Marketing your business
How to Market Your Business: Catch people's eye: Make them curious
How to market your business
In my other Hub Starting Your Own Business - The Story of the Chocolate Bar I gave lots of information about how to get your business up and running. Well, lets assume that you've done your best, given it your all and your business is about to open. That's the hard part out of the way! Actually it's not. The hard part is getting people to walk through your door.
My colleagues and I at The Chocolate Bar spent a huge amount of time marketing the business, and occasionally, two years after launching, someone would still say 'Oh I never knew you were here , and I drive past every day' It made us want to scream!
Right from the word go it's important to include money for marketing your business in your business plan. Do some research about what advertising costs, and then add some, because you will always spend more than you think.
It's wise to have some sort of launch event, because a section of the public are always curious about new things, especially if those new things involve something for free.
Draw up a guest list, maybe invite people who've been helpful to you so far and ask each one to bring a guest. Invite friends and family, naturally and ask them to bring someone. Get the same friends and family involved in telling everyone about your new venture.
You could choose this moment to place a big ad in the local press - I'll look at placing ads later in this article.
One really good way to publicise your launch is to get the local radio station involved. Providing you are offering a free event, they will broadcast it for free. They usually have a 'what's on' section on most radio programmes. Thinking laterally helps, you could phone in to a talk show and voice an opinion on something topical, as the presenter always asks who you are and what you do. As long as you have something to contribute, its a plug for nothing.
Give something away for free. We gave away free Belgian chocolates at our launch, and made sure there were plenty of delicious things to tempt people back through the door. We also had a range of boxed chocolates on view, so that people were already thinking that this would be a good place to buy gifts.
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Post launch - keep it going
You're likely to have a surge of people visitng after your launch because of the novelty factor of something new, so how do you keep that momentum going?
You could place an ad in your local press. Often a magazine or newspaper will let you take a full page advert cheaply, if you take the central area then persuade other businesses to take smaller ads around the margins. You then have a nice big central ad to promote what you do, whilst your high street colleages might say something like 'Bill the Butcher congratulates The Chocolate Bar on their Launch'
Local publications are always looking for fresh articles, so it's worth contacting them with some free samples, or a give-away idea and politely asking if they would be interested in doing a review on your wonderful new business. Even if they don't do a review, you will have at least informed more potential customers or your whereabouts - and those potential customers have friends and family.
Host something, anything - a knitting demonstration, a poetry reading - whatever fits with your business, then publicise the event as having free entry, but keep your shelves stocked and cash registers open. Maybe you could offer a draw prize on that night or give out some samples.
Fliers and bookmarks are a relatively cheap method of getting your business noticed. If you have a little skill you can even make them up on the computer, and do some leg work dropping them at people's houses (the exercise is always good). Local papers will charge you a small printing fee and distribute fliers for you along with their publications.
The main downside of this is that IT IS EXPENSIVE! and a static ad may not necessarily bring you the customers you'd hoped. You need to keep the ad placed over several weeks, so that people really get your business fixed in their minds. At The Chocolate Bar we regularly placed an ad in a national magazine, but chose a specific magazine with a specific target customer. We only advertised nationally once our online shop went live. There would have been no point doing so earlier as we were supply to local customers.
On the Web
The first thing we did was to build an e.mail list, starting with friends, family and interested customers, then every time a new customer placed an order they went on the list. Each trading peak we sent out an e.mail with special offers to our loyal fans. There are 5 trading peaks for chocolate, times when people are searching for: Christmas gifts, Valentine's gifts, Easter gifts, Mother's Day gifts, Father's Day gifts and Halloween gifts (this is a growing market). These are the big peaks on top of the general birthday gifts (and day to day chocolate hits) which peole look for.
Use your company name, or website as a discreet signature with every communication on the web. Contact other companies and ask if they'd be happy to trade links, you link to their site and they to yours. Sart a blog or another internet publishing forum about your business. Most towns and cities have a website, see if you can get a little piece abut your business on there, with a link to your site. Just keep getting your name on view.
In addition to this, we used Google Adwords to promote our site, and these worked well for us, but again there's a cost involved, so you need to look at your business plan.
We pretty much tried all of the above and they worked for us. We had alot of fun, and as I said before, I would turn up to the opening of an envelope if I thought it would sell some more chololates!
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