When you first started your work-at-home business, were you one of those entrepreneurs who had a 50-page business plan complete with a marketing strategy? No? Me neither. I just kind of made it up as I went along. That’s what many of us mom entrepreneurs do…
This is also why the majority of home-based businesses fail in their first year.
The culprit: A serious lack in the marketing department.
The reality is that you can start a fabulous business with amazing offerings, but if no one knows you exist, they don’t know to buy from you. You have to get the word out in a way that your target audience will connect with and respond to.
On the flip side, you can have a so-so product or service, but with great marketing and a bit of business savvy, you can make millions.
The key is building your brand and getting in front of your target audience. As an entrepreneur (work-at-home or not), your #1 job is generating a buzz and building your customer base so focus your entrepreneurial energy on marketing.
How to get the most out of your advertising budget:
- Get extremely clear on your target audience and research where they are, so that you can BE THERE for them to find you! Don’t forget about the value of connecting with people in person at networking events, live seminars and even on the street. Shake hands, pass out business cards and float flyers. Old-school works!
- Think outside the box. If you can’t afford a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, advertise where your target market going that has attractive advertising rates for budget-minded entrepreneurs. Think local for the best bang for your buck and move toward regional and national ad space as your business starts to grow.
- Negotiate with the ad sales rep at every magazine and newspaper you approach. For instance, ask for a 12-month rate for your ad to run once. Then, explain that if you attract a specified amount of leads from that one ad, you will buy 12 months of ads. Make sure you set a realistic goal for results you want to achieve and then test and track the ad for it’s effectiveness. Only place ads in places that bring you clients.
- Sometimes it is cheaper to advertise offline than online. These days, there are a lot of businesses that are operating exclusively online, so small business owners think this means they are limited to online advertising. What many business owners don’t realize is that direct mail is still one of the best ways to reach clients.
- Don’t forget that call to action! It is amazing how many small businesses waste their advertising dollars by forgetting to tell their audience what you want them to do. Do you want them to call you to receive a free sample? Do you want them to order a product now? Do you want them to go to your website to enter a special promotional code? Then, say it in your ad and make sure your website and phone number are listed and working properly.
Now, if you are really on a limited budget, one of the best ways to attract your ideal clients is through publicity. Make sure you are sending out newsworthy press releases on a consistent basis to the big magazines and media outlets that you can’t afford an ad in. Do you think a full-page story in the Wall Street Journal will get you a lot more attention than a full-page ad? I do!