Marketing is easier to define than to do--especially for homebased business owners with limited funds, limited time and lots of distractions. Jeanne Koester is one entrepreneur who has overcome those challenges. The author and publisher of 100 Tips for Starting a Small or Home-Based Business has run a secretarial and business support service from her home in Sugar Grove, Illinois, since 1992. Here are her top five marketing strategies:
1. Market your confidentiality. One of the great concerns of many clients is confidentiality, Koester says. The small size of homebased businesses can be marketed as a strength in terms of ensuring potential customers that when it comes to their business, mum's the word.
2. Target other homebased entrepreneurs. "They understand the challenges you've been through and are often happy to use your services," says Koester.
3. Take advantage of your flexibility. You set your own hours, so take advantage of cheaper rates on phone and fax charges. Fax at midnight--you'll save money and ensure your message is the first thing customers see in the morning. Also use flexibility as a selling point to selected clients: "Working on rush jobs or doing an occasional overnight turnaround is something you can [offer] to special clients or when you want to get someone's business," says Koester.
4. Take the lead. Get out of the house--and get known. "If you position yourself as a leader, you get more publicity," says Koester. Taking a leadership role in your chamber of commerce, networking group or trade association ensures your company's name shows up frequently on the organization's letterhead, press releases and anything else sent to the community.
5. Stay motivated. Homebased entrepreneurs have to work harder at this than those in larger businesses. Attend seminars, workshops and conferences; meet and network with others in your industry; and keep abreast of changes in your field by reading trade journals, newsletters and other publications.