Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for several years, there are easy, inexpensive ways to make more of your potential customers, clients, or collectors aware of who you are and what you can do for them.
First, make sure you know who you are trying to reach. If you are a local business with a physical location such as a restaurant, you probably want to reach customers who live within a certain area. If your business is less location-dependent — for instance, if you sell goods by mail order or offer services online — then your target should be defined by those who could benefit from your products or services and not so much where they live.
But how do you let them know where to find you, especially when you have little or no advertising budget?
You do have a blog, right?
If not, go now and set one up. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I’ll wait. Two free, easy places to get started are Blogger and WordPress.com . I’d suggest starting with WordPress if you can, for reasons which will become obvious later.
Fill in your short bio on the About page. If you have a website, link to your site. If you have a physical store, put your address, phone number, and hours of operation there. If you only sell online, at least post your city, state/province and country. Time zone is nice too. Make it easy for people to find you and know when they are likely to be able to reach someone.
Now you have a blog, but what do you write?
1. Write an interview with someone interesting.
If you own a restaurant, talk to a local farmer who provides some of the raw materials for your dishes. What about the florist who creates table settings for you? A potter who makes one-of-a-kind tableware?
If you are an artist, talk to the owner of a local gallery or independent art supply store. Make it clear that you are interested in their outlook on the local art scene, not on getting your foot in the door for your own advancement. Use your interview to help promote their business and they’ll remember your name for sure.
If you are a service provider, find someone in an affiliated business who is not a direct competitor. If you offer web design services, perhaps you could find someone who specializes in logos and graphic design or copywriting services. Make a pitch to interview and write about each other so that each of you will get a visibility boost.
2. Review a book, a speaker, or a public event related to your business.
As a restaurant owner, you probably won’t want to do undercover critiques of your competitors, but you could go to a food trade show and talk about what you find there. What about food trends? Do you see a number of sushi restaurants opening in your area, and what does that say about the local dining out scene?
Artists can review new tools of the trade or new books about art. Have you tried out a new technique lately? Did it work for you, or not? Why? Is there a special exhibition or event at your art museum that might provide an interesting post?
3. Sponsor a giveaway.
Do this one after your blog has been active for a month or so. The giveaway can be fairly small, such as “Mention this offer when you come into our store and get 10% off any purchase!” A restaurant could offer a free dessert with mention of the blog. A service provider could offer a free half-hour phone consultation, or set up an “Ask the Expert” teleclass for potential clients to phone in with questions on a particular subject. Ask everyone to tell at least one friend about your giveaway.
What ideas have worked for you?
Leave a comment telling one thing that has helped to raise your business profile, and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of Little Black Book of Connections: 6.5 Assets for Networking Your Way to Rich Relationships by Jeffrey Gitomer.