Like any company, marketing and advertising is of the utmost importance for a home-based business. The best way to get the word on the street about your creation or service is to market and promote it. Marketing doesn't have to be an expensive endeavor. You can effectively herald your company without spending big bucks.
Know Your Product
Before even creating a marketing or promotional plan, you must understand what it is you are promoting. Determine what is your exact business, product or service. For example, if you own a t-shirt design company, do you design only kid's shirts or are they for everyone? Can you provide a wide variety of shirt choices and do you create designs for other items such as shorts, tote bags or towels. In addition to understanding exactly what you are offering, you should understand what makes your product special and unique in the market.
Do a quick market evaluation and consider what the competition touts as their benefits. Compare your product and featured benefits with the competition, and determine if you need to change or adjust your features. Design any ads or promotional items that feature your differenting benefits, a brief description of your product and specific contact information.
Target Your Audience
Blanket advertising, such random newspaper or TV ads, is costly and doesn't necessarily mean that you'll hit the audience that needs or wants your product or service. Part of your market evaluation should identify your audience. If you offer I/T services to moms, you'll want to target market directly to moms. This means understanding where your target audience would see your message. Using the I/T for moms example, you could start by posting a flyer at the local baby gym, pediatrician or children's clothing store. Always ask the merchant's permission before putting up any signage. Ask if you could create small leave behind flyers at local dance or karate centers too. You could also run banner ads on mom friendly websites such as WAHM or Baby Center.
Be Ready for Business Volume
Being ready to handle any uptick in business should be part of your marketing plan. A strong marketing effort typically results in a two or three percent return on investment. Ready your company for any order or service increase and be able to seamlessly support additional business. Not being able to handle additional business can destroy your company. Word of mouth spreads fast .and if customers don't believe you can handle the volume, everyone else will too. Remember the Christmas of 1999 E-Toys fiasco?
Word of Mouth
The most powerful marketing tool is word of mouth. Happy customers tell other prospective customers, and the next thing you know, you end up with a growing customer base. Treat your current customers like kings, and they'll be singing your praises to others. You could also construct a word of mouth campaign where you reward current customers for making a referral that results in a sale. Coupons (such as $10.00 off the currently customer's next service) or offering a free service for their referral will be worth it.
The only way to get your home based business off the ground is to effectively and efficiently market and promote it. You don't need a big marketing budget, but you should fully understand what makes your product special and how to reach your target audience.
_________________________Gina Ragusa is a freelance writer and mom from sunny (and sometimes not) South Florida. Her 15 year experience ranges from writing about banking to tattoo parlors. Read more about her adventures at http://blog.wahm.com/