Working out of your home requires strong time-management skills, especially since you don’t have administrative or marketing support. Since everything hinges on you, you have to use your time wisely to take care of existing customers and cultivate new ones.
Home Business Magazine reports there are more than 18 million home-based businesses across the U.S. If you’re seeking to cultivate new business, consider the power that word of mouth can have over your personal brand. Steady, positive customer reviews can help your products or services stand out from competitors. Here are some tips to create a meaningful, positive buzz around your home-based business and personally connect with customers:
Build a Network
If you’ve launched a home-based business, chances are you’ve already relied on family and friends for some early sales or other types of support. That’s great on the surface, but those relatives and friends won’t be able to sustain your business on an on-going basis. Ask those family members and friends for testimonials and positive reviews that will work to help attract new customers for the future.
Make a list from your Rolodex and consider the various connections within your own network of contacts. That’s the first step toward finding people who could make good customers. Make an effort to get in front of people at key meetings in your community. Depending on the line of work you’re in, you could find connections at Chamber of Commerce meetings, local civic associations, PTA meetings, trade shows and professional conferences and networking events.
Similarly, social networking is essential to personally connect with potential customers. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites, it’s more about making a direct link to people than spamming acquaintances with messages about your wares. These basic sites, and even others like Yelp or Trip Advisor, provide people with a forum to share their personal experiences.
Amanda DiSilvestro of Yahoo Small Business Advisor offers the following advice to small business owners: “Make efforts to earn quality reviews, and communicate with the team about updating and managing comments.”
If you focus on striking up general conversations first, people will sense that you’re confident enough with your business, and they’ll take a look for more information or provide positive reviews knowing they’re not being directly propositioned for a transaction.
Find Ways to Educate Consumers
The best way to explain what you do is to place some type of thoughtful demonstration online—a searchable, optimized website is a great first step.
Physical demonstrations also work, and allow your personality to shine at public events. Speak with other businesses, especially more established small businesses in the community, and figure out ways where you can fill a need at events.
Following up with thank-you notes or gifts is a memorable way of letting clients know you’re interested in their continued business. Simple gift baskets can brighten someone’s day and indicate that your business will continue to give them more than they expect.