You’re opening a new business. You’ve rented the office or store and ordered the furniture and equipment. You’ve received your business cards, letterhead, and other forms. You’ve hired and trained your staff. You’ve turned on your “Open” sign, but no one comes in or calls. What happened—where’s the line outside your door? Did you forget something? What about the marketing? Did you do enough or any?
Everything else is useless without customers, and you’ll have no customers if you don’t do any marketing. You need to devote at least 20 to 25 percent of your startup budget to marketing. You must tell your target customer group who you are, what you do, and why they should buy from you. And you must tell them over and over again. You need to plan well in advance of your opening so you can have some potential customers excited and waiting for your grand opening.
Here are some marketing ideas to help you get started:
- Take out a yellow pages listing or ad (but don’t overspend on this, because many people now find what they’re looking for online).
- Have your website up and ready.
- Send direct mailings to potential customers.
- Distribute coupons or special offers.
- Send press releases to newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and TV stations.
- Create and hang Opening Soon banners.
- Pass out flyers (or menus, if your business is a restaurant).
- Hand out business cards.
- Join a leads exchange group.
- Find cross-promotion partners.
- Place ads in papers or trade journals.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce.
- Host an open house.
- Use the Welcome Wagon service. (The Welcome Wagon visits new homeowners and businesses and offers information and coupons for local businesses.)
- Use billboards and posters to advertise.
- Make sure you’re listed in web search engines.
- Tell everyone you meet about your venture—in other words, network.
- Place ads in church bulletins.
Set a projected opening date so your new customers will be ready when you are! Post or advertise your open-for-business date for the most exposure.
You’re almost ready! Now you need some street-smart ideas to jump-start your opening.