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  • Stay alert to trends that might impact your target market, product or promotion strategy.
  • Read market research studies about your profession, industry, product, target market groups, etc.
  • Collect competitors’ ads and literature; study them for information about strategy, product features, benefits, etc.
  • Ask clients why they hired you and solicit suggestions for improvement.
  • Identify a new market.
  • Join a list-serve (email list) related to your profession.
  • Subscribe to a list-serve that serves your target market.

Product Marketing

  • Create a new service, technique or product.
  • Offer a simpler/cheaper/smaller version of your (or existing) product or service.
  • Offer a fancier/more expensive/faster/bigger version of your (or existing) product or service.
  • Update your services.

Education & Information

  • Establish a “marketing and public relations advisory” and referral team composed of friends and/or neighboring business owners; share ideas and referrals and discuss community issues.
  • Create a forum or environment for employees to offer their suggestions.
  • Attend a marketing seminar.
  • Train your staff, clients and colleagues to promote referrals.
  • Hold a monthly marketing meeting with employees or associates to discuss strategy
  • Join an association or organization related to your profession.
  • Get a marketing intern to take you on as a client; it will give the intern experience and provide you with you some free marketing help.
  • Visit another city or county to observe and learn from marketing techniques used there.

Pricing and Payment

  • Analyze your fee structure and look for areas requiring modifications or adjustments. Establish a credit card payment option for clients.
  • Offer a discount to regular clients.
  • Provide cash discounts.
  • Offer financing or installment plans.

Marketing Communications

  • Create a signature file to be used for all your email messages. It should contain contact details, including your website address and key information about your company that will make the reader want to contact you.
  • Include testimonials from customers in your literature.
  • Test a new mailing list. If it produces results, add it to your current direct mail lists or consider replacing a list that’s not performing up to expectations.
  • Announce free or special offers in your direct response pieces. (Direct responses may be direct mail, broadcast faxes, or email messages.) Include the offer in the beginning of the message as well as on the outside of the envelope for direct mail.
  • Publish a newsletter for customers and prospects
  • Develop an online brochure of services.
  • Produce separate business cards/sales literature for each of your target market segments (for example, government and commercial and/or business and consumer).
  • Create a poster or calendar to give away to customers and prospects.
  • Print a slogan and/or one-sentence description of your business on letterhead, fax cover sheets and invoices. Get your business out on the Internet.

Media Relations

  • Update your media list often so that press releases are sent to the right media outlet and person.
  • Send timely and newsworthy press releases as often as needed.
  • Write a column for the local newspaper, local business journal or a trade publication.
  • Circulate reprints of published articles.
  • Publicize your 500th client of the year (or other notable milestone).
  • Create an annual award and publicize it.
  • Get public relations and media training or read up on it.
  • Appear on a radio or local TV talk show
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or trade magazine.
  • Get a publicity photo taken and enclose with press releases.
  • Consistently review newspapers and magazines for possible PR opportunities.
  • Conduct industry research and develop a press release or article to announce an important discovery in your field.
  • Create a press kit and keep its contents current.
  • Update your media list often so that press releases are sent to the right media outlet and person.
  • Send timely and newsworthy press releases as often as needed.
  • Write a column for the local newspaper, local business journal or a trade publication.
  • Circulate reprints of published articles.
  • Publicize your 500th client of the year (or other notable milestone).
  • Create an annual award and publicize it.
  • Get public relations and media training or read up on it.
  • Appear on a radio or local TV talk show

Customer Service and Relations

  • Ask your clients to come back again.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
  • Set up an email or fax-on-demand system to easily respond to customer inquiries.
  • Use an answering machine or voice mail system to catch after-hours phone calls. Include basic information in your outgoing messages such a business hours, location, etc.
  • Ask clients what you can do to help them.
  • Take clients out to a ball game, show, or another special event – just send them two tickets with a note. Hold a seminar at your office for clients and prospects.
  • Send handwritten thank you notes.
  • Send birthday cards and appropriate seasonal greetings.
  • Photocopy interesting articles and send them to clients and prospects with a hand-written FYI (for your information) note and your business card.
  • Send a book of interest or other appropriate business gift to a client with a handwritten note.
  • Create an area on your website specifically for your customers.
  • Redecorate your office or location where you meet with your clients.

Networking and Word of Mouth

  • Join a Chamber of Commerce or other organization.
  • Join or organize a breakfast or lunch club with other professionals (not in your field) to discuss business and network referrals.
  • Serve on a city board or commission.
  • Host a holiday party.
  • Hold an open house.
  • Join a community list-serve (email list) on the Internet.

Advertising

  • Advertise during peak seasons for your business.
  • Get a memorable phone number, such as 1-800-WIDGETS.
  • Obtain a memorable URL and email address and include them on all marketing materials.
  • Provide Rolodex cards or phone stickers preprinted with your business contact information.
  • Promote your business jointly with other professionals via cooperative direct mail.
  • Advertise in a specialty directory or in the Yellow Pages.
  • Write an ad in another language to reach the non-English-speaking market.
  • Distribute advertising specialty products such as pens, mouse pads, or mugs.
  • Mail bumps – photos, samples and other innovative items to your prospect list. (A bump is simply anything that makes the mailing envelope bulge and makes the recipient curious about what’s in the envelope!)
  • Consider non-traditional tactics such as bus backs, billboards, and popular Web sites.
  • Project a message on the sidewalk in front of your place of business using a light directed through words etched in a glass window.
  • Consider placing ads in your newspaper’s classified section.
  • Consider a vanity automobile tag with your company name.
  • Create a friendly bumper sticker for your car.
  • Code your ads and keep records of results.
  • Improve your building signage and directional signs inside and out.
  • Invest in a neon sign to make your office or storefront window visible at night.
  • Create a new or improved company logo or recolor the traditional logo.

Special Events & Outreach

  • Get a booth at a fair/trade show attended by your target market.
  • Sponsor or host a special event or open house at your business location in cooperation with a local non-profit organization, such as a women’s business center. Describe how the organization helped you.
  • Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.
  • Sponsor an Adopt-a-Road area in your community to keep roads litter-free. People that pass by the area will see your name on the sign announcing your sponsorship.
  • Volunteer your time to a charity or nonprofit organization.
  • Donate your product or service to a charity auction.

Sales Ideas

  • Start every day with two cold calls.
  • Read newspapers, business journal, and trade publications for new business openings, personnel appointments, and promotion announcements made by companies. Send your business literature to appropriate individuals and firms.
  • Give your sales literature to your lawyer, accountant, printer, banker, temp agency, office supply salesperson, advertising agency, etc. (expand your sales force for free)
  • Put your fax number on order forms for easy submission.
  • Follow up on your direct mailings, email messages and broadcast faxes with a friendly telephone call.
  • Consider extending your hours of operation.
  • Reduce response/turnaround time. Make reordering easy – use reminders. Provide pre-addressed envelopes.
  • Display product and service samples at your office.
  • Remind clients of the products and services you provide that they aren’t currently buying.
  • Call and/or send mail to former clients to try and reactivate them.
  • Take sales orders over the Internet.
  • Consider extending your hours of operation.
  • Reduce response/turnaround time. Make reordering easy – use reminders. Provide pre-addressed envelopes.
  • Display product and service samples at your office.
  • Remind clients of the products and services you provide that they aren’t currently buying.
  • Call and/or send mail to former clients to try and reactivate them.
  • Take sales orders over the Internet.

Marketing Performance

  • After implementing a marketing program, entrepreneurs must evaluate its performance. Every program should have performance standards to compare with actual results. Researching industry norms and past performances will help to develop appropriate standards.
  • Entrepreneurs should audit their company’s performance at least quarterly. The key questions are:
  • Is the company doing all it can to be customer-oriented?
  • Do employees ensure the customers are satisfied and leave wanting to come back?
  • Is it easy for the customer to find what he or she wants at a competitive price?
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