Make sure people understand what your business does.
Be ready to respond when clients or customers contact you.
Use periodic mailing/emails or ads to help clients remember your business.
Use incentives or giveaway items to encourage new and repeat business.
Implement marketing programs on a regular basis—don’t wait until business dries up!
If you’re really lucky, your small business has a steady stream of regular clients, and just the right workload. If you’re like the rest of us, however, your business could probably use a marketing boost now and then, either to solicit new business, or to keep your name fresh in the minds of your existing business contacts.
The Basics of Effective Marketing Materials
At a minimum, most businesses should have some type of basic materials to share with potential clients or customers. These might include business cards, brochures, flyers, price lists, etc., all the way up to web sites, giveaway items, ads, special mailings and customized presentations for your most promising prospects.
With basic software and an inexpensive printer, a small business can easily create its own stationery and marketing pieces. Just remember to keep them simple and tasteful; try not to overdo the design with fancy fonts, conflicting graphics or complicated formatting.
Here are some basic guidelines to consider when developing your marketing materials and programs.
Establish a consistent, professional image for your business. Make sure all materials look like they belong to a set—including stationery, signs, brochures, ads, web site, coupons, postcards, etc.
State Your Message Clearly
Make sure your materials explain your business effectively without being too wordy. Use specific examples or testimonials to help distinguish your business and enhance your credibility. Ask friends or colleagues to test read your materials to determine if other readers will perceive your message the way you intend it.
Explain the Benefits
Set yourself apart from your competitors (without bad-mouthing them or overselling yourself). Your materials should clearly convey the benefits the client will enjoy by using your business. Answer common questions customers might have, and offer sources for additional information.
Make Sure They Know How to Find You
Provide contact information in a prominent place wherever possible, but also make sure any costly, pre-printed pieces will not become obsolete by printing phone numbers/addresses that may change.
Whether you’re starting a new business, suffering a temporary dry spell, or simply maintaining your client base, there are lots of effective, affordable ways to market your small business.
Either printed or emailed, newsletters are a great way to keep your name in front of potential customers. Keep the content fresh and informative: something that is useful to your audience. Stick to a regular, realistic publication schedule—maybe once a quarter.
Even if it’s just a simple page with basic text about your company, a web site can draw inquiries from around the world if it contains good content that’s relevant to the user’s needs. Make sure the page/site is attractive, informative and up to date, with contact information in a prominent place.
For maximum impact, create a clever, themed mailing to send to your best prospects. Develop the mailing around some type of unique giveaway item, combined with information about your business or services. Make sure to follow up!
Coupons/Discounts & Referral Programs
Offer incentives for people to contact your company or visit your business: discount, freebie, complimentary consultation, etc. How about incentives to encourage repeat customers and referrals?
Use periodic mailings/email campaigns to help potential clients remember your business, establishing a pattern of contact at regular intervals. It’s often more effective to do a series of carefully timed repeat campaigns than a single campaign. How about a series of three or four related postcards/emails with different twists on the same theme?
Shirts, bookmarks and other items can be great marketing tools. Forgo the run-of-the-mill ballpoint pen, and choose something unique, memorable and useful that relates to your business: a tape measure from a renovation company, or a pet first-aid guide from the vet clinic.