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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Ways to Promote Yourself
When it comes to starting a new business, there is one thing that takes up the majority of your concern, stress and time. One thing that will really make or break you. The success of your business depends on getting the word out that your business actually exists. If no one knows that you’re out there, then you won’t have any clients, won’t make any money and the business will flop. It’s constantly in the back of your mind with regard everything you do and every business decision you make.
Therefore, promoting your business, especially in the beginning, should be your number one priority. And I’m not necessarily talking about in a marketing sense, because, let’s face it, you typically don’t have a lot of room in the budget when you’re just getting started to get a television ad going right from the start. You need to bring in a few clients first, and you’ve got to find inexpensive ways to do it.
Here are some tips for getting the word out to the community about your business (for the sake of this post, I’ll continue to use a landscaping business as an example):
The most clear and obvious avenue for spreading the word is to network. And there are a number of different ways you can do so.
• Attend conferences and lectures that involve your industry in any way, shape or form. If you own a landscaping business, then you should attend home remodeling conferences, building conferences, lectures on irrigation or local park board meetings. The spectrum can be as broad as you’d like, as long as those in attendance might have a reason to use or recommend your services.
• Attend locally organized networking events. These are a great opportunity to meet your business neighbors – the other business owners in your community. These relationships will be crucial for the function of your business. The people you meet may turn out to be suppliers for your business, clients, maybe even investors. More importantly, you can develop buddy business relationships, in which you can promote one another to your current clientele, thus expanding your market.
• Make small talk with strangers who come across your path on a daily basis. I know, not the sort of thing we all enjoy doing, but it can be quite helpful in promoting your business to potential clients. Don’t start the conversation with “Nice to meet you. I have a landscaping business. Here’s my card.” But make small talk about the weather, or whatever subject lends itself to the moment, and if the conversation makes it way to what you do for a living, great. Only then should you hand them a business card and vie for their business. The important thing is to establish a sort of relationship, not shove your business in their face.
The written word is still just a strong as it used to be, if not more so. With the virtual options we have these days to communicate with not only our local counterparts, but the entire world, it is something as business owners that should really be taken advantage of.
One way to do so is to participate in online forums that are somehow connected to your industry. Back to the example of a landscaping business, search for online forums regarding gardening, landscaping, trees, adding value to your property, etc.
Additionally, start a blog for your business. There are plenty of free blog hosting sites out there. Pick one and write a blog periodically (weekly or so). It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. Write about your favorite flower, the project you did for a client last week, or even how your new business is developing (the challenges you face, etc.). Submit your blog to blog carnivals to get more people reading it, and make sure you have a link to your blog available on your website.
And don’t forget the old fashioned ways of getting published. If you have a lot of knowledge about your industry, write some articles and submit them for publication in magazines or on information websites. Additionally, write letters to the editor of local newspapers, on topics such as ways to make your yard environmentally safe (since going “green” is such a hot topic these days).
Another important way to get the word out about your business is to get involved in your local community.
• Join local clubs and organizations that interest you, even if they are unrelated to your business (i.e. the local golf club), and be sure to attend all the meetings. This will help to expand your network.
• Have a hand in community service events. Volunteer at the animal shelter, participate in food drives, etc. Do it on behalf of your business or as an individual. Either way, it will lend to how your business is regarded within the community.
• Donate, on behalf of your business, to local charities. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, it’s the effort that says volumes. And you can always increase your donations as your business does better.
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