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Strategies for marketing, advertising and promoting your business.

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Promotional Strategies: To Name A Few.

Often times, simple forms of marketing can be overlooked by a business. They are often easy to implement and are of little cost to the business. Some of these ideas can be utilized in-house and at little cost when you hire a professional for outside assistance. Take a look at the following three suggestions. We encourage you to incorporate these into your business marketing plan.

1. Develop your own mailing list.
Your current market is your best market from which to draw. Existing customers are easier and less expensive to market to than new customers. Get names and addresses off the checks your customers write, have a sign-up in your store to be on your mailing list, have a drawing for a monthly give away with registration blanks requiring a name, address and phone number, do a give away for business people and have them drop their business card into a drawing.

You'll be surprised where you can come up with names for your mailing list. Place suggestion/comment boxes in your place of business, exhibit at trade shows like Expo and gather names for a drawing, collect business cards at civic meetings, luncheons and in waiting rooms, present a mini-seminar and get a list of those attending, or send newsletters and ask readers for referrals (give them a bonus for 5 names).

2. Promote yourself with a business newsletter.
If people are interested in your goods or services, the information in your newsletter can be valuable to them. It helps to generate response by including a valuable offer or coupon so that they take action after reading your newsletter. It also assists you in determining how many people read your newsletter and make use of the offer. But don't be deceived. Just because someone doesn't bring in the coupon doesn't necessarily mean they never read the newsletter. Some people use coupons and take advantage of offers and others don't. The important thing to remember is to include valuable, easy-to-read information in your newsletter. Bulleted lists and short yet informative paragraphs have a better chance of being read. A well written and informative newsletter will attract attention from interested readers. Be sure to include photographs and attention grabbing graphics that enhance the written material.

You can elect to do a printed newsletter and mail it or save on postage costs and develop a digital newsletter sent via email. There are several affordable ways to create e-news for your customers.

3. Saying ``Thank You."
Why is saying thank you a good way to promote yourself? Because everyone likes being appreciated. If you're appreciated when you least expect it, it makes an even bigger impression. When you take time to notice customers, they can't help but notice your effort to show your appreciation.

Have a simple Thank You note card  or postcard printed up with your logo on the front or purchase inexpensive pre-printed note cards and attach your business card. Either way, have someone hand write a quick note to thank your customers for doing business with you. Including an offer of some sort is a nice gesture but don't use it to sell anything or to announce a new product or service. Actually, a thank you note itself will make a positive impression.

With today's electronic dominated world, taking the time to deliver a hand written Thank You whenever the opportunity presents itself is a nice touch that reflects well on your business.

The Art of Networking: A Must Have Business Tool

Spinning a web of meaningful relationships is one way to look at networking, but what's the purpose of networking? Networking is one of the oldest, most accepted and the least expensive way to show and tell. By developing meaningful relationships with other business people you open the door of opportunity not only for your own business but for others as well. Networking is a two way street form of marketing. Once you have established a meaningful and valuable relationship with another business person, the two of you can work together to cross market one another.

Look around you. Today's marketplace is fiercely competitive and a personal and professional network will

  • Keep you informed
  • Position you in the marketplace
  • Help you stay on the cutting edge

Believe this: Networking is power and networking is powerful. Once you know this to be true, then you are truly ready to learn the skills that make this a successful experience. Networking most often occurs within business organizations such as your local Chamber but it can also take place in elevators, at seminars you attend, on street corners, waiting in line at a store, sitting next to someone in a restaurant or bookstore coffee shop. If there is another person in your immediate space, then the situation is ripe for networking. How does this work?

Conversation is one of the key elements. Observe and listen. Take notice of defining elements about a person, what they are wearing, what book or magazine they are reading, what topics they discuss and in which they express interest. Make pleasant conversation until an opportunity arises to find out what the other person does for work and have them expand on the details. Eventually they ask you what you do and the networking has begun.

Every time you begin a conversation with anyone, anywhere, there is an opportunity for networking. You just never know who you'll run into or where. It could be someone who could use your services or is in need of your product or vice versa. Even if they are not in immediate need of it, they may be in the future or may know of someone else who does.

Never miss the opportunity to exchange business cards. It could be the beginning of a meaningful relationship or valuable contact in the future. One you would never have discovered had you not seized the opportunity for networking! Follow up with a phone call and take them out to lunch or breakfast. At a meal or in a quiet after-work setting, people relax and are better able to talk about themselves. The act of follow up is as important as the initial contact you make.

Join your Chamber of Commerce, service organization or trade association. If you were to put a dollar figure on the publicity, referrals, business and political contacts, marketing and research information, it would certainly exceed the membership dues required to join these organizations. These groups are full of business people eager to network with each other. Upon attaining membership, often times you are added to the organization's directory - a great resource for business people. If they have a newsletter, you may even receive mention as a new member. Both ways your business name appears in print. Your willingness to serve and eventually chair a committee gives you the chance to help your business community grow and prosper. If a committee doesn't exist in your field of expertise, become proactive and establish one. Get involved in education and develop a seminar that allows you to share business information with fellow members. Take time to discover which organizations are right for your business and explore the possibilities it has for becoming a relationship worth paying for.

Question Of The Day....

?Q : How would you identify or describe your business USP?

People who work in advertising are taught to look for, and communicate, the USP, or Unique Selling Point or Proposition. Something that makes your goods or services unique and distinctive among others in the marketplace. Every business should be able to identify its own USP. Your Unique Selling Proposition is your philosophy and tells the business community three things:

  • What you have to offer (specifics)
  • What you do that makes you special (something they may not know)
  • What you will do for them that would make them want to do business with you (all said in a pitch of fifteen seconds or less)

A USP is an integral part of your personal or business headline. After your business name, it is a phrase or slogan descriptive of your business all wrapped up into one tiny package line. A USP is the written equivalent of your essence, of what you stand for. A USP zeroes in on what you do best and tells your market what distinguishes you from your competition. It also tells your market exactly what goods or service you are representing, it defines your strengths and makes claims on which you can deliver on. The best USP appeals to emotional needs. It assures your customers that your company will satisfy them best.

Do you have your business USP written down? What is it? If you asked your managers or employees what they thought it was, what do you think they would say? Once you have a business USP you can develop a plan for business that establishes that theme in all you do. As with a Mission Statement, put your USP on your stationery, business cards, advertising, packaging, and in newsletters. Consider your USP an extension of your advertising and an introduction in a networking situation.

Ask other businesses what their USP is and if they are unfamiliar with the term, explain it to them. Share the knowledge and learning you gain with other business people.



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