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How Do I Get the Word Out? Simple yet effective strategies to help you attract prospects without spending a bundle

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Q: I'm not making any money--how do I spread the word about my services and attract more clients?

A: There are several different ways to market your business--many of them inexpensive and easy to implement. First of all, it's always important for an entrepreneur to make lots of friends. You'll have a better chance of getting good business from people if they like you and trust you. So getting out there and meeting people is your first step. Keep in mind, though, when you're meeting new people, they're not going to like or trust the typical "salesperson sleeze"--someone who just wants to get their cash; be friendly and personable, not persistent and fake.

What else can you do? Fliers. Besides word-of-mouth, this technique is the least expensive. The design of your flier is the most important part, so give it plenty of attention. You want it to be easy to read--bold your company name and anything else you feel is important to emphasize, take care not to overcrowd it with graphics, and don't forget your contact information. Put the fliers where your targets will notice them. Not in mailboxes though--that's a U.S. Postal Service faux pas.

If you want to spread the word through the mail, though, direct mail is your best option--stamped fliers, sales letters, postcards, brochures, etc. In all cases, you want to be sure to be professional, legible, catchy, honest and creative. Use a mailing list to find appropriate prospects--find a list broker, and invest maybe a few hundred dollars into this campaign. Typical fees for most lists range from $100 to $150 per thousand names (or more for more detailed lists), and usually the broker will insist on a minimum of 5,000 names.

Finally, a great way to spread the word is via the Net. Create your own Web site to showcase your product or service, or even to sell it, if you decide to go the e-commerce route. Make it clean, legible, user-friendly and exciting--Web shoppers will leave a poorly designed or unexciting Web site at the speed of a click. Look at other Web sites, especially ones selling products or services similar to yours, to get ideas for your own site.

If the word "advertising" makes you feel at all shady, just remember that only some advertisers are manipulative, with their subliminal advertising and pushy ads. You can be just as effective by implementing the techniques mentioned above in a creative, yet respectable, manner.

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