So, you think you can handle marketing on your own?

If you’re just starting out and you don’t have much money, you need to be able to market your business without the budget or the employees other businesses have the privilege of using. Instead, you need to invest your time rather than your money, and make some careful choices so your marketing is as successful as possible while spending very little of your precious cash reserves.

Focus on Your Target Audience

You may feel like your business is fairly universal and your customer base is large, but your budget isn’t big enough to allow you to market to all of them. Instead, focus your efforts on the groups that will be most willing to purchase from you. You will want to create nearly everything so it is focused towards this group, at first.

For now, there’s only one other group you’ll want to focus your efforts on, and that’s your personal group of contacts. You have a potential customer base that you have immediate access to: friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. Keep this group in mind as well when you begin marketing your business and are trying to get new customers interested in your product.

What is Your Unique Selling Proposition?

First coined in the 1940’s, your USP is your key point of differentiation. Come up with a strong message that shows in what ways your business is unique and special, and how it is useful to those people in your target audience.

You should also take the time to build your image and brand. That may mean calling up old college professors, classmates, colleagues, and employers, and asking them if they can give you a sentence or two about why you’re good to work with and reliable, and get those quotes up on your site. Showing customers that other people respect you will help increase their confidence in your abilities.

Go Into Action

Once you know who to market to and what you have to offer them, you’ll be able to figure out where to do your marketing so as many people in that group as possible will come into contact with it, whether that means college campuses, networking meetings in certain fields, or paid advertising. This will save you money and time, and will help you be more efficient.

This is the moment when you should start contacting your personal prospective audience as well. Call all of your family, friends, and anybody else you know, and let them know about your new business. See if they’re interested, and try to get at least 1-2 new contacts out of each person that they think might want to purchase from your business. This may feel a little awkward at first, but it could be the key to making your company successful, so it’s important to get over it and do what’s best for your business.

Build Relationships

Once you have started to come into contact with possible customers, it’s important to follow up with them and let them know that you’re reliable, dedicated, and a solid business owner. Don’t let the relationship fall apart because you don’t feel like you have time to make the phone calls; it may feel like an uphill battle at first, but it’s necessary that you put in the efforts so you can get customers early on and get your business off on the right foot.

If you want to have a successful company that has lots of customers, you need to put forth the effort to gain those customers and to keep them. Though it takes time and effort, if you’re willing to work hard and if you believe in your business, you can plant the seeds of a customer base that will snowball and grow exponentially over time.

Author Chris Brooks blogs about startups and entrepreneurship. Considering starting your own business? You may want to consider an MBA program first, such as those offered at RIT online or Providence College.

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