Step 1. Build A Website
Let’s face it, nobody under the age of 30 uses the Yellow Pages anymore. The Internet has become the primary source of information for 80% of all adults. But the World Wide Web can be a friend as opposed to your enemy. Building a website for your small business has never been cheaper or easier due to websites like myABCspace.com
. You can have a free website built in about 10 minutes regardless of your skill level. With a little more effort, you can even add pictures and videos to your website.2. Become a Power Seller
Websites like eBay
can be an extremely inexpensive and easy way to expand your customer base. You can sell your hottest product or even old items you may have in your garage or lying around your house. Carefully following a few simple instructions can help you to mine the gold that already exists in your business or home. You’ll be surprised at how many people are interested in your stuff.3. Get Connected
Depending on what your business provides, there are hundreds of free ways to promote your business in your community. Most towns have an annual parade which allows local business owners to participate. You don’t have to build a Gold Medal Rose Bowl float to take part. All you need is a car or truck with a sign on the side and a large bag of candy to throw to the kids. There’s also the local chamber of commerce, mothers’ clubs, and numerous festivals. Again, depending on your business type, you can give a speech or sponsor projects at local schools, scouting groups, seniors’ homes, park districts, and your local library.4. Avoid Mass Media
Unless you have very deep pockets, you can’t afford to use mass media to advertise: daily newspapers, radio, television, and such can be very expensive ways to reach customers. Business journals, parenting publications, shoppers, and industry-specific magazines are generally less expensive and deliver to a more targeted audience. Sales letters to a highly-focused mailing list of your target market and flyers placed in mailboxes by local teenagers can greatly increase business. A flyer can be typed up in about 10 minutes. A local printer can typically print up 5,000 for about $300, and a couple of hard-working kids can deliver them in a single weekend. The key is to define your customers and zero in on them with a focused message.5. Form a Mastermind Group
A powerful strategy, first defined by Napoleon Hill in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, the mastermind group brings together like-minded people on a regular basis to help each other succeed. Find a small group of people whose ideals and aspirations are similar to your own and arrange to meet regularly. Ideally, your group would meet about twice a month rotating breakfast, lunch, or coffee between each other’s businesses. The power of the group consciousness can multiply your brain power many times and bring you new insights and ideas. For more about this, read Hill’s book.6. Use Newsletters
Another inexpensive way to build your business is to use newsletters. A newsletter has a 400% better chance of being read than an ad, and that’s because newsletters address the needs of your customers. A good newsletter will be about the readers’ needs and deliver information that will help them. Newsletters can be inexpensively produced on your computer and need not be fancy. The key is to send them at regular intervals (quarterly at the very least) and help your customers solve a problem. You can even offer advertising to other (non-competing) local businesses as a way of sharing the costs.7. Ask, ‘What Else Can I Do for You?’
It always amazes me how people tend to overlook this simple question. If you ask it, you may be pleasantly surprised at the responses. There are needs your customers have right now that you could help them fill while building your business in the process. Make sure you get any employees to do the same. A large chain increased sales by a billion dollars by asking their customers if they would like to “super size their meal” after every order.8. Use Classified Ads
Classifieds are a powerful, inexpensive method of reaching new customers. A well-written classified ad can do wonders for your business. They are also a great way to test an idea before you commit to a larger ad budget. Many highly successful businesses have been built using the lowly classified section of their local publications.9. Use Specialized Information
Writing reports and articles is one of the best advertising methods and guess what—it costs next to nothing. If you have knowledge that others find useful, you can write a special report and offer it to prospective customers. You can use this same report to generate a letter or article for your local newspaper. Local newspapers are always looking for stories with local interests. There are also hundreds of places to post this same article on the Internet—they’re called blogs. A blog is a free space on the Internet to discuss a particular topic. A simple search will generate dozens of blogs related to your industry. 10. Serve Your Customers
Continually look for ways to improve your service to your customers and add more value to your products and services, and you will always have a steady supply of business. The more you can add value to doing business with your company and provide more service to your customers, the more success you will enjoy. Institute a practice of making small incremental improvements each day in every area of your business and you will enjoy continued success.
Copyright © 2009 America's Best. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.