Today’s guest post is by Sandy Dempsey of The Dreaming Cafe.
1. Tell people who you are with a Website…
◦ In today’s world every business, service or product based, needs an online presence. Your website can be a single, information only page, or several pages providing basic information about who you are, what you do, and what service or product you offer. A lot of people today use a web presence to validate that your product or service is legitimate.
◦ Today the cost of having your own website can be zero to less than $75 per year. All of the following free and low cost options do not require any programming or web design skills. They all offer free templates and themes to get you started.
◦ Options –
▪ Free options – check out WordPress.com and Blogger.com.
▪ Low cost options- GoDaddy’s Website Tonight – and Intuit Small Business.
2. Publish a Newsletter…
◦ Offer a free online/email based newsletter. A newsletter is perfect for both online and offline businesses whether you are a restaurant, independent pet supply store, an online retailer or a coach or consultant.
◦ Newsletters give you an opportunity to share what you know, what is happening in your business and your industry and establish an ongoing relationship with your customers and clients. Use your newsletter to share articles, tips, business specials, offer coupons or tell your customer/client about upcoming events.
◦ Build your contact list, but make sure you do it the right way. Ask people to join your list; ask them for permission to contact them. You never want to be considered ‘spam’, so ask first.
▪ Collect your customer and client email addresses both online and off. If you have a home demonstration or party, pass out information cards for your visitors to complete, including their email addresses. Have a sign up sheet in your store or restaurant for people to sign up. And, always have an opt-in box, or sign-up box on your website.
◦ Options for sending out your newsletter –
▪ Free option – You can begin by using your own contact database in your email program and use a simple email letter like you would for a friend. It doesn’t have to be fancy to begin with. This is how I started. Just remember, when you use your own email program make sure you ‘BCC’ your customers to protect their email addresses and identities.
▪ Low cost option – Depending on the number of people on your list the cost for using an email marketing program can vary. Constant Contact and Aweber are two of the leaders in this area.
▪ (Note – I use Constant Contact. If you decide to try them, let me know and I will send you an invite. This will give you and me a $30 credit.)
3. Engage your customers and clients using free Social Media tools…
◦ Free Social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin help you expand your business beyond your physical geography, meet new people, discover new resources, and stay in touch daily with your customer and clients.
◦ If you have a restaurant, coffee shop, or retail store you can share specials of the day with your friends and followers, let customers know of holiday hours, or closings due to inclement weather.
◦ There are so many ways that social media can help grow your business that it is impossible to share them all today. I will be covering this topic in much more depth in the coming weeks and months. (If you have specific questions please email me.)
4. Create your own Information Products…
◦ Regardless of your product or service, you want to create some information products for your clients/customers to purchase. These can be self-learning guides and/or how to guides, audio CD’s of taped seminars or lectures or interviews (you and/or other experts), workbooks, e-learning courses, etc.
◦ These provide an additional revenue stream that once up and going requires limited time and effort on your part.
◦ If you are a consultant or coach these products can provide valuable information for clients or customers to get to know you better before deciding to work with you. And, some people or companies are just ‘do-it-yourselfers’ and just want the expert information you are providing.
5. Investigate Memberships and Premium Services…
◦ Exclusivity sells and attracts. People like to belong to a select group.
◦ Memberships – This option allows you to sell to and work more closely with your best and most adoring customers and fans. Some memberships are free, while others are for a fee. Either way it is very important to provide premium benefits to your customer and clients such as discounts, sample merchandise, invitations for special member only events, member only access to information and resources and other member only products and services related to your particular business.
◦ Premium Services – This option works best for consultants and coaches. Provide a prescreening ‘application’. The ‘application lets potential clients know that due to the demands on your time and your expertise you must verify that your services and their needs are match. This technique allows you to charge a premium/top rate for your services, improves the lead conversion rate and provides you an opportunity to work with companies or individuals that more closely fit your ideal client profile.