Running a home-based business is always an intricate balance between keeping the costs of operation low and implementing an effective marketing strategy that will create the right buzz for your business. Nevertheless, here are effective ways that you can market your home-based business:
1. Create a business website: This may seem like an obvious tool, but many home business owners do not invest in a professional website. Yet the truth is that a large number of consumers got to the web first to locate a business. Without a functional website that showcases your business, products, services and contacts, you are virtually invisible to potential customers. Fortunately, any home business owner can invest in a blog today because hiring a professional web designer is very affordable. If you have some HTML skills or have a basic understanding of WordPress, you can build your own website using affordable and readily accessible website templates. Other requirements such as obtaining domain names and hosting are equally reasonably priced.
2. Leverage business to business opportunities: Partnering with other businesses can be a great way to market your business. While the other business introduces you to their products and services, you also introduce them and their audiences to your business. For example, if your home-based business focuses on creating custom sandals, you could collaborate with a local retail store and ask them to display your sandals; you could offer the first 50 customers to the retail store a discount if they purchase your sandals. You may also offer a one-off gift voucher for anyone who purchases your sandals from the stores.
3. Facebook: The best thing about marketing on Facebook is that when done right, it can expose your business to thousands and perhaps millions of people. Facebook allows you to create a business page where you not only create brand awareness for your business, but you can also interact directly with current and potential customers. Facebook allows you to post images, videos and text based content that relates to your business; a great way to generate buzz for what you do. You can also make use of Facebook ads, which work on a pay per click basis. Use Facebook to host fun contests where you give away some freebies; this is also an effective way to generate publicity for your business.
4. Twitter: Twitter lets you find like-minded people whom you can interact with on the platform. While Twitter may not enable overt marketing, it allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can find people to follow locally and these local people may follow you back, all the while getting to know more about your business. It is also possible to add a link to your website in the tweets you send out, allowing your followers to click straight through to your business site. The rule of thumb when it comes to Twitter marketing is to engage in the social conversation, to offer valuable information and to set yourself (and consequently your business) as a reliable source of information.
5. YouTube: Today, video is one of the most effective ways to generate brand awareness, to market your business and to interact with your audience. A video sharing platform such as YouTube attracts hundreds of millions of viewers each day. What does this mean for your home-based business? If you just put in a little creativity, you could be visible to millions of viewers. A good way to market your business on YouTube is to create interesting videos offering tutorials on how your viewers can use your products, videos showing you at work or even videos showing how other happy customers are using your product or enjoying your services. The main idea is to offer your viewers something valuable and entertaining other than just selling your products.
6. Pinterest: Pinterest is one of the most popular social networks; it is especially popular with small businesses and home-based ventures. Pinterest will work well with visual businesses such as those that relate to design, cookery, arts and crafts, and events. Nevertheless, even service-based businesses are making great use of Pinterest. Even though this network does not allow direct advertising, you can post inspirational images, videos and quotes on your virtual pinning board to illustrate to your audience what it is that you do. The best part is that you can include your website address on the items that you pin, allowing users to find you easily. Pinterest is a fantastic platform for meeting and interacting with potential buyers and connecting with other small business owners in your niche.
7. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is one of the largest professional online networking platforms. As a small business owner, it is essential to network with likeminded people in your field. LinkedIn allows you to meet professionals and experts with whom you can share ideas and exchange referrals. A good way to market your business on LinkedIn is to position yourself as an expert in your niche by offering others on the platform relevant information when they ask questions and pointing them to additional sources of information. Once you set yourself up as a reliable source of information, people will start to look out for the products and services that you offer.
8. Offline Networking: In addition to meeting and connecting with people online, it is important that you get out of your house and meet people in the real world. Business is with people; real people will buy your products and services and they will help to spread your business name. So, attend events where potential customers and business partners are likely to be. Make an effort to be involved in neighbourhood activities; this is a great way to spread the news about your products and services to your immediate network. Make presentations in the events that you attend if possible. A good place to find out about networking events is local newspapers, niche journals, industry websites and blogs.
9. Link with social media influencers: Social media influencers can help spread the word about your business fast and effectively among their hordes of followers. Using features such as the hashtag for Twitter and Pinterest, tools like Klout and blogs like Technocrati, you can help you find influencers in your niche. It may take time before they link up with you or endorse you but it certainly pays to follow these influencers and engage with them as part of your marketing strategy.
10. Local business Listings: Platforms such as Google Places (also called Google+ local) make you visible to your local target audience. When your business is listed on Google Places, the physical address of your business will be accessible to local potential clients when they search for the type of product or services that your home business offers. Google Places is integrated with Google Maps and organic search results making these local listings a great way to make your business visible and accessible locally. Other effective local listings include Bing Local, Yahoo! and Yelp, just to mention a few. Regardless of the platform you use to list your business, it is important to optimize your business description using relevant keywords so that your business location and description can appear at the search engines, for related search.
11. Email marketing: Email marketing is not only a powerful marketing tool; it can also be highly effective in generating sales and connecting with your customers and potential clients. If you are new to email marketing the first challenge is to find a substantial list of people whom you can send your email newsletters. You can generate leads severally—you can purchase targeted leads from lead generation companies online, you can start to blast your e-newsletters to your existing contacts, you can host events online and offline and ask people to offer you their contacts so you can notify them about future events, contests and promotions. Your website can also be an effective tool for lead generation when you ask site visitors to opt-in to offers, membership and other goodies. Use the e-newsletters to inform your audience about new products, services, offers, contests and events that you are offering.
12. Affiliate marketing: Many home business owners choose to market their products through affiliate programs simply because they are cost effective. Affiliate marketing essentially entails hiring a virtual sales force to market and sell your business services and products for a commission. Affiliate marketing may not only generate buzz for your business, it can also create brand awareness, generate high potential leads and it may boost sales. There are hundreds of affiliate programs that your small business can use to market your products and services. They programs you select will largely depend on the niche and how agreeable the terms of business are to you.
13. Press Releases: Distributing press releases may seem like a redundant and traditional marketing technique. However, the truth that is that gaining publicity through local media can be a big boost to your home business. The advantage you have is that you can distribute your press releases online to reach a greater audience and also distribute them offline to local press. A well-written press release can go a long way in spreading the word about your business and the products and services that you offer. To write a good press release, offer something that is newsworthy, back it up with solid facts and statistics, and include pictures if possible as well as your brand logo and contacts. It is also a good idea to check with media houses their requirements for press releases to make sure that you get it right the first time.
14. Writing blogs: Set up your own blog to build an audience and potential customers. A good blog will certainly boost brand awareness, introduce people to who you are and what you do and will allow your audience to interact with you through comments and questions. The main aim of a blog is to educate, inform and entertain your readers instead of bombarding them with marketing messages. Ensure that you make your blog posts shareable by embedding social share icons such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn among others. In addition to writing content for your blog, guest blogging is also a great way of getting your name out there, attracting traffic to your own site and establishing your credibility.
15. Product Case studies: Showing people how your product works is an excellent marketing strategy. You are not just telling people to buy; you are showing them how your services or product will improve or enhance their lifestyle. Create slideshows and post them on sites such as SlideShare with a link back to your website. This is also great content for video; just create video tutorials elaborating how your products/services works and post these on video sharing platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube. Be sure to post these product case studies on your website too and in other websites as guest blog posts.
16. Use a referral system: Even though it is underrated, word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective and affordable tools for marketing your business. People are more likely to buy something that their friend or family recommends. Establish a referral system as part of your marketing campaign for example, by rewarding customers who refer a client to you, or encourage your fans to like and share your page, tweets, and pins on social media and from your blog.
17. List on Industry Directories: Industry directories can be a great way to get your name known by industry influencers. Simply search online for industry directories in your niche and then follow the requirements for listing your business there. Who knows, this can be a great way for you to find other businesses that you may partner with to market each other’s products. Just be sure to offer an accurate and adequate description of your business including the services and products your offer.
18. Host events and seminars: Hosting events allows you to meet people and to exchange ideas. Events do not have to be extravagant; in fact, you can host some of the events right off your house, in community facilities or you can partner up with local businesses to host events that will help generate brand and product awareness for you and for your business partners. Your events should have a purpose or a theme that your prospective clients may be interested in.
19. Craigslist: Craigslist is arguably the largest online classifieds sites. It is estimated that almost 10 million people visit Craigslist everyday to look through the ads. This means that this platform can be an excellent way to make your business services and products visible to your local community. Importantly, it does not cost you anything to advertise on Craigslist. The rule of thumb when advertising your business service and product on Craigslist is to select an appropriate category so that prospective customers will find these services and products easily on the platform. It is also essential to display your products professionally. Take the time to capture compelling images, include the prices, your business website and email as well as phone number. If you provide services, use appropriate keywords to clearly describe the services that you offer.
20. Use Help a Reporter Out: HARO or Help a Reporter Out is a free to use platform that links regular people with reporters who are looking for untold stories, expert information and quotes. On any given day, there are hundreds of opportunities with journalists looking for great stories. As a home business owner, seizing any opportunity on HARO that matches with your business can lead to the publicity you want for your products and services.
21. Contests and promotional gifting: Everyone likes free stuff and contests. A great way to generate buzz for your home business is hosting offline and online contests. You can host online contests through your website and blog or through social media networks. Offline contests and loyalty program will work well if you partner with other local businesses that stand to benefit from the publicity as much as you will. Regardless of the type of contest you host, the focus will almost certainly be on your business.
22. Text message marketing: The proliferation of companies offering targeted leads has made text message marketing a more accessible option for small home based businesses. Relevant and targeted text messages can provide your business with so much visibility given that millions of people use their mobile phones throughout the day.
23. Use business cards: Business cards are yet another underestimated marketing tool. As a home business owner, business cards allow you to inform those in your network about the services and products you offer. They also build your brand image. People in your network will typically refer to your business cards when they want to contact you or when they want to refer a potential customer to you. Invest some time and money in finding a professional designer to create appealing business cards to support your marketing strategy.
24. Forum Marketing: Niche forums can be excellent places to spread the word about your business. The best approach for successful forum marketing is offering relevant information, advice and insights — setting yourself as an authoritative source of information in your niche. People will soon be eager to find out how the services and products you sell can help to improve their lifestyle. Most niche forums allow you to include a link to your business website along side your comments.
25. Advertise with Pay-Per-Click programs: Programs such as Google Adwords and Microsoft’s Bing Ads can help you reach out to your targeted audience without necessarily using too much money. Through these keyword-bidding programs, your advertisements appear alongside organic search results at the search engines. For example, a web user who is looking for a local publicist in Toronto will see both the organic search result and business ads about publicists in Toronto. They can click the ad to be directed to your website where they will find your contact information. Pay per click advertising makes you visible to both local and international clientele. The best part is that you only pay when web users click through your ads.