I've been running my own business since 2002 but it's only been the last three years that I have really started increasing my client list because of a new marketing strategy that I have employed which costs nothing but your time and I would like to share it with you.
I should point out right from the start that it won't work for all businesses but for businesses like mine where I am dealing more with other businesses than the general public, it has worked very well.
This information should be especially helpful for new businesses that don't have a lot of money to spend on advertising.
Firstly, you need a good website. Doesn't have to be a great website but you need to have a web presence. Well what do you know, I do websites so I can help you out there.
The next step is to start making lots of phone calls. Target businesses that will use your service which worked out great for me because everyone business needs business cards or flyers or printing of some description. I get the numbers from the yellow pages online or tru local or Google local. It's very important to keep a data base so you know who you have called, when you called them and what the outcome of the call was. You can use Google docs for this which is free.
The phone call you make to potential clients is not a hard sell. It's simply to let people know you exist and to offer your services should they need you in the future.
For example, a phone call may go like this. Hello, my name is ???? and I run my own business selling ??????. May I please email you some information should you need ??????? in the future?
You will either be told NO or YES. For each YES, email them a brief spiel in an email (not as an attachment as most people won't open it) with a link to the page of you website you want them to go to.
It's that easy. For me, You will most likely get a YES every 3-5 phone calls. If you only make 50 calls a day, that's 10 emails a day you have sent off and in one month, you have 40 businesses on your database. In six months, you have 240 and in a year, nearly 500.
Once I have their email addresses, I generally email them every three months giving them the option to not receive any further emails from me if that's what they want.
So there you have it, an inexpensive way to build your database. I have over 3500 emails on my database. I email them manually every three months, about 200 emails a day so I usually get through my database in about a month but you can use something like Mailchimp which is much easier.
Good luck with it. Send me an email and let me know how it works for you or share other tips with me that I can put on my website for other businesses to use.