Marketing is one of the most important things that a small business owner has to understand in order to grow a successful business. I want to dispel a very large misconception that exists relative to marketing a small business. You don’t have to have a large budget to implement a successful marketing program; you have to, however, understand all that marketing encompasses.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate my point is with an example. I took my car into a small auto repair shop. I told the owner what was wrong and he said he would have a look at it; it would take about an hour. After waiting approximately 45 minutes, the owner came back and told me what he discovered, quoted me a price and that if I left it there he can have it ready by the next afternoon. I agreed to the work and called my office to have someone pick me up. The next afternoon I stopped in to pick up my car. I was presented an invoice which I paid and left.
What could the owner have done to market his business? On my first visit, I was not offered a bottle of water, nor asked what I did for a living. I was not offered a ride home when he asked to leave my vehicle there. Upon my return, I was not asked how my day was; I was not given any business cards and asked to refer business. My name was on the repair order but I was not asked for my e-mail address. Now, six days later, I have not received a “thank you for your business” call which I expected because my bill was well over $1,000.
We all see people every day, be it family, through social or civic events, or encounters with friends and customers. How do you market to them every time you see them? In the example I shared, you can be attentive to something they need (a bottle of water) or you can offer to help in some way. You can ask them how their family or business is doing; perhaps you can refer business to them. Maybe most of the people you meet already have your business card and you don’t want to shove another one at them. One option is to redo your business cards, change the design, change your tag line, put your favorite quotation on the back and, if your business allows it, offer a percentage discount with an expiration date on the back of the card. Now you have a reason to give everyone you know another business card and remind them to refer business to you.It’s not only your business card that should be used in marketing, your e-mail, any paper that leaves your office ( such as an invoice), the way you answer your phone, the way you dress, etc., etc., etc., all are marketing tools.
Start a list of no cost marketing ideas and keep it on your desk to remind you of what needs to be done. Work with your coach or support group to grow the list. Ask everyone you meet how you can improve your service. I believe that if you work at this every day you will see a significant increase in your business in as little as 90 days.
Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Nick J. Petra CFP