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Marketing Your Home Based Biz

Even if it's the only thing you do to promote your home based business, e-mail marketing will get you repeat business and referrals without breaking the bank.

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Millions of Americans are living their entrepreneurial dreams by running a from home. Many entrepreneurs start with an idea to sell a or service, working part-time out of a home office, kitchen or garage. Some leave the to become independent consultants, offering their skills to companies on a per-project basis. Still others turn their hobbies or sidelines as sellers into successful home based operations.

Whatever your skills or passions, the rewards to owning a home based business are undeniable. Be your own boss, make your own hours, enjoy more time with family, earn income doing something you've always wanted to do; you're free from the constraints of a traditional work environment. The flip side is that there's no or department to bring in business and keep it coming. You are it.

The Ideal Marketing Tool
If you're running a home based business, chances are your resources are limited. Your challenge is to get business and keep it coming. That's where e-mail marketing can help without breaking the bank. E-mail marketing is a fast and easy way to do the following:

  • Reach out to your contacts directly and let them know you are open for business
  • Encourage repeat and referral sales by reminding customers you're there
  • Share your expertise so customers turn to you as a trusted resource
  • Create promotions that boost business and keep your brand alive
  • Conduct effective DIY marketing on a cost-conscious budget

2 Ways to Grow
E-mail marketing works for any kind of home based business, whether you're a jewelry maker or a dog groomer, a freelance accountant or an online seller of collectibles. Let's look at two types of e-mail marketing that can build your home business: newsletters and promotions.

Create an e-newsletter--A simple e-mail newsletter lets you share free advice, insights, and success stories with current (and potential) customers. This sets you up as a trusted expert in the eyes of the people on your list. When they need what you offer, your e-newsletter will help make sure that you come to mind. Come up with a few content ideas for your newsletter--design tips, recipes or financial insights--and ask people in your network what they'd like to read about. Customers, associates, friends and family are a great source of topic ideas. Worried about doing a lot of writing? Don't be. Newsletters can be short with just a few paragraphs of useful information.

Send promotional e-mails--Combine your newsletter's informational content with promotions that stimulate demand for your products or services. If you're in a gift-oriented or other retail business, the holidays create natural opportunities for promotions. If you're a consultant offering services, your business may be more cyclical or seasonal depending on clients' needs. You can also plan an event or a sale to create a business booster during otherwise slow times. A 10 percent off coupon, open house, or a free sample or consultation are examples of popular e-mail promotions.

5 Tips to Get Started
1. Choose a reputable e-mail marketing service provider.Features to look for include affordable plans, a variety of easy-to-use templates for different kinds of e-mails, e-mail list management, a commitment to e-mail marketing standards and best practices, and access to support and helpful resources.

2. Collect e-mail addresses.Even if your mailing list is just a few friends and family members, that's enough to get started. Grow your list by collecting names during your regular course of business, whether it's at a home product party or a chamber of commerce event.

3. Get permission.Before you send anyone a commercial e-mail marketing , remember to get permission. Permission is perishable, so don't wait months to e-mail someone after you get their contact info. And you must offer a way for recipients to unsubscribe or opt out of your mailings.

4. Make your first mailing count.This could be a simple announcement that you're open for business or an e-mail that welcomes people who recently joined your list. Thank recipients for joining and tell them who you are, what you offer and why you're e-mailing them. Your first e-mail is your opportunity to make a good impression and show the benefits of being on your e-mail list. Include a "forward to a friend" link so people can easily share your correspondence with others who might be interested in what you offer.

5. Create a schedule.Plan to communicate with customers via e-mail at least six times a year. Once a month is even better. If you plan to e-mail more often--and you may if you run events or weekly specials--make sure you are providing information your contacts value.

Customers and prospects might not need your products or services at the moment they receive your e-mail, but the key is to keep your business on their minds. That way, when they're ready to buy--or when they hear of someone who needs your products or services--they'll think of you.

Even if e-mail marketing is the only marketing activity you do, it can help you connect with customers and encourage referrals and repeat business. You don't even need to have a website to get started. As long as you have a computer in your home office (kitchen or garage), e-mail marketing is a great way to grow your home based business.

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