May 5, 2009

Promoting your business the cheap way

Advertising is the most crucial part of your business, if no body knows you exist then you are not in business. Much like the photo above, it looks pretty but it looks different if you had a business located there and no one came to it. Here is a simple list of what has worked for me as a business owner of not only my sewing business but businesses in general and best of all they are cheap or free:
  • Business cards. Have some made or make your own. Don't get fancy, it just needs to list your contact info and what you do. You don't need to list your entire company bio on the card. Always carry at least 5 cards with you at all times, you never know when you get the opportunity to hand one out.
  • Get a website with a top level domain name. Forget the it is just too long for people to remember. Get a SHORT easy to remember website name. This will be the only BIG expense you'll have. Hosting can be anything from free to just $6 a month. I have Brave Host as my website hosting supplier and I pay only $99 a year and I can have up to 10 websites for the same price, I only have to pay for the domain names. There is a link in my side bar if you are interesting in them.
  • Get a blog. Now a blog is different from a website. You should have a website AND a blog, why you ask. You will use your blog to advertise your website. Your website is where you will be strictly business where as your blog is more of a personal touch to let your customers know you are human, but don't get too personal on your blog. Your website is where you will sell or list your services with lots of photos, it gets updated about once a month or less. A blog is more dynamic and gets updated daily or at least weekly. Your blog can be a free one either as part of your website as a sub-domain or hosted on typepad, blogger or myspace. Stay away from as they don't allow advertising on the blogs they host even if it is your own website.
  • Join Twitter and make friends. Social networking will be your greatest asset. Don't spam, meaning don't keep promoting your own website or blog. People get turned off by spamming. Be interested in what other people have to say and write back to them. Forge friendships and allies.
  • Go to craft fairs or other places where business gather and talk to the business owners. Find out if they could use what product or service you are selling. I love to go to horse shows and meet with the horse breeders. They often want sewn items with their farm name on them for promotion. It is helpful that I also own horses so I have a mutual ground for discussion with them. You can try car, dog or flower shows as places you can find customers.
  • Donate an item or 2 of yours to a worthy cause to be auctioned off. The cause should mention your donation as part of your gift to them. Your charity work might end up being mentioned in a local newspaper and get you some publicity.
  • Give away some of your items to friends so they can promote your business. I made several custom embroidered baseball caps and gave them to some business owners I know. They really liked them and now 2 of them are interested in t-shirts with their company names on them.
Those are just a few suggestions. I am sure that you can come up with more of them.

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