Small businesses don’t need to have an online store to use the web effectively. Here are some money-saving, time-saving ideas that will increase your profits, build your customer base, and even sell products without actually having to put up a website.
Like all other o5.com’s recipes for life, these tips are practical and concrete—and tested by small business owners like yourself! Read on and find out how to save money (and make money!) through the web.
Money saving tip # 1: Find your customers with one click.
The problem with marketing campaigns is that you’re sending out thousands of flyers hoping that at least 10% will reach people who are actually interested. However, a quick search on the Internet leads you to existing communities. For example, if you sell hand-knitted baby clothes, then you have a higher chance of reaching customers at (you guessed it!) parenting forums or websites that cater to pregnant moms. From there, you can inquire about a banner ad (which is much cheaper and targeted than placing an ad in the local newspaper) or sign up and include your business name and address in your member signature.
However, don’t ‘spam’ the forum with unwanted product announcements. Use the forums to network with customers; reply to posts and give feedback and support. So, when you actually post any announcements related to your businesses, you have a loyal base of supporters.
Money saving tip # 2: Get information.
Visit websites for small businesses. Many of these offer opportunities to talk to fellow entrepreneurs. You can exchange ideas, and even find potential partners and suppliers. Some websites also have free applications or templates that you can download—useful for preparing documents, organizing files, making presentations, or even doing accounting.
Money saving tip # 3: Sell items at auctions.
While it’s great to have an online store, it does require capital to set up, maintain and promote. Why not use online auction sites, such as Yahoo! Auctions and eBay.
Money saving tip # 4: Capitalize on newsgroups.
Newsgroups and chatrooms are a great way of networking with potential customers. As with joining website forums, don’t start hard selling right away. You will gain more in the long run by presenting yourself as a source of information and support. Remember to put your business information in your signature!
Money saving tip # 5: Set up an e-group.
Get the email addresses of your customers and send them regular updates on sales, promos and new products. You create opportunities for repeat-business, plus emails are easy for people to forward—so this is a great way to market your product by word of mouth. For example, you can offer a discount or free product for every successful referral.
Money saving tip # 5: Set up a Facebook account.
Social networking sites like Facebook are a free way to stay in touch with your customers and market your product to their friends. Post albums of your products and tag the people you think may be interested (it’ll appear on their profiles).
Photo from thesmarterwallet.com