6. Start the Business

PROMOTION – Start promotion of business & products

The Purpose and Use of Promotion
Many people have the wrong idea about Promotion.

Someone has said that – “Contrary to popular belief, if you build a better mousetrap, the world will not necessarily beat a path to your door”.

Regardless of how unique or great your product is, a customer is not going to be motivated to buy until he/she has been informed of its availability and its features. This is done using promotional tools that the business owner must take responsibility for and learn about, if he/she is to inform potential consumers.

Some promotional tools include the following:

  1. Publicity – This is usually known as free advertising and involves the stimulation of the awareness and interest in your products through mass media. It can involve press releases, news items, announcements, presentations at seminars, writing of articles, etc.

  2. Advertising – This is paid, or non-personal communication, usually directed to a mass audience. It includes radio, television, magazines, billboards, direct mail, newspapers, etc.

  3. Sales promotion. – This is a short-term inducement to stimulate traffic and includes: coupons, point of sale displays, free gifts, sweepstakes and other types of sales promotions.

  4. Personal selling. – This includes direct, oral presentation to prospective customers who you are targeting to buy your products and services. Personal selling is very useful for closing the sale after advertising has made the customer aware of your products and services.

7 Big Ideas for Promoting Your Business
Every business needs promotion of one sort or the other. You need to promote not only your business or company, but also your products and services. Promotion means informing your potential customers and the marketplace about what you have to offer and who you are.

Proper promotion will give your business visibility and will help develop your business image. Once you start operating and your products are in the marketplace, then the quality and demand for your products will add credibility to your business, as will the customer service you provide.

The following are some ideas for you to consider which may help promote your business and products:

  1. Newsletters.
    This is a great way to promote your business, particularly for those who provide a service such as finance consultants, business brokers, professionals including accountants and lawyers, banks, sales agents, etc. Newsletters are a good way of telling the marketplace that you know what you are talking about in your area of expertise and that if people contact you it will be to their advantage. It's also a good way of informing customers about what your business is doing, regarding promotions and discounts available.
  2. Seminars.
    Depending on your business type, holding seminars is a good way to get known and inform the public that you have experience and skills in a particular area, or that you have a product that will benefit them. Seminars may include members of the public or the end user. They can also include other businesses associated in the field you are in. If you are thinking of holding seminars, make sure you hold them at a convenient time for the participants and give full details of location, speakers and what will be covered. It's important to follow up those who register for the seminar, either by telephone or email to encourage them to attend, because many potential attendees cancel out because of other commitments and a potential customer or sale can be lost.

  3. Demonstrations and competitions.
    Some businesses use advertised demonstrations or competitions to market their products and services, or announce to the marketplace that they are in business. The use of press releases and similar strategies a good PR consultant can assist you with, can pay dividends.

  4. Giveaways.
    By giveaways we mean a gift that is given to customers (new or old), advertising the business and its products. These can be printed coffee mugs, printed baseball caps, magnets for refrigerators, calendars, pens, or rulers, etc. Anything able to be printed on, silk screened or engraved can be used as a promotional tool by your business.

  5. Articles and Publications.
    This is a low cost way of advertising your expertise. There are many journals and papers happy to receive articles from people with qualifications or experience in a particular field, of interest to their readers. If the article is good, it provides you with credibility as an expert and is an excellent way to promote your business and its products and services.

  6. Samples.
    Many businesses give free samples advertising their products. Samples can be costly to make sure they reach the target audience or market that you are aiming for. If you're looking at a young market, make sure the samples are of interest to them. If it is food, then make sure the sample is tasty so people come back for more. If it is possible to include a questionnaire to enable data to be fed back, then there will be added value.

  7. Other.
    Other ideas could include provision of free trials, donations, or offering free services for a period.

9 Ways to Promote Without Spending a Fortune
The following are suggested strategies to help promote your business without having to spend a lot of money.

  1. Get your business card into as many hands as possible.
    Your business card is one of the best low cost promotion tools you will ever have. Pass them out to friends, associates and relatives, and inform them that you have started in business and that they should let others know as well. Wherever you go, leave a stack of business cards and encourage the proprietor of the establishment to hand them out to their customers and friends - they may be interested in the services or price you are offering.

  2. Send out promotion on your letterhead.
    This informs potential customers that you are open for business, and sets out clearly the products and services you have to offer. When printing your letterheads, ask the printer to produce an extra few thousand to use for marketing purposes. The cost of the extra print will be minimal, so the basic outlay for this promotion is very low. It can look attractive because the logo on the letterhead and the colours used produce a nice image.

  3. Let all your suppliers know.
    See your suppliers and when opening an account ask if they would mind handing out your business cards. You will find that in many supermarkets there is a board on which people advertise their products and service, so take advantage of that.

  4. Send out a press release.
    To your local newspapers and radio stations and make a point of packaging your products and services in such a way to publicise a particular angle. You need to ensure there is something "newsy" or interesting in your press release, otherwise it will look like advertising material. If you want to increase your chance of having your material published, enclose a photograph with your press release. Make sure it comes up with a particular angle or some point of difference, making the news item of interest. If you are experienced in a particular field, present articles to your local paper or magazines establishing you as a specialist in that area and this is a great way of publicising your business.

  5. Make sure you network with others associated with your industry.
    This is a great way of getting business and of making contacts, which will be invaluable along the way, as your business starts to grow.

  6. Send out a promotion sales letter to anyone you think may use your services or products.
    Make sure you write the sales letter in such a way that is non-threatening, and that it appears more as an introduction rather than a hard sell. You can also supply some samples of your products where possible and enclose a feedback sheet inviting comment on the product they are sampling.

  7. If you use the Internet, make sure you link into the online forums and participate in discussion groups or similar venues (but be careful not to spam).
    If you don't have a web site, then you should seriously consider putting up a site advertising your business.

  8. Make sure you ask for referrals from current customers, as well as acquaintances and associates you are in contact with.
    If you are the type of person who does not mind making telephone calls, make cold calls to sell your products or introduce your business. Make sure you describe what you do and if possible ask for an appointment to discuss your products further.

  9. Have advertising painted on your vehicles.
    This is a low cost way of advertising your business. If you don't want to pay the cost of painting your business name and details on the vehicle, enquire about magnetic signs. These signs can easily be removed and placed on any vehicle.

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