Home Job: Promoting Your Business

If you work from home, you need a marketing strategy to advertise your company and attract customers in several ways.

Starting a home-based business is exciting. Keeping it going requires ongoing commitment and perseverance. One of the greatest challenges is getting the word out about your product or services and finding ways to attract customers.

To develop a marketing plan and cultivate community awareness, you need to follow a few basic steps that will lead to a well-developed promotional strategy:

1. Find your niche. Compare your business to local competitors to see which gap you fill. You may become "the other guy," "cheaper version," and "the one that's good for your family," whatever that means. Don't try to be the third, fourth, or tenth in a range of contenders, however. Sell yourself as somehow different from the others, with a hook or angle that customers can't afford to pass up. Associate your business with a particular skill, speed, or value that other businesses can't claim.

2. Get your business name out there. Develop a catchy name, logo, and slogan that will help your business become a household word. Print up letterhead, order business cards, and create attractive brochures or pamphlets for distribution. On average a person needs to hear a name about six times before they remember it. Promote yours via a variety of advertising approaches, depending on your budget, including newspaper ads, posters, billboards, and window signs. You can even try cold calling, which means you telephone local businesses and ask to speak to the office manager to discuss ways that you can help to improve their operations.

3. Provide a free service. That doesn't mean to give away your business products or expertise to anyone who asks. It means to offer some small thing that will benefit people so they will keep you in mind when they need what you have. For example, give out refrigerator magnets, plastic rulers, or pens with your company name at street fairs, town parades, or civic events. Participate in the community festival and hand out small packets of candy or gum. Join a radio panel of experts for a call-in program that provides advice. People appreciate getting something for free.

4. Keep your name out there. Offer a weekly advice tip in the newspaper. Volunteer for community projects and donate a little bit of your home business products or service. Offer assistance to the public library or school system so that others become aware of your generosity and get to know your name and line of business. Provide a discount or "two-for-one" sale for a short time to get people interested.

5. Go global. Put up a business Website with contact information so customers can get in touch. Publish a free quarterly newsletter for customers with reminders about an upcoming need for your business, such as pet grooming, printing, or sign-making. Offer tips, articles, and testimonials that tell browsers something about your company and others' experience with it. Get a toll-free 800 telephone number so long-distance callers won't be charged extra for getting in touch.

Whatever home business you're working on, use different kinds of approaches to getting public exposure for your name and services. Through consistent marketing you will have a better chance of building your business and your future.

© High Speed Ventures 2011