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Guest post by Zondra Wilson
Marketing is essential for any business to survive. Here are a few things you can do to grow your life- long dream.
1.) 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.
2.) 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.
3.) 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.
4.) 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 this 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.
5.) 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.
6.) 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.
7.) 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.
8.) 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 retail-oriented 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.
9.) 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.
10.) 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.