Basically, home-based and small business owners have the same needs – to market product/service, build revenue by attracting loyal customers, and manage their time. Unfortunately, these basic needs are challenged on a daily basis.
Imagine for a moment that you’ve invested every penny you could scrape together to create that small or home-based business you’ve always dreamed of. You’ve developed a great product or service that is specific to a niche demographic, and like every small business owner, you feel compelled to be involved in online marketing.
You have a professionally looking website, selected important keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and opened social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. You even made a YouTube video.
Through social media and the internet, you’ve attracted thousands of online connections and are relying on them to spread the word on your product/service and send leads to you. So day after day you sit in your home office and wait and wait, however, customers are not falling into your lap and this leaves you ‘product rich but cash poor’. Your website is listed so far back in the Google Search Results that you even give up on searching for it!
Now what? How do you get beyond this snag?
When this happened to me I realized that like other small business owners, I’d made the mistake of assuming that once there is a huge online presence ‘everyone’ will buy from me. This is far from true; such an assumption exposes us to three new challenges:
- Low customer pool – perhaps SEO keywords are not dynamic enough to pick up my website, social media sites, article sites, and video sites when hot topics are searched on.
- Low customer pool leads to low cash flow – there are no new or repeat sales
- Low cash flow leads to poor time management – because it means spreading oneself thin to do everything without helpers
A close analysis of these challenges suggested that I pay attention to the following areas:
1. Marketing Strategy prior to Popularity of the Internet
Perhaps I could solve the low customer pool challenge by resorting to the tried and true marketing methods before the Internet – offline marketing. You know, radio, television/print media and public speaking. Today, except for public speaking, these offline marketing methods are very expensive (also out of reach for most small business owners) and are losing followers, but when used, they serve as another link to refer customers to a specific website.
2. Public Speaking as a Free Marketing Tool
With very limited resources the choice was simple for me – business presentations! I would talk passionately to the audience in person about the value of my product/service, and without coercing them, generate an emotional interest in the product/service before asking for the sale. This would drive traffic to my website – for free.
I’ve been trained as a Toastmaster in the mid-1990s. I also complimented my public speaking training with training in theatre acting, radio/TV broadcasting and voice over acting. I spent over 30 years as an Analyst in the IT field and this is where I honed my business presentation skills.
Public speaking is considered cheap but is often overlooked as an effective marketing tool because most people are afraid to speak in public.
Effective public speaking is a learned skill as any Toastmaster can attest. As a business owner, the success of your business relies on the ability to communicate effectively.
Have you ever wondered why after learning to speak at the age of 2, most adults have a deep fear of public speaking?
Mark Twain said: “There are two types of public speakers – those who are afraid and those who are liars”.
Just like TV commercials that direct viewers to specific websites and contact details to keep customers from going to the competition, I too must have an effective offline tool to direct customers to my online marketing platform.
3. Build Relationships by Meeting Potential Customers Face-to-Face
Prior to the Internet days, business owners spoke face-to-face with targeted audiences. The more people saw the speaker and the business name, the more credible and successful the business owner became and this made it easier to promote the product/service through word of mouth.
It was therefore time for me to:
- Decide on a target market and where they would be assembled into one room.
- Find out their needs and how my product/service meets that need.
- Prepare a one-page ad that would summarize the value my product/service offers as a solution to their needs, and highlight my contact information: website, social media sites, and telephone number.
- Prepare a presentation for face-to-face delivery to my targeted market. The audience needs to see my face and create trust and credibility in me before buying my product/service. I would ask for their commitment and offer them a ‘free gift’. After my Q&A session, I would remind them of the commitment and call them to action.
Without a doubt, these four steps are the best decisions I made to kick-start ‘How to Market my Home-Based Business on the Cheap’.
In my next blog we will look at how to find the targeted audience.