10 Business Building Tips

Building a business doesn’t have to be complicated–it just has to be effective. As a business owner, we have many concerns. From accounting and inventory to managing employees and subcontractors, small businesses do it all. Sometimes it may feel like there’s little time left to work on building the business.

The good news is business building (marketing) doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive. It just has to be effective. Whether we realize it or not, we are marketing every day. Customers, past, present and potential, are watching. They see trucks, crew members, equipment, as well as project set up and close out. Of course, the finished the product is important and so is the professional way we get there.

Strategic effort both in and out the workplace can go a long way to generating new business and ensuring there’s plenty more to come in the future. Here are ten successful marketing tips:

1. Expand your professional network by staying in touch with customers. Just because a project is done, the relationship with clients shouldn’t end. Make a point to call every customer back within a month of wrapping up their project and check in. Besides being able to respond to concerns, this may generate new work (a freshly painted space tends to make other areas look shabby by comparison). Have brief “ongoing” conversations about other services or technical skills that you offer. Let them know about new products, express willingness to work over holidays or around their schedule, always ask for an excellent reference, and leave business cards for them to share with friends and family.

2. Seek to make meaningful connections with professionals in complementary industries. Interior designers, flooring contractors and furniture sales people all have a lead on people looking to make improvements. Also, real estate agents are in touch with people moving into new dwellings. Creating a referral arrangement may help improve the bottom line of both businesses.

3. Manage your reputation. An online reputation is an important element of a business. Staying abreast of what’s being said about you in reviews and by competitors can help you quickly curb misinformation or minimize any damage done. Google Alerts is a good way to monitor your name on the web. It’s easy to set up and is absolutely free. You can also track competitors and suppliers with this tool.

4. Manage your perception. How you treat others and your job site says a great deal about your values and the quality of the work you do. Whenever you interact with customers, suppliers, partners or employees, do it with the highest degree of professionalism possible. A well-groomed, uniformed crew is a good start.

5. Ask about vendor support. You might be surprised to learn just how much free marketing support you can get from vendors and suppliers. Lawn signs, vehicle magnetic signs, even helping with a presentation or proposal are among the perks that some vendors offer.

6. Add a little urgency to advertising. It’s not enough to place an ad in the local paper; you’ve got to give potential customers a reason to call NOW. Offering an early-booking discount for summer jobs or a limited-time special can be just the motivation customers need to make a buy-now decision.

7. Weigh the value of a Web site. From chewing gum to dry cleaners, it seems everybody has a Web site these days. But before you jump on the web wagon, ask yourself if you are prepared to invest the time and money needed to build and maintain a professional-looking Web site. Because as with any advertising, a Web site that doesn’t match up to the image of your business may actually do more harm than good.

8. Be pitch perfect. You never know when the opportunity to introduce the business may arise. Make sure you have a quick, rehearsed elevator speech (pitch) that describes what you do, how you do it better than others, and provides an incentive for potential customers to call (i.e., “I’d be happy to provide a free consultation and estimate.”)

9. Let the little things speak for themselves. How people perceive you and your business is influenced by many little things. From the condition of your vehicles and the appearance of your crew, to the courtesy and enthusiasm with which you answer the phone, to the look of your business cards–these all contribute to a potential customer’s image of your business.

10. Build on your success. Nothing wins future clients like happy past clients. Create a photo album (project portfolio) of past projects to showcase your capabilities to prospective customers. Include variety of project types in an engaging layout that appeals to prospective clients you seek.

Remember, you don’t have to take on all these efforts to achieve success. Start with just two or three and begin. As they become a natural part of your routine, try a few more and stick with what works. How do you know what works? That’s easy. Any business building steps that attract more customers and allows the company to grow and prosper is worth repeating.


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