Question: How can I market by home business on a limited budget?
Answer: There are many ways that you can market your home based or small business on a limited budget. You don’t need to have the funds that a large corporation has in order to get your business seen by millions. This is the beauty of the Internet.
The first thing that you will need to do is create a professional corporate identity. You will want to do this once you have your products and services in place on your own website or catalog. I will go further into some of the techniques that you can use and how you can create your own corporate identity.
Defining Your Corporate Identity
As a business owner you will make the decisions about the typeface, colors, paper, and the overall identity of your business, because these details will help deliver your image to your constomers.
Your business identity appears on anything that leaves your home-based business office. This includes your business cards, direct mail postcards or other mailings, brochures, Websites, notecards, letterheads, and envelopes. You will want the logos on any of your marketing and office items to look as professional as possible.
These three elements are what your corporate identity will consist of:
1) Company Name
2) Tagline or Position Statement
3) Company logo or the unique mark
Why The Corporate Identity Is Important
Your corporate identity tells the world that you do mean business and allows you to enter the business world with a splash and an immediate demand for your services or products. You want to make sure that you have your corporate identity right the first time, because if you don’t it is difficult to go back and correct it later.
Your corporate image defines the value you set for your customers and a powerful, unified image of what it stands for.
This is the overall impression that you want people to see in your company. You want your image to say that you and your business can project excellence and that you can deliver on what you promise your consumers.
Your corporate identity is an investment in your company before it becomes an expense to your bottom line. This is due to the fact that your identity is communicating a a sustainable branding image for your targeted market.
Business Cards, Brochures, Other Marketing Materials
When it comes to the marketing materials, you will want to leverage every piece that leaves your office. This includes your invoices, letters and envelopes, e-mails, business cards, flyers, and any other source that you choose to use to get the word out that you are open for business.
Make sure that your logo, address, phone number, e-mail address, and website are on every piece that leaves your office. With these things on your marketing materials, your targeted customers will know how they can find you in the real world as well as the Internet world.
Setting Up Your Business Cards
When you set up your business cards, use both sides of the card to maximize your exposure. Why not, you are paying for the cards anyway, though you will pay a little more for copy on the back of your card. Do not leave the reverse side of the card blank because you are missing out on a valuable part of introducing your company to potential clients.
Here are a few tips to help you set up your business cards for their fullest advertising potential:
1) Your corporate identity
You want to provide your logo, company name, and tagline/ position statement. After all, this is why you set up your corporate identity.
2) Your mailing address and e-mail
Many people in the USA use e-mails as a primary way of communicating. You will want a professional-looking e-mail address-not one from Yahoo, Hotmail, or any other free e-mail account as this will show that you are an amateur. For instance, Yourname@yourbusiness.com is a more professional e-mail over IAMSOCUTE@yahoo.com. You will also want to include your mailing address. Many still like using the Postal Service for conducting business and transactions. You may want to consider renting a postal box to receive your snail mail. If you choose to use your home mailing address instead, add a suite number to the end of your mailing address. The postal people will know that it still goes to your home and not to a commercial area.
3) Your phone and fax number
If at all possible get a separate line for your business and create a voice mail greeting. Some people use their cell phones as their business lines rather than adding another line to their home phone lines. If you don’t want to receive phone calls after business hours, turn off your cell phone and let the voice mail take your calls. This can be considered a way to “hire” a virtual assistant in the process.
4) List your services
This is where the back of your business card comes into play. You can list your products or services on the back of your business card. When a potential customer picks up your business card, even months after you gave it to them, they will know why they have your card due to the information on the back of the card. This will give you the advantage over your competitors.
Your Company Brochures
In most cases, creating a company brochure is a great idea. If you feel this isn’t a task you want to tackle, try a professional looking folder that you can customize by inserting individual sales sheets, product and service information, and other marketing materials such as a press release, newspaper clippings, or a comparison price list into.
For those who want to take the brochure route, the key to your brochure’s success is leveraging its use. You will want to choose a format that you can use to serve a dual purpose.
When you choose a format that allows you to mail your brochures, you can also take them to trade shows as a marketing piece and any that you have left over can be used as a direct mailing piece later.
For example, in Microsoft Works there is a tri-fold brochure that allows you to use one section as a mailing section. You can add your return mailing address in the upper left hand corner of the center back section of the brochure.
Here are some elements that you should include in your brochure or folder:
1) Your corporate identity
You will want to add this to your company brochure too. This information is the same as your business card corporate identity.
Your information on the value you provide-Let your customers know that they are better off doing business with you rather than your competition. You do not want to talk ill of your competition though. Prove that what you are offering is of better value to them.
2) Company Information
You will want to have your contact information, hours you are open, the background of your company, and the products and services you offer.
3) A visually appealing layout
You will want to make sure this is consistent with your corporate identity.
4) A call to action
Make it clear what you want the reader of your brochure to do once they are finished reading your brochure.
You will want to follow up with everyone to whom you give any marketing piece. When you have sent out the mailing pieces to the potential customers and once they have received it, call them in a few days to check when a good time to set up an appointment would be. You won’t want to become too pushy in this area, as that has a tendency to turn people off.
More Shoestring Marketing Materials
Below is a list of other marketing material options that home-based businesses can use with the three marketing vehicles that have been touched upon so far:
Oversized postcards can be used for announcing a new business or advertising special offers.
Data sheets can be used for a greater level of detail about your products or services.
Electronic newsletters can be used to market to those who want your business information via the Internet. You can also keep your existing customers, as well as potentially new customers, up-to-date on the events that are happening with your business. This can also cut back on your printing and mailing costs.
Clamshells are hinged, fold-over custom contoured double blisters which allow two-sided product visibility. They are generally designed so that they may hang or be free standing on a counter display. These are good tools for a small business to use. These can be printed with your company’s most up-to-date information and these can be printed from your own computer while still delivering a professional and consistent corporate identity.
Once you have a strong corporate identity, your marketing pieces will far succeed your expectations. Now you will be able to create professional pieces that will leverage their use in maximizing your investment.