Once you’ve started your business, you need customers and clients so you can, well, make money. How do you find them?
You help them find you. Market yourself and you’ll get the customers you need to survive and thrive.
You can have the best-tasting cupcakes in town, but unless people know about those fabulous cupcakes, you will never sell them.
ü home shows
ü press releases
ü direct mailings
ü social media
ü Internet ads
ü the dreaded cold-calling
Full disclosure: I’m not a marketing expert or marketing professional. I just know that I’ve tried different marketing tactics, and some worked for me. Others might work for you. If you have money to hire a consultant, they will offer you better advice than I can. There are many knowledgeable online experts that blog about marketing for a living. Search around and follow the ones that you like. I’m just here to give you a few ideas.
If you’re trying to attract local area customers, use print media: signs, flyers, and direct mailings. Nicely printed signs work well on public corners. I know that I’ve found flyers on my car, advertising a new restaurant. If I’m hungry and the flyer has a coupon, I definitely think about trying it out. Another idea is to set up a booth at home or craft shows. The more that people hear about you and see your name, the more curious they will be to try your product or skill. Contact local businesses that are in the same industry (but not a competitor) that you could advertise with. Maybe you sell cosmetics, and an acquaintance owns a hair salon. Arrange for her to recommend you to her clients, while you return the favor.
Even the dreaded cold-calling has helped people gain clients. Any sales person will tell you, “It’s a numbers game.” To use a fishing analogy: if you place enough bait out there, you’ll catch a fish.
Even if you’re trying to attract local customers, you need to pay attention to your online presence. This especially applies to those managing an online store. Distribute press releases for your opening or special events.
Manage social media accounts. Potential customers will want to know about you. You don’t need to be everywhere or mange 7 different social media accounts. Just be somewhere. Figure out where your potential clients are, and go there. Are they on Facebook? Spend a few minutes a day updating your Facebook page. Are they on Pinterest? Keep your Pinterest account fresh and updated. What about Twitter? You get my point. Don’t be everywhere haphazardly. Be one or two places, but manage and maintain them daily.
Write blog posts. Not only can blog posts help a search engine find your website, but more importantly, a blog is a place for readers to gain valuable information. When you give away information, it helps build your credibility, your reader’s trust and your following. The more people know about you, the more you’re going to sell.
I’ve noticed that Internet ads works well for some businesses, specifically GoogleAds. You might have heard the term “pay-per-click.” When Internet users type your chosen words, your ad will pop up at the top of the screen. They can click it to visit your site, and then you pay Google for that click. For instance, let’s say that you are selling homemade quilts for the Chicago area. One of chosen phrases may be “Chicago handmade quilts.” This can get expensive, but depending on your target words and targeted audience, it may work for you.
What Will Work for You?
I’m not sure what will work for your business. I suggest trying a few local approaches and a few virtual approaches and see what works best. Unless you can hire a marketing consultant, I’m afraid trial and error are your best bet for finding out what works best for your business and targeted market.