One of the most important things when starting a new business is to get yourself known in the market place so that you can hopefully start getting some customers. Many companies attack this front on and start putting all their money into marketing and advertising. Unfortunately, this sort of spending in the early stages would probably be one of the reasons that many small business find it difficult to survive. There is just too much initial outlay with little immediate return. While it is important to get your business known it is also important to ensure the longevity of your business by spending wisely. Your priority should be on getting the most bang for your buck, which means making sure that you use advertising and marketing mediums that won't cost you a fortune and that will generate positive results.
Your marketing and advertising needs to have two focuses - Lead Generation & Customer Retention. There are some basic Marketing strategies you can use that not only cost very little but are also effective. The first two methods relate to Lead Generation and the third technique relates to Customer Retention.
In the evenings you can letterbox local industrial estates where you can include some printed material as well as a promotional item. It is important to include a promotional item as this will distinguish your information away from the typical junk mail pamphlets. Remember to pick something that will fit through the mailbox slot; some good products are stickers, magnets and coasters.
Make sure you letterbox an area that is relevant to you; there is no point letterbox dropping residential homes if your target market is businesses and vice versa. Letterbox drops should always been done after hours so you are not taking up selling time and you should always do it yourself instead of paying someone. Don't forget all businesses are in Sales- regardless of your type of business so make sure you use your time effectively. Don't do administrative tasks when you should be working on getting new business or conducting tasks related directly to the business.
Also it is amazing what you learn by letterboxing yourself. Look at the premises of your potential clients and more often than not you will gauge a lot of information important to your business. For instance, if you were looking to provide maintenance service then you can instantly see how the buildings look and what jobs need to be done. Don't forget your efforts will only translate to potential new clients if you follow up with a phone call asking for an opportunity to drop in with some of your company's information and service details. Keep the call short and sweet and don't expect to get an appointment with the manager. Be happy with just an opportunity to drop your business card and company information at the front desk. This is less formal and will be more acceptable to busy managers. However, when you do drop in, it doesn't hurt to ask if the manager is available so you can introduce yourself. You will be surprised how effective and successful this is. Lots of people are worried that managers will not be happy to see them but most people in that position respect hard working people who take the time to introduce themselves.
JEM Promotional Products have come a long way from when we started the business from home over 10 years ago and yet at least once a year we will do a letterbox drop to our neighbours, even if it is just a Christmas Card. You should never be too busy to stop and say hi especially to your immediate business neighbours. There is a place for outsourcing your mail drops but only when your business is consuming so much of your time that you are forced to concentrate on more crucial tasks. At that point you will need to look at sending direct mail campaigns which can be effective when organised correctly.
A Direct Mail campaign through Australia Post is yet another cost effective form of marketing but before you start designing anything you need to contact Australia Post and get a copy of their Direct Mail guidelines.The absolute last thing you want it so invest a few hundred dollars in a flyer that Australia Post will not approve. Again, try and make your mail stand out by including a promotional item that will make the customer want to read the accompanying information. One really popular product we have for Direct Mail Campaigns at the moments are Seed Stick Packets because the environment is a focus for many businesses.
It is a lot less expensive to retain your existing customers than it is to gain new ones. Ultimately it is up to you to remain in contact with your customers but you can keep your company in your customers mind by giving them a small thank you gift for their business. It is important to not spend too much money as some people might get confused if you are overly generous. You should try picking a product that your customer will find useful and will hopefully be used when they are in a situation where they need your product or service. For example, if you are an I.T. consultant you would want to give a Mouse Mat so that when your customer is at the computer they have a constant reminder of you. If you had given them a thermal mug which is more expensive they would probably only use the item when they are travelling in the car or train and this is not a situation where they are likely going to need your services.
As a small business owner this is the most important tip: don't overspend, instead try investing your money in areas that you know will work. Pick Promotional Products that are relevant to your business and customers. Think outside of the square without spending too much money. You can order a magnet with just your logo, to be used as a business card and for the same price you can put a quirky message on there that will draw attention and make your company stand out.
Don't spend money on expensive forms of advertising. If you put an advertisement in the newspaper it will be read once and then thrown away. If you give your customer a mug branded with your logo there is a very good chance that they will keep that mug for many years and use it a number of times therefore being constantly exposed to your brand. Also the value of a mug personally given to you compared to an advertisement you see in a magazine is much higher.
Lastly it is important to measure your campaign by putting specific phone numbers, email addresses or web URL's on your promotional products so you can measure how many enquiries are generated. For example, you might want to create a slightly different email address and print that only on one product so that you can see how many people email it. Once you know which campaigns were the most successful you can invest your money into those areas in the future.
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