Home Businesses Need Promotion Too
The added issue for most home-based businesses is managing supply and demand.
If you spend on an effective marketing campaign and get too many customers all at once, how would you manage? Although this is a very unlikely scenario, it is something to be considered.
The last thing you want is to be inundated with orders that you cannot meet, as you will then be deflected from production of your goods or delivering your services to managing communications with increasingly unhappy customers.
I am thinking of a small company (admittedly bigger the a home business, but not much bigger) my wife saw advertised in a national glossy magazine in the run-up to Christmas a few years ago.
They must have been thrilled to have got such good exposure.
There product was good - some seasonal candles - and good value, so we placed an order.
Two weeks before Christmas we got an email to apologise for being unable to meet the order and giving a refund.
Disappointing for us, but potentially devastating for the business.
So - getting your promotions right is essential.
If you are lucky you will already have someone in your network who needs your service or who can sell your products.
This might be family, friends or neighbours who run a bed and breakfast and could use your ironing or cleaning services; someone with their own business who needs some of your freelance copywriting or proofreading; a friend who runs their own craft stall, and who needs some of the products you make.
Even if you don't think you know anyone who could use your new business it is well worth telling everyone what you are doing and asking them to pass on the news to their network of friends and acquaintances.
Not only might you gain a few regular hours of business or a regular outlet for your products, but you also start to build a word of mouth reputation.
"Who designs your business cards, Jane? They're very good.
" That sort of thing.
It is increasingly important to have your own website.
This acts as somewhere you can refer people to for information, and you can also use it to manage enquiries and orders.
There are lots of build it yourself websites on the market and my advice is to spend some time reviewing the different options to see which you like the look of most, and which suits your purposes best.
Read some reviews, ask friends and family about their website.
Once you have a website you can begin to build your social media presence.
Younger people use social media without a thought, but it can still be a little daunting to the rest of us.
It is much easier to use than you may think, and once you make a start with the most widely used media, you begin to understand how to make this work for you, If the learn-it-yourself approach doesn't work for you, look for a local or online course.
There are plenty around.
Make sure you make good use of your receipts and invoices.
Consider having a distinctive logo and at least make sure your name, phone number and URL are on every email and piece of paper you send out.
If you sell at markets, make sure you have copies of your business card or promotional material for people to pick up, even if they don't want to buy today.
Finally you can consider paying for advertising.
Think long and hard about this.
Consider your budget, your audience and the trade you want to bring in.
A small ad in a local newspaper or magazine can be really effective for a home-based gardening, painting or cleaning service, for example.
Think about the cost, and if you have tried advertising for a few months and find that it is not bringing in the trade you hoped for, then reconsider your strategy.
Keep watching what others are doing, so you can pick up and adapt good ideas for your own business.
Use your network to keep ideas coming in.
The more imaginative and creative you can be in making people aware of what you are offering, the better.