How Do People Know You're in Business?

by Wendy McClelland

One of the most important things to do now that you’ve started a business is to TELL THE WORLD! But HOW? It can be very expensive and time consuming if not done properly. Here's some inexpensive publicity and marketing ideas to help you get recognition for your new venture. 

You've picked a great name for your company, made a list of your potential clients, incorporated your business and you're ready to go. What next? Well, you need to find as many ways as possible to tell people you're in business, and why they should do business with you!

One of the first things to do is to get business cards printed up and carry them wherever you go. Hand them out to everyone you know; it always amazes me how many people forget to give their cards to friends and family. Even if you “think” your family knows what you do – you might be surprised to find out how little they really do know. Besides, they may have a friend who needs exactly what you offer, and it’s much more professional for them to offer a business card than a scrap of paper with your name and number scrawled on it. Make sure your cards are professionally printed and have no spelling mistakes. This may be the first impression someone has of your business - make it a great impression - because you won't get a second chance to do it better. 

Make sure your cards have as many to contact you as possible: snail mail, fax, phone, email, pager, etc. Give people as many options as you can. Make sure your card also clearly states what you do – if you just have your name and phone number on your card it’s likely to be tossed in the garbage. I make sure I give away AT LEAST 5 business cards a day. People ask, “Who can you possibly give 5 business cards to?” How about: leaving one on the tray when I leave my payment and tip for the waitress in a restaurant, giving it to the receptionist when I check in at the dentist/doctor/vet, go to meet with my child’s teacher at school, chat with another parent at the swimming pool watching our kids swimming, someone I meet in the checkout line at the grocery store, etc, etc. If you want to grow you business quickly this is one way to start! 

Send out press releases to your local paper - these are free and many times the paper may phone for a follow up interview. Have press kits ready when you're asked for them. A press kit includes a bio of company owners, key products and black and white photos of key people in the business. Remember a press release needs to sound like a news story, NOT an advertisement for your business. If you’re not familiar with how to write one here is an outline: How to Write a Press Release. Here’s an example of a real press release that I used. The newspaper editor liked it so much, they sent out a reporter who did a story and a photographer who took a photo. Here’s the finished product! So, a well written press release can gain you a good deal of publicity – and all it costs you is a little time – if you write it yourself. If you don’t want to write it yourself, hire someone to write it for you.

First impressions are so important – did you know that you only have 15 seconds to capture someone's attention when they see your advertising in a newspaper or magazine? Yes, 15 short seconds - not long to make a good impression is it? But you know what? It takes even less than that to make a bad impression. 

So, how to make the most of your 15 seconds in the spotlight - and win customers at the same time? Make sure that any print ads you do REALLY do a terrific job for you – get feedback from people you trust. Just because you think something looks good, doesn’t mean it will sell your product. Test the ad in the paper one week, make a change to it and put it in the paper the next week (on the same day of the week) and see which ad gets the most response for you. Always test your ads this way. You’re wasting money if you don’t.

Create advertising that has the following traits - well designed (get help if you need it), is truthful (don't stretch the truth either) and tells the customer the benefits to them if they buy and lastly requests an action - something like - "call now to order", "order today, supply limited". DON’T write an ad that tells how great YOU ARE! Your customers DO NOT CARE about YOU!!

First impressions count when meeting in person even more! Every person in business should have a 15 second “script” explaining what you do ready to go. I know some people say that it sounds too rehearsed to be “ready” – I say it sounds like you’re prepared to do business. I’d rather do business with someone who is prepared, than someone who is still fumbling around trying to figure out what they’re supposed to be doing. An example of a 15 second script might be: “Hi my name is Sally Jones and I am a communications specialist who helps ensure your technology hardware all speaks the same language, so that when your computer tells the printer to print it will!” If you met Sally Jones, heard her introduction and got her card, you would likely remember her because she explained what she did very clearly, but also in a unique way. Not many computer technicians would explain their jobs this way. Find a unique way to explain what you do.

Does everything that leaves your office have your company name and/or web address on it? It should! That includes your vehicle, stationery, delivery driver’s t-shirts, etc – everything! 

Don’t be afraid to ask for a cross-promotional opportunity. Team up with other businesses to make your profile larger, and your business will grow much faster. Think of businesses who have the “same kind of customers” as you do – if you can get access to their customers, and you allow the other business owner access to your customers – you both save TONS of money – double your customer base – and have the potential to DOUBLE your sales! Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? That’s how simple a joint venture can be.

Every day will provide you with opportunities to tell people about your business – don’t miss them!


About the Author: Wendy McClelland is a motivational speaker and marketing consultant. She has been a nominee for Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year, and is a Canadian Achiever! Wendy’s first website won numerous awards, including being named as “one of the best business sites on the ‘net” by the N.Y. Times. Wendy’s life mission is to “motivate people to think without boundaries” and it’s also the name of her website! Visit www.ThinkWithoutBoundaries.com today.

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