Marketing is an ongoing process of planning and executing, from before your venture gets under till the day you spin it off for the due reward or drive it into the ground trying, here's a few tips on how to get the best from your efforts.
Hint 1: Use a professional voicemail message
Your business voicemail shouldn’t be cute; it should be professional.
Write out a script to use when you record it. Ideally, you should record a new message each day. Identify your company, yourself, the day and date, and indicate your availability (for example, will you be out of the office that day?) and when the caller can expect to hear from you.
Hint 2: Use email
No matter how small your business you must have the proper communication tools, and an email address is essential these days. Check your email at least twice a day, and respond to messages promptly.
Email marketing to improve business
Using email to market your business.
Creating an email newsletter
This free online training module will give you practical advice, examples and tips on creating effective newsletters. The module is fully funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise - which also manages biz.org.nz.
Hint 3: Consider developing a website
Even if you don't have a product that can effectively be sold over the internet, a website can help establish your presence, providing customers and suppliers with information about your business and what you have to offer. Including a web address on your marketing materials sends a message that your company is a progressive, forward-thinking operation.
Hint 4: Hand out business cards at every opportunity
After you've been in business for a while, you may forget that not everyone you meet is aware of your business or remembers what you do. Passing out business cards at every opportunity – even to people you know – is a good reminder.
Remember, your business cards can’t do you any good until they're in someone else's hands.
Hint 5: Stimulate word-of-mouth
Encourage existing customers to refer new customers to you by rewarding them with a gift, a commission or a discount on their next invoice.
Hint 6: Write, and use, a marketing plan
Most businesses would benefit from a simple marketing plan because piecemeal marketing is seldom cost effective.
Develop a detailed marketing strategy that covers at least one year and includes target markets, your unique selling proposition, tactics, budgets, specific tasks and expected results. Map it out on a calendar so you know exactly what you have to do and when. Continue your marketing efforts even when business is good. If you stop informing customers, your sales will eventually drop.
Hint 7: Do market research
Don't guess the potential demand for your products and services. To effectively forecast demand you need real numbers based on reliable research. To do the research on your own, start with a basic questionnaire for potential customers. If you decide to use a market research firm, shop around and check references first.
Hint 8: Keep abreast of changes in your market
No matter how well you defined your market when you first started your business, it's likely to have changed over time.
If you don't recognise the changes in your market, you can't respond to them.
As you grow and your capabilities expand, you may be able to serve markets you couldn't before. External circumstances may also change your customer base. You have to constantly re-evaluate your market and how you reach it.
Hint 9: Use quality marketing materials
Your customers will assume that the quality of your work is as good as how you present yourself.
Amateurish business cards and brochures send a message that you don't take yourself seriously, so why should your customers?
Consider hiring a good graphic designer to design your business cards, letterhead and brochures. If you can't afford a graphic designer, use a simple typeface on quality paper - most printers have formats you can follow.
Hint 10: Join business organisations and associations
Look for the groups your prospective customers belong to, and spend time with them.
Join your industry organisation and your local Chamber of Commerce. They are good ways to enhance your image, meet potential customers, receive industry information and cut business costs through association discounts.
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