It's the quintessential story of the American Dream: After working as a regular employee for a few years, you've gathered enough experience that you think it's time you took off on your own and started a small business. Sure, the odds might be against you, but just because something is difficult shouldn't mean you don't give it your best shot.
However, if you don't approach the first few months and years of running your small business with marketing in mind, you might have spectacular product and services that nobody knows about. Attracting new customers is as important as anything else you do when getting your small business up and running, and if you follow these three tips, you could be swimming in satisfied clients before the fiscal year is out.
1. Get the word out
As an honest small-business owner, you probably want to perfect everything about your business before interacting with customers. However, while customers might come to appreciate this integrity, failing to market to and attract new clients before you launch your business could be setting you up for failure.
Without a steady revenue stream from the first day you open, you could be on shaky financial ground as you move forward with more substantial and expensive plans. You need a low-cost, high-impact way to get your brand into the minds of consumers so they want your business before you ever open.
Customized promotional products are suited for this very purpose. Customers might not care enough to read a pamphlet or visit a website about your new business, but promotional products are a fun and easy way to get your brand into the hearts and minds of consumers. For example, a new tech startup might want to hand out Myron's Custom Phone Holder with Screen Cleaner in front of malls and other places where people may be shopping for electronics. Not only will your customers be reminded of your brand every time they go to use their phones, but before they ever walk into your store or visit your website, they've already associated your company with quality products.
2. Think trade shows
Customers are the lifeblood of any small business, but if you're only operating client-facing initiatives, you could be losing out on valuable and lucrative partnerships with other small businesses in your field. In fact, if you can manage to attract the notice of an established company in your industry, you may be able to piggyback on its success and customer base as well.
"Use trade shows to get your brand out among industry professionals."
If you want to rub elbows with industry leaders, though, you'll have to start thinking about attending trade shows as a way of getting your name out among industry professionals. This might require months of planning, so you should start looking at hotels, conference fees, floor space and industry-facing promotional products for measurable success.
3. Combine digital and physical marketing
There was a time a few decades ago when small businesses could put an ad in a magazine and wait for business to roll in. Today, though, you have to work overtime across multiple marketing platforms if you want to connect with modern customers.
That means diversifying your advertising over social media without forgetting about promotional products. One effective way to integrate the two is to offer a contest over Facebook or Twitter. Post pictures of personalized products and offer winners to come into the store to claim their prizes – along with some discounts to spur some shopping.
The small-business industry can be a dog-eat-dog world, but if you start planning out your promotional product marketing strategy early, you'll be reaping the benefits before you know it.