Fresh out of college and ready to roll. Business ideas have been brewing for a couple of years and you just can’t wait to get started. You finally merge onto the highway only to discover, a short way down the road, all your passion and education will run into a roadblock if you don’t know when and where to change lanes. The road to success has to be traveled with creative marketing and flexible planning.
Planning is a must. Yes, you’ve heard that before, and as long as you are in business, you’ll continue to hear it over and over again. It’s important to know what your goals are, and, perhaps even more important, to know when to change them. A good plan is a plan that works. If your plan is not working out as well as it looked on paper, it may be time to haul into a rest area and take a better look at your road map. Sometimes, all you may need to do is take a little detour, other times you could realize you need a whole new route. Don’t be afraid to admit it if you took a wrong turn, that’s the only way you’ll be able to change directions and reach your goals.
Marketing is just as important as planning. Without it your plan will never get out of the driveway. Sure, marketing is easy if you’re rich and famous. But, what do you do if you have neither money nor reputation? Answer: gorilla marketing. You do everything you can, every day, to get the word out without cost or at low cost. Take advantage of free directory and business listings, become a social media whiz, connect on the web in as many ways as possible, link your online media together, and utilize key words to target your audience. Use community bulletin boards — in short, become visible in your business community.
For example, Matt, who, coincidentally, really is fresh out of New England School of Communication, is building his business on the side while working at a local television station as an early morning news director. He loves his new job at the station; however, his passion for being behind the lens of a camera takes over in the afternoon and evening and seems to be developing into a nice little sideline for him. He can’t afford to invest in a personal domain but did a little research on the Internet and found webs.com offers a free website. Of course there are advanced levels to his website he can grow into, for a fee, to provide better visibility. Since Matt has linked his website with his social media, the simple and free site works well for now and provides a nice online presence he can refer interested parties to.
Another important marketing strategy Matt uses is networking, or partnering, with other businesses offering different, yet coordinating, services to his target audience. Matt’s video and photography services compliment the limousine and DJ services he has teamed up with. This arrangement provides each business with a wider range of promotional opportunities and they all profit as a team.
If you're going to spend any hard earned cash while starting a new venture, purchase good old-fashioned business cards. They’re inexpensive and a time-proven method of connecting to customers. Business cards can be dropped off at places potential clients frequent and you can also place them directly into their hands. They’re often passed around, like word of mouth.
Basically, if you don’t stray from your business goals and spend your money wisely, you will reach your destination successfully, even if you hit a few bumps in the road or have to get out and push now and then along the way.
Gail J. VanWart
Out of the Blue LLC
@Outofthebluellc on Twitter