With the start of a new year, I thought I’d look around for some fresh, new ideas to promote my own business. For some of you just starting out, promotion can be entirely overwhelming. I broke down my top 5 ways to begin growing your business.
You may already have a few of these implemented, but perhaps not others. Check them out and then join in on the discussion below. Do you have any questions about the content I’ve covered? Just let me know in the comments below!
||Utilize social media sites and design them well.
Facebook and Twitter are two wonderful free resources for businesses. For Facebook, be sure to set up a business page (which is often referred to as a fan page) instead of a personal profile page. Invite people you know and ask them to share your page on their own Facebook timeline. This word-of-mouth type advertising can be very affective. The more fans and followers you have, the more reliable your business appears to new potential fans.
It’s helpful to attempt a seamless name through your social media pages. For instance, if your company is “Cards by Carrie” then you’ll ideally want to have www.facebook.com/cardsbycarrie and www.twitter.com/cardsbycarrie as your page links.
Create an impressive header image and profile/avatar picture for both Facebook and Twitter. Need some help? There are many small businesses who can create inexpensive Facebook headers for you — including us!
||Start a blog and don’t just use it for self-promotion.
Blogspot or WordPress to are two great free platforms for creating a blog. As I suggested above, you’ll want to create a nice blog header that coordinates with your business branding. These sites often let you start with a basic template and then change just about anything on the blog (fonts, colors, layout, sizing, content, etc).
Using a blog solely for self-promoting might be tempting, but you’ll gain few followers that way. Consider what your fans and followers might be interested in reading about or looking at and then provide it for them. Share great companies and products other than your own. Giveaways are another great way to promote your company, your blog, and your product — who doesn’t love free stuff? Just be sure that if you incorporate Facebook and Twitter in the giveaway process, you follow their giveaway rules.
For giveaways that are easy to setup and run, we love using Rafflecopter. It’s a free resource that runs your giveaway for you with a web widget (you simply copy and paste the web code into your blog giveaway post).
||Create a LinkedIn profile and start networking.
LinkedIn is another free resource that is great for businesses. It is basically a social network for business owners and employees. Your profile reads much like a resume and often job seekers and job providers are busy using it to help them get or fill a position.
Connect to colleagues, relatives, neighbors, and anyone else you might know on the site. It really is true what they say, “it’s all about who you know.”
||Create marketing materials and distribute locally.
With all of the design sites available nowadays (Vistaprint, among others), creating a business card or marketing flyer is simple. Or if you’ve taken the extra step to begin branding your business and having a cohesive look, contact a graphic designer to help you with your items. Always have business cards on hand to give out to potential clients and customers.
Whether you’re at your kid’s school for parent/teacher conferences or you’re out to dinner with your family, the opportunity to distribute your card should never be missed. I don’t push my card on someone, but if the topic of work or design comes up and someone says, “what do you do?” — handing them a business card is always the next step.
Also, I slip a business card into every library book I read and return. It might be lost in the shuffle or the next person who checks it out just might stumble upon it and check out my business. You never know. Anywhere your card can get into the hands of someone else is worth a shot.
Some other great ways to distribute your business materials locally:
- seek out community bulletin boards (in coffee shops and restaurants for example) where promotional materials are welcome and pin some to the board
- give a stack to friends and family to distribute to people they know, or if you know a teacher ask them to add several cards to their staff room bulletin board
- write a letter to potential clients and customers, including your business card or flyer, and mail or hand deliver
- leave a business card or two with receptionists, staff at check-in desks, or other such areas and ask that they give them to someone who might be interested in your work or product
||Never forget your current customers.
This point is listed last, but it really is the most important. If you’re in business for yourself then you alone are responsible for attracting and maintaining your client-base. Keeping your current customers satisfied with your work, your product, or service really goes a long way in growing your business. Happy clients give positive feedback (which can ultimately be used in future marketing materials, if needed) and they also refer your business to those they know.
Word-of-mouth is probably the single best way to gain new clients, so keeping your current ones happy is crucial. On the other hand, negative comments from clients can do severe and long-lasting damage to your business. If there’s an issue with your product or workmanship, or someone just isn’t happy with your services, addressing the problem is critical.
What other methods to you use to help grow your business?
What works for you?
We’d love you to join in the conversation by commenting below!