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5 Easy Start-Up Marketing Tactics

Telling people about your company is a lot easier--and cheaper--than you think.

You've got your product ready to sell. Now you're just waiting for customers to start knocking on your door. Problem is, you don't hear any knocking.

That's when you start to think: "I have a fabulous new product that no one should be without and, of course, it's priced to fit any budget. So how come it seems like nobody wants to buy it?"

Ask yourself this: Are you sure people know about your product? A crucial key to selling your goods and services is to make sure potential customers know what you have to offer. To do that, you need to tell the world what you're selling. And since the award-winning advertising agency down the street isn't exactly giving away its services, you're going to have to do the marketing yourself.

Where do you start? These days, almost anyone with a computer and an inkjet printer can create their own low-cost marketing materials. We've prepared a list of five key tools most 'treps need when launching a new business:

1. Fliers. If you want your product to get noticed, a colorful one-page flier is a great way to get started. Make sure all information--including your business name, product description, prices, phone number and terms of special offers--is easy to read. Use large lettering and eye-catching graphics. Keep expenses down by comparing the cost of printing your fliers at several copy shops and printing services in your area.

2. Business cards. Don't leave home without them! You could meet potential clients anywhere, from a basketball game to the grocery store. A business card is a great way to let anyone you meet know how to contact you and learn more about your business. Your card should include your business name and address, your name, phone number, fax and e-mail. You can buy sheets of perforated business card stock at the office supply store and print your own cards, or have them professionally printed.

3. Signs. Use leftover art supplies around the house to create signs for your business. You can tack them up on public bulletin boards and post them in your front yard or your window (but check with your city's zoning department first to find out about any restrictions on the use or size of outdoor signs). Make sure that they are easy to read from a distance. Signs can be successful with nothing more than your company name and/or product and a phone number. An example would be "Grow 'N Mow Lawn Care: Call 555-9875."

4. Brochures. If you want to give customers more information about your business, create a double- or triple-fold brochure. They're great to drop in the mail when a customer calls and wants to know more about your company and your product. Just remember to make them graphically appealing and easy to read. If you've had some nice compliments from satisfied customers, get permission to put their testimonials in your brochure. Your brochure is also a good place to display your company logo and photos of your product.

5. A Web site. A company Web site is an essential marketing tool in today's world. This is where you can send customers to get an unlimited number of details about your business. You can post a company history, photos and graphics of your products, helpful tips for using your products, more testimonials from happy customers, and news about special offers or promotions. You may be lucky enough to have a friend who can design your site, but most Web hosting companies offer free or low-cost software, instructions and guidance. If possible, create a site where customers can directly e-mail you and/or place orders online.

One major point to keep in mind whenever you're creating any kind of marketing materials for your company is to be sure all your grammar and spelling is correct. Have several people proofread your materials before you print them or put them online.

Getting the word out about your company's awesome goods and services isn't nearly as difficult as it may have seemed. And it doesn't have to cost big bucks, either. All it takes is a little creativity.

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