As a business owner working out of your home, it may sometimes seem challenging to get the word out about your business. This may be especially true if your business is young or if this is your first time trying to manage your own advertising efforts; you just may not know where to start. Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can get the word out about your business and you are free to choose the options that best fit into your budget, or work your way up to some of the more expensive options.
Starting Small (and Free)
In building up your business's marketing efforts, there are a few first things you need to do for your baseline marketing. To start, you need to develop your web presence. Make sure you have each of the following:
- An active website that is new and fresh and has been recently updated. If your website looks like it was made in 2001, people are going to assume your business hasn't updated much since 2001. If you can't afford a major website overhaul, at least have a small free one.
- An active blog on your website. People love to see small blog entries about subjects that are relevant to your industry. This doesn't have to be a major effort, but you should spend some time on it. Pay attention to the news and cover any stories that are relevant to your industry. For example, if you run a yoga studio, post a blog entry about a recent medical study on the health benefits of yoga. Don't forget to include fun blog entries about silly topics that are related to your industry or to promote any special deals at your business or other company news.
- Have active accounts on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and LinkedIn. You may eventually want to hire someone to post on these platforms for you, but at the beginning you should at least have up and running accounts. Make sure your profiles look good and have lots of relevant information about your business, including pictures. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also want to consider platforms like Pinterest or Instagram, or getting involved with websites like Etsy and eBay. Don't forget to offer your customers incentives to follow you on social media and to leave you good reviews!
Advertising in Your Area (and Spending a Little to Do It)
The next step is to make sure you are well-represented right in your own area. Be sure to tell friends, neighbors, and family about your new business so they can help promote you. Next, make sure you are represented in community flyers, church newsletters, and local advertising venues. You can print flyers to hand out, post notices, take out advertising space in the phone book, and hang signs to promote your business in your local area.
Consider running a promotional offer specifically for your area. For example, if your business is in selling handcrafts, promote a discount on designs that feature your state flower. Include a coupon if your community does a coupon book and setup a Groupon offer for your local area. Think about offering referral discounts or discounts aimed at specific groups. Consider setting up a silly promotional event. For example, you could rent or sponsor a booth at your local county fair and offer a prize or a discount on your service to the winner of a hotdog eating contest.
Consider partnering with a non-competing local business to act as a co-sponsor so that you each benefit as the other succeeds.
Sponsoring local events, schools, or local sports teams is another great way to build up community awareness. For example, if you sponsor the local minor league baseball team, you can print up custom vinyl banners to advertise your sponsorship status.
Taking Your Advertising Up a Level (Once You Have the Funds!)
Once you've established yourself a little bit, you might be ready to go on to the next level of advertising, which can get a little more expensive.
You will want to build up your web presence by investing in your website and your SEO initiative. There are lots of businesses that work in SEO and website redesign, and you may even be able to find a company that will handle everything for you. Make sure to shop around to be sure you are getting the best deal. You will also want to ask to see examples of their work. Website redesign requires a lot of skill, especially if the designer is going to build you a website that has a lot of staying power. That is, you wouldn't want to spend a lot of money only to find out that your website already looks outdated six months from now.
You can also consider hiring a full- or part-time media and marketing person or team. As your business grows, boosting your media efforts is a great way to encourage continued growth. A professional marketing person will be able to update your blogs and social media regularly, write press releases and other advertisements for you, and monitor the health and performance of your advertising efforts.
Planning for the Future
Advertising your home business is essential to ensure future growth, but you need to approach it strategically. Don't spend all your money on advertising efforts that your business can't sustain. Ask around and find out if friends or family have experience in any of these areas and can help you or give you a discount on service. And always plan appropriately! Use this guide to set goalposts for yourself in your advertising budget as a way to see how far your business has come.
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