Finally the preliminary work of starting a business is over. You have decided on a product and/or service to sell, determined the segment of the population you want to reach, settled on a location where you can sell your wares, and have staffed it with employees whose sole purpose is to sell those products and/or service to customers.
Now comes the tough part. You need to attract people to your store to purchase what you have to offer.
Promote Your Existence
Your first major task is to let people know that you exist and you’re open for business. Here is some start up ideas you can do yourself.
- A small ad in the local newspaper and a flyer that you can produce and your employees can distribute is a good way to break the ice and invite people to take a look at your store. Including a coupon in the ad and the flyer that can be redeemed to obtain a discount on a purchase of an item or service should help to encourage people to visit. Make the first few days you are open a celebratory experience with food, drinks, and decorations. Hold a lottery that people can enter to win prizes like a major discount on a product of their choice or lunch or dinner at a local restaurant. The entry form they fill out should include a space for the customer’s home address and phone number, his or her birthday and birthday of his or her children, wedding anniversary and email address. This information can be used later to create a customer database.
- Develop a dialog. Use the database to develop a dialog with your prospective clients. Alert them to new products that come into the store and special sales events. Invite them to visit the store to pick up birthday and anniversary presents. Encourage possible customers to communicate back to you with suggestions on products they want you to offer or ideas that improve customer service.
- Have a referral program. Offer discounts or free product or service to clients who refer friends to your business.
- Create a bond with customers. Capture their loyalty with little things that show that you value your customers. For example, reward them every year on their anniversary of becoming a customer.
Sustain Your Promotional Efforts
All of this is a good start, but you have to sustain your promotion. You want to be assured that your customer base grows. Here are some ideas.
- Hire a marketing agency or consultant. Once your business is established, decide whether or not you need to hire a marketing agency or consultant to sustain a promotional strategy.
- Create a website. There are firms that will develop a site for free and then host it for a fee. Obviously, the website includes a description of your business and lists and describes the goods or services you offer. It also assists in gathering new customers to your business. For example, people who are looking for the products or service you provide often use Internet search engines like Google. If you are present on the Internet, a Google search could land you on a list of businesses that offer the products or service searched for. Your business will appear higher on that list depending on the Internet tricks you use on your website. The higher you are on the list, the greater the numbers of potential customers who visit your site.
- Create a presence on social networks. Create a page on Facebook and other social media networks. This permits you to market your business to millions of people.