All of the hard work, planning, and preparation have been completed, and you’re ready to open your new business. Now it’s time to put the next phase of your business plan into action, and that is introducing your business to the public and letting people know you are open. Advertising, marketing, and promotion will play a vital role in making your business venture successful.
Host an open house or a grand opening event. An open house is a good occasion to meet local residents and workers, and to introduce both yourself and your business. Offer special sales on items the day of the event. Be very visible during the day and greet everyone who walks through your door. Include activities that will keep people around longer to browse through your store, such as a barbecue with hot dogs, and hire a local artist to do face painting on kids. Heavily promote your open house with ads in local newspapers, on radio, and with flyers that can be distributed by local school students who are glad to earn a few dollars.
Join the local chambers of commerce (all that are within your county) and any business networking organizations such as BNI (Business Networking International), which is a referral group with local chapters all over the world. Attend all networking functions held by these organizations and use these opportunities to introduce yourself and your business to other businesses. Wear a name tag that clearly displays your first name and the name of your business. Always carry business cards with you wherever you go.
Give away samples to introduce your products to the locals. This is especially easy to do if your business sells food items, such as a doughnut or bagel shop or a sandwich deli. For example, a sandwich shop can make trays of small sample sandwiches and take them around to every business that is within a short distance of the establishment. If your business offers a service, such as a gym, yoga, Pilates, or the like, where you can't actually give away a product, give away "time" by handing out coupons for a free class or a free month's access to your facility. This introduces your business to people by enticing them to come see your place and experience it first-hand at no cost to them, and also at no cost to you.
Contact local civic groups and organizations and offer to be a guest speaker at their meetings and luncheons. There are a multitude of small groups that are always seeking speakers, including senior citizen centers, garden clubs, veterans organizations, and retired teachers groups. A speaking engagement gives you a chance to introduce your business to a lot of people at one time.
Establish a presence on the Internet by setting up a website. A well-designed website that promotes your business can be a silent, yet effective, marketing tool.
Advertise your business. Even if you have a great location that gets lots of foot traffic, you need to introduce your business to the public so that people know you are open for business. Plan an advertising budget and stick to it. Run a large ad in local newspapers to announce your grand opening or open house, but then scale back to a smaller ad that is run for a longer period of time to keep your business name in front of people.
Dan Keen is the publisher and editor of a county newspaper in New Jersey. For over 30 years he has written books and magazine articles for such publishers as McGraw-Hill. Keen holds a degree in electronics, was chief engineer for two radio stations and taught computer science at Stockton State College.