Business Tips To Help You Succeed
by Jack Humphrey
Never let a day pass without engaging in at least one marketing
Determine a percentage of gross income to spend annually on
Set specific marketing goals every year; review and adjust
Maintain a tickler file of ideas for later use.
Carry business cards with you (all day, every day).
Create a personal nametag or pin with your company name and logo on
it and wear it at high visibility meetings.
Stay alert to trends that might impact your target market, product
or promotion strategy.
Read market research studies about your profession, industry,
product, target market groups, etc.
Collect competitors’ ads and literature; study them for
information about strategy, product features and benefits, etc.
Ask clients why they hired you and solicit suggestions for
Ask former clients why they left you.
Identify a new market.
Join a list-serve (email list) related to your profession.
Subscribe to an Internet usenet newsgroup or a list-serve that
serves your target market.
Create a new service, technique or product.
Offer a simpler/cheaper/smaller version of your (or another
existing) product or service.
Offer a fancier/more expensive/faster/bigger version of your (or
another existing) product or service.
Update your services.
EDUCATION, RESOURCES AND INFORMATION
Establish a marketing and public relations advisory and referral
team composed of your colleagues and/or neighboring business
owners to share ideas and referrals and to discuss community
Meet quarterly for breakfast.
Create a suggestion box for employees.
Attend a marketing seminar.
Read a marketing book.
Subscribe to a marketing newsletter or other publication.
Subscribe to a marketing list-serve on the Internet.
Subscribe to a marketing usenet newsgroup on the Internet.
Train your staff, clients and colleagues to promote referrals.
Hold a monthly marketing meeting with employees or associates to
discuss strategy, status and to solicit marketing ideas.
Join an association or organization related to your profession.
Get a marketing intern to take you on as a client; it will give
the intern experience and you some free marketing help.
Maintain a consultant card file for finding designers, writers and
other marketing professionals.
Hire a marketing consultant to brainstorm with.
Take a “creative journey” to another progressive city or country
to observe and learn from marketing techniques used there.
PRICING AND PAYMENT
Analyze your fee structure; look for areas requiring modifications
Establish a credit card payment option for clients.
Give regular clients a discount.
Learn to barter; offer discounts to members of certain
clubs/professional groups/organizations in exchange for promotions
in their publications.
Give “quick pay” or cash discounts.
Offer financing or installment plans.
Publish a newsletter for customers and prospects. (It doesn’t have
to be fancy or expensive.)
Develop a brochure of services.
Include a postage-paid survey card with your brochures and other
company literature. Include check-off boxes or other items that
will involve the reader and provide valuable feedback to you.
Remember, business cards aren’t working for you if they’re in the
box. Pass them out! Give prospects two business cards and
brochures — one to keep and one to pass along.
Produce separate business cards/sales literature for each of your
target market segments (e.g. government and commercial, and/or
business and consumer).
Create a poster or calendar to give away to customers and
Print a slogan and/or one-sentence description of your business on
letterhead, fax cover sheets and invoices.
Develop a site on the World Wide Web.
Create a “signature file” to be used for all your e-mail messages.
It should contain contact details including your Web site address
and key information about your company that will make the reader
want to contact you.
Include “testimonials” from customers in your literature.
Test a new mailing list. If it produces results, add it to your
current direct mail lists or consider replacing a list that’s not
performing up to expectations.
Use colored or oversized envelopes for your direct mailings. Or
send direct mail in plain white envelopes to pique recipients’
Announce free or special offers in your direct response pieces.
(Direct responses may be direct mail, broadcast fax, or e-mail
messages.) Include the offer in the beginning of the message and
also on the outside of the envelope for direct mail.
Update your media list often so that press releases are sent to
the right media outlet and person.
Write a column for the local newspaper, local business journal or
Publish an article and circulate reprints.
Send timely and newsworthy press releases as often as needed.
Publicize your 500th client of the year (or other notable
Create an annual award and publicize it as an outstanding employee
of the year.
Get public relations and media training or read up on it.
Appear on a radio or TV talk show.
Create your own TV program on your industry or your specialty.
Market the show to your local cable station or public broadcasting
station as a regular program. Or, see if you can air your show on
an open access cable channel.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or to a trade
Take an editor to lunch.
Get a publicity photo taken and enclose with press releases.
Consistently review newspapers and magazines for possible PR
Submit “tip” articles to newsletters and newspapers.
Conduct industry research and develop a press release or article
to announce an important discovery in your field.
Create a press kit and keep its contents current.
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CUSTOMER RELATIONS
Ask your clients to come back again.
Return phone calls promptly.
Set up a fax-on-demand or email system to easily respond to
Use an answering machine or voice mail system to catch after-hours
phone calls. Include basic information in your outgoing message
such a business hours, location, etc.
Record a memorable message or “tip of the day” on your outgoing
answering machine or voice mail message.
Ask clients what you can do the help them.
Take clients out to a ball game, a show or another special event
just send them two tickets with a note.
Hold a seminar at your office for clients and prospects.
Send hand-written thank-you notes.
Send birthday cards and appropriate seasonal greetings.
Photocopy interesting articles and send them to clients and
prospects with a hand-written “FYI” note and your business card.
Send a book of interest or other appropriate business gift to a
client with a handwritten note.
Create an area on your Web site specifically for your customers.
Redecorate your office or location where you meet with your
NETWORKING AND WORD OF MOUTH
Join a Chamber of Commerce or other organization.
Join or organize a breakfast club with other professionals (not in
your field) to discuss business and network referrals.
Mail a brochure to members of organizations to which you belong.
Serve on a city board or commission.
Host a holiday party.
Hold an open house.
Send letters to attendees after you attend a conference.
Join a community list-serve (email list) on the Internet.
Advertise during peak seasons for your business.
Get a memorable phone number, such as “1-800-WIDGETS.”
Obtain a memorable URL and email address and include them on all
Provide Rolodex® cards or phone stickers pre-printed with your
business contact information.
Promote your business jointly with other professionals via
cooperative direct mail.
Advertise in a specialty directory or in the Yellow Pages.
Write an ad in another language to reach a non-English-speaking
market. Place the ad in a publication that market reads, such as a
Distribute advertising specialty products such as pens, mouse pads
Mail “bumps,” photos, samples and other innovative items to your
prospect list. (A bump is simply anything that makes the mailing
envelope bulge and makes the recipient curious about what’s in the
Create a direct mail list of “hot prospects.”
Consider non-traditional tactics such as bus backs, billboards and
popular Web sites.
Project a message on the sidewalk in front of your place of
business using a light directed through words etched in a glass
Consider placing ads in your newspaper’s classified section.
Consider a vanity automobile tag with your company name.
Create a friendly bumper sticker for your car.
Code your ads and keep records of results.
Improve your building signage and directional signs inside and
Invest in a neon sign to make your office or storefront window
visible at night.
Create a new or improved company logo or “recolor” the traditional
Sponsor and promote a contest or sweepstakes.
SPECIAL EVENTS AND OUTREACH
Get a booth at a fair/trade show attended by your target market.
Sponsor or host a special event or open house at your business
location in cooperation with a local non-profit organization, such
as a women’s business center. Describe how the organization helped
Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.
Teach a class or seminar at a local college or adult education
Sponsor an “Adopt-a-Road” area in your community to keep roads
litter-free. People that pass by the area will see your name on
the sign announcing your sponsorship.
Volunteer your time to a charity or non-profit organization.
Donate your product or service to a charity auction.
Appear on a panel at a professional seminar.
Write a “How To” pamphlet or article for publishing.
Produce and distribute an educational CD-ROM, audio or video tape.
Publish a book.
Start every day with two cold calls.
Read newspapers, business journals and trade publications for new
business openings and for personnel appointment and promotion
announcements made by companies. Send your business literature to
appropriate individuals and firms.
Give your sales literature to your lawyer, accountant, printer,
banker, temp agency, office supply salesperson, advertising
agency, etc. (Expand your sales force for free!)
Put your fax number on order forms for easy submission.
Set up a fax-on-demand or email system to easily distribute
responses to company or product inquiries.
Follow up on your direct mailings, email messages and broadcast
faxes with a friendly telephone call.
Try using the broadcast fax or email delivery methods instead of
direct mail. (Broadcast fax and email allows you to send the same
message to many locations at once.)
Using broadcast fax or email messages to notify your customers of
product service updates.
Extend your hours of operation.
Reduce response/turnaround time. Make reordering easy reminders.
Provide pre-addressed envelopes.
Display product and service samples at your office.
Remind clients of the products and services you provide that they
aren’t currently buying.
Call and/or send mail to former clients to try to reactivate them.
Take sales orders over the Internet.