Getting Your Name Out There and Keeping it Out: Promoting Small Business
BY: BOBBY GAGLINI ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2012
If you own a small business, particularly if it’s a relatively new one, you’re probably familiar with the challenges of getting the word out there about your business and keeping it out there. A lot of entrepreneurs get into business with the thought that they have a great product/service to offer and that business is going to come easily because of that. It’s not a surprise that they believe this because when you’re really excited about something it’s easy to think that everyone else will feel the same way. The truth is that the rest of the world might be really excited about what your business has to offer… if they know about it.
There are some entrepreneurs who jump into business ownership with both feet, without even stopping to run the idea by someone else. Others go a little bit further and talk to some of the people they know before taking the plunge and still others do a lot of market research before making a move. Planning is wonderful and it can definitely give you some great insight into the potential for your business idea, but once the business comes to fruition you still have to let people know that you’re there and keep them coming back.
One of the big advantages that large businesses have over small ones is that they have much larger budget for advertising. Many small businesses run on a small to non-existent advertising budget. It can be tough to bring customers in when you’re just starting out. Word-of-mouth is a wonderful way to start, but it usually only goes so far. Fortunately, there are many other things you can do and they don’t have to cost a lot.
Having a website is vital in business these days. Even if your business is exclusively offline, it’s important to have an online presence. People regularly search for businesses online now. If you can afford to have a site professionally done, then do so, but otherwise there are plenty of places where you can set up a basic site for very little money and with not a lot of experience. You can also set up a Facebook page for your business and ask everyone you know to join it and have them encourage their friends to do so too.
Look into placing an ad in your local newspaper and any community magazines around your town. Put up posters on community boards. You can also check around your area for events that may be showcasing local businesses. Depending on the kind of business you are in, it could really pay off to buy a spot at an event and advertise your business for a day or two.
Once you have customers, you then have to work to keep them. As pointed out by Aaron Perlut in an article for Forbes, you have to keep working to keep your customer base happy. If they’re happy they’ll come back and your business will continue to grow as they tell others about you. Some small business owners make the mistake of assuming that once they’ve made the initial advertising effort, the business will keep coming in on its own.
Mail-outs are an effective way of drawing customers back because they remind people about your services. Keep customer information up-to-date and once you have a decent list, send out postcards offering a special deal to loyal customers. This kind of promotion doesn’t even require a lot of effort as some printing businesses will print your cards and mail them out directly for a small fee more.
Promoting small businesses is an ongoing process and it definitely can take some effort, but it may not be as tough as you think. There are a lot of advertising opportunities out there these days and many of them are inexpensive and effective. Take the time to find out your options and keep on top of making your customers happy.