The age old saying goes, nothing in business happens until you make a sale. But any marketer will tell you that sales don’t happen until we market the goods and services to the customer. With that said, here are 50 things that you can do on the marketing front to ensure that the sales start to flow through your front door, into your business and ultimately into your bank account!

  1. Craft an Elevator Pitch. You should be marketing all the time — wherever you are. Therefore, you need a compelling elevator pitch. Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about 6 to 8 seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention so practice and make it count.
  2. Collaborate. Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote. You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms.
  3. Ask for referrals. Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. The majority of people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own. Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing opportunities.
  4. Ask For Work or Leads. Contact nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges, and even other businesses that have customers who may need your services.
  5. Partner. Partner with others who are doing the same type of work you are. Let them know you are available to handle their work overloads if the opportunity arises.
  6. Demonstrate. If your product or service is appropriate, give demonstrations of it to whatever groups or individuals might be interested.
  7. Talk To The Government. Find out what federal, state, and local government programs are in existence to help you get started in business. Most offer free counseling and some can put you in touch with government agencies and large corporations that buy from small and woman-owned businesses
  8. Become Certified. If you are a woman-owned or minority-owned business look into getting certified by private, state or federal organizations. Many purchasing agents have quotas for the amount of goods and services they need to buy from minority- and woman-owned businesses.
  9. Direct Mail – Send out sales letters to everyone you think might be able to use what you sell. Be sure to describe your business in terms of how it can help the prospect. Learn to drop a business card in every letter you send out. Follow up periodically with postcard mailings.
  10. Wrap That Vehicle. If you use a car or truck in your business, at a minimum, have your business name and contact information professionally painted on the side of it. If your budget allows for it, consider vehicle wrapping. If you don’t want the business name permanently on the vehicle, consider using magnetic signs.
  11. Network. There is no better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get to know people. Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.
  12. Speak Up. A lot of people hate public speaking. However, there are many organizations looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Take a deep breath and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience.
  13. Turn To Your Community. You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time. Then search for opportunities to get in front of them with your marketing message (e.g. by sponsoring a little league team).
  14. Work With The Media. Write an article that demonstrates your expertise in your field. Send it to noncompeting newspapers, magazines, and websites in your field that accept submissions from experts. Services like Help a Reporter Out will allow you to respond to reporters’ queries that are looking for story ideas and resources. Some are small media opportunities, but others are major media outlets that use this service too.
  15. Forge Deep Customer Relationships. It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in contact with them on a regular basis. This can be as simple as a weekly email tip, a monthly print newsletter or a holiday card.
  16. Offer coupons. Coupons are a good way for many businesses to attract new customers. Research shows that people will go out of their way to use a coupon, proving that this method is successful in expanding your customer base. If you’re interested in using a coupon service, consider ValPak.
  17. Give it Away. If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more. Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. Remember, you can pay for marketing in dollars or free product/services. Either way, you are spending money to make people aware that you exist.
  18. Get A Website That Captures Leads. An attractive website can make your business look professional. But the real benefits come when you can capture a lead who you can nurture into a prospect and ultimately a customer. If your website can’t currently capture leads (e.g. a sign up or subscription form), consider a redesign.
  19. Blog About It. Blogging is an excellent marketing tool for businesses. Studies show that businesses that blog regularly are more than two times as likely to generate leads via their website as businesses that don’t. It also builds trust in your business.
  20. Build Your Email List. Most businesses are aware of the benefits of email marketing. However, many small businesses fail to leverage their website or blog to build their email list. A simple email sign-up form on your website can produce great results. Giving users an incentive to sign-up to your list is also very important. This can be anything from a newsletter to a freebie such as an eBook or Whitepaper that is relevant to your audience.
  21. Distribute A Monthly Press Release. Press releases are easy to create and can be promotional in nature. The editorial guidelines are straightforward and it is easy to get your releases accepted on major press release distribution sites. It is an easy way to market your business and boost your online visibility. For best results, contact local media including newspapers and magazines to see if they will publish your press release. You may be surprised with the result.
  22. Take Steps to Boost Conversions. There are many small businesses that get a lot of traffic on their website but fail to convert them into leads. Your website traffic is of little use if you cannot convert them into customers for your business. There are many ways to do this. Here are some examples:
    1. Use a good call to action on your website
    2. Make sure your “offer” is compelling
    3. Give them instant access to whatever the “offer” is and automate this process if possible
  23. Run Competitions. Running a competition is another very effective way to market your business. Use a good prize or reward to entice customers. It also gets people talking about your brand.
  24. Use Videos To Market Your Business. YouTube is one of the most widely used channels by consumers with regards to searching for information. Building your company’s presence on the site can get extra coverage for your business and help to attract new customers.
  25. List Your Business. Business directories such as Google Plus Local, Bing Local and Yahoo Local will ensure that you are found when customers are looking for what you have to offer.
  26. Register On Location Based Apps. Location based services such as Yelp and Foursquare are very popular among consumers. Listing your business is a great way to market your business and attract new customers.
  27. Be Social. A majority of small business already have a profile on the main social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. To maximize the benefits of social media:
    1. Post few times per week
    2. Add value for users by sharing content that is of value to them
    3. Engage actively with users – follow, share, retweet, and respond promptly to customer complaints or concerns
  28. Try Google Adwords. Google Adwords, Google’s pid advertising program, is a very effective way to get your website listed on search engines for your desired search terms. It can be very effective particularly in the short term while you work on improving your organic rank in the free listings.
  29. Social Media Advertising. If you are new and do not yet have a large enough following on social media, you can consider paid advertising on social media. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube offer cost-effective advertising options for businesses.
  30. Design Your Calling Card. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a business card and business stationery, have them made up — immediately. Your business card, letterhead and envelope tell prospective customers you are a professional who takes your business seriously.
  31. Pass It Out. Get your business cards into the hand of anyone who can help you in your search for new clients. Call your friends and relatives and tell them you have started a business. Visit them and leave a small stack of business cards to hand out to their friends.
  32. Talk To Your Vendors. Talk to all the vendors from whom you buy products or services. Give them your business card, and ask if they can use your products or service, or if they know anyone who can
  33. Attend Meetings of Professional Groups. Consider attending the meetings of your Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or civic associations. Have business cards in a pocket where they are easily reachable. Don’t forget to ask what the people you speak with do, and to really listen to them. They’ll be flattered by your interest, and better remember you because of it.
  34. Become a Card Carrying Member. Pay for membership in those groups that attract your target customers. If the group has a website and publishes a members list on the site, make sure your name and website link get added.
  35. Get Involved. Become actively involved in 2 or 3 of the above groups. That will give you more opportunity to meet possible prospects.
  36. Dial and Smile. Get on the telephone and make “cold calls.” These are calls to people who you would like to do business with. Briefly describe what you do and ask for an appointment to talk to them about ways you can help them meet a need or solve a problem.
  37. Pass Out Samples. Get samples of your product or your work into as many hands as possible.
  38. Free Consultation. Offer a free, no obligation consultation to people you think could use your services. During such consultations offer some practical suggestions or ideas – and before you leave ask for an “order” to implement the ideas.
  39. Create A Marketing Department. Use other people to sell your product or service. Instead of (or in addition to) selling your products yourself, look for affiliates, resellers or people who will generate leads for you in return for a commission on sales.
  40. Develop A Marketing Kit. Have sales letters, flyers and other pertinent information printed and ready to go. Ask prospects who seem reluctant to buy from you: “Would you like me to send information?” Follow up promptly with a note and a letter that says, “Here is the information you asked me to send
  41. Billboards. If your budget can afford it, billboards are a great way to announce your product or service to the public. There are also a good way to promote “top of mind” awareness in those who aren’t ready to purchase now, but may do so in the future.
  42. Bus Benches. Same concept as above, but on a smaller physical and monetary scale. The key to their success is location, location, location. Ensure that the bench is at an intersection where drivers are forced to stop. This will afford them a few seconds to notice and then read the information presented.
  43. Yard Signs. Talk to local residents or businesses about placing a small sign in their yard. Just make sure that you check with your city to see if there are any permits or prohibitions.
  44. Conventions. Trade and other expos are a great way to get your product in front of a group of likeminded people. Ensure that prospects have a way to leave you their information so that you can follow up with them later, send them samples, etc.
  45. Charitable Giving/ Sponsorship. Giving for monetary gain is never a good thing. But if you can find a cause or charity that aligns with your mission, the exposure of your gift or voluntarism could lead to sales down the line.
  46. Promotional Items. Everyone loves free stuff. Pens, key chains, stress balls, business card refrigerator magnets, etc. This stuff often costs pennies and will stay in people’s possession for many months.
  47. Use Mailing Lists. The use of targeted mailing lists (combined with direct mail campaigns) can lead to identifying and engaging customers who are interested in buying from you. The key is to make sure that you are specific in your list criteria so that there is a good market (person) to message (mailing piece) match.
  48. Client Appreciation Events. Your current customers and clients are your best source of finding new business. Having a client BBQ, holiday party or children’s day can go a long way to reinforcing your relationship and demonstrating that you genuinely care about them.
  49. Launch Parties. Most people like a party and new stuff. Combine the two and there you go! If you are releasing a new product or service, or just refreshing an existing one, getting people together to see and experience it are always a good thing.
  50. Targeted Internet, Radio, TV Advertising. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get your message out there, especially if you limit the distribution to a specific market, location or demographic. Consider using targeted advertising in the same manner as the mailing list discussed above.