Online marketing is very crucial for increasing your business’s exposure on the internet and overall traffic to your website. However, you also need to be doing face-to-face marketing, or networking, to humanize your business and let your community know that you are out there. Unlike online marketing, the main currency for netowrking is time, not dollars. This being said, it is a great tool for small or new businesses with small budgets or no budgets at all. The more time you spend going out and meeting potential customers, the more likely you are to have your brand on the forefront of people’s minds. Here’s how to build up a legitimate customer base without spending huge marketing dollars:
- Hand out your business card
You will quickly learn that your business card is your most powerful and validating weapon when acquiring new business. When networking, socializing with friends, or getting a service from someone else (i.e. a haircut), you may find yourself speaking with someone who is in need of what your business offers. By having your business card handy, you are able to provide someone with direct access to your business and proof that your business actually exists. You are also giving someone your business contact information should they find themselves intrigued by what you offer.
You can also go to various businesses and drop off your card where you see other business cards (i.e. a coffee shop, café, bookstore, or anywhere else where they allow you to leave your card). Even if other patrons don’t take your card with you, they might just pick it up, thus exposing themselves to your brand, and even make a mental note of your website to visit later.
- Attend networking events
There are TONS of free and cheap networking events in every city across America. The key is to find the most relevant events for your business (look on sites like Meetup.com or just Google “business networking events near me”). You also want to attend these events on multiple occasions.
Whatever you do, DO NOT be that guy/girl that attends one event, takes everyone’s business card, and immediately goes home and sends out a salesy email newsletter to everyone.
Be patient. Establish relationships with everyone that regularly attends certain networking groups. Then, if they express a need for or interest in your services, think about taking your relationship to a higher professional level. Also, be prepared to talk to tons of strangers immediately upon showing up without some kind of moderator telling you when to initiate conversation. The sooner you strike up conversation upon your arrival, the easier it will be to converse with other strangers throughout the duration of the event.
- Follow up with the people you engage with
Whether you received a call or email through your website with an inquiry about your services or a quote for a project, or met someone at a social outing or networking event, it is important to follow up with acquaintances or inquirers if they discussed business with you and expressed interest in your services. It takes discipline and a little bit of self-motivation to write out emails to people whom are not guaranteeing you business. However, even if they don’t purchase your services right away they may either recommend you to a friend or purchase your services further down the road. Their decision will most likely be driven by the fact that you made an effort to acknowledge that you made contact with them and that you weren’t solely looking to turn your encounter into an immediate sale.
These kinds of engagements are far more valuable than someone finding you through Google and checking out your website for 2 minutes. When people directly interact with you and your business, they are created a stronger connection with you and thus placing you ahead of your competitors.
Once you have established a foundation for your business by doing the things mentioned above, you can then start to implement more serious marketing tactics.