Starting a small business is expensive enough without paying for some costly firm to handle all of your marketing needs.
Luckily, you can do everything from printing business cards to building a website yourself, without a whole lot of headaches cash out the window. Here's how:
The first step to marketing your small business is to get your name out there, letting people know who you are and what you do. The most traditional way to accomplish this is through basic office stationery including:
- Business cards
There are a number of websites that offer easy-to-use design templates and affordable printing for your business material. Starting out small? Programs like Microsoft Word offer templates for most basic printed material. On BusinessCardLand.com you can create business cards for free and print them out on your home ink jet printer using business card paper.
If you have a bigger order in mind, companies like Staples, VistaPrint, NextDayFlyers and GotPrint allow you to upload your own design or choose from a variety of templates for everything from business cards to brochures to door hangers. Turnaround for orders is generally within a week.
Whether you're out at a trade show or spreading the word about your new business at your kid's T-ball game, it's always nice to have a fun giveaway that potential customers can use in their daily life. Ideas for these freebies include:
- Bumper stickers
Don't worry about offering everyone you see a company logo-embossed briefcase. Keep it simple. A magnet people will look at every time they open their refrigerator, or a chip clip they use to keep their Doritos from going stale are useful, effective marketing tools. Sites like VistaPrint, Zazzle and CafePress all offer a variety of promotional items you can slap your logo and website on.
It's absolutely essential for any business to have some sort of web presence. If the idea of creating and maintaining a website sends shivers up your spine, don't be afraid. You don't need a flashy, graphics-laden page - just a place where customers can find you, learn about what you do and contact you.
"For many businesses, a Web site is the first way that your clientele will look at you--even if it's just to find your address and phone number. The quality of your site is often a measure of the quality of your business," Rand Fishkin, founder of Seattle-based search engine optimization consulting firm SEOmoz, told Forbes recently.
Information to include on your website includes:
- Name of the business
- About the business (use photos and bios of people behind business to lend credibility)
- Contact information
- Business hours (if applicable)
- Pictures of product (if applicable)
- Testimonials from customers
The first things you'll need when building your site are a domain name and a site host. You can purchase these services from sites like GoDaddy.com, NetworkSolutions.com and Domain.com. Again, there are several websites that can both host your site and include design templates - so you don't have to be a programmer in order to manage it.
Intuit's website builder says that you can build your site in just three easy steps and you can try it free for 30 days. You can also use a free program like WordPress to build a no-frills website (learn more about how to do that in this article).
Your biggest marketing resource these days might also be the cheapest. Having a presence on social media sites like those listed above is essential for businesses who want to show they're savvy and interested in connecting with their customers. The best part is, joining and maintaining pages on these sites is free - you just have to be in the habit of regularly posting thoughtful updates and interacting with other users. Use a site like HootSuite, which will allow you to schedule updates for Facebook and Twitter in advance - leaving you more time to do business.