The Entrepreneur’s Corner
How to market your small business
Ever heard someone say: “My business just needs more business, we just need more exposure.”
Inevitably, they may get more exposure, but often, no more business. Exposure is necessary, but it does not translate into more business.
Often times “marketing” makes us think of corporate marketing plans, big budgets, and ads everywhere we turn. Small business owners have different needs, and need to scale their marketing efforts to strategies that can be effective without the big expenditures.
How can you use marketing to bring in more business? One of the first rules of marketing is that 80 percent of your business will come from people who already know you, or have done business with you before. So it makes perfect sense to tap into your database of clients first.
Step 1: Start by calling your 10 best clients to check and see how they’re doing. Ask how their summer went. The key here is not to sell them but for you to show that you care about them. Imagine if someone from a business you patronized called you because they genuinely took an interest in you.
Step 2: Send a personalized letter (yes, on real stationary) saying: “Hello! I was just thinking about you, and hoping things are going well for you. I was reading this article and thought you might find it interesting, as I did. Remember; if you need anything don’t hesitate to give us a call. We appreciate your business.” And be sure to include the article you mentioned.
Step 3: Send a newsletter that includes business articles, tips, valuable information or information about events that are going on locally. You could even invite your clients to write articles within their expertise for your newsletters. This offers them great exposure, and you will gain their gratitude for supporting them.
Step 4: Invite your clients and contacts to a fun event. Ideas are baseball games, concerts, a special client appreciation night or even a group dinner. Another idea is to invite them to a lunch seminar, where your best clients and their guests learn something of value to their business for only the cost of lunch.
Step 5: Invite a client or prospect to a group mixer or networking event, where you act like a host to your guest. You make an effort to introduce them to contacts that they might benefit from meeting. People go to networking events to connect with people. Help them make connections, and in time, they will reward you with connections that will benefit you.
Step 6: Make sure that your marketing materials convey the message and professionalism you want. This includes business cards, brochures, your website, voicemail message, how your staff answers the phone, and even how welcoming you are to new clients.
With a little planning you efforts will go a long way
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.
“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”
The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.
Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.
Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?
Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.
Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space
A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.
Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.
Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.
Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.
“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.
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