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5 Ways to market your small business right now

These options cost little or no money, but yield big results

by Naomi Dunford  |  9458 views  |  13 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Did you make a New Years’ resolution to ramp up your small business? Did you make that resolution before your credit card bills came in? Here are a few things you can do right now and for little or no money to get your itty bitty business out there for the world to see.

1.) Get out of your house. Go out and find another person. An actual one, with a face that you can see and not just a screen name. Meet them. Speak with them. Get to know them.

It’s so easy to get so caught up in life online, between Facebook and StumbleUpon and and blogs and forums and message boards and who knows what else. It’s imperative that we remember, though, that there is a huge world that exists outside of the internet. Real people have real dollars. Don’t ignore them.

2.) Get out of your virtual house. I write a marketing blog for freelancers and owners of very small businesses. I read a lot of other blogs, and up until recently I was pretty confident I had my finger on the pulse of the small business blogosphere.

Then someone new came. They commented. I went to their blog. I looked around. Lo and behold, they had friends that I (gasp) didn’t already know. Who knew? One blogroll led to another and I made a chilling discovery: I did not, in fact, know everybody on the internet.

Do not let this happen to you. Do not get complacent. Do not get so busy chatting with people you already know that you’re not there meeting people who could potentially put your kids through college.

3.) Be a joiner. One of the ugliest parts about living in North America is that everyone you meet, from your bus driver to your temporary bowling partner, asks you what you do for a living within the first 133 seconds of meeting you. It’s a disgusting habit we have, but until it changes, you may as well use it to your advantage.

Join something. Stand near people. Wait. They’ll ask the immortal question. If they don’t, ask them. Then they’ll ask you back. Tell them. Give them your elevator speech. Repeat with other people. Bask in your success.

4.) Go on a campaign. Somewhere in your house lives a massive stack of business cards. (If this is not true in your case, you obviously didn’t pay attention to Start-Up Rule Number 71 -- Order More Business Cards Than You Can Possibly Hand Out In Your Lifetime.) Take this stack of cards somewhere -- where isn’t overly relevant. Bookstores, coffee shops, bathrooms, courthouses, whatever.

Then leave them there. Not in a big pile, but strategically. Leave them on tables. Leave them on chairs. One in each book in a pertinent section seems to be a popular choice. Leave them in magazines in doctors’ offices. Doesn’t matter – just get them out there.

Sometimes this doesn’t work, but sometimes it does. Keep in mind that six-figure TV ad campaigns sometimes don’t work either. You have nothing to lose and if you gain even one more client, that’s more than you had before.

13 comments so far...

  • I really like these ideas and feel that they could be used in any stage of business

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by JennaC2010 on 16th March 2011

  • I love this advice simply because if you work at home you are isolated. Thanks for reminding us that there is a world outside of ours.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Deborah Long on 15th March 2010

  • I'm learning a lot about Internet marketing with my Scentsy business. It's forced me out of my comfort zone and I'm so grateful for it!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 12th March 2010

  • Thanks, Naomi, I'm off to meet new people and hand out my business cards currently collecting dust in a drawer...and take a serious look at my signature line.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Susan Newman, Ph.D. on 4th December 2008

  • Great words of inspiration. I am very guilty of staying at my computer to build a business. Thanks to you, today I plan to make some phone calls while waiting for my daughter at her piano lesson. Phone is charged and ready to go.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by lynn59 on 29th September 2008

  • Great articles - thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Docia Lynn on 21st August 2008

  • This was a great article! Do you have suggestions on how to market online? I am new to working with the internet. Most of my business has been built through face to face conversations. But I am looking to expand.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by empowered on 5th August 2008

  • Great advice! I was tired of that BearHugs costume...

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Ymke Dioquino on 4th March 2008

  • Great ideas. Maybe I can increase my sales..

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mississippi Songbird on 10th February 2008

  • Oh my...these are great suggestions, thanks a lot!!!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Desi on 10th February 2008

  • Wonderful suggestions!! And very motivating, too.

    This reminds me of a former boss of mine, a journalist who never seemed at a loss for interesting new local news-type stories. His advice: make it your mission to meet ten new people every week, minimum. Obviously, you get to network with tons of people. But it also gets at your main point - don't get complacent and stuck in your comfort zone.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 6th February 2008

  • Great article -- I love the idea of sneaking a business card trail wherever I go!!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Linda on 5th February 2008