What is the cost effective way to market a home-based business?
I have an in-home tutoring service.
* Real face-to-face Networking. Check out your local or regional Chamber of Commerce, or go online and Google "Networking groups, your county or city." Odds are you will be inundated with different independently run and trade association networking opportunities.
You might want to also Google "woman's networking groups (comma) your city" and see what pops up. Some national woman's business groups include NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) and AWC (Women in Communications).
Why all the woman's groups? Because most tutoring decisions are made by the woman of the household, so you might be better served by attending venues where you are apt to meet more women.
Make sure you have a professionally-designed one page handout, at the very least listing your credentials and your areas of expertise, as well as a contact phone number, hours of service, rates and any special introductory packages.
I'd also suggest posting a "starting at" fee schedule, so you don't waste your time telling someone about all you do if they can not afford you. For a few more bucks, it's well worth it to get a unique logo for your firm. It's proven that branded firms are more likely to make more sales and command higher price points.
* Social Networking. Join LinkedIn, set up a business Facebook page and start Tweeting! Yup, social networking takes a little getting used to, but you'd be amazed at the contacts you can make using these free portals!
* Direct mail. You'd be happy with five new clients each month, right? So think about getting an oversized postcard designed by a professional graphic designer, and look into hiring a professional copywriter as well. This one team can prepare a polished promo piece worth its weight in gold! Mine the databases of the networking groups you belong to, or send out 10 pieces a week to researched or face-to-face networking leads.
Follow up with a phone call about three to four business days after you know they have gotten the direct mail piece. This is a cost-efficient way to get your brand in front of folks and is helpful in shortening the sales cycle -- something I'm a huge fan of!
* Send out a press release to your local weekly and daily papers. Especially if you use some new-fangled teaching method, a well written press release can lead to some golden editorial coverage. Make sure you have a professional head shot on hand, as newspapers (especially weeklies) love to print a photo if they can.
* Next, start a blog (check out www.blogspot.com for free) and start posting to other blogs about tutoring. Blogging about your area of expertise, your approach to tutoring, why tutoring can turn around a struggling learner into a happy school kid, etc. Blogging is also a wonderful way to get your name in front of the right target market while promoting your expertise.
* Lastly -- which actually should be first -- get a website up. People feel more comfortable doing business with someone who has a real "storefront" online. A well-designed website (even if it's only two to three pages) can help put a professional face on your firm. Look for a firm that does WordPress sites, as that is an open source application which means it should be much less expensive than a custom coded site.