By Vishal P. Rao
What is the difference between a small business that makes
it and one that does not? Most likely, the one that was
successful engaged in some effective marketing. Wise
marketing is critical for owners of home-based businesses
for a number of reasons:
- Marketing keeps you ahead of the competition
- Marketing brings you a steady stream of revenue
- Marketing provides leads for future sales
- Marketing helps increase awareness about your business
Marketing is not something you just jump into, however. It
requires careful examination and evaluation. Not every
method, after all, will lead to the benefits mentioned
When it comes to selecting the methods you use with your
business, remember to keep in mind your target audience and
your budget, then start narrowing the list of possibilities.
You may also want to try a few of these marketing methods
which have been proven effective for other home-based
Almost all home-based businesses can work with an affiliate
program. With this type of program, you recruit other people
to sell your products/services and reward them with a
percentage of the revenue (usually 3 to 10%).
The mechanics of these programs works like a restaurant
franchise. Because your recruits are now associated with
your company's name, you want to be sure that they are
maintaining your standards of quality and professionalism,
so many affiliate programs include ready-made web sites,
sales materials, and more.
These recruits then attempt to make sales on your behalf.
The benefit is that all of their marketing efforts (beyond
what you provide) are not part of your business's expenses,
and they have the potential to reach new segments of
potential clients and customers.
This type of marketing is one of the most popular with all
businesses and can be handled in at least two ways: free
gifts with a purchase and/or contests.
You have probably come across ads or web sites that sell
e-books or other products and offer a number of free gifts
with the purchase of the product. The lure of freebies helps
people make the decision to purchase. You can do the same
thing with your product or service. Keep in mind that
whatever you offer as a free gift should be inexpensive to
produce so that you don't lose money on the deal.
Contests can also be quite effective if done creatively. For
example, if your business was selling e-books, you could
hold a contest with the grand prize being a free copy of one
of your top-selling e-books.
But what about second place? Many people don't realize that
there's no rule or law against giving a prize to every
person who enters your contest so why not reward all of the
other people who entered with a significant discount on the
price of that same e-book? Many of those second place
winners will take the discount and make a purchase.
Search Engine Optimization
If you do any business online, an important part of your
marketing efforts should be search engine optimization or
SEO. SEO essentially means that you tweak your site so that
it appears near the top of search engine results for certain
Generally this involves repeating those keywords frequently
and placing keywords in headlines, meta tags, and
introductory paragraphs. While it may sound easy, most
businesses turn their SEO efforts over to professionals. If
bringing an expert in fits your marketing budget, you may
want to enlist their assistance.
Referral Reward Programs
Another type of program aimed at bringing people to your
site is a type of referral reward program. During the
Internet boom, many sites had these type of programs which
paid a few cents for each person who visited a site from a
link listed at your site or through some other means.
Now, however, they simply are not as popular, but they can
still be beneficial. Instead of offering a cash reward,
allow your customers to earn your products/services by
referring new business to you.
For example, you may want to offer a free e-book to
customers who refer five new customers to your site. These
new customers may have to make a purchase, join the referral
reward program, become a member, or sign up for the
newsletter. People will do a great deal if the reward is
Whether you elect to use one of these marketing methods or
choose one of your own, the key is to test its
effectiveness. Try it out for awhile and see if the results
are satisfactory. If not, return to the drawing board. If
so, then implement it on a larger scale. With careful
planning and testing, your business will experience the
benefits of marketing firsthand.