Establishing a Presence in Your Community
- Create an advisory board representative of your customers (even if they're kids) and publicize it. Listen to the board's ideas.
- Publish a newsletter about your business for customers and potential customers. Send it via regular mail or email and post it on your Web page.
- Make your values clear. One couple promotes their commitment to family-sometimes closing their store early to attend soccer games when their children or employees' children are competing.
- Make donations that represent your business. If you have a garden supply business, for example, contribute seeds and simple tools for a community garden.
- Serve as a volunteer in your community and encourage your employees to follow suit. Let them contribute some hours on company time.
- Be consistent in your ad message and style including business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, signs and banners.
- Newspapers, radio and TV stations are helpful in producing the advertising that you will be running with them.
- While word-of-mouth advertising has been around a long time, it usually falls short of being able to attract the number of customers needed to be successful in business.
- Promote benefits rather than features. A benefit is the emotional satisfaction your product or service provides, or a tangible performance characteristic.
- Know your competitors. Knowing everything about your competitors is just as important as knowing everything about your own business.
Developing a Marketing Plan
- Determine specific goals and the time frame in which you want to achieve them. Communicate the goals to your employees.
- Decide what tools can best help you meet your goals and how they will be used. These can include the Internet, newsletters, direct mail, special events, trade shows, advertising, and more.
- Come up with a budget that reflects your goals.
- Delegate responsibility for implementing each segment of the plan.
- Monitor the results and make adjustments as necessary.
Effective News Releases
- Make sure they're newsworthy. Good topics include the announcement of a major new client, a celebrity appearance at your store, and community service performed by your company.
- Create news and put out a press release about it. Speak at a seminar, for example, or provide expert comment on developing news events.
- Get your releases to the right people. Find out who at your radio and TV stations and newspaper will be the most interested in your news.
- Capture editors' attention by putting the news in the first paragraph. Then add the necessary details.
- Make your releases look crisp and professional-that means no smudgy type. Include the name and phone number of a contact person, and answer media queries promptly.
Good Business Signage
- Think of a business sign as a form of communication. You want it to get your message across.
- Be sure it is large enough to read. Consider the speed of local traffic and the time in which it must be read.
- Make it short and simple.
- Provide ample lighting so that it can be read at night.
- Change it from time to time to renew potential customers' interest.
- Make yourself stand out. Nancy Michaels, owner of a marketing communications firm in Concord, MA, sends greetings and gifts at odd holidays, like Chinese New Year and the Fourth of July, instead of at Christmas and Hanukkah.
- Create a memorable title for yourself. The business cards of one husband-and-wife team refer to them as "Dad" and "Mom" because their furniture store is named after their children.
- Write educational articles for trade journals, newspapers, and other publications that reach your audience. They'll get your name before the public and add to your credibility.
- Don't underestimate the market value of your name. By using their names over and over to promote their talents, Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart have turned small businesses into enormous enterprises.
- Make sure the name of your company is legible. Some logos use such fancy lettering that the company name is unreadable.