What to do now
1. Start with your brand. Tap someone in the design field to help you with your brand. Don’t do it yourself people will think you’re a hobbyist, a dabbler, a jack of all trades and master of none. The fact is, people hire people they believe can help them with very specific problems. Present yourself as a qualified, professional “resource person” by conveying what you do with a strong brand.
2. Carry and use real business cards. Because of recent efficiencies in printing, you can have full-color business cards printed up on nice stock for less than ever before. (We’ve seen deals for 1,000 cards for free (with a “sponsor” logo for less than $50!) Hire someone to design great cards, and get a bunch of them. You have a lot of work to do, and a great business card is the way to start.
3. Get a Web site. If you have a brand, you have the basis of a professional web site. Today, it’s faster and easier than ever to get a Web site built. You can even build a nice-looking “templated” web site yourself with one of the many free or low-cost tools on the Internet. A Web site is today’s brochure without the printing or distribution problems. Just make sure it’s written intelligently, designed to compliment your brand, and easy for people to contact you by phone or email. Putting contact info right on your home page is fine, because people use the Web today the way they used to use the phone book.
4. Register yourself. Take advantage of LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and free search-engine tools (such as Google Maps) to get out there, get connected, and get business. You’ll be surprised what comes your way when people know what you’re up to and know how to get ahold of you.
5. Get connected. Northern Nevada has dozens of business groups whose purpose is to help business people get together and find out what they can do for each other in other words, to do business. Rotary, WIN, the chambers of commerce, networking groups, professional associations, you name it: they’re all about helping people network and do business. Not a joiner? Not everyone is. That’s why some groups, like Alice Heiman’s BizTalk Blenders or NCET’s Wi-Fi Wednesdays, have “speed networking” events where you learn how to network efficiently and effectively. Bottom line, people do business with people they like, so give people a chance to like you by getting connected in as many ways as possible.
6. Be consistent. Remember that brand thing we talked about earlier? Use it everywhere. Letterhead, envelopes, fax cover sheets, email signatures, proposal covers everything you can think of. It’s been said that people remember something after they’ve seen it 21 times. Increase your odds by being consistent.
7. Put a blog in your Web site. Why? Because the search engines like it! That’s right. Search engines like Web sites that aren’t just sitting there. They like action. And nothing puts action into your Web site like a blog that’s getting updated daily or weekly or even monthly. More and more web sites are becoming more and more blog-like, because updated, current, relevant information is what people and therefore search engines value.
8. Do a speech. You must be pretty good at something or you wouldn’t have gone into business. Chances are, there are groups that would love to know more about what you do. So, if you go talk to them, guess what happens? They get excited. They believe you’re an expert. They tell their friends. And your business grows. People will attribute magical powers to you if you prepare well, present well, and leave them feeling good about you and your company. Can’t (or won’t) speak publicly? That’s what Toastmasters is for. Find a group, learn the tools, and get out there, for business’ sake!
9. Campaign. Anything worth doing in life is worth doing over and over until it gets results (with the exception of a frontal lobotomy.) When you’re 94, you’ll relish the hard-fought struggles, the times you wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. So plan your work and work your plan. You’ll accomplish a heck of a lot more than if you just sat and stewed and thought “I coulda been a contender!”
10. Collect customers. Collect as much contact information as possible about your customers and ask them for permission to market to them. That way, you can stay in touch (another word for market!) with postcards, direct mail, or low-cost permission-based email marketing products like Constant Contact, Campaigner, or EMMA. Talk to your customers about once a month, and they’ll thank you for it with purchases. (More than that, and they’ll run away to your competitors!)
11. It’s the size of your ideas. (Not the size of your wallet.) We like HSP’s “Painter For A Day” program. We like the mom-n-pop pizza place whose coupon said, “tear out any (insert a major U.S. pizza chain) phone book ad, and get 2-for-1 pizzas!” We like it when any marketer gets clever and makes compelling, fun offers to drum up business…and so should you, in this or any economy.
David Branby is president of David Branby Advertising, Inc. in Reno. Contact him at email@example.com.
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