Finding Customers for Home and Small Businesses
Whether we are thinking about starting or have been operating a small and home business
one for a period of time; we all confront the challenge of finding enough customers to
support our business. All businesses are faced with burden of "spreading the word" in hope
of luring the most precious of all commodities, "the customer". It doesn't really matter
whether a business is home based or "brick and mortar", each business owner needs to find,
court and sell goods or services to "customers" in order grow and prosper.
It may appear that the typical brick and mortar business has the advantage if they are
situated in a high traffic area where exposure to people who need their goods or services
occurs daily. This benefit becomes evident when someone notices the business signage and
visits in search of the solution to their problem; a product or service. The best case
scenario in prospecting for customers occurs since traffic is walking in the door
qualified lead and potential customer.
Those of us who operate a home business give up the storefront benefit in exchange for
others such as low overhead, short commutes, and comfort of working from home. Obviously,
this may leave the home business person somewhat "behind the eight ball" in creating and
building their customer base. After pondering this dilemma for a time, the light clicks on
for many of us and out pops the pencil and eraser and the process to create the customer
development plan begins.
Since marketing budgets are usually limited for most home and small businesses, how
does one go about starting a customer development plan and not go broke doing it?
The process first begins by considering marketing strategies that may work for our
business and identifying the different, low-cost avenues available for advertising. Each
method has its own benefits and drawbacks and many of them may be utilized at different
stages of the plan. Possible marketing and advertising options include:
• word of mouth (via warm market or other advertising);
• direct contact with warm market;
• leads purchase - cold calling;
• direct mail;
• business cards/handouts via canvasing;
• presence at area public events (social clubs, bazaars, fairs, etc.);
• hold informational/promotional event;
• print or broadcast media advertising; and
• Internet network marketing.
Each of these different methods has their strengths and weaknesses as well as optimal
times to be used. Some of these approaches fit better into different types of businesses
at varying stages of the marketing plan. Another key factor is the marketing and
advertising budget your business has established. Remember, in the case of many home based
or small businesses; money is tight and the expenditure ends up being negligible.
With so many possibilities, are there any that might be preferred for a given business?