started my business four years ago, I had enthusiasm and passion for my work,
but a very small marketing budget. I also lacked a marketing plan for getting
my message out to my target customer. I have learned a lot along the way and
hope to impart what Ive learned onto you. Whether you just started your small
business or are in your tenth year, there are some simple, affordable ways to
keep your name in front of prospective clients and customers.
releases. I recommend to clients that they distribute three to four news
releases (better known as press releases) each year. This gives clients an
opportunity to shout news out to the world about new products, services or
partnerships; key hires; industry awards and certifications; new locations;
events and more. News releases should be distributed on a timely basis to local
media, trade publications and online. In addition, a well-crafted news release
makes a great direct mail piece or a nice addition to your sales or media kit.
Depending on whether you do the writing and distribution yourself, costs are
variable. Distribution costs will also vary. Distribution via e-mail or fax is
virtually nothing. Online distribution varies. Many news distribution sites are
free, but I like to include a contribution to PRWeb.com to guarantee inclusion
in popular search engines.
forums and networking sites. As social media continues to grow, relevant online
forums and networking groups (Linked In, Connexions, Konnects) are a great way
to interact with professionals and prospective clients. By actively
participating in Q&A forums, you expand your reach. To take full advantage
of these free opportunities, make sure you complete your online bio; include
your contact information and web address; and participate regularly. Such
participation can also help to position you as an industry expert.
program. About half of my business comes from client referrals. To let clients
know I appreciate their referrals and to encourage them to keep sending them to
me, I include my referral program in my business agreement. In exchange for a
prospect who does business with me, I offer the referring client two
complimentary hours of writing, editing or marketing services. Aside from my
time, this costs me nothing and benefits both my clients and my business.
There are so many affordable e-mail services these days that sending an
e-newsletter to prospective clients is a no brainer. The service I use costs
about $5 per month, and it not only maintains my e-mail lists for me, but it
provides templates and tracks reader stats. Clients can opt-in, unsubscribe or
change their e-mail address at any time. This is an inexpensive way to stay in
touch with clients and prospects.
question, of course, is how and when to implement the above. I recommend
pulling out your calendar and scheduling time for marketing and business
development. Schedule a news release for each quarter, or at least three times a
year. For online forums and networking sites, set aside a certain amount of
time each week to participate. A referral program requires a little bit of
set-up time and a notification to clients of the new program, but aside from
that, it doesnt require much time. For your newsletter, I recommend sending
them to clients at regular intervals. If you cant manage biweekly or monthly,
at least put together a newsletter on a quarterly basis. Save ideas in a folder
so they are all in one spot when youre ready to get started.
ideas for at least six months and watch your business grow and, if you find
that one method works better than the others, focus your efforts in that
category. Enjoy your new affordable marketing solutions!
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