I was reading a message board yesterday and a gal asked if she needed to do more than place classified ads. Here's part of my answer to her:
Everyone in business should be marketing. There are tons of ways to market. You can place a classified ad. This is completely straight forward. Either the person clicks and responds or they don't.
You can write articles. This is much more subtle. Folks will read and then maybe click. Very different from the ad, where only those who are interested will read it. Your articles might be shared with others. They might be picked up by publishers. They might even be emailed between friends.
You can post on message boards. Again, folks will read your messages. Some might click your link, they might not. Even if you don't make a sale today, folks might bookmark your site.
A blog is just one more way to reach out to others. I have folks email me saying they loved my blog post. They might or might not click on my business. They might or might not share that post with someone else. Think of the classified ad. Who is going to share a classified ad and say "gosh I saw this ad, you should check it out?" However, you might say "I saw a great blog post, you should check it out." I love getting emails saying "my friend/sister/aunt/mother send me a link to your post."What about comments on other people's blogs? I have met some awesome people from their comments. Some incredible conversations have developed from comments I've left.
Newsletters are yet another way to connect with others. Month after month you are able to put your name in front of other people. Month after month you'll keep folks thinking about you and what you have to offer.
Profiles and signatures are a wonderful way to let others know what you do without really "advertising". Almost all communities allow you to create a profile. Use that profile. Let others know who you are and what you do. I don't mean just in business. When I tell folks I love to crochet and scrapbook, terrific conversations can follow. I look for common ground between me and others. It might be that we both enjoy working out. It might be that we both love to cook. It might be that we both have adult children. Without a profile, folks won't know about here. Even here on blogger.com use your profile, let folks know about you.
Hold an online party. Look for Vendor Fairs. I see them advertised all of the time. The folks holding the fair do the marketing to bring in potential customers. This is equivilant to renting a booth at a local show. The organizers of the show market for potential customers. Shop around, not all vendor fairs are the same.
Offline, get a magnet for your car. Or get a catalog holder or business card holder for your car. Use your vehicle. Get lettering for your back window.
Summer is coming. Get your website printed on your beach towel. Get it printed on your diaper bag or towel bag. If you have an umbrella, get your website printed on your umbrella.
Do you subscribe to magazines? Get a label on them and give them away after you are done reading them. Leave them anywhere where people gather.
Wear a name tag everywhere you go. You'll be amazed how many folks will stop you when you wear a nametag.
These are just a few ideas of how you can market your business.