising your business, you will have an excellent opportunity to network with a lot of people. You will have a chance to explain what it is you do and how your service could be of use to them. An even better idea is to put a booth at local gatherings where potential clients would have the chance to try out your products and see how they work.
And don’t think you need loads of money in order to participate in a community event. Sometimes you can even spend less than 100 dollars; however, such advertising is priceless. Even if you don’t sponsor an entire event, you could still be of some use to the community. For instance, you could make snacks for a gathering or auction some products at a charity event. Whatever it is you decide to do, your community will learn about your business and you could gain numerous new clients.
Additionally, all your potential clients could provide you with new clients – if they like your services, they could recommend you to other people and your business will be blooming in no time. And finally, this is an excellent way to mix both business and pleasure as you will certainly have a good time while expanding your network of potential clients.
11. Get referrals
Referrals from people who know your work is valuable. Having people spread the word will get your new business blooming faster than you can blink an eye. Word-of-mouth information spreads extremely fast and you’ll have more and more clients before you know it. When your customer is satisfied with your service or product, they will likely recommend you to a friend.
Of course spontaneous word-of-mouth is good, but you might consider to actively ask for referrals. For example, you can make referrals an integral part of your business operation. At first you can ask your clients for feedback and share them on your website or social network profiles. One might think that excellent customer service is enough for getting numerous referrals, but that’s simply not the case.
In most cases, you have to ask a client for a referral and it’s highly unlikely they will turn you down. The best part of referrals is that they are completely free advertisement from people who have tried your services and were happy doing business with you. When a friend tells you they know someone you could benefit from, you’ll believe them: they have no ulterior motives and genuinely want to assist you.
Well, that’s exactly why referrals are excellent for your business and why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for them. Make sure you ask a client for a referral when they are happy and content.
Also, offer rewards to clients that help you – give them a discount for the next product they buy. The clients that give you referrals will also feel good about doing so because they have an opportunity to help someone they know and will feel they are truly important to you, since you asked them for a favour.
12. Offer incentives
Offering incentives and discounts is a sure way to get customers calling. Effective campaigns can work wonders. If you’re looking for effective ways to drastically increase your sales, maybe it’s time you thought about offering incentives – to your existing base of clients. Understandably, every business owner wants to attract new clients and customers, but sometimes it’s a good idea to focus on your proven customers.
They have already tried your products and services; if they were satisfied, chances are they’ll come to you again. And can you think of a better way than offering them rewards for being faithful to your business?
Also, your customers need to know they are valuable and important to you. For example, there should be a difference between regular customers and other customers. Of course, there are numerous ways to distinguish the two. You could give discounts or extended credits or even small gifts.
Clients will know how to appreciate this and you won’t have to fear the competition – why would someone who is satisfied with your work and feels appreciated go to someone else?
Apart from rewarding your regular clients, you could offer discounts on certain days of the week or month. Another possibility is to offer insight to your clients; for instance, if they’re interested in a product you could let them know when the product will be 10 percent off. They will undoubtedly come back and maybe even bring a couple of friends with them.
Finally, you can set up a customer rewards program (for example, offering a discount on the customer’s birthday). By following at least one simple step, clients will feel happy and your business will boost.
13. Distribute marketing materials
Brochures, posters, business cards and any other materials you can distribute to let people know who you are and what your business does is important. If you want to attract new clients, you have to make sure they know about your business. And they also need to know all the services you provide or products you sell in order to become interested in your line of work.
First of all, you need to determine your target audience. Learn about your potential clients’ interests and meeting places. Common areas are coffee shops, shopping malls, schools, cultural centres etc. It is essential that you include all important information. Of course, you’ll choose the appropriate design in accordance with the image you want to foster for your business.
However, all the marketing materials should look professional. Apart from that, be unique and creative – let your posters and brochures speak in your behalf. The more original they are, the more attention they’ll receive – and that means more clients for you. Another excellent marketing idea is to distribute free samples to customers.
For example, when a customer buys a product, you could give him a free sample of your newest product. They might like it and buy that one too. Besides, not only do you reward your regular customers, you also advertise your newest product. If you offer services, you could give your clients free trial time.
The possibilities are endless; you just have to think of a marketing strategy that suits you best and you’ll undoubtedly profit from it. Combine that with marketing and promo materials and you’re bound to achieve success.
14. Develop partnerships
Partnerships with schools and other businesses will increase visibility and help bring awareness to your product or service. As you’re probably aware by now, developing a strong network of clients is essential in any business. If you want your business to succeed, you need to connect with various people and advertise your products and services.
Of course, all of this can be done alone, but the benefits of developing a partnership are numerous. Firstly, make sure you get along with your business partner. It is necessary that your businesses complement each other but don’t underestimate the importance of mutual understanding and agreement. You both need to have the same goals and objectives for the partnership to function properly. Also, you need to agree on the business and marketing strategies.
Basically, you need to have the same vision for your work. If a partnership is to be a strong one, it has to be beneficial to both parties. Although these advices seem obvious, they must be stressed. When thinking about a partnership, you need to be aware of your weak spots and find a partner who can help you with them; and vice versa.
Although a business partnership might be the best thing that has ever happened to you, if it doesn’t work out, it’s fine to leave. Don’t force it if it isn’t right. And because like all relationships, business ones also tend to fail, the wisest step you could make is to have a clear partnership agreement drafted by a lawyer.
Besides, even if everything turns out for the best, every party should be aware of their obligations, duties and limits. No matter who your business partner is, always remember that short reckonings make long friends.
Whether it’s on the radio, billboards, PPC ad campaigns or in publications, advertising can help propel your business to the next level. Since we live in an Internet connected society, even if you have a limited budget, you can still boost your visibility and attract new clients. Nowadays, you can advertise your business via social networks for little or no money.
Of course no one doubts the impact billboards, posters and flyers have on attracting clients, but online advertisement can be equally – if not more – efficient. The most important part is selecting your target audience – once you have done that, things will become much easier for you to expand your base of clients.
Thanks to online advertisement, you don’t need to focus on a local market: you can operate globally. The beginning is always hard, but when your online pages start accumulating fans, your business will bloom in no time.
Your fans will give you immediate feedback and their comments will appear in their friends’ news feeds; people can share your webpage and publicly praise your services or products. The biggest challenge any business owner is faced with is the enormously fierce competition. And the biggest advantage and disadvantage of online advertising is the fact that anyone can advertise their business.
Plus, it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out since so many people are able to express their creativity and originality. For this reason, the best thing you can do is expand your networks, rely on the power of word-of-mouth and stay focused on your target customers.
When advertising, choose a medium you find most suitable and let your imagination run freely. In such a competitive market, the wisest thing to do is be yourself.
16. Do guest blogs
Guest blogging is another way to get your voice heard and increase online visibility for your brand. Guest blogging is an excellent way to gain credibility and expand your network. Besides, chances are you’ll gain more followers on social networks and other websites. When you write on someone else’s blog, people realize that you’re truly an expert in the field – why else would someone publish your words?
An author who has published a blog on a renowned site will be considered an authority in their line of work. Therefore, more people will hear about you and your business and a whole new world of opportunities will open up for you. Moreover, guest blogging also means free advertisement for your business.
You can leave a link for your website on the blog which automatically means more traffic on your site. Basically, this is an excellent way to let people hear about you. A lot of new readers will read about your ideas, products or services which will definitely have a positive impact on your business. And best of all, you will be able to connect with like-minded people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
In addition, you have all the freedom in the world to present yourself and your business in any way you like. People will attach your name and face to your brand – you will develop a personal connection with your potential clients. They will not only see the service you are providing, but the person behind it.
Even if you’re not too keen on writing, guest blogging will indisputably improve your writing skills. Finally, this is an excellent experience that enables you to be creative while at the same time doing wonders for your business.
17. Comment on forums
User engagement works in a variety of ways. Actively participating and commenting on forums where you have an actual voice can help turn your words into sales. If you participate in forum discussions, you will undoubtedly gain credibility. Other people will quickly realize that you’re an expert in your field and will come to you for advice.
Besides, you will also have a chance to learn from other forum participants. For example, you could get valuable tips from more experienced business owners or a lot of useful ideas from other members. You will gain a better insight into the market demands and will understand your target audience’s needs and suggestions. All of this could be extremely useful for improving your business.
Additionally, commenting on forums will provide you with relevant traffic. Once you have established yourself as an authority in the field, members will visit your website and social network pages – basically, you get free advertisement and attract a number of potential clients or customers. It is important that you follow the rules of the forum and be nice and friendly towards everyone.
If someone starts an argument with you, answer them rationally and politely. You always have to remember that the way you interact with others online represents not just you, but your entire business.
If you have a business website, it would be a great idea to incorporate a forum where people could ask you direct questions about your services or products. You will be able to build strong relationships with your clients and even develop business partnerships. Essentially, whether you want to expand your client base, learn something new or advertise your business, participating in forums will surely help you reach your goal.