Advertising is an integral component of business formation which helps ensure the success of a business. This is especially true for smaller businesses. Many may remember the movie Field of Dreams where the protagonist builds a baseball field under the notion that “if you build it, they will come.” Although that principle worked out well in the fiction world, it will not do in real life. Some business owners silently or openly subscribe to the notion that establishing a business is sufficient and that customers will automatically frequent the business once it is established. Much to their detriment, that mindset has proven impractical.
A common misconception which causes business owners to shy away from aggressive marketing campaigns is the belief that it is too expensive, too laborious of a task to undertake. That could not be the furthest from the truth. Following the three steps outlined below will increase the number of customers that frequent your business, or if you currently do not have a clientele base you will likely get some traffic.
In simple terms, networking means connecting with people. Many people are afraid of the word “network” because they don’t understand the logic behind it and what it means to “network.” I would describe networking as a purposeful effort to connect with people in an honest outreach to understand their objectives while at the same time setting forth your own. Networking should not be an event. It is something that we should do based on our daily interactions with people. We meet people every day, at the train station, bus stop, work, and the gym. Think of all the places you frequent daily. At each of those places, you have the opportunity to “network,” i.e. connect with people.
The second prong to networking or meeting people is what you do when you meet these people. Don’t be narrow-minded and think that networking means that you just walk up to someone and start chatting up your business. Before anything, you must display an interest in the person, and be personable. Try speaking to them about something relevant. For example, when you are standing in line at the grocery store, you may say: “can you believe how long this line is?” Starting on a neutral, genuine topic is always better than being pretentious.
After starting on neutral ground, take your lead from the person’s response; follow the natural flow of the conversation. It may be that you are just getting lunch or dinner and you can make an inference about how busy you are and that might lead to a conversation about your business. There is no template of what to say, you have to feel out the circumstances. When the conversation goes into what you do, don’t over-elaborate, remember the line is moving, keep it brief. You should be able to talk about your business in about 1 minute or 1-minute ½ at most. After stating a quick blurb about your business, don’t be quick to hand your business card. Instead, inquire about that person’s perspective on your industry. Based on that response, give curt feedback and offer your business card to that person. If the person appears to have no apparent interest give them a business card anyway and ask them to please hold on to it in the case to come across someone who may require the service you provide.
Believe it or not, that is all it takes! After spending about 3-5 minutes in conversation with someone and you have done more to promote your business than placing a random ad that people may or may not read. One of the most unique appeals to using networking to promote your business is the instant gratification in knowing you have already reached your potential customer. It all depends on whether you have generated enough interest in that short conversation. Obviously, the approach would vary depending on the type of business. I generally come up with industry-specifics with clients to ensure they are effective.
The second step is to promote your business through the use of social media. Social media includes using the most popular social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other popular social networks. Market analysis indicates that 80% of individuals between the ages of 32-44 buy products online. Having your own website will not necessarily target these potential customers. Social networking sites provide the best method to tap into that market by giving your business identity on the web that extends beyond selling your services. Your campaign should not only include social sites but should also include other mobile-based promotional tools such as matchpin. Matchpin is the latest promotional tool that enables a business to advertise through mobile devices by generating a campaign that is industry-specific through rewards, offers, and web-based coupons.
Establishing a strong presence on the web must be a strategic and continual effort. The internet is increasingly becoming a connecting source for all mundane tasks. People use it as their main source of information. To make your presence on the web competitive you must become a resource of sorts. You must actively stay engaged to provide relevant content for the customers that you are seeking to attract. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to create a blog or create a discussion forum that is related to the services you provide. Blogging or setting up discussion forums can easily draw the interests of potential customers if you are creative and make it worthwhile.
Lastly, a referral is another cost-effective way to promote a business. Referral means identifying persons who can make a connection between you and a potential customer. It is a matter of getting someone you know to endorse your business. Referrals can come from various different sources. You may obtain a referral from your friends, family members, and current customers, if possible.
To begin a referral campaign, you must locate your referral sources. To effectively find referral sources, you must think about the service you are providing simultaneously with your existing relationships. First, write down 10 people that you know who is very well acquainted with your business. Second, draw a connection between your business and the potential referral source. That connection may vary in degree. A referral source does not have to be someone who actually used your services. The referrer only needs to have a sufficient understanding of your business, the service you provide, and the appeal to a potential customer. Third, Reach out to the referrers on your list and ask them to contact 2 people they know who might require the type of service you provide. From this simple exchange, you would have marketed your business to 20 people at no cost and very limited effort on your part.
About the Author
Catherine Delcin works as a business consultant empowering entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and resources to bring their entrepreneurial aspiration to success. She holds Juris Doctorate degree of law specializing in Business and has extensive experience with all aspects of business formation. Connect with Catherine at Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CatherineDelcin.