Promote Yourself

How To Promote My Business
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  Keeping your brand top of mind is one of the hardest tasks of any entrepreneur.

 The following twenty tips are meant to       reinvigorate interest in your brand                 without emptying your wallet.

  1. Twitter: While millions of people are aware of its existence, most people have yet to use the medium to interact with their client base. The biggest advantage of Twitter is getting involved in the conversation about your brand. It allows you to answer questions, address concerns, and put out fires before they start.
  2. Facebook: Facebook’s Fan Page system allows you to identify trends among your fanbase. It is an excellent medium for speaking to your target audience to entice them with everything from the smallest promotion to large scale contests.
  3. Blogging: Blogging gives your brand a personal voice. Use this medium to highlight stories of brand interactions and to offer tips and tricks for situations related to your brand.
  4. Press Releases: Press releases allow search engine scourers the opportunity to read stories about your brand. It is a great way to infuse the internet with positive energy and controlled messages about your brand.
  5. Monthly HTML Newsletters: Remind your customers of upcoming events, special offers, and important information about your brand. Newsletters bring your brand to the customer, as opposed to waiting for them to find you.
  6. Youtube contests: If you give your customers the opportunity for 15 seconds of fame, they’ll be much more likely to engage in a contest. Arrange Youtube contests that allow the winner to be featured on the company’s main website or in poster advertisements.
  7. Coupons: Set up online printable coupons and codes. Many people are still moved to shop when presented with even the smallest discount.
  8. Join Hobby groups and hand out branded promotional items: Look through the Classifieds and identify upcoming group meetings that might include members of your target market. Attend a meeting and offer branded items to individuals you connect with.
  9. Place your newsletter or informational packets in service based businesses that require waiting: Ipod AppsWaiting rooms can become very boring, so have your branded materialsbe available at the local salon or doctor’s office for idle hands. Usually these organizations don’t mind offering up their coffee table as long as they are offered some small incentive.
  10. Email Contests: Make it a game for your customers to increase your brand awareness.  Set up contests that involve customers showing some form of proof of advertising your brand in their own way.
  11. Free samples: Offer free samples outside of your stores or along with orders to entice users to try new product offerings.
  12. Create A Website: Even if you are a service brand, informational websites that include blogs, games or trivia challenges can increase the time spent experiencing your brand, increasing mindshare.
  13. Set up an informational booth close to the food court at the largest local mall: With a few folding tables, chairs and a branded tablecloth, mall goers won’t be able to resist a peek at your merchandise. Be sure to contact the mall management first to get the okay.
  14. Get In The News: Become involved in community service projects that receive news coverage, and piggyback on that.
  15. Bundle: Find out if another brand in your network is interested in cross bundling. If so, a small campaign with this partner could benefit both parties. Make sure to establish a real link between the products and how they can be used together.
  16. Celebrate with your best customers: Send mailings (Email or direct) for conventional and non conventional holidays that might increase interest in your brand. For example, an Earth day mailing might be a great holiday to highlight a flower shop.
  17. Sponsor Online Groups Localized by your target: Message boards are another great way to expand your brand’s reach. Consider the topics that impact your brand, and join online groups that discuss these issues.
  18. Non Conventional Direct Mail: A cleaning service once experimented with sending branded sponges to their target market. Some of the individuals ultimately ended up using the sponges, and this increased the awareness of that household. Find ways to inspire your customers with small but useful objects.
  19. Offer Gift Certificates: Allow your customers to give the gift of your brand during a holiday or special occasion. It is a great way to bring in new business with an existing favorable impression.
  20. Call Your Best, Worst, and Medium customers once a month: Make exclusive offers to the callers, and monitor the success of the calls.
Stray from the ordinary branding tactics and try some of the more interactive ideas. Stay current and interesting. Be open to trying many ideas at once, because the more present your brand is in your customers’ lives, the more likely they are to choose your product when a need arises.

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          If you’re not talking to your customers, 
              you’re probably not selling much. 
  With so many communication tools available today, there really is no excuse for not getting 
                        to know your audience.

In our social media obsessed world, customers expect greater access to you and your business. They want to be able to pull up your Facebook page, your Twitter stream, or your company blog to learn more about you, and to freely ask the questions that cross their minds. Companies that make it easy for their customers to communicate with them will thrive, while others will get left behind.
It’s time to get close and personal with your audience. Start talking, but more importantly… start listening! Spark conversations to see what your customers really want from your business.
Here are 10 communication tools savvy business owners use to connect with their customers… 
1. Facebook. Our product is easier to “explain” visually, so we are using Facebook to post photos and videos. Our end users also go there to show their own photos and post testimonials about the product. -Joanna Cali, Buoy Beach
2. F.A.Qs. I have a “Ask Dr. Jeanette” question area on my webpage and people use it. I tell people to ask me a question when they sign up for my newsletter and some of them do. When people buy something, I engage them by helping them. -Dr. Doris Jeanette
3. Surveys. The best ‘technique’ is to have enough intellectual curiosity to want to ask plenty of good questions of your customers. Salespeople, business owners, and entrepreneurs sometimes spend too much time looking for ways to make a simple thing (talking to your customers) a complicated thing. -Troy Harrison, Sales Force Solutions
4. Email. Another communication channel that is often underestimated is e-mail. E-mail is a very personal activity for many people, so if you can engage in a meaningful conversation in this channel, you will often see great results. The key is to provide value to the recipient of an e-mail. -Nick Robinson, Social Media Hq
5. Twitter. One of the best ways for small busineses to connect with their customers is to collect email addresses from customers/clients, and invite them to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter seems to me to have more relevance to Business, although the length of the information to be shared must be measured carefully. The most important thing is to remember that conversation means two way communication, which means you need to listen to what your customers say. -Alan Guinn, The Guinn Consultancy Group
6. Blog. Our blog allows us to share news, tips, and updates. It enables us to address questions and comments, promote press related to the company, and show a more personal side –so our customers can connect to the people behind the product. -Sophia Elson, Webplanner
7. E-Newsletters. To connect with my audience, I produce a monthly e-newsletter using Constant Contact that shares holiday customs, traditions, entertaining tips and recipes from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other Latin-American countries. -Darlene Tenes
8. Live Events. There’s nothing that parallels to the live event for truly connecting with your customers, and this can be done for little or no personal investment. Hosting live events allows you to generate press, keep in touch with potential clients, and do good in the community. -Nurdan Johnsingh, Plan Ahead Events
9. Community Papers. We use “advertorial” style ads in local beach community papers to tell our story. These papers are very economical to advertise in, we can get a page for under $400 for an issue that will reach many thousands of beach-goers in a week. The advertorial briefly tells our story, and provides the web address, phone number, and a list of retailers local to the particular paper’s service area. -Joanna Cali, Buoy Beach
10. Skype Calls. We set up Skype calls with our members, and guide them through  any questions they may have regarding. We also use these live sessions to listen to their feedback. We love getting to know our audience and always look forward to meeting them in our workshops. It truly feels like we are all part of the same community which we’ve built together. -Inbal Gould, Writers Out
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with your customers. They’re waiting for you to spark the conversation. Use the communication tools above to make your small business more valuable to your audience.

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By saying, 
       “You are only as strong as your network,” 
  it rings especially true for small business owners.

 Regardless of where you live, there are a variety of business opportunities in your neighborhood, if you know where to look. While online networking is both helpful and convenient, you simply cannot afford to miss the business opportunities that come from connecting with people face to face. It is critical for entrepreneurs to make real connections offline in order to promote their businesses and build fruitful partnerships.

Here are 9 ways to turn your neighbors into clients… 

1. Join in xyz Company. “I am a member at a co-working space called the xyz company. Co-working promotes sharing space and promotes business idea sharing and expansion. It also increases economic develop in cities.”

2. Connect With Local Networking Groups. I belong to a professional B2B networking group made up of other small business owners and sales executives from small to mid-sized business that sell solutions typically into a complex (multiple decision makers) environment. I meet with these folks nearly weekly and have one-on-ones with each of them 2 or more times each year. They are a source of introductions to potential clients as well as others who I want to meet.  

3. Get To Know Your Banker. I will tell you that the best kept secret to networking is your banker. If you have a good, trusted bank with a long history in the community, they can turn a lot of cross-industry, b2b networking into real business.

4. Stay Connected To College Alumni. With college alumni, there is an emotional connection that can go a long way in giving you instant credibility. While at an “open” event, there’s a great deal more skepticism to overcome. But it’s also true that while meeting with someone who attended your school is helpful, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a new client. It may just get your foot in the door.

5. Check Out Rotary Clubs. I’ve found for myself the best way to grow my network is to join an old-line business organization, such as Kiwanis International or Rotary Club. These clubs, especially in smaller towns, count the majority of other small business owners as well as the local high-level executives of larger companies amongst their members.

6. Join Small Business Advocacy Groups. The past year I joined a group called the Small Business Advocacy Council or the SBAC. They are a bipartisan political group for small and medium sized businesses. There are ton of benefits from the group however what originally attracted me and continues to keep me fully engaged is the quality of people.

7. Get To Know Your Neighbors. As a parent of two active boys, I can’t resist getting to know parents of other kids who attend the same school as my boys. They’re all great people. Both online and offline I like to introduce myself as warmly as possible, and try to keep a pile of business cards handy to make for easy contact. 

8. Volunteer in the Community. We volunteered for various conferences, such as Twiistup, to get our name out there. We participated in Social Media Week LA, putting on two events. We also worked for free for people like Dan Bliss, who runs Perfect Business, a conference for startups and entrepreneurs. He gave us a speaking spot, free passes, and we landed clients from this. 

9. Join the Chamber of Commerce. By far the best opportunity to expand my professional network has come through the Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 80% of my business has come as a result of my Chamber Membership. However, I caution anyone who is considering joining their local Chamber that you really only get anything out of it if you put something into it. I attend every Chamber function, especially the gala events and “business buzz” events. I arrive early, stay late and I don’t drink. It’s networking, not netsitting, neteating or netdrinking. I meet other decision makers and the real players in the community. 

It’s time to get involved in your community. Join social groups, partner with nonprofit organizations, and do whatever it takes to build a local network for your growing business.

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