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Get a Plan and Get Noticed!

It doesn't take big money or a big name to market your business.

(YoungBiz.com) - That you've got an awesome business is a no-brainer. But getting the word out to all your would-be customers--well, that's going to take a plan of action. Marketing is the official term for the zillions of ways you can tell the world you're in business.

Major corporations have whole departments dedicated to this effort. And many colleges and universities offer degrees dedicated to this field of study. So how do you, a 'trep who's just entering the business world, expect to compete? It's easier than you may think.

On Your Mark...
Before you start running in a dozen different directions at once--printing off business cards, placing an ad in your hometown newspaper and stuffing fliers in mailboxes--take a deep breath, get out a pen and paper, and sit down.

The first thing you need is a plan. As the head honcho, you know your business better than anyone else. So put that information to work and build a marketing plan. Jot down:

  • A list of your target customers. Who are your potential customers? Children? Families? Working parents? Retired folks?
  • Where to find those customers. Are they right in your own neighborhood? In the city where you live? Spread across the United States (i.e., if you have a Web-based business)? Do they belong to organizations like Scouts, 4-H or PTA?

Get Set...
Now that you have an idea of who your potential customers are, start thinking of the marketing methods you'll use to tell them about your business. Your next step is to think of...

  • Ways to serve your customers better. What can you offer your customers that your competitors don't? For example, if your business is a car wash, perhaps you could entice customers by advertising that you hand-dry all vehicles.
  • A list of top advertising methods. How do you see yourself spreading the word about your business? Before you begin your list, here's some good news--effective marketing doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, one of the best sources of advertising for any business is word-of-mouth. Beyond that, a simple business card can do wonders, as can a keychain or T-shirt with your logo emblazoned on it. More good news: If you have a home computer and an inkjet printer, you can save money by creating your own designs.

Go!
Now you're ready to begin implementing your plan. In this step, you'll need to figure out:

  • Target dates for your marketing campaign. As with any goal you set in life, you need to give yourself target deadlines to accomplish what you've set out to do. Break your goals into manageable pieces. If you need business cards, for example, set a deadline for designing the logo, and another deadline for getting them to the printer.
  • A way to track your results. There are lots of easy ways to accomplish this. For example, you could distribute fliers with a coupon for a 10 percent discount and track how many coupons are used. Or you could keep count of the number of phone calls you get from customers on an average day, then see if that number increases after you run an ad in your hometown newspaper.

You don't have to have a marketing degree or a whopping advertising budget to successfully sell your business. You just need to turn on the creative juices, create a plan and get busy!

Next Step
  • Want some hot tips for marketing that won't break the bank? See "Creative Marketing on a Shoestring."
  • Get more exposure for your business by listing your business in the YoungBiz.com Biz Pages.
  • Tyrone Gray is a 'trep with a marketing plan that's right on target. You'll find his marketing tips on YoungBiz.com
  • Looking for a step-by-step marketing plan? Pick up a copy of Start Up Marketing by Philip R. Nulman.
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