Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs
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    NEWSLETTERS

    Many entrepreneurs have the expectation that once they launch their business, people will beat a path to their door. This is seldom the case.

    It is the rare entrepreneur who can combine business acumen with marketing expertise; so outsourcing marketing makes sense. It is also rare that entrepreneurs earmark enough money for marketing. This is a mistake. You need to tell people you are in business.

    Many years ago, it was enough to simply buy space in the Yellow Pages, because that’s where people shopped. But in today’s marketing world, most people “shop” for products or services on the Internet so your business needs to be represented.

    I’ve written previously about hiring someone with expertise to help you create a website. Your website is a reflection of your business, so it needs to resonate with viewers. It doesn’t have to be expensive and have all the bells and whistles, but it needs to tell your story and make it easy for people to navigate your site and make the buying decision.

    If you want to advertise, depending on your product or service, you will want to concentrate locally. Keep in mind that advertising is dependent on a long-range strategy. People may not pay attention to your ad immediately, but over time, a connection will be made. A publication’s ad rep can take you through the process and create a plan that allows you to target your messages, even by zip code. Make sure you budget for a longer term commitment if you hope to make this strategy work.

    Public relations is a cost-effective way to market your business. When your message appears on the editorial side of a paper or on the air, it has credibility among readers or viewers. Local editors and reporters are always looking for good stories, especially local business stories, but know in advance that they aren’t going to "sell" your products or services. You have to tell a story.

    If you aren’t a good writer or are comfortable talking to reporters, there are many local freelance writers and small public relations agencies that can assist you with a public relations program. They can be compensated on an hourly basis, by project or by a monthly retainer. Like advertising, this is a longer term commitment and will take time for a PR program to create the “buzz” you need.

    You don’t have to spend a lot of money on marketing, but you do need to make smart decisions. Work with a local marketing source so when you open your doors, people will find you.

    Contributed by Richard Ueberfluss, PT, MBA, FACHE, the president/owner of Assisting Hands® Home Care franchises in Hinsdale and Naperville; and who is also a regional franchise developer. Contact Richard Ueberfluss at http://www.assistinghands.com/naperville.