Now that you’ve started your business and told all your friends and family, you may be wondering, “how do I get more customers?” or “how do I branch out to other people?” Marketing your company and increasing your business presence are ongoing tasks throughout the life of a business that every entrepreneur faces. You can never have too many customers and putting some time into finding those customers is well worth the effort. The following are some helpful ideas for increasing your business presence.
1. Make Your Business Look Official. The first step to a successful marketing campaign is to make your business look official to the outside consumer. With the threat of identity theft ever present in the mind of the American consumer, the more official your business looks, the more likely a customer is to use you and then recommend you to a friend. Making your business look official can consist of filing it with the state, listing with the Better Business Bureau, or even just getting letterhead and a website. In today’s online-based economy, finding a company with a website or that is reputable is just a click away. You don’t want to lose consumers because you looked too much like a fake company.
2. Obtain Relevant Trademarks. After making your business official, keeping up the high standards of operation is important. Unfortunately, a great reputation can be ruined easily by a company with the same or similar name. Getting a trademark for your business or the product you make is important to protect against potential confusion of consumers and gives you recourse against those individuals who do steal your name. U.S. trademarks also protect you from someone stealing your name or ideas nationwide, providing you the opportunity to expand your business beyond your city and state. Applying for a trademark may sound difficult but in reality, many online business filing services will prepare the trademark application materials for you, saving you the hassle of hiring an expensive lawyer.
3. Create a Marketing Plan. Advertising and marketing is the biggest way to make consumers aware of your business, and creating a marketing plan will give you some direction. Think about what you do and who your targeted consumers are. That will often dictate how you focus your marketing and advertisements. For example, a company that offers in-home services to elderly people (a hot industry FYI) probably isn’t using their resources wisely if they use mostly internet advertising. On the other hand, a company that sells college textbooks would do well with almost all online marketing. The audience you sell to and the products or services you offer will help define where your advertising and marketing resources and efforts should go.
4. Different Media Options. Now that you’ve made yourself look professional and reputable and you’ve got your target audience in mind, here are some places you can start your publicity.
Social media is a great place to go for companies that appeal to the younger generation. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are widely popular in the under-30 crowd and even professionals in the 30 to 60 bracket are starting to get in on the action. Having accounts with these sites allows you to create a page where people can find out more information about you and “follow” you. Facebook also allows companies to do advertising with its site, further increasing your presence in the social media scene.
In addition to social media, there are other online techniques to gain and keep customers. Taking the website you created and making it as user-friendly as possible will encourage consumers to use you instead of going to another site. Also, applying search engine optimization techniques (commonly known as “SEO”) to your website will bring it up higher on search engines for certain terms, helping consumers find you. Lastly, listing yourself with trade associations and writing articles relating to your industry or field will help get your name out there and that will go a long way towards bringing in new customers.
For more traditional fields or older generation consumers, print marketing will be much more beneficial. Many trade associations continue to publish print newsletters and journals so look into publishing with them. Mailbox flyers or mailings are also good ways to reach out to consumers and make them aware of your business. Posting these flyers in places that your consumers might frequent will further increase your company’s presence.
Remember, marketing and advertising are only the first few steps on the road to running a successful and profitable business. Keep customers and provoking customers to recommend you are just as important as the initial publicity. Customers will be most likely to recommend you when they have a good experience so keep your standards high!
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