Oprah. Timberland. Starbucks. Phat Farm. Survivor. LiveStrong. Consciously or subconsciously it is estimated that people see over 5,000 marketing messages each day, this according to the “Father of Guerrilla Marketing”, Jay Conrad Levinson. These messages can range from a logo to a retail storefront. Regardless of your business type, marketing is by far one of the most critical skill sets that one must master in order to build a successful business. It is a powerful skill when used properly, but like a double edged sword, when it is not used properly or completely neglected it can be the deciding factor in the failure of your business. As a small business owner, if you are not consistently marketing your business and building your brand, you will not grow.
Conceptually it seems as if it would be one of the easiest skills to acquire. As mentioned above you see marketing everywhere. How difficult can it be to promote your business and share with the people you meet who you are and what you are about? But realistically marketing often is not taken seriously especially by owners of very small and home based businesses. When one does not have a retail storefront or office in a physical office space, it is especially important that one should not be sloppy or a minimalist in their presentation. Marketing is about the consistent advertising of oneself, one’s services and one’s products. The main principle that guides a successful marketing program is ensuring your customer attains a familiarity with your business that breeds confidence in their perception to do business with you. This means the more your customer is exposed to your message the more likely they are to acknowledge your company and eventually purchase from you. You must be patient, persistent and professional in your presentation. A few minor things that you can do to help polish your presentation and your brand are as follows:
1. First Impressions:
Make sure that your company logo is professionally designed and your business cards are printed by a reputable printer. While it may cost a little bit more money up front than a do it yourself job, it will be worth it especially if you will not be printing a company brochure.
2. The World Is Your Audience:
Reserve a domain name (i. e. www.mycompany.com) for your company. If you do not have a preferred internet service provider I would recommend that you try a search for registration companies like register.com or network solutions. These companies will build a professional web presence for you for a monthly hosting fee for about $39.99 per month. While your hosting may cost a few dollars more a month than the industry average, it is a less expensive alternative to get started on a shoestring budget as opposed to spending a couple of thousand dollars up front to get a website professionally designed. Your company website is a great alternative to a brochure and almost a required necessity in business these days and affords you email with your company domain name. This gives you a more polished look as opposed to using an ‘AOL’ or ‘Yahoo’ email address. Additionally, you can reach a larger audience for significantly less money.
3. If You Can’t Be On Time, Be Early:
Keep yourself organized with a Day Planner and a Rolodex to manage your business contacts (if you do not own a computer). If you do own a computer, use a customer relationship manager software such as Outlook, ACT! or Dovarri. Always keep your to do list and customer information in a centralized place. Your clients are your business, so having a record to their contact information is crucial to success. They are your best and least inexpensive marketing resource when you want to launch a new product or when you are looking for new business through referrals.
4. Follow-Through, Follow-Through, Follow-Through:
Always be timely in your response and complete jobs and work on or before the promised date. The quality of your work should always meet or exceed your clients expectations. Remember to send your customer a thank you card, with another one of your business cards about ten to fourteen days after the transaction has been completed to confirm they are pleased with the work.
5. Be Yourself:
People like to do business with people they like and trust. Regardless if your company is 1 person or 101 persons, do not focus on your size and what your limitations are, but instead focus on your core competencies. What value do you bring to the relationship and how can you help your customer resolve their issues? This is what wins customers over.
Implementing these best practices into your business will help you to succeed in another aspect of marketing, referrals! Word-of-mouth and direct referrals are the most inexpensive yet most priceless marketing vehicle you can use to obtain new business. In the meantime, keep marketing and searching for new business everyday even during your busiest times. Yesterday’s marketing efforts equals today’s appointments and tomorrow’s sales.
Shonika Proctor, so simple, yet so complex. Indeed this is The Art of the Unfocused. This thirteen year wireless veteran and resource management pioneer is revolutionizing the knowledge and service based industries. Come see how and play in her creative domain http://www.groupinteractive.net