Good marketing requires good market research. Demographic, industry, labor and market data can be obtained from:Your local library
One marketing method that can work for most small businesses, regardless of size or type of business, is networking. In fact, it's the single most effective tool for almost any type of business. Successful networking depends on several important principles.
Plan. Carefully choose where you network. Network in places and at events where your target market goes, not where your peers or buddies go.
Focus. When attending an event, don't try to meet as many people as possible. Trust is not built from a stack of business cards. Instead, focus on a few people at each event. Get to know them well enough so that either of you might suggest a further meeting before the event is over.
Think differently. Don't focus on finding customers at a networking event. That's what everybody else is doing. There's nothing worse than being descended on by a flock of eager sellers when you're simply there to meet other business owners or to learn from the program. Instead, reorient your thinking and look for people to refer. Since most successful businesses grow by referral, be the person who does the referring, because the fastest way to get referrals is to give them. This means you'll do more listening than talking, more asking than telling. The ancillary result is that your new friend will also think you're brilliant.
Give undivided attention. Don't let your eyes wander over the shoulder of the person with whom you're having a conversation. Stay focused. When you give this sort of attention, people will seek you out, you won't have to go to them.
Make notes. If you receive a business card, be sure to make a note on it about the person or the conversation you had with them so when you find it your pocket two weeks later, you'll have a reminder about the person. It also never hurts to make similar notes on the cards you give. The recipient may not be as savvy a networker as you.
Follow up. If you discuss having lunch, call within three days. If you ask for their marketing materials, ask again. Write a note, hand-written if possible or at least hand-sign a typed letter. E-mail is fine for subsequent, informal communications or for the exchange of information, but in the early stages of a relationship, it isn't as personal as one might hope.
Never give up. Whether you do business with an individual or not, if he or she is someone you respect, the contact is valuable. Not only should you refer others to your contact, you should also maintain the contact. Amazingly, referrals are rarely direct. More often, the actual referral comes second- or third-hand. The wider your network, the more people you have working for you in your marketplace.
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