I have a great admiration for small business owners! The entrepreneurial inspiration hits and they are ready to go out in the world and start selling (either products or services).
I am currently doing work for a fabulous mortgage banker, Brian P. ForresterÂ (who is honest and hardworking and doing great right now, despite the downturn his entire market has taken), some STUPENDOUS realtors, a great friend and business partner Tammy Leventis at Mail Marketing and some otherÂ start up small businesses.
All are making it happen in a market that is not easy and getting harder by the day. BUT they have decided that a downturn in the market is a great time to increase their market share through branding and exposing themselves to the market with a focused message!
What are some things you can do to make an impact? Here are my top ten! I know – you have heard of these before. There is no magic here, just common sense.
- Have a website or blog that allows you to communicate with other people – this is the most affordable and user friendly way to make an impact right now. People ARE looking for your services and products online, can they find you?
- Make sure your business card is distinct and DOES NOT have a hundred ways to contact you – one number, one email, address and fax – anything else confuses the user and they do not know which means to use to get a hold of you!!!
- Have a brochure – This should list a little about you and then have your services. It provides a way for people to learn about what you offer without you having to tell them.
- Contact your clients (part 1Â CALL THEM)Â – These are people you work with or have in the past. They should like and respect you. They should refer you to their friends. If they do not like you, take them out of your database and free your soul for people to work with who DO like you. Now call them. They like you, remember, and will NOT be offended if you pick up the phone to communicate with them. Have something interesting to say, say it, tell them you like them too, ask for a referral or two, hang up. See how easy that was!
- Contact your clients (partÂ 2Â MAIL THEM) – Anyone who knows me knows this is MUCH easier for me than calling (I don't talk to people on the phone normally). Mailing stuff to people works. You can send them a postcard with your services or testimonials or information. You can send them newsletters or great articles you have found that are relevant to your industry. You can even send them recipe cards (I CANNOT believe I just said that!!!…:) BUT whatever you do, send them something on a regular basis.
- Contact your clients (partÂ 3Â EMAIL THEM) – All of us get emails every day. We take the time to read those that are personal and from friends and contacts who we KNOW are going to be interesting and relevant. This is the opposite of the mailing someone, sending just anything will not do. You risk being added to the spam list or removed from their approved email list EVERY time you send something. DO NOT send recipe emails if you are a pest control company, do not send funny emails if you are a mortician, DO send emails that are timely and will ADD to your readers knowledge or life. DO NOT spam people.
- Send personal notes – When you get a personal note it makes you feel nice. You know someone has taken the time to think of you, put pen to paper and then added a stamp. They have walked to the mail box or drop off point. Make sure your personal notecards are professional. They can brand your company or have inspirational quotes or just be pretty. They DO NOT have to be long, just a sentance or two to let someone know you have thought of them. DO NOT send personal notes from a mass mail company, it is disingenuous.
- Network – Go to events with your co-workers, go to Charity functions, go to sporting events, amusement parks, open houses. Go to service clubs and formal networking events. When someone asks you if you want to do something, say yes. Ask someone you do not normally spend time with to lunch and learn more about them. Make time to talk to your friends. In today's world we hear constantly about time management, but we rarely here about making time for people. Listen to them, most are really interesting.
- Do what you say you are going to – The best indication that you are going to succeed is doing what you say you will. DO NOT promise a turn around time of 1 day if something takes 3 days. Under promise and over deliver. Do more than you said you would. Surprise someone with something they did not expect. Ask what your customer wants and give them that.
- DRUMROLL PLEASE – Get a Niche (or two) – Figure out what you do well and do that more. Give the general public a way to catagorize you in their mind so that they can refer people to you. Give great customer service, market their home to 20 different places, capitalize on your Irish-ness, specialize in Investors, work a farm, always start your appointments on time, be a stable influence in unstable times, focus on golfers, bowlers, non-profits or car dealers.
Thanks for listening.