When it comes to marketing, entrepreneurs are looking for fast, effective, cost-efficient ways to get the word out. But we all need a little help sometimes. Fortunately, some of the best marketing resources are there for the asking.
1. Start under your nose. Some of the best marketing information is the easiest to access, yet it often goes completely undiscovered. Looking at your own business might give you some important clues. Consider the following:
Your customers. Conduct a customer survey or invite some of your customers to participate in a focus group. Ask questions about your present marketing, as well as what your customers think of your company and which media vehicles reach them.
Your database. Review your customer database. (If you don't have a customer database, it's time to start one.) Are your customers coming from a specific area? Are they predominantly men or women? Do they have other things in common?
Your employees. Ask the people on the front lines which marketing vehicles they think work best. What yields the greatest response from customers? Do your marketing messages reflect their impressions of your business?
2. Build a library. There are literally thousands of books on small-business marketing. Finding the best ones takes some reading, but here are a few to get you started:
Getting Business to Come to You (Putnam) by Paul and Sarah Edwards and Laura Clampitt Douglas. This is a fantastic introduction to small-business marketing.
Selling Your Services (Henry Holt) by Bob Bly. This is the bible of service-business marketing. Practice what it preaches.
Publicity on the Internet: Creating Successful Publicity Campaigns on the Internet and the Commercial Online Services (John Wiley & Sons) by Steve O'Keefe. This book offers a complete overview of what it takes to get your business noticed online.