If you've recently transitioned from an employee or independent contractor to business owner, you're already well aware that the success (or failure) of your business hinges on your ability to sell your products, services, or knowledge to potential customers and clients. Not only will you need to convince your potential customers that you're the best business to fulfill their needs, you'll need to compete with already-established businesses offering similar services. What are the most cost-effective ways to market your fledgling business? Read on for some tips to help you stand out and make a name for yourself.
Purchase business cards that do double duty.
Traditional paper business cards can be seen as outdated in some industries -- without physical Rolodexes on many desks these days, paper business cards are all too easily lost in the bottom of a purse or used to scribble notes and then thrown away. However, by investing a bit of extra money into plastic business cards that double as gift cards, or metal business cards that can serve as heavy-duty refrigerator magnets, you'll be able to turn your business card into a useful item that gets "face time" on a regular basis.
Plastic business cards can be emblazoned with your business's logo, contact information, or even photos of your products. You may opt to simply use these cards as gift cards for purchase -- but if you really want to be daring and get new customers in the door, you may opt to pre-load these business cards with small amounts of money and pass them out as promotional items.
Metal business cards that double as refrigerator magnets are slightly more expensive than plastic business cards, but can be particularly useful for businesses that provide services one might need while standing in the kitchen -- takeout restaurants, plumbers, appliance repair businesses, and HVAC contractors.
Visit sites like 4colorprint.com to see what options are available for unique business cards.
Investigate low-cost community sponsorships.
Most communities have a number of youth sports teams, fairs and festivals, and charity fundraising events. By sponsoring a local youth sports team, for only a few hundred dollars you may be able to have your company's name printed on the backs of team t-shirts or have your name and logo displayed at all team events. For a new business, this type of exposure to the community can be invaluable -- particularly if you sell a product or service that appeals to families.
In other cases, you may want to purchase an inexpensive vinyl banner that includes your business information. For a small fee (or sometimes even for free), you can display this banner at parades, festivals, and other community events.
Use innovation to draw in younger consumers.
Many of the most profitable business models owe a portion of their success to "hooking" children or teens, therefore creating loyal consumers for life. Targeting teens in your marketing efforts can often pay big dividends for years to come, particularly as these teens enter the paid workforce after high school or take out student loans to attend college (providing them with more disposable income than previous generations). However, this can be a tough market to target, as today's teens have grown up in an era of constant television, radio, and print advertisements -- and are experts at knowing when to tune out.
Paying for ad space on social media networks can be one effective option to target teens and young adults -- as can creating subscribable content, like coupons, web comics, or other useful or entertaining features. If your product or service is specific to teens, you may want to invest in a graphic designer to create your first few ads to ensure they're sufficiently eye-catching.