Just started your own business? On a next to nothing budget? Here are some suggestions of free or low cost ways to promote your new or small business and increase sales.
1. Maybe an obvious one, but make sure everyone you know is aware of what you do as a business. It doesn’t need to be the main topic of conversation every time you see them but just remind people occasionally, tell them what you are working on or show them your latest creation. Your family and friends are your biggest supporters and are likely to recommend you to others. Leave your family and friends a couple of your business cards too.
2. Don’t forget to mention what you do when you’re out and about too and always have some business cards to hand! For example when chatting to other mums outside the school gates or at baby groups and also to your hairdresser or beautician. I love having a chat with my hairdresser and she recently recommended something (not hair related) which I then went and bought! You are more likely to buy something or hire someone that is recommended to you.
3. Use your creations! If you make jewellery for example, wear one of your creations when you go out and have a business card ready if anyone asks where you got it from! If you make cards and send them to family and friends, put your business logo on the back, so any admirers can know who made them!
4. Use free tools like social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or create a blog. Once again tell your friends and family as well as any customers on which sites they can find you and ask them to share/like your page or ReTweet your posts.
5. Offer great customer service in the way of good communication. Thank customers for their orders and keep them updated as to when their items will be dispatched. It costs nothing and will encourage recommendations and repeat business. Send a thank you note with the item to give a personal touch.
6. If you make something to sell or post an item from your shop, create a label with your logo or business name on. And/or include a business card or compliments slip. The more your name is seen the more likely it is to be remembered. If you are just starting out spend time thinking about your name and your logo, you want it to be memorable and reflect your business!
7. When you send your customer an email, not only include a link to your website but also a link to your Facebook page. If they are on Facebook, they’ll probably go and have a nosy at your page!
8. If you make something to sell and usually only sell from your Facebook page or website, try other avenues once in a while. Put an occasional item on Ebay for example, it may just attract a different audience. If you are already on Ebay make sure there is a link to your website, Facebook, Twitter pages etc. on your ‘about me’ section.
9. Make contact with other businesses in your area. For example if you make jewellery see if there are any independent clothes shops in your area who would like to stock your items or who would be happy to have your business cards on their counter. Small post offices with independent shops attached are also great for selling locally produced items.
10. Also exchange business cards or flyers with other businesses in your area that complement yours. For example if your business is related to the wedding industry, make contacts with different businesses within that industry. So if you make invitations find a local cake maker or chair cover hire business. Leave them some of your cards and take some of theirs, help each other out in finding new clients.
11. Donate an item you make to a charity or one of your children’s school events. Once again make sure it has a label on or is in a package containing a business card so people know where it originally came from.
You may wonder why I keep going on about business cards and labels with your name and logo on and links to your pages in the previous post. The reason I think these things are so important is because by keep reminding people what your business name or brand is you reinforce it in their memory. Whatever your business is, there is bound to be a lot of competition so your business needs to stand out and be remembered. If reminding people of your name or brand wasn’t important it wouldn’t be on all major shops carrier bags or receipts. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, if you’ve got a printer you can make your own business cards or compliments slip, or look out for printing companies who are doing special or introductory offers.
The next points relate more to increasing your sales of items you make or things you stock in your shop.
12. Follow the fashions! By this I don’t mean you have to buy Vogue! Stay up to date with which styles and colours are in fashion and make or sell items that complement things people can buy on the high street. This also applies to children’s items, I’m sure there must be surveys on the internet as to which cartoons or toys are the most popular at the moment.
13. Add a reviews section to your website or a review app to your Facebook page. Positive feedback is excellent in encouraging customers to buy your items.
14. Take time and care doing any photographs. The photographs you use to show off your items can encourage or put off potential buyers. Have a look at some of the professional photographer’s websites to see what kind of background colours they use and see if you can get some inspiration. Also have a look at major shops’ websites or catalogues to see how they photograph their items, for example when showing pictures of bracelets do they show examples on their own or are they on someone’s wrist? They’ve probably spent lots of money on research into people’s buying habits, so take note! If you are investing in a website, it may be worth hiring a professional photographer to photograph your products at their best, but this is entirely up to you and your budget.
15. Organise your photos and clearly label your albums, especially on Facebook! Organise your photos in albums and label each one clearly so people can easily find what they are looking for. Remove any photos of items that are no longer available.
16. Include lots of information in the description of your items. For example what it’s made out of or any additional colours you have available. Make sure buyers know the measurements of your items so they are not disappointed. Also be clear about any waiting times on items that are made to order.
17. If you have any matching items suggest them. If you show a picture of a necklace and you’re have some matching earrings for sale make sure you mention them. Or if you sell cards let people know that similar designs are available for other occasions.
Hope these help get you started!
If you can think of any other suggestions that people may find helpful please add them to the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestion and also your name and a link to your website so we can give you the credit!
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Article by Jill Westhead, More Than Mummies
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