First Steps To Picking The Perfect Marketing Method For Your Home-Based Business

by Vishal P. Rao

Part of running a successful business is making it grow. Home- based businesses are no exception. In fact, it can be even more important if you are just starting out or lack a potential client base. The key to growing a business is marketing. Marketing is how you connect with individuals who may become customers or clients and includes methods such as affiliate programs, newsletters, trade shows, Websites, brochures, advertising, and more. The potential marketing methods available are almost limitless in scope and deciding on an approach may seem daunting, but a little preliminary effort can help you narrow the field of options and help you make the best choices for your business.

DETERMINE TARGETED AUDIENCE

No matter what marketing method you choose, you first need to decide to whom you plan to market. Mass marketing to a general audience simply is not cost-effective for most businesses, so you must decide early on which segments of society are most likely to purchase your products or services. Begin by asking yourself some simple questions:

*What needs does my product/service fulfill?

* Will businesses or consumers be more likely to need what I offer?

* Who are the clients I already have?

* Who does my competition market to?

With the answers to these questions, you can begin to decide on your targeted audience. However, you can refine it further by contacting sample populations of that audience and getting feedback from them on whether or not they would be interested in your product/service. You can use surveys, chat rooms, e-mail questionnaires, or telephone polls to generate that feedback.

SET A BUDGET

Many inexperienced business owners make a major mistake when they begin their marketing efforts: they do not set a budget. Without a budget, these business owners can easily find all of their profits being funneled into marketing efforts.

Before you make a decision about what types of marketing methods to choose, you need to first establish how much you can spend in order to receive the desired results. Most businesses use the 10% rule. According to this rule, if you decided to implement a marketing program that would generate $5,000 in monthly sales, then you should spend only $500 a month on marketing. Applying the 10% rule prevents businesses from spending more on the marketing efforts than is generated by those efforts. You must also remember to be realistic. If you currently generate $200 a week in sales, do not anticipate marketing results of $10,000 a month and use that number as the basis for your marketing budget. Instead, start small at first and build on successful marketing attempts.

EVALUATE MARKETING METHODS

There are a wide array of marketing methods available, but not all of them are appropriate for every business, audience, or product/service. Before deciding on a method, you need to carefully evaluate what will work best for your situation. For example, if you run an online business, you may want to focus most of your marketing efforts on the Internet medium instead of mailing brochures to people who may not even own computers. Also take into account your audience. If you are marketing to businesses, your methods will be different than if you are marketing to consumers. If you sell to parents, your methods are different than if you sell to college students. You may even need to develop more than one method in order to meet the needs of all of your potential audiences.

Finally, remember your budget. A television commercial may be more effective than an ad in the yellow pages, but it may also use your entire marketing budget. To make the most of your budget, you want to start small and test your efforts before plunging into a major investment. After all, if the commercial flops, you won't have anything left in your budget for alternative marketing. Once you complete these preliminary efforts, you can begin to explore marketing methods more effectively, which will allow you to pick the methods which should provide the best results for your particular business.

 
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