How to promote your home business
Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2015. In the same year, 43 million Brits shopped online, 20% of which used a mobile device, spending on average over £3,100.
Clearly, there is money to be made from your home business and much of it can be done online. So how can you advertise your home business to get in on the action?
Build your website and work from home online
This is critical to establishing your online presence and presents lots of home business opportunities. Think of it as your ‘shop window’, where you can showcase all of your products and services. When designing your site, consider the customer journey and how it will display across devices.
Use local listing services
Register your business with Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places for Business. This will enable you to be found more easily on searches and on Google Maps, which is great if you have a home based business where customers come to the house.
Invest in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
When you have a website, maximise every opportunity to be in front of your target audience. You also need to keep active so that the search engines themselves are aware of your site, and recognise your authority in the industry. You can do this by writing interesting, relevant content on a company blog, posting images with captions and adding technical signposts to your website for search engine crawlers.
Use social media
You might already be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn for personal use but you should also create company pages on these platforms. Social media can be a great way to build rapport with your customers; you can update them on new products, company culture and awards. Social media can also be an effective channel for customer service when monitored regularly and is one of the best small business opportunities – it’s free, fast and nearly everyone’s on it. Obviously, the more profiles you create, the more profiles you need to manage and create content for, so try to choose the platforms that are being used by your target audience.
Write a press release
If your business has achieved something newsworthy, then spread the word. There are free distribution services online but traditional outlets still have the contacts. If you’re trying to get in front of a niche audience or industry, then it’s worth paying for a managed release.
Join industry forums
Practically every industry will have its own online community, you just need to find it! Join a relevant forum and start contributing to the online conversation. If you actively contribute, you can build awareness of your home business as a reliable source of information without being too invasive. Joining a LinkedIn Group is a great place to start.
Buy ad space
Buy adverts in online and in print media to get your company in front of your ideal customers. You can do this through Google or Bing Ads, where there’s lots of online tutorials to help you get started. Sometimes, and particularly if you are a local business, you might want to take out a print ad in your newspaper or an industry magazine. Or, if you’ve got the budget for it, why not sponsor an event?
Get out of the house and meet some people working in your industry! Real people buy your products and services at the end of the day, and it’s good to get in front of them so that they can associate your company name with a face and personality. It’s also an excellent way to keep an eye on the competition.
Start email and SMS marketing
You can generate leads and sales through email in various ways. Sending useful newsletters to your existing customer base is a no-brainer; you could even offer a discount if they refer a friend. Try including the option for new visitors to sign up to receive newsletters on your website too. You can also purchase lists from lead generation companies, which can be useful if you’re just starting a home business.
If your business involves processing orders or confirming appointment times then you might like to try your hand at SMS marketing. A quick text to let your customer know their item has been dispatched can work wonders.
This is one cost effective way that home business owners can market their business, since it acts almost like an extended sales force of your own! Join an affiliate network to get your programme underway; it can do great things to increase your brand awareness as well as lead generation and sales.
Case studies and recommendations
Similar to the way that you can create content on your company blog, you can leverage case studies to encourage new visitors to make a purchase. It’s often said that word of mouth marketing is the best but having recommendations from existing customers, in their own words, of how your product or service was able to help them is powerful stuff. Make sure you share these widely on social media and in your email newsletters.
Register on industry directories
A quick search online can tell you which directories you need to be on to rub shoulders with influencers. Customers will often use these as they are a quick way to find out who’s who in the industry, and so will competitors.
Get some business cards
If you haven’t already, have some business cards, letterheads and even branded clothing printed. Every communication or meeting is an opportunity to introduce your business, and you need to look like a professional and trustworthy outfit.