Become a Millionaire Even When You Start With Little

The hardest part of becoming successful is getting started to begin with. But despite the challenges ahead of you, there’s a way to become a millionaire when starting with little. I’m going to show you four reasons why you can become a millionaire with just a small investment.

Education is your greatest weapon. Focus on learning in the beginning. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on making huge gains in the beginning. Learn everything you can because this is how you build the foundations for long-term gains.

They say that if a millionaire goes bankrupt they’ll nearly always be able to get it back. And that’s because they might have lost their money, but they have the knowledge of how to get back to where they need to be.

Related: 10 Tips to Become a Millionaire This Year

2. You can learn loads about any topic online.

I’m grateful for the internet. It’s the single biggest library in the world. You’re reading this article right now and you’re acquiring knowledge you wouldn’t have been able to acquire 40 years ago. Use the internet to its fullest extent, whether that’s through reading books, browsing articles or watching video tutorials.

Set some time aside every day to learn something online. It could be a video series or a favorite blog. When you get into the habit of learning regularly you’ll find that you advance much faster.

Related: 10 Free Online Courses That Can Benefit Every Entrepreneur

3. Focus on the niche you love.

These days you can learn about anything and target the niche you’re passionate about. This is what I was able to do with penny stocks. I found a gap in the market and provided knowledge to people who wouldn’t have otherwise being able to access this sort of information.

You can do that with absolutely any niche. When you find a niche you’re passionate about and you use the reach of the Internet you start to make huge gains.

Related: 7 Steps to Defining Your Niche Market

4. Prove your expertise by creating free content.

Your reputation as an authority is the new business card. There’s a reason I created a penny stock guide and made it free for all. You may have already seen ads for it on social media. The way to succeed with little is to create a reputation through your content.

It’s the gateway to success because through free content you start to build relationships with others who value your work. And from there everyone gets richer.

You can do lots with a little.

The days when you needed a huge investment to become successful are long gone. These days you can do so much with just a little. Find what you love, advance your knowledge in that area, and create a product that fulfills a need. Finally, work on building up relationships through portraying yourself as an authority on your subject

Being Lazy Might Be the Secret to a Successful

With all of the talk of disruption, it’s easy to believe that reinventing the wheel is the only way to have a successful tech startup. There’s a lot of pressure to innovate and create, but that’s not the only way to make a truly great business that has staying power. In fact, being “lazy” and copying a model that’s already working is a great way to get started.

When we started our bot company, Chattypeople, we could have created an independent app to enable people to chat with brands or individuals. But, the model is already out there: Facebook has already built a working ecosystem and platform with Facebook Messenger. Chattypeople is built on top of that chatbot system, working on top of another platform. We’ve been incredibly successful because there is a need for bots, and a ton of perks that we’ve benefitted from in piggybacking on an already successful system.

Related: Grit Helped This Entrepreneur Hustle Harder — Even After a Rejection By Trump

There are many innovative and incredible partners and systems out there already that would also benefit from combining forces with you. So, don’t worry about being slightly lazy. In fact, here are some great reasons why a little bit of laziness (combined with some creativity and determination) can actually help your business, rather than hurt it:

1. The base is already built.

You have a great advantage if you can identify a killer platform that would combine easily with what you’d like to do. Why create something extravagant and time-consuming when another person has already built and developed many of the features that you otherwise would have to build yourself? Partnering with those who could benefit your company, as well as building on pre-existing platforms, is a great way to turn a profit, without having to reinvent the wheel.

Related: Productive Partnerships: How a ‘David’ Can Partner With a ‘Goliath’

2. Users come with the partnership.

Whether you are combining forces with another small company, or building on top of a large, popular platform, you’re going to gain users that you didn’t have. There’s a clear benefit to getting on board with a platform that already has a large user base and a number of customers already using the platform, and are used to using that system or platform. Think of the savings in time and energy you’ll gain from minimizing that initial marketing push!

3. Larger platforms are marketing for you.

Speaking of marketing: You’re saving yourself a lot of time and energy building your product on a larger platform as that platform is likely promoting and marketing its product with more dollars than you could ever throw at it. For example, Facebook is marketing and promoting Messenger bots, so that’s helping to drive the market, interest and customer conversion.

Related: 6 Things to Consider Before Partnering Up

4. You’re closer to diversifying.

The potential downside to building on the back of one platform is what if that platform decides to no longer offer that feature, which could jeopardize the whole future of your company. But, having built your product once, you’ll be able to diversify it for other platforms and systems quite easily. At ChattyPeople, we’re working against that by building a version of ChattyPeople for Slack, Skype, Viber and Telegram, which all have messenger bot platforms and the possibility of integrating bots. When you work to integrate your product to work alongside all those platforms, you mitigate risk.

Being lazy isn’t always a character flaw. In fact, being lazy can help you build an unstoppable business that is already set up for success from the get go. So be lazy — and then be driven, excited and innovative with the product that you’ve built

Constantly Advance Your Career

You only need three things to constantly advance your career. The first is attitude. Do you bring a positive atmosphere to work? Do your coworkers enjoy being around you? It might not affect the quality of your work, but it matters in the long run.

The third is progress. How are you getting better at your job every day?

These things are easier said than done, but they’re worth it if you want to advance your career. Click play to learn more about how you can achieve them in your job and keep moving forward

Show Customers You Care

Competition is tough in small business. Customers come and go and the need to pour money, effort and time into marketing is always there. Always. But in your quest for new customers, don’t overlook one of the most important keys to small business success: turning new customers into repeat customers and fans. Anything you can do to build loyalty and repeat business is usually welcomed. That said, I present here 8 potential ways to show customers your appreciation, hopefully without too much effort.

Offer a “tips on us” discount. This is only relevant if your business or service is one that regularly brings in tips for your employees like a restaurant, barber shop or salon, or coffee shop, etc. What you’re really doing is giving the customer a 15% discount as that is a reasonable tip in the service industry and you can state it as such, but you tell them to just leave off the tip and you’ll cover it. 

2 question survey. Do a short feedback survey at the time of payment. You can do this verbally or somehow electronically, but take advantage of the feedback and post results on the door or as near the checkout area so your customers can see them – and of course post them on social media. Don’t forget to change around the questions and topics every one to two weeks.

Give away a small free item at service time or at payment time – whichever is relevant to the business. Make it an unadvertised addition and tailor it to the patron if you can. If you are a cleaners and someone is coming in with only shirts, then offer them a free shirt cleaning because a discount on suit dry cleaning won’t do them any good on this current trip.

Implement a punch card type reward. Everyone likes to get the fifth car wash or soda or entree free. I don’t do many coupons that aren’t pizza related, but those punch cards are golden.

Run a weather related discount. If the temp exceeds 75 today everyone gets 20% off. Or your discount this month is whatever 100 minus yesterday’s high temp was. A jewelry store ran a similar sale when I was buying my future wife’s engagement ring many years ago. It worked on me!

“You have to think outside the box to get ahead or stay ahead or maybe just to stay in the game.” Tweet this

Offer free delivery to orders over $100 or a relevant amount if it works for your type of service or industry. Free shipping rocks. What about free local delivery? If what you provide in your small business or service, can it be delivered? Not pizza – that’s an obvious one. But if you’re a small office supply provider and you don’t currently offer delivery, try it for orders over a certain amount. See how it boosts your business.

RELATED: Repeat Business Tips and Advice

Walk patrons out to their car at night after dark. My wife was at an Olive Garden with some girlfriends last night and didn’t make it home till 11:30 pm even though she was tired and wanted to leave earlier. But she wisely didn’t want to traverse the parking lot alone so she waited till a group of her friends were leaving, too. Had a security guard been available and offered she would have gotten the sleep she was looking forward to.

Give away pizza with certain size orders. Seriously. Everyone loves pizza. Well, nearly everyone. But there are 13 of us in my family – my wife and I and our 11 kids – and we all love pizza. Do a tie in with a local pizza place and give away one of their pizzas with all orders over a certain amount. I once was asked to sign up for a tech webinar with the promise of a Domino’s Pizza being provided for sitting in. I was skeptical, but as I sat down for the beginning of the webinar in the comfort of my home office in front of my MacBook, a Domino’s delivery guy was knocking on my door. It was just Domino’s, but for some reason it was one of the best pizzas I had experienced in a while. Try it

Lose a Customer

Landing a new customer is hard—and it’s expensive. Sprint pays $315 to acquire a customer and many of the big financial firms pay close to $200. Hopefully your costs won’t be that high but once you get the customer, the last thing you want to do is lose them. That’s why you have to watch for the signs of an impending breakup and take steps to mend the relationship early.

ComplainingSometimes you hear that a complaining customer is actually a good thing because they’re engaged in your company. While that might be true in academic circles, business owners know that people have better things to do than call you when things aren’t working. They get annoyed if they have to spend part of their day trying to get something working.If you find that one of your customers is calling more frequently and the problems seem to be relatively small, that could be a sign that they’re unhappy with your business. As with any complaint, fix it fast and give them over-the-top service. Don’t make them wait, and for your larger customers, be personally involved in the resolution process.RELATED: Turn Customer Complaints into AssetsNo ResponseA complaining customer is bad but a customer that says nothing is even worse. Maybe you sent an e-mail, texted, or called but got no response. That’s a really bad sign and one that should be rectified right away. If calls and e-mails aren’t working, making a trip to the business or job site is the next step. A customer who is ignoring you is likely in negotiations with somebody else.Of course, you shouldn’t let things get to the point of no response. For larger accounts, communicate with them often and for the smaller customers, find reasons to create touchpoints as well.The Comparison GameHow often do you hear something like, “The other provider does this but you don’t.” Clearly, your customer is looking at other companies to service them. If that’s the case, it’s time to go back to the sales process and listen to what they want, renegotiate your deal, and make them happy again.Be warned—this is not a time for defensiveness. Put yourself in the place of your customer. Somebody is probably charging them with finding the best service for the lowest price. Be a partner in that process.
Unsubscribes from E-mail ListsMarketing e-mails quickly get annoying when a person’s inbox ends up overrun with them but it’s definitely worth looking into if a client unsubscribes from your e-mail communication. First, make sure you’re using a program that allows the person to give a reason why they’re unsubscribing. If they don’t provide a reason, make a call and find out if everything is ok.RELATED: What You Can Learn from Your Email Opt-OutsQuotes the ContractAs soon as your customer starts sounding more like an attorney and less like a customer, there’s a problem. If they’re looking at the contract and quoting line items, they’re clearly unhappy. Instead of getting into a discussion about what the contract does or doesn’t say, ask them more personal questions. Are they unhappy? What is the lack in service that is causing them to look at what they’re entitled to?Once you find the truth, assure them, and remind your employees that you’re a business that surpasses the terms of the contract. They will always get more than the contract states and if there’s a problem, they should bring it up right away rather than figuring out what they’re entitled to.Organizational ChangesIf your customer’s company is bought by another company or your main contact leaves, there’s no reason to believe that you will lose the account but you should be proactive about introducing yourself and taking the new decision makers through your sales process that stresses your value over your price.If you wait for them to contact you, it might be too late. Situations like this should also remind you of the importance of keeping strong relationships with your customers. If you don’t know of a change at a company you do business with, by the time you find out, it could be too late.You’ve Quit Investing in ThemThey say that you should keeping “dating” your spouse even when you’re married. That’s certainly true in business too. You worked hard to get them—and it was expensive, but it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire than to retain. That means that the money you spend to keep a customer is far less, so make the investment. Take them out to lunch, invite them to an event, send them marketing materials, and continually follow up

Create a Press Kit

As a small business owner, hiring an advertising agency to create a press kit that promotes your blossoming company may be outside your budget. But that doesn’t mean you should do without a press kit. With a little bit of effort you can create a media kit that can be used both as a marketing tool to give key customers and also as an information tool that makes it easier for bloggers and journalist to find key facts about your company and products when they’re writing about you.

What should be included in your press kit?

Although there are several standard pieces of information that go into press kits, there are no hard rules about what to include. In fact, you may want to put together different versions of your press kit for different purposes or audiences.

If you’re a software developer who has developed a new app to help landscapers manage their business better, you might have one press kit to use to promote the app. If you want to make a name for your company by having your CEO speak at app developer conferences, you might use a press kit with some different materials to focus on attention on her prowess as a speaker as well as a software developer. If you’re seeking funding, you may want a slightly different version of the press kit for potential investors.

The key is to include whatever marketing and background information that will be of interest to the audience to which you plan to distribute the press kit. Additionally, while the goal is to provide a comprehensive overview of your company, you do not want to drown the recipient with information overload.

Here is a run-down of the most common elements in press kits.

Company Fact Sheet

The fact sheet is your starting point. Its purpose is to provide the press and others with a single place to quickly find important facts about your business, nature of products and services, leadership and contact information.

There are several different formats you can use for a company fact sheet (to get some examples search Google or Bing for “Corporate Fact Sheet” and look at some of the fact sheets from real companies.) Whatever format you choose, try to keep the fact sheet down to a page or two written on your company stationery. A contact person’s name, email address and phone number should be prominent on the top of the sheet, too.

Start the fact sheet off with a very brief description (just a couple of lines) of your company and its focus.

Other information to consider including are facts such as when the business was founded, key markets, key products, locations (if you have more than one), the names of top officers or managing partners, industry memberships and awards, funding sources, revenue and growth statistics, and community service projects. Remember, this should be brief, and you only need to include the information that your intended audience for the press kit will find relevant.

Founder and Executive Biographies

Each bio you include in the media kit should contain background information about the individual as it relates to the business. The individual’s name, photo, professional background and experience and past successes should all be included. You should also include any appropriate stories about why the individual founded the business or became involved in the industry.

Industry Information

Show journalists and potential customers that you value their time by doing some of the research legwork for them. This increases your credibility and can target you as a go-to resource for future projects. Include relevant industry information and statistics, including any white papers that you have developed. Within this document, express how your company contributes to strengthening the industry and include information about your target audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

This all-purpose document is a major time saver for you and anyone interested in learning more about your company. Provide thoughtful, complete answers to the questions you receive most often, particularly focusing on who, what, when, where, how and why. These responses should be longer than a sentence but not ramble on. Be as detailed but succinct as possible.

Press Release

Press kits are frequently distributed to provide background information when a company issues a press release. When that’s how you are using a press kit, the press release should be placed in front of all other materials. You can also include copies of previous press releases to provide a historical perspective on your company’s accomplishments. Additionally, compile a sheet listing any press coverage (with links, if available) you have previously received.

Depending on your business, a brief outline of upcoming events and promotions is key information for the media to have.

High-quality Photos

Photos with released copyrights are one of the most difficult things for journalists to get their hands on. Providing high-resolution photos for general media use greatly increases the chances of your company being featured in an article. The basic press photos should include headshots of key executives, images of products and clips of logos. Action shots, if available, are highly desired. If applicable, you can also create screenshots of your app or online service, high-definition video clips or short audio snippets about the company. You can add these pieces to your website under the Media section or distribute them to the media on a CD.

Customer Testimonials

Journalists are always looking for personal stories and quotes to support their articles. A press package that includes first-person testimonials from customers about how your company’s products or services affected their lives will capture a writer’s attention. These pieces are also powerful incentives for potential investors and future clients.

Collateral Advertising Materials

Add any brochures, flyers, public service announcements, newspaper ads or postcards that you have developed to promote your company. If you have many such documents, choose the most important ones to include. The purpose of your press kit is to inform, not overwhelm recipients.

Where and How to Distribute Your Press Kit

You will probably want to make your press kit available in both digital and print formats. Uploading basic press materials on your website enables the media to quickly find accurate information about your company, increasing your chances of being featured in an article. It also gives investors and customers the information they need to choose your company over others. You may also want to put your press materials on a thumb drive to distribute as needed at trade shows or other events. Finally, you may want to have some printed copies of your press kit available, too.

Don’t mass distribute your press kits. Doing so will be a waste of time and money and will be an annoyance to people who get them and don’t want them.

If publications or individual journalists ask you for a press kit, ask whether they’d prefer to have one physically mailed to them, have a link to download it from your website, or have it sent as an email attachment. For email, have the individual documents compiled into a single PDF. Never send any kind of material as an attachment unless it’s been specifically requested.

If you will be distributing printed copies of a press kit, consider ordering quality pocket folders imprinted with your company name on the cover. In addition to the inside pockets, they should have a slot to hold your business card.

It can be somewhat time consuming to assemble all the materials you need for a press kit, so don’t wait until the last minute to try to put it together. You’ll need time not only to create the documents, but also time to proofread them, convert them to PDF format, upload the documents to your website, have them copied onto thumb drives, or to have them printed.

But don’t let the time to create a press kit stop you from pulling together the materials. The materials you use in the press kit come in handy for years to come. Keep the original documents on your hard disk (and be sure to have a backup copy!) and update them as needed. That way you’ll always be able to say “Yes” when a reporter or a potential customer or anyone else asks if you have a bio, background information, or other key facts you can send along about your company

Get Sales Appointments

There’s a harsh reality that quickly sets in for every business owner: Making sales is hard. It takes the perfect combination of a great product or service, a solid game plan, a lot of hustle, and a little bit of luck. Step #1—get your foot in the door and get that first meeting set up.

Start with Your Database

You’ve probably heard that it’s easier and less costly to retain a past customer than gain a new one. If you’ve been in a business a while, you probably have plenty of people who haven’t purchased from you in a while. Reach out to those people before looking for new prospects. If you’re just getting started, and not new to the industry, you probably have clients you’ve worked with in another capacity. Go after those prospects if allowable and ethical.

Build a Prospect List

First, find your prospects. One way is to scour the Internet looking for companies/customers that fit your business. But don’t do this yourself. Hire a virtual assistant to do the work. For far less than $100 in most cases, a VA will build a prospect list using the criteria you lay out. Sites like Upwork are a great place to start.

No, Cold Calling Isn’t Dead!

Don’t listen to the “experts” that say cold calling is dead. Ask anybody who does it regularly and you’ll find that it’s alive and well. Sure, it will likely work better for some businesses than others but let’s make one thing clear: You cannot use technology to forsake human contact. Just because we live in the digital age doesn’t mean that your sales process won’t involve human contact. Cold call 100 prospects and e-mail 100 and see which gets the better results. Likely, it will be the cold calls.

But Before You Call…

Do your qualifying before you call or e-mail. Asking the prospect qualifying questions like, “when is your contract up?” is a great way to end any chance of getting their business. Do some research and call with some knowledge of their company. Be able to speak intelligently about their business and from that research have a list of questions you might ask about any potential needs. For example, if you sell cloud-based software you might ask about how their sales staff communicates with the home office.

Genuinely Care

There are plenty of sales people that can act like they care but a better approach is to actually care. You have a product or service that you genuinely believe in and you care enough about the potential customer to tell them about it. Caring means that the sale is the last step in the process. Building the relationship comes first. People know if you care more about them or the sale when you talk to them. Make sure you’re operating from the right state of mind.

Play the Numbers Game

You’re going to be turned down more than you hear the word, “yes” so after you’ve done your research, contacted the company, and potentially heard, “no,” move on. Carve out time every for prospecting and make that your sole focus. Don’t allow any distractions to pull you away from what you’re doing. Don’t forget that no business succeeds without a strong sales funnel.

Name Drop

Want to significantly up your chances for a first meeting? Do some name dropping. Do you know somebody they know? Is there another influencer in the industry using your product or service? Even if it’s one of their competitors, drop a name or two.

Load Them with Facts

You’re going to have a rough time getting time with a prospect if you throw the call to action in front of them right away. Instead, show them that you understand their problem just as well or better than they do. Load them with industry knowledge, case studies, and before and after statistics. Once you gain some credibility, it’s time to ask for the meeting—not the sale.

Change your Communication Strategy

If your method of first contact is e-mail, understand that a lot of e-mail ends up in spam filters or discarded before making it to the intended recipient. Just because they didn’t respond doesn’t mean they’re not interested. If e-mail doesn’t work after multiple attempts, make a phone call or go super old school and send a letter. In other words, don’t give up.

Try “Off Hours”

Many decision makers have assistants that act as gatekeepers. Calling or e-mailing during work hours often means that you’ll get an assistant who may not have the level of knowledge that the decision maker has.

High level leaders don’t have 9 to 5 work hours but many assistants do. Making contact in the evening might mean that the decision sees the e-mail or gets the call before the assistant—eliminating the gatekeeper

Know If Your Advertising Working

Advertising a small business is too expensive to do haphazardly. If you’re going to invest money into either print, radio, TV, or online advertising you need see a return on your investment. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t know how to evaluate the success or failure of their ads. Ask them how well their advertising is working, and the best some owners can say is that they “think” their advertisements are working well, they don’t know which ads are working well, or they don’t know if any are working.

Don’t fall into this trap. To make the money you spend on ads pay off, you need to measure and evaluate your ad spend based on data.

The Problem

Although there’s a lot of science involved in advertising, there’s also a lot of art. Many factors are hard to measure. For example, if somebody sees your ad, comes to your store and doesn’t buy anything, that builds brand awareness. They may come back later when they need what you sell. In that case, your advertising worked—just not immediately. There are plenty of situations where advertising is hard to measure but that doesn’t mean you should give up trying. The fact is, most advertising is measurable if you design your campaign correctly.

Before You Advertise…

To measure the effectiveness of your ad you need baseline data. What was your store or website traffic before you ran the ad? How were your sales? Did sales increase for the products or services you advertised? You will only know if you have past data.

If you aren’t the type of person who likes to collect and analyze data, find somebody to help. It will be money well spent.

Use a Coupon

Everybody wants to pay less. If you’re advertising a product or service, include a coupon. If you’re running multiple campaigns, make sure to put a code somewhere on the coupon so you know which campaign the customer responded to. This works for both online and print advertising. For radio and TV, you could give them a coupon code to mention at the store or to type in online. You could also offer an incentive. “Mention this ad and we’ll give you an extra 15% off.”

Use E-mail Software

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise your products and services to existing customers and to prospects. By getting customers, prospects and casual shoppers to sign up for your mailing list, and then sending mailings on a regular basis, you give yourself repeated opportunities to get their business or their repeat purchases at minimal cost to you. One tactic to build your list: ask people to sign up for your mailing list to get a discount coupon or free information.

Don’t use your gmail or a personal account for email marketing. Individual email accounts don’t give you any way of measuring the results. Instead, use software like Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Aweber or one of the many others that provide metrics like open and click rates. This is the most effective way to track the success of your e-mail campaigns. As you get more familiar with these programs you’ll find plenty of other powerful features that you can use to better target your customers and improve the metrics.

Related Advertisement: Constant Contact Special Offer

Split Test

Advertising is an art because what should work sometimes fails. Every advertising pro knows that they must make multiple versions of an ad and test them against each other. For example, if you have 30,000 people on an e-mail or mailing list, you might send 10% of the list ad #1 and 10% ad #2. Once you see which ad performed better, the other 80% will receive the winner of the split test.

You can split test with more than 2 ads, of course, but make sure you’re only testing one condition at a time until you gain experience with testing ads. If you change the art and copy, for example, you don’t know which of the changes resulted in a better or worse performance.

Once you do understand split testing and do enough volume to warrant it, you may benefit by using multivariate testing (ie, testing several variables in a single ad) to see which combination of elements best achieves the result you want to attain. Google Analytics Content Experiments is free to use, but takes some time to learn how to set up properly. There’s also commercial software such as Optimizely available to do multivariate testing.

Use Social Media Metrics

Social media advertising has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Now you can see performance data in stunning detail, and you can target specific demographics. You can make changes to your ad early in the campaign if you see that it isn’t working, and you can split test different ideas and compare data for each.

But first, you must understand how to read the data. Before starting a social media marketing campaign, understand the platform and understand how to interpret the data. Don’t spend any money until you master those two items. Same is true with search engine advertising.

Set Your Website Up Correctly

Create custom landing pages for your ads. For instance, if you own a florist and sell flowers and plants, instead of making all of your ads go to your home page, have separate ads pointing to individual pages for holidays such as Easter or Mother’s Day. Have other ads featuring sympathy arrangements, or get-well plants and floral arrangements, each pointing to an appropriate page. You accomplish two goals this way: One, accommodating customers by sending them straight to what they were looking for, and two, allowing you to easily measure how well your ad got people to your site.

If you do want to send people to your home page from various ads, use tracking code in the ads so you can tell which ads actually delivered people to your site.

Tracking visitors to your site is an important metric but also tracking how they interact is equally as valuable. If you aren’t already using it, Google Analytics is a free tool that will help you better understand what people are seeing on your site and how they move through it.

Go Old School

Before the days of sophisticated measurement data, business owners would ask the simple question, “how did you hear about us?” Even in the 21st century, that’s a great question to ask. Not only will it give you valuable data, it’s an effective icebreaker that might result in building a relationship with that customer

Some Low Cost Ways to Promote Your Business

What’s the best way to promote your business? How can you advertise your business and get your name in front of potential prospects when money is tight or you’re just starting up? How can you get the word out about your business in the most affordable way?

Promoting a business is an ongoing challenge for small businesses. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, these proven marketing strategies will help your business find new customers without spending a fortune.

Plan your attack. Define who your best prospects are, and then determine the best way to reach them. Be as specific as possible. Is the decision maker the CTO of the company, the director of human resources, or a 37-year-old working mom? Will you find them on Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram? What about in-person networking at local business meetings? Will you find people at those meeting who are likely prospects or who know and could recommend you to likely prospects? Will customers be searching for your type of product on Google or Bing? Do you want to start promoting your business to them at the start of their buying cycle, or when they’re about ready to pull out their credit card and make the purchase. Write your answers down, and refer to them before you start any new marketing tactic. Use this marketing plan worksheet to gather your information.

If you don’t have a website, get one set up. If you can’t afford to have someone custom-design your website, put your site up using one of the companies like Wix, SquareSpace or Godaddy that provide templates and tools that make it easy to create a basic website.

Set up a listing for your business in search engine local directories.
Google and Bing both offer a free listing for local businesses.
To get listed on Google, go to Google My Business.
To get listed on Bing, go to Bing Places for Business
Yahoo charges for local listings, but you get listed on a lot more than Yahoo if you buy their service. The service, called Yahoo Localworks, costs $29.99 a month and lists you in 50 directories including Yahoo Local, Yelp, WhitePages, Bing, Mapquest and more. The benefit of paying: You have a single location to enter your data to make it consistent and available on multiple online directories that your customers might search to find what you sell.

  1. Set up your business profile or page on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus,Twitter and Pinterest. Be sure your business profile includes a good description, keywords and a link to your website. Look for groups or conversations that talk about your type of products or services and participate in the conversations, but don’t spam them with constant promos for what you sell.
  2. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a business card and business stationery, have them made up — immediately. Your business card, letterhead and envelope tell prospective customers you are a professional who takes your business seriously. Be sure to list your website address on your business card and, letterhead and any handouts you create. Include your main social media profile link, too, if possible.
  3. Sign up for an email service, and send an email newsletter and/or promotional offers to customers and prospects for your business. Be sure you ask for permission to send email before putting any person’s email name on your list. One good way to build a permission-based email list of people who want your mailings is to give something away. It could be a free ebook, or even a free tip-sheet on how to do something related to your business. If you’re a health coach, for instance, you might offer people who sign up for your free newsletter a tip sheet with “10 Easy Ways To Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet.” If you don’t have anything to give away, try offering a signup discount on products or services as an incentive.  An email service like Constant Contact* makes it easy to manage your list and send professional-looking mailings.
  4. Get your business cards into the hand of anyone who can help you in your search for new clients. Call your friends and relatives and tell them you have started a business. Visit them and leave a small stack of business cards to hand out to their friends.
  5. Talk to all the vendors from whom you buy products or services. Give them your business card, and ask if they can use your products or service, or if they know anyone who can. If they have bulletin boards where business cards are displayed (printers often do, and so do some supermarkets, hairdressers, etc.), ask if yours can be added to the board.
  6. Attend meetings of professional groups, and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, other local business groups, local chapters of national groups such as NAWBO, or civic associations. Have business cards in a pocket where they are easily reachable. Don’t forget to ask what the people you speak with do, and to really listen to them. They’ll be flattered by your interest, and better remember you because of it.
  7. Pay for membership in those groups that attract your target customers. If the group has a website and publishes a list members on the site, make sure your name and website link get added. Once it is added double check to be sure your contact information is correct and your website link isn’t broken.
  8. Become actively involved in 2 or 3 of these groups. That will give you more opportunity to meet possible prospects. But remember: opportunists are quickly spotted for what they are, and get little business. While you won’t want to become involved in many organizations that require a lot of your time in, you can –and should– make real contributions to all of them by offering useful ideas and helping with projects when possible.
  9. Post Interesting information and pictures regularly to your social media accounts. The information or photos should be interesting to your audience. Tips on how they can improve their life or business or special offers are likely to get the most likes and shares.
  10. Look for something unusual about what you do, and publicize it. Send out press releases to local newspapers, radio stations, cable TV stations, and magazines whose audiences are likely to be interested in buying what you sell. Post the press releases on one or more online press release services, too, being sure to include links to your website. To increase your chance of having the material published, send along a photo (but not to radio stations) with your press release. Editors of printed publications are often in need of “art” (drawings or photos) to fill space and break up the gray look of a page of text.
  11. Write an article that demonstrates your expertise in your field. Send it to noncompeting newspapers, magazines, and websites in your field that accept submissions from experts. Be sure your name, business name, phone number, and a reference to your product or service is included at the end of the article. If the editor can use the article you get your name in print, and possibly get your contact information printed for free, too.
  12. Publicize your publicity. Whenever you do get publicity, get permission from the publisher to reprint the article containing the publicity. Make photocopies and mail the copies out with sales letters or any other literature you use to market your product or service. The publicity clips lend credibility to the claims you make for your products or services.
  13. Ask for work or leads. Contact nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges, and even other businesses that have customers who may need your services.
  14. Network with others who are doing the same type of work you are. Let them know you are available to handle their work overloads. (But don’t try to steal their customers. Word will get out, and will ruin your business reputation.)
  15. Offer to be a speaker. Industry conferences, volunteer organizations, libraries, and local business groups often need speakers for meetings. You’ll benefit from the name recognition, contacts and publicity you gain from being a speaker at these events.
  16. If your product or service is appropriate, give demonstrations of it to whatever groups or individuals might be interested. Or, teach others how to use some tool you use in your work.
  17. Put videos of your product or service on YouTube and other video-sharing and slide-sharing sites.
  18. Find out what federal, state, and local government programs are in existence to help you get started in business. Most offer free business counseling, and some can put you in touch with government agencies and large corporations that buy from small and woman-owned businesses
  19. If you are a woman-owned or minority-owned business look into getting certified by private, state or federal organizations. Many purchasing agents have quotas or guide for the amount of goods and services they need to buy from minority- and woman-owned businesses.
  20. Send out sales letters to everyone you think might be able to use what you sell. Be sure to describe your business in terms of how it can help the prospect. Learn to drop a business card in every letter you send out. Follow up periodically with postcard mailings.
  21. If you use a car or truck in your business have your business name and contact information professionally painted on the side of the vehicle. That way your means of transportation becomes a vehicle for advertising your business. If you don’t want the business name painted on the vehicle, consider using magnetic signs.
  22. Get on the telephone and make “cold calls.” These are calls to people who you would like to do business with. Briefly describe what you do and ask for an appointment to talk to them about ways you can help them meet a need or solve a problem.
  23. Get samples of your product or your work into as many hands as possible.
  24. Offer a free, no obligation consultation to people you think could use your services. During such consultations offer some practical suggestions or ideas–and before you leave ask for an “order” to implement the ideas.
  25. Learn to ask for referrals. Ask existing customers, prospects and casual acquaintances. When you get them, follow up on the leads.
  26. Use other people to sell your product or service. Instead of (or in addition to) selling your products yourself, look for affiliates, resellers or people who will generate leads for you in return for a commission on sales. Be sure your pricing structure allows for the fees or commissions you will have to pay on any sales that are made.
  27. Get together with businesses who serve the same market, but sell different products and services. Make arrangements to pass leads back and forth, or share mailings.
  28. Have sales letters, flyers and other pertinent information printed and ready to go. Ask prospects who seem reluctant to buy from you: “Would you like me to send information?” Follow up promptly with a note and a letter that says, “Here is the information you asked me to send
  29. Run a contest. Make the prize something desirable and related to your business — it could be a free gift basket of your products, for instance, or free services.
  30. Test buying Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on the search engines. If you are not yet advertising on search engines search for offers that give you $50 or $75 in free advertising to start. Read the directions for the service you plan to use, and very carefully watch what you spend on a daily or more frequent basis until you are comfortable using PPC ads and see you are getting a return on your investment.
  31. Promote your posts to targeted audiences on Facebook. This is an expensive way of getting your business in front of potential customers in very targeted locations or who have interests that match what you sell

 

 

  1. Set up your business profile or page on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus,Twitter and Pinterest. Be sure your business profile includes a good description, keywords and a link to your website. Look for groups or conversations that talk about your type of products or services and participate in the conversations, but don’t spam them with constant promos for what you sell.
  2. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a business card and business stationery, have them made up — immediately. Your business card, letterhead and envelope tell prospective customers you are a professional who takes your business seriously. Be sure to list your website address on your business card and, letterhead and any handouts you create. Include your main social media profile link, too, if possible.
  3. Sign up for an email service, and send an email newsletter and/or promotional offers to customers and prospects for your business. Be sure you ask for permission to send email before putting any person’s email name on your list. One good way to build a permission-based email list of people who want your mailings is to give something away. It could be a free ebook, or even a free tip-sheet on how to do something related to your business. If you’re a health coach, for instance, you might offer people who sign up for your free newsletter a tip sheet with “10 Easy Ways To Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet.” If you don’t have anything to give away, try offering a signup discount on products or services as an incentive.  An email service like Constant Contact* makes it easy to manage your list and send professional-looking mailings.
  4. Get your business cards into the hand of anyone who can help you in your search for new clients. Call your friends and relatives and tell them you have started a business. Visit them and leave a small stack of business cards to hand out to their friends.
  5. Talk to all the vendors from whom you buy products or services. Give them your business card, and ask if they can use your products or service, or if they know anyone who can. If they have bulletin boards where business cards are displayed (printers often do, and so do some supermarkets, hairdressers, etc.), ask if yours can be added to the board.
  6. Attend meetings of professional groups, and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, other local business groups, local chapters of national groups such as NAWBO, or civic associations. Have business cards in a pocket where they are easily reachable. Don’t forget to ask what the people you speak with do, and to really listen to them. They’ll be flattered by your interest, and better remember you because of it.
  7. Pay for membership in those groups that attract your target customers. If the group has a website and publishes a list members on the site, make sure your name and website link get added. Once it is added double check to be sure your contact information is correct and your website link isn’t broken.
  8. Become actively involved in 2 or 3 of these groups. That will give you more opportunity to meet possible prospects. But remember: opportunists are quickly spotted for what they are, and get little business. While you won’t want to become involved in many organizations that require a lot of your time in, you can –and should– make real contributions to all of them by offering useful ideas and helping with projects when possible.
  9. Post Interesting information and pictures regularly to your social media accounts. The information or photos should be interesting to your audience. Tips on how they can improve their life or business or special offers are likely to get the most likes and shares.
  10. Look for something unusual about what you do, and publicize it. Send out press releases to local newspapers, radio stations, cable TV stations, and magazines whose audiences are likely to be interested in buying what you sell. Post the press releases on one or more online press release services, too, being sure to include links to your website. To increase your chance of having the material published, send along a photo (but not to radio stations) with your press release. Editors of printed publications are often in need of “art” (drawings or photos) to fill space and break up the gray look of a page of text.
  11. Write an article that demonstrates your expertise in your field. Send it to noncompeting newspapers, magazines, and websites in your field that accept submissions from experts. Be sure your name, business name, phone number, and a reference to your product or service is included at the end of the article. If the editor can use the article you get your name in print, and possibly get your contact information printed for free, too.
  12. Publicize your publicity. Whenever you do get publicity, get permission from the publisher to reprint the article containing the publicity. Make photocopies and mail the copies out with sales letters or any other literature you use to market your product or service. The publicity clips lend credibility to the claims you make for your products or services.
  13. Ask for work or leads. Contact nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges, and even other businesses that have customers who may need your services.
  14. Network with others who are doing the same type of work you are. Let them know you are available to handle their work overloads. (But don’t try to steal their customers. Word will get out, and will ruin your business reputation.)
  15. Offer to be a speaker. Industry conferences, volunteer organizations, libraries, and local business groups often need speakers for meetings. You’ll benefit from the name recognition, contacts and publicity you gain from being a speaker at these events.
  16. If your product or service is appropriate, give demonstrations of it to whatever groups or individuals might be interested. Or, teach others how to use some tool you use in your work.
  17. Put videos of your product or service on YouTube and other video-sharing and slide-sharing sites.
  18. Find out what federal, state, and local government programs are in existence to help you get started in business. Most offer free business counseling, and some can put you in touch with government agencies and large corporations that buy from small and woman-owned businesses
  19. If you are a woman-owned or minority-owned business look into getting certified by private, state or federal organizations. Many purchasing agents have quotas or guide for the amount of goods and services they need to buy from minority- and woman-owned businesses.
  20. Send out sales letters to everyone you think might be able to use what you sell. Be sure to describe your business in terms of how it can help the prospect. Learn to drop a business card in every letter you send out. Follow up periodically with postcard mailings.
  21. If you use a car or truck in your business have your business name and contact information professionally painted on the side of the vehicle. That way your means of transportation becomes a vehicle for advertising your business. If you don’t want the business name painted on the vehicle, consider using magnetic signs.
  22. Get on the telephone and make “cold calls.” These are calls to people who you would like to do business with. Briefly describe what you do and ask for an appointment to talk to them about ways you can help them meet a need or solve a problem.
  23. Get samples of your product or your work into as many hands as possible.
  24. Offer a free, no obligation consultation to people you think could use your services. During such consultations offer some practical suggestions or ideas–and before you leave ask for an “order” to implement the ideas.
  25. Learn to ask for referrals. Ask existing customers, prospects and casual acquaintances. When you get them, follow up on the leads.
  26. Use other people to sell your product or service. Instead of (or in addition to) selling your products yourself, look for affiliates, resellers or people who will generate leads for you in return for a commission on sales. Be sure your pricing structure allows for the fees or commissions you will have to pay on any sales that are made.
  27. Get together with businesses who serve the same market, but sell different products and services. Make arrangements to pass leads back and forth, or share mailings.
  28. Have sales letters, flyers and other pertinent information printed and ready to go. Ask prospects who seem reluctant to buy from you: “Would you like me to send information?” Follow up promptly with a note and a letter that says, “Here is the information you asked me to send
  29. Run a contest. Make the prize something desirable and related to your business — it could be a free gift basket of your products, for instance, or free services.

Test buying Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on the search engines. If you are not yet advertising on search engines search for offers that give you $50 or $75 in free advertising to start. Read the directions for the service you plan to use, and very carefully watch what you spend on a daily or more frequent basis until you are comfortable using PPC ads and see you are getting a return on your investment.

  1. Promote your posts to targeted audiences on Facebook. This is an expensive way of getting your business in front of potential customers in very targeted locations or who have interests that match what you sell

Get Consulting Prospects to Buy

You want to expand your consulting practice by expanding your current client base. You may be stretching yourself thin but unless your consulting gigs are the type that take up 110% of your time every time out, then you usually want to make sure you have several streams of income going at once, and that you’re constantly marketing to draw new prospects into your sales funnel. You need to cover yourself because no matter how good of a consultant you are, you’ll still have the occasional cash-strapped client who waits till the 11th hour to bail on you. When they do, that leaves a big void that you can’t possibly fill in time for your next month’s planned income – unless you already have some sales prospects in your funnel who you may be able to convince to retain you now.

It happened to me this past month so it is certainly fresh in my mind… Here are three of my top hacks for converting those prospects to new business quickly:

Consulting 101 Series:

  • Starting a Consulting Business
  • How to Avoid Working for Free
  • How to Handle Unethical Client Requests
  • Pushing the Project Forward
  • Hired to Fire
  • 5 Suggestions for Managing Client Emergencies
  • Working Around an Unreasonable Deadline
  • How to Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
  • 4 Ways to Get Consulting Prospects to Buy
  • How to Handle Client Misunderstandings and Miscommunication

Change your payment terms. If you are always asking for payment in advance, mix it up and offer a hesitant new client or a past client that you want to re-engage to signup for a 50/50 payment plan. By this I mean 50% up front and 50% at the end of the gig. It’s highly likely that someone will bite. Especially when you’re working with smaller organizations, you will find that paying in advance for the custom services you provide may be something they desire, but can’t often afford. Meet them somewhere – meet them in the middle with this 50/50 plan. It will probably get you over the hump and get the deal closed.

Throw in two freebies. Add not one, but at least two free items or services of value that you can give them but won’t kill you on cost or time. It will mean a lot to them and they won’t know that it isn’t that big of a sacrifice to you…they are only going to look at it from their perspective. It’s likely that as you have been talking to this potential client you’ve heard some needs or some pain points that you could probably easily help them out on by just giving away a couple of add-on services or freebies that will really make your offer golden.

Give them more of the same, but for the same price. If you are giving them some kind of service for, say, a four week period…give them an extra week for the same four week price. That extra service period may very well seal the deal for them. Don’t make it something that is going to push you over the edge and make it impossible for you to deliver quality service to them or to other clients, but if you can an extra week or five or ten extra hours of service in the contract without wearing yourself out or making the whole gig much less profitable, then to the right potential client that will mean more than % discount. It’s all in the presentation.

Offer to “look at” something that is a need for them but may be outside of your normal services. You do ‘x’ and they need your services for ‘x.’ But they also need ‘y’. If ‘y’ is something you know you can do but is not usually in your normal service offering, offer it and see if that seals the deal. Again, don’t offer something you can’t handle – the last thing you ever want to do is fail. But much of what I offer as a consultant has developed out of new client requests and I rely on those new client innovations to help expand my service offering…and it has worked well for me