By Angie Nelson
Launching a new business is never easy, but it doesn't have to bankrupt you, either. Many new business owners are excited to promote their company, but make the mistake of spending too much on marketing. While it's important to advertise and market your organization, it's possible to do this without spending a lot of money. In fact, with a bit of careful planning, you can market your company for next to nothing.
1. Hold an Open House
When you first open for business, consider holding an open house. This doesn't have to be on the first day you open your doors, but it should be held during the first week. An open house is simply a fun, engaging way to let local customers know about your company. You'll want to have food and drinks available for anyone who stops by, as well as extra staff members who can answer questions and help customers navigate your business.
You can have several attractions available to entice potential clients to stop by. These attractions don't have to be expensive, but they should be entertaining. You could hire someone to make balloon animals or offer face painting for children. You could give presentations on what your company offers. You could even have someone show guests how to do something new, such as how to knit a sweater or make jewelry using materials from your store. The key is to help your guests have a fun time while educating them on what your company offers and why they should give you their business.
2. Utilize Your Email List
If you don't already have an email list, it's time to start building one. When someone visits your website, make sure you are asking for their email address. Let them know you'll send coupons and occasional updates to them. Remind customers that you'll never spam them or sell their email addresses.
Once you begin to build an email list, you can send email updates and promotions to clients. While you shouldn't overwhelm customers with emails, you may find that keeping in touch entices them to shop with you more frequently and to spend more at your store.
3. Create a Facebook Fan Page
Whether you run a bookstore or a bank, you should create a Page on Facebook. A Page is a quick way to let customers know what you're up to each week, what specials you're running and why they should stop by your site. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, guests will also be able to “check in” on Facebook each time they're at your shop, which will give you even more visibility since their friends and family members will be able to see where they're at.
One of the most important things to know about creating a page is that you need to update it regularly. You don't need to say anything especially poignant or thoughtful, but you should post at least three times each week. The more often that you post, the more likely people are to see your fan page pop up in their Facebook feed.
4. Take Some Pictures
Whether you have a storefront where you sell physical items or you offer services online, it's important to get active on Pinterest. This is a free, easy-to-use website that will draw traffic to your website very quickly. To use Pinterest, you'll need to take pictures of your inventory or of your store and post them to the site. Include a catchy description and a link to your website. As users stumble across your pictures and pin your posts, they'll be able to visit your website. More importantly, their friends will be able to, as well.
5. Get Active Online
You might feel uncomfortable using the Internet, which is understandable. It's a huge place. Many new business owners aren't sure how to successfully use the Internet to market their business. Keep in mind that it doesn't matter what websites you use to keep in touch with your clients. What matters is that you do, in fact, keep in touch. When someone emails you, respond in a timely manner. If someone sends you a tweet, respond the same day. When you get on Facebook and see you have a comment, try to reply. Customers, especially young customers, want to reach out to you through the Internet, so it's important to be available to them.
6. Going Local? Talk to Your Neighbors
When you launch a new storefront, you'll be busy. You'll be so busy you'll barely have time to sleep, but you still need to meet your neighbors. Make the time to introduce yourself to other local business owners. This may mean visiting storefronts or attending a local Meetup or Chamber of Commerce event. Let them know who you are and that you're excited to be working near them. If you have a swag bag, go ahead and give one to those you meet. While it won't guarantee immediate business, it will give you a good reputation around town. Even if they don't shop at your store, they'll be more likely to recommend your business to their own clients.
7. Give Away Coupons
While giving away free or discounted products might seem counterproductive, you may discover that it actually draws in new customers. While some clients might be hesitant to shop at a new store or utilize the services of a new business, receiving a coupon can change their mind. Try to give out coupons on a regular basis. You can give out coupons inside your store or you can give out digital coupons through your Facebook page. Giving coupons shows that you care about your customers and not just about their wallets.
Remember that no matter how large or small your new business is, it's important that you start marketing as soon as possible. The more time and effort you pour into promoting your company, the greater your results will be. Perhaps most importantly, understand that you don't need to have a huge budget in order to effectively market your company. You just need to have a willing attitude and the time to promote your brand correctly.
Angie Nelson has been an online business owner since 2007. Today she balances several successful online ventures and still manages to share her passion for home business with others on her blogs The Work at Home Wife and The Best Direct Sales Companies.