I talk to a lot of small business owners, and I can promise you the #1 question I'm asked is:
How do I get more customers?
Finding customers is a complete catch-22. Without customers you have no money, but without money you can't find customers.
The bad news is that's mostly true.
The good news is that we live in a time where starting a business and marketing your business is easier than ever. When I started my first business just 11 years ago, I struggled with how I was going to get my name out there. I did old school marketing tactics like putting up fliers in a neighborhood. It worked. However, one of my biggest strategies was getting listed in the phone book. True story. I was devastated when just days after LLC'ing, the newly published phone book showed up at our doorstep, which meant I had to wait an entire year before getting it out there again.
Long gone are phone books, the need for expensive tv and radio ads, and expensive print ads. (Which is really awesome news.) Now you can create your own spots on the internet where people can find you, and you can advertise for pennies on the dollar. It's so amazing how much easier and cheaper it is to get your name out to the masses.
However, if done incorrectly your time and money can go quickly, and soon you're left with nothing to show.
Here are five tips to get you rolling on a successful marketing campaign:
1. Have a very simple message X, Y, Z message - What's an X, Y, Z Message? It's one that states what you do, who you help, and how you help them. So we help X, do Y, so they can Z. You have to fill in your own X, Y, and Z, but you need to be crystal clear on who you help and how you help them. This is important because you can generate leads all day long for pennies on the dollar, but if no one really understands what you do or how you can help them, you may as well throw that money down the drain. And don't worry about getting too detailed because detailed is good. It's a great place to start, and you can expand from there.
2. Find out where your audience hangs out and start to be seen - Now this isn't about spamming and looking desperate. This is about being helpful and showing the world what you're all about in a nice way. These exact steps will be different for different businesses, etc. It might be hanging out on sites like Quora and answering questions. It may be starting a Facebook Group and pushing people to it. You can use it as a place to offer advice and answer questions (P.S. Are you in mine? www.GetABizStarted.com). You can also guest post on sites that your audience frequently reads. Find out who is looking for guest bloggers and follow the directions to apply. All of these things lead to the Golden Rule of business: People do business with who they know, like, and trust. Your job is to figure out where your audience hangs out, and how you can get them to know, like, and trust you faster.
3. Utilize social media (the free way) - So many times the answer to using social media is 'I just don't get it.' You don't need to get every single thing out there. I think it's overwhelming too. However, you do need to get 1 or 2 sites that your client hangs out on and start connecting. Post your articles, other people's articles that your audience would love, and start asking and answering questions. It doesn't have to be complicated, simply connecting. Remember, your goal should always be engagement. If you're not engaging, then your effort it really doesn't matter. Don't let your time on social media consume your entire day. However, make time each day to jump on, make some posts, and connect with your audience.
4. Utilize social media (the paid way) - You do need to be careful with this one because you can go through money pretty quickly if you don't know what you're doing. When done right, this is an incredible way to build your business. With Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all having paid advertising, you can now get in front of your ideal audience faster and easier than what was possible just a few years ago. My best advice is to know your ideal client, target your group, and start small. If you start too big and miss on your target, you'll watch the money dwindle down quickly. I always describe social media marketing as a gamble. Start small, and then double down on what's working great, and remove what's not working at all. The secret to the successful marketers is not a one-time shot, it's testing. Lots and lots of testing.
5. Don't forget that old school still works - No, this isn't suggesting that you work on getting your ad listed in the new phonebook. What this does mean is that things like a phone call, and yes, one that's cold, can work like a charm. Also, utilize reaching out in ways that people just don't do anymore, like thank you cards, personal invites to events, and networking. You never know who knows someone or could be that most amazing connection that can change everything for you. Get out of your comfort zone, and start standing out.
The biggest key to all of these is that customers won't fall into your lap, ever. So don't make sitting back and waiting for that to happen your marketing plan. You must get out and make your own luck happen. Know your customer, add value, and make connections where they matter most. With a constant repeating of that process, you'll start being seen by your potential customers in no time.
Would you love over 130 ideas on how to market your business for little or no money? Then make sure you grab, The Hustler's Guide to Marketing with lots of creative ideas to get your business discovered, and clients coming in your door!
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