There are a number of things a new business owner can do to start generating interest in their business and eventually sales and growth.
If I were in this position today, I would make sure that businesses locally know about me. This can be done by writing a letter or dropping in. Neither approach costs much.
I was talking earlier to a computer network specialist about this very point and I told him I would focus on the extra service he offers that local PC companies don’t – mainly network support. I would offer a number of hours for support for a slightly discounted price for a minimum of 5 hours if they buy up front. He could sell these at £35/hour instead of his normal £40 for example. This helps tie the client to him and he knows he is likely to get used more than 5 hours a year so it’s win for him and win for his client.
He should focus on the comfort factor for his business clients. They know they have an expert on hand when needed and he will get first bite at upgrades and other spin off work.
He should try to get some testimonials from current clients to include in his letters or presentations. Use case studies, with client details if they are happy, to demonstrate what his company can do to resolve real life issues and hassles.
Write the longest, but most interesting, letter that he can. Don’t think people ignore a 16 page letter from a prospective supplier – they read it if it is interesting and written from the heart. I have done this times and it works.
I suggested that I would get rid of the mass produced manufacturers pdf files on his website. They take ages to load and it is disappointing that he hasn’t taken the time to write something. Yes, they are pretty, but they will not convince me or anyone about the benefits of a server. Give me a case study to read of one of your clients and how you set it up and how much help it really gave them – that would convince me.
He should never forget – his market is potentially enormous. Most small businesses have more than 1 PC and from my chats, few, if any, realize how a server and a network can help them improve their overall efficency. His duty is to get the message across to as many of these as possible using the means above.
He should posture himself as the local expert – offer his services free to the local radio station for a phone-in programme or to the local paper on business computer use, or common problems people come across with simple solutions. Get the blog working – and update it regularly with helpful suggestions and simple solutions to Outlook issues for example. He can then point people in his letters to his website and blog for more information – at the moment these are both seriously letting him down.
All this can be done without spending much money but I don’t usually focus on the money so much as how much I can help local businesses. Suppose he managed to sell half a dozen batches of support hours quickly, his marketing budget (or salary budget!) just had a significant boost of £1,050!
We carried on in a similar vein for a while but a few other useful titbits came out which I want to share and apply to all businesses, not just new ones.
There is rarely any need to borrow money in business when funds are usually quite easy to come by. For example, how often do you email/telephone/write to your existing customers with good topical offers? you should do it at least monthly – just make sure it is always something new and desireable/useful – you will have a steady stream of sales. Have you offered support hours to existing network customers? if not – why not? Do your previous clients come to you first when they need a new machine? if not – why not? ask them! Does your network installation service include all cabling? (the first company I asked said they would cable on one level but were not insured to use ladders – no I didn’t use them). Do you tie in website hosting for your network clients? if not, why not? you need access to mx records for directing email to exchange so why not get the hosting as well?
I hope you find some of thes points helpful in your new/existing business.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to discuss anything further on bookkeeping, accounts, tax or marketing.