How Do You Get Customers?

Here are 15 tips to help you market your business and get it off the ground without spending a fortune.

1. Get business cards and stationery printed immediately. Your business card, letterhead and even envelopes tell prospective customers you are a professional who takes your business seriously.

2. Get your business cards into as many hands as possible, including those of friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances. Also, provide them with a small stack of business cards to hand out to their friends.

3. Attend meetings of professional groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or civic associations, and have your business card ready to hand to people after your introduction. Also, listen carefully to what they do and see if there's a way you can help each other out.

4. Become actively involved in these groups. This will give you more opportunity to meet possible prospects. While you may not want to become involved in activities that require a great deal of your time, you can make real contributions by offering useful ideas and assistance on one-off projects.

5. Look for something unusual about what you do and write about it. Send out press releases to local newspapers, radio stations or local magazines whose audiences are likely to be interested in buying what you provide.

6. Write an article that demonstrates your expertise in your field. Be sure that your name, business name, reference to your product or service, website and phone number are included at the end of the article.

7. Contact nonprofit organizations, schools or colleges who have customers that may need your services. Ask for leads or volunteer to work on projects in order to get your foot in the door.

8. Contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to find out what state and federal programs are available to provide you assistance at no cost.

9. Purchase a mailing list of customers who would be interested in what you provide. Send out a sales letter to each prospect and include several business cards.

10. If you use a car or truck in your business, have the name and contact information professionally painted on the side of the vehicle. If you don't want the permanence of paint, consider using magnetic signs.

11. Get in the habit of asking existing customers, prospects and acquaintances for referrals.

12. Use other people to sell your product or service. Look for existing mail order companies that would be willing to include your products in their catalogs.

13. Run a contest. Make the prize something desirable and related to your business.

14. Have a professional website that provides information on your product or services.

15. Have sales letters, flyers, and other pertinent information printed and ready to go. These materials provide prospects additional information to help them make up their minds.

Good luck with your new business. And if you need high-quality, affordable and effective marketing materials, look to