Jane Shelton

Jane Shelton

Monday, 30 July 2012 16:03

What are the best ways of marketing my home business, given I have limited time and money? Start-up Mentor Jane Shelton

Are there ways of marketing my home business, given I have limited time and money?

As a work-from-home mum, I need to spend a lot of time in the home, rather than getting out there and marketing my business. What are the best ways of marketing given my limited time and money?


The keys to best practice are always the same: Focus on where your customers are heading rather than upon the limits of your position. Here are 10 suggested affordable marketing steps:


1. A memorable brand


Your best step is to have a memorable brand that clearly tells everyone what you do and how customers can benefit from your work.


Make sure your business name or logo clearly and fully projects what you’re offering in a way which will appeal to your customer base.


2. Online customer enhancement programs


Start an online customer enhancement program that encourages consumers to become customers and customers to become advocates.


Send a short email to every customer asking for a referral and then send a personal thankyou note each time that you pick up a new job.



3. Meet your customers


Make a point of getting out of your home to where your customers hang out and become interested in the needs, wants, hopes and expectations of your customers, who are the vital foundation of your business.


Then visit the local community newspaper to offer to write a blog about the services you offer in your community.



4. Testimonials


As I write in There’s No Business Like Home, make sure that you encourage your customers’ expectations by managing the basic marketing mix – a well-branded product that is supported by testimonials and follow up contacts to replace stock, retain relationships and review relevance.


5. Business cards


Collect and respond to business cards.


Have a monthly draw for a weekend holiday at a resort hotel. Use the contents of the potential draw to give you a reason to ask for an email address. Then provide an offer of your 24/7 practice readiness.



6. Community


Get involved with local community and religious organisations that generate demands for senior support. Let your customers know that you are involved in these community projects and invite them to consider joining you in them. You can have small samples to give away, or hand out a voucher for a discount at your business.



7. Have a glass (bowl) half-full


Copy those city centre restaurants and have a large glass bowl by the cash desk to collect business cards (or handwritten contact detail slips) from customers, with a monthly draw for, say, a free bottle of wine or champagne. This is another way to build a database for future marketing activities.


8. Have a professional phone manner


During work hours, make sure every call is answered within three rings and that the greeting you give is friendly and personal. After hours or at busy times, make sure your answering message is professional, helpful, and proactive.


Not just “please leave a message” but “we are so sorry that no one is able to help you right away, but we promise to call you back by 9.30am tomorrow if you would be kind enough to leave your number.”



9. Get feedback


As each customer completes their transaction with you, ask when you can give them a call to check on their experience with your business and request some contact details for this follow-up call.


Offer a small monthly prize as an incentive. This gives you valuable feedback on your success (or otherwise), and builds up a database of email addresses, which you can use for promotional emails, newsletters, etc.



10. Invite your customers to dinner


If none of these suggestions appeal, you can fall back on an invitation to your best customers to become brand ambassadors by holding an “at-home” or garden party.


Make sure that you have plenty of samples, business cards and a great set of small door-prizes to reward all comers for their support of your next ventures.

Dr Jane Shelton is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne's independent think tank, and CEO (honorary) for 'Life. Be in it.' International. Jane has written a book called No Workplace Like Home, which seeks to encourage start-up home-based business owners to live more of their lives through running a successful home business.


Ask Jane or any other StartupSmart mentor a question here.

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