Remember back on the starting home based business introductory page where we talked about creating and delivering value? If you had one without the other you would probably fail.
Well this is part of the delivering part of starting a business from home. Just as important as having a great product or service is getting the word out to let people know about it - marketing your product or service.
Starting Home Based Business - Marketing Your Brand
Think about your brand and how you want people to view and remember your business. Your name should convey something about the product or service you are offering. It’s interesting how a perception - or brand - can convey so much.
Think of some of the more popular brands today and how simple they are - maybe it’s just the font, or a simple symbol.
For example some of the most popular technology companies - Google, Apple, Facebook. Their logo is very clean, simple, and recognizable. For Google it’s the multi colored font spelling of their name. For Apple it’s simply an apple with a bit taken out of it. For Facebook it’s the blue lower case “f”.
When starting home based business, the point is to keep your name and logo such that it’s memorable, easy to recognize, and conveys a positive response and image when people see it. Try to stay away from busy logo’s that are difficult to read and recognize.
If you have a brick-and-mortar location, use a sign that’s easy to read at a glance.
Your Target Customers
Target – don’t waste resources on marketing to unlikely customers.
If you’re starting home based business in catering located in Texas it probably won’t do you any good to advertise in the New York Times. You want to advertise in your area to those most likely to need your service or product. Start in your neighborhood first. Network and get the word out to your friends. People you know on your kid’s soccer team, neighbors, friends at church, etc. Corporate clients would be a lucrative business and they are always having events.
Focus your marketing efforts on the segment of the population most likely to use your services.
Sell The Problem You Solve or Need You Fill
If you have a product or service that’s not easily described – sell the problem it solves for your potential customer. For example if you are selling a new and improved cell phone with a dual core processor – most people don’t know what that is or why it benefits them.
But if you say the phone is faster and has better battery life – that’s something any smartphone user can understand and appreciate.
15 Marketing Ideas for Starting Home Based Business
1. Create a Website
A website can be a real asset when starting home based business for making sales for both products or services. You can put your web address on your marketing and advertising material and business cards. Your website can have pictures of your product or a description of your services. If you are selling a product such as food or clothing pictures help a lot. You want to set it up so your customer can easily place an order online. PayPal makes this real easy now.
You can economically market your business locally in just your city or region using Google or Facebook. Creating a simple website doesn’t have to cost much and these days it’s quite easy to do. People love to be able to check out a business online – it’s a great way to get impulse buys also.
Almost every business now has an online presence. If you are just getting starting you can create a free Facebook page quickly which looks nice and allows you to connect with your customers. Many restaurants have a Facebook page to advertise special promotions, display menus, have pictures of their offerings, etc.
2. Social Web Marketing - Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest
You may want to create a separate account for your business page from your personal page. Facebook and Google+ let you easily create a business page. Many businesses now have a Facebook presence. It’s a great way to stay engaged with customers or potential one’s. Here’s the Facebook page we created for this website.
3. Promotional Advertising
Offer local deals using services like Groupon, LivingSocial, or Amazon Local. These sites allow you to offer targeted deals to customers in your area to promote your business. These services can be very effective. Or you can offer promotions on your website or flyers for a free no obligation trial of your service or a sample of your product. Something to get them to try your business and get them engaged.
4. email Marketing
There’s some great email marketing services that don’t cost a lot and allow you to create and send out professional looking periodic emails and newsletters. Services like Constant Contact, iContact, MailChimp, Campaigner, Boomerang, … there’s about 10 good services available to choose from. They offer very effective and economical ways of getting the word out and creating effective and attractive marketing emails. I would suggest checking them out this Best Email Marketing Services article for a good marketing tool when starting home based business.
5. Direct Mail
This means of marketing is becoming less popular with the increasing popularity of online outlets. But getting something in someone's hands - via mail - can still be very effective. Especially if it gets their attention. For example if you were opening a restaurant or meal preparation service - what if you mailed a plastic set of dinnerware along with a napkin and a coupon for a free meal - “Have Dinner on Us” could be your line. This would be a creative way of getting someone's attention and emphasizing your product or service.
6. Trade Shows & Professional Societies in Your Niche
Get active in your local Chamber of Commerce and their promotional events. It’s a great way to get to know other business owners in the area. Look for opportunities to network with prospective clients - go where the customers are! If you are selling crafts or baked goods, participate in community festivals or craft fairs. If you are selling medical billing services, look for events where doctors or office managers would go.
7. Free Trials or Samples
If you provide a service, offer a free trial or waive the sign-up fees. If you make something, give out samples of your product.
There’s something about getting something for free that creates goodwill with potential customers. When we were just starting home based business in medical billing, we went around to several local physicians offices and handed out baked goods made at a local reputable bakery. We included our business card along with a simple flyer describing our services. It’s amazing how much happier people are to talk to you when you give them something like a chocolate covered cheesecake slice from Edgar's Bakery! We got one of our largest clients this way.
8. Write a Newsletter
Create a newsletter and send it out periodically. This reminds people about your business and creates familiarity and goodwill. You can also use it as a way to establish your credibility and expertise. Over time this can be an effective tool for building your brand. This can be either a paper newsletter or delivered by email as discussed in item 4 above.
9. Pound The Pavement
Get out on foot and visit clients. Take your marketing materials - flyers, business cards, etc. - and introduce yourself and the services you offer. If you have an outgoing personality and enjoy getting out, this is a good marketing tactic. It really helps to have a free gift or “goodie” as that tends to make people more receptive when you give them something. You don’t need to be pushy - just introduce yourself, tell them what you do, and how you can help them.
10. Online Advertising
Online advertising - use local ads with Google Adwords or Facebook - is becoming the prefered method of advertising for many starting home based business. Both Google and Facebook allow you to target your ads by region so you can be very specific on the region. Facebook also allows you to specify age and gender criteria to further target your audience. You can set a budget and a PPC (pay per click) limit which allows you to control your spending.
Take advantage of a free service Google offers called Google Places. It’s free and it allows you to be found on local search results when someone searches for your product or service on Google - you’ve probably noticed the Google map with the little red pins and the businesses contact information.
Craigslist is a good free way to advertise but depending on your product or service it may have limited effect. You also need to be careful of scammers.
Testimonials are very effective from those who have used your products or services. If you don’t have any customers yet this is where giving away free samples can get you some good testimonials. Using testimonials when possible in your printed marketing materials and on your website.
12. Partner With Other Businesses
Partner with other businesses - look for businesses that compliment but don’t compete with yours. There may be opportunities that benefit you both. For example if you sell womens accessories or clothes consider partnering with a local hair salon and offer them a percentage. Or they may rent out some space for a reasonable price. It creates another reason for people to come in and generates a “buzz” or excitement for the business.
Or if you have a healthcare services business, consider partnering with a software vendor that sells practice management or electronic medical records software.
13. Local Press - Tell Your Story
Local Press - If you have an interesting story when starting home based business, try contacting your local newspaper or TV station - especially stories of someone who has turned adversity into success; “From food stamps to petit fours - Mom uses cooking skills to start a successful catering business.”
A lot of print and media outlets don’t have a lot of resources (people) to chase down stories. That’s why when you provide them a well written press release and have an interesting story to tell, you’ve done a lot of the work for them already. They can pretty much take it and run with it. A good press release should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.
14. Hand Out Flyers
Fliers - if you have a lawn care, handyman, or painting business, handing out fliers in surrounding neighborhoods can be effective. Especially in affluent neighborhoods where both spouses work and they are more likely to need your services.
15. Word Of Mouth
When starting home based business, announce to your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, for word-of-mouth advertising. A great tool is your personal Facebook or Twitter account to announce your business.
It also a good idea not to make a big deal that you run a home business. Although so many who are starting home based business, many potential clients may be turned off by the thought of doing business with someone who is based out of their home. Just tell them what service or product you provide. After all it’s not where you are located that’s important - it’s the quality of the service or product you provide that is.
In summary starting home based business requires effort to promote - especially when you are getting started. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money.
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