Use this sample marketing plan to get started.
1. Invest in a Web site for your business.
Give your customers another way to see your product or service or get in touch with you other than coming into your store and setting up a meeting. A Web site also gives you a fast, inexpensive way to update your information and get those new details in front of your customers.
2. Order business cards.
Be sure to include your Web site and E-mail addresses on the cards. When you hand out business cards, give each person two -- one for them and one for a friend.
3. Create and maintain a client database.
Get customers' contact information by:
- Collecting customer business cards in a fishbowl.
Encourage people to drop them in by offering a monthly drawing and giving the winner a discounted or free item from your business.
- Teach an adult education course or hold a seminar on a topic related to your business.
A restaurant owner might hold a class on healthy cooking. The owner of a martial arts studio might invite neighbors in one night for a free presentation on self-defense. Be sure to register students so you'll have their contact information.
4. Use your database to connect with customers at least six times every year.
- Send out two newsletters a year. Send them out if your business is busiest during two seasons, or post them in September in January, when people are most open to doing business or looking for new things. Make sure you include your Web site and E-mail addresses in the newsletter and encourage readers to use them.
- Send two direct-mail postcards a year. These postcards should announce sales or simply contain a greeting. Don't send cards in November or December unless you're offering holiday savings or events.
- Hold two special sales or celebrate two unusual holidays a year. Use the Spring Equinox to mark a special sale for a plant nursery or Back-to-School week to sell school and office supplies.
- Create a monthly electronic newsletter. If you have the human and financial resources, use an electronic newsletter to reach your customers. The rewards could be great.