Guest post by Zondra Wilson
You had big dreams and high hopes when starting your home-based business. You figured you’d get all the business you need for your startup by posting on your social media page’s and telling all your family, friends and former business associates about your exciting new adventure. But customers have been few and far between. What happened to all those contacts who told you to call them when you launched? Ugh! So now what? Marketing is essential for any business to survive. Here are a few things you can do to grow your lifelong dream.
1.) Create A Website
Every legitimate home-based business marketing plan must include having a website that gets traffic. Make sure it looks professional. A website is more than an online brochure. It is an essential marketing strategy. Your website should give essential information that describes your business, products, and services. Each page should be written around keywords that people would use to find you in the search engines. Each page should cause people to trust you and your advice. You want your website visitor to be moved to a “call to action”, by either calling you, emailing you, signing up for a newsletter or more importantly placing an order. 2.) Start A Newsletter Whatever your business may be, sending your customers and future customers a newsletter on a regular basis is an excellent way to promote your business. A newsletter is a constant reminder to people about your product or service. There are some rules you need to follow if you choose to email your newsletter. You need to know about the CAN-SPAM law and permission marketing, topics that are covered at the Federal Trade Commission. 3.) Build A Mailing List Your home-based business marketing strategy should include building a mailing list of customers, website visitors, and inquiries. A mailing list is the
2.) Start A Newsletter
Whatever your business may be, sending your customers and future customers a newsletter on a regular basis is an excellent way to promote your business. A newsletter is a constant reminder to people about your product or service. There are some rules you need to follow if you choose to email your newsletter. You need to know about the CAN-SPAM law and permission marketing, topics that are covered at the Federal Trade Commission. 3.) Build A Mailing List Your home-based business marketing strategy should include building a mailing list of customers, website visitors, and inquiries. A mailing list is the
3.) Build A Mailing List
Your home-based business marketing strategy should include building a mailing list of customers, website visitors, and inquiries. A mailing list is the life blood of your home-based business. Marketing to this list offering “specials” is a wise thing to do on a periodic basis. It is easy to collect names, addresses, and email addresses online. Just add a simple sign-up form on your website. 4.) Promote Your Web Address You should publish your URL (web address) on your business cards,
4.) Promote Your Web Address
You should publish your URL (web address) on your business cards, letter head, yellow page ads, etc. Add your URL to your signature at the end of every email and forum postings. It is a simple way for people to contact you.
5.) Expand your network
Your friends and family may be supportive of what you’re doing but they may not be the best sources of referrals. Consider who would make a good customer and then look for ways to meet those people. Depending on what you sell, Chamber of Commerce meetings, PTA meetings, local civic associations, regional trade shows, professional conferences, formal lead-sharing groups, and phone calls can all be effective. So, too, can networking online through social media groups and sites, and online forums if done correctly. Don’t spam the sites or groups with ad for your products or service. Just participate in and contribute helpful information to the groups that are likely to include prospects for your services and you will get known.
6.) Optimize Your Social Media Profiles
Be sure you have a business-oriented social media profile set up on the major social media sites. Be sure your personal profile looks professional. Even if you point people to a business page, those who want to do business with you may also look for your personal pages. If what they see makes them think of frat parties and they see inappropriate conversations instead of someone who’s a responsible upstanding member of the community, they may not want to do business with you.
7.) Talk to people
Anyone and everyone, as circumstances allow. The woman next to you at the “friends” table at a wedding or the man sitting in the seat next to you on the airplane, might just be a customer. Instead of staring into space or reading a book, strike up a conversation. Find out what they do, and eventually they’re likely to ask the same.
8.) Advertise on the web
Depending on what you sell, pay per click advertising can be an affordable way to find targeted customers for your home-based business. Even if you just sell to consumers or businesses in your local area, pay per click can be helpful.
9.) Don’t tell people you run a home business
Although more than half of the small business in the US are home-based, many people still think it’s risky to do business with a home-based business.
10.) Give a demonstration
Contact your public library to see if they’d be interested in a demonstration on skin care techniques. Build a website for a buddy for free, and use the site as part of your portfolio. Offer to decorate a local restaurant or coffee shop with your artwork (and perhaps to give them a commission on any works that sell as a result of the display.
11.) Learn from others in your industry
Attend meetings where people talk about their successes and problems. Read trade publications, get to know who’s who in the industry, then find ways to introduce yourself to people you’d like to get to know. If you can’t meet them in person, try calling them. Don’t waste their time. Have a specific question or problem in mind that you’d like them to help with. Then follow up with a note telling them how much you appreciate their help.
12.) Stay in touch
Just because a prospect doesn’t buy today doesn’t mean they won’t buy. This is particularly true if you sell to businesses. Some industries and some products have very long buying cycles. Even if the initial prospect doesn’t buy, they may give your name to someone who does.
13.) Focus on a single product or service
While it’s tempting to try to be all things to all people, it’s often less risky and more profitable to pick a product or two that you can execute really well.
14.) Expand your product line to offer complementary products or services
Once you’ve hit on a product or service that customers really like, don’t miss the opportunity to bring out related items to diversify your product line. Not only does that give your customers a wider selection, but it also makes your products more appealing to retailers who typically like to stock a line of products as opposed to a single item.
15.) Find ways to increase sales to your existing customers
Even if you can’t expand your product line, you can boost revenues by selling more of your existing product or service to the clients you already have. One way to do this is through volume discounts. Especially if your products cost little to produce, offering your customers the chance to buy, say, two bars of soap for the price of one lets you ring up additional sales without sacrificing much profit. Another common practice is to reward loyal customers by giving them a punch card that entitles them to a free product or service for every 10 items or so they buy.
16.) Look for inexpensive or free help from a freelancer, intern, independent contractor or even your kids
Most startups are working on a shoe-string budget. Interns are great because they learn first hand of how a business operates and many times will get academic credit from a participating school. It’s a “win-win” situation.
17.) Join forces with another business to promote your company
Partnering with a company in a related industry is one of the most inexpensive and easiest forms of marketing that you can employ. If you make spa products, you may be able to convince a local health club to carry them in its store by offering a discount to its members.
18.) Target other markets
If you sell to teens, start marketing to college students. If you sell to working moms, maybe your product will work for stay-at-home moms with a few modifications. Another strategy is to take a retailoriented product or service and sell it wholesale. For example, a home-based catering business that specializes in cakes, pies and cookies can contact local bakeries to sell its goods on a wholesale basis. While the price you get from the bakeries will be lower (because the bakeries need to mark it up to their customers to make a profit), you’ll sell more products and generate consistent cash flow.
19.) Host guest speaking gigs or teach a class
Marketing your home-based business doesn’t need to involve spending big money on newspaper ads, yellow page listings, television or radio spots. Grassroots marketing techniques cost far less and are often much more effective. Most Chambers of Commerce and Community Groups are more than happy to provide a forum to a local business owner who’s willing to share his/her expertise at no charge.
20.) Stay Encouraged
Never give up. Your break-through may be just around the corner.
Zondra Wilson is a contributing writer. She is the owner of Blu Skin Care, LLC a USDA certified organic skin care line. www.bluskincare.info