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Finding new customers

If you’re new to business, marketing can seem overwhelming and frustrating. There is no one activity that brings a wealth of customers to your door. Marketing must be an ongoing activity with a number of complementary approaches.

What typically happens when you first start your business, you pay a lot of attention to marketing, but once you reach a satisfactory level of sales or a sufficient client list, you slowly let marketing slide. That’s a recipe for long-term decline. There’s always a certain amount of natural attrition in your customer base, as well as new competitors attracting some customers away. You have to keep marketing just to retain a constant level of income.

But before you go out and spend your money, sit down and plot out at least a mini-marketing plan. Make sure your marketing activities are a good fit for your type of business. Come up with a budget. As importantly, remember you need repeat exposure to potential customers to get results. So, don’t blow your entire marketing budget on one direct mailing

Here’s are five tried-and-true marketing activities for small businesses:

Advertising
Advertising often brings quick results, especially if you’re announcing a special sale. But advertising works best when you maintain an ongoing advertising program because ads keep your name in front of customers.

Direct mail
Direct mail can be expensive and must be repeated at least quarterly to be effective, but it definitely works.

Cold calls
Want fast results? Pick up the phone, knock on the door, visit the prospect’s business.

Website
Having a website won’t generate sales, certainly not immediately. But it helps support your other sales efforts and gives your business credibility.

Referrals
Everyone wants “word-of-mouth” advertising, but this takes time. The best way to generate referrals is by ongoing networking, but you can also institute a reward program to encourage current customers to recommend you to their friends.

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