Once you’re ready to invest some money to promote your small business, I highly encourage you to invest both time and some money in networking. This is a great way for you to begin giving, and receiving, referrals.
Regardless of your industry, business word of mouth referral is a very effective way of promotion. I highly recommend joining a local Business Networkers International (BNI) group. From my experience, BNI is the most cost effective investment for small business promotion. It’s helped me a ton since I first started my web design business. Once you join a BNI chapter, other members of your BNI chapter become your “marketing team” as they help to promote your business.
BNI is a large, international organization; it has branch chapters in most U.S. cities. You can find out if there is a BNI group in your community by going to BNI.com. With a $600 budget, you can start gaining new leads from your BNI professional networking group. If you have more money I also recommend you join your local Chamber of Commerce, to meet new potential partners and customers. Once you’re a member, take advantage of it and attend as many chamber of commerce networking events as you can. This will help you get your business name out into the community.
Following these suggestions will help you to get as high a return on your investment, as possible. Also, always remember, your focus is not to simply “make sales.” Your first goal should be to provide your customers with a great experience in an effort to build strong, long-term relationships.
You likely have competitors that provide products or services similar to yours. The secret to gaining and retaining customers is found directly in the experience your customers have in using your products and services. If they have an extremely positive experience, you’ll naturally build a strong relationship, a relationship that makes them want to spread the good words about you, and your business, for years to come.
And as social media continues to grow into a major source of information people use to decide what to do, where to go, and what to buy, your reputation and the quality of your service (created by the quality of your customers experience) has never been more important.