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Business marketing starts with one thing: quality customer service. A happy customer is a walking billboard. They'll use Facebook, Twitter, etc., from their newly fixed machine to tell their friends and family how happy they are with their fixed gadget. Friends and family will be your first customers. And from there, customer referrals will fuel most of your initial growth.
While marketing starts with satisfied customers, it doesn't end there. Old-fashioned social networking, online social networks, and a website are all important components for your budding business' marketing strategy.
Not everyone wants to rely on a Google search to find someone to fix their computer.
With online social networks taking over the networking scene, it's easy to overlook old-fashioned networking and its value. Use your existing fraternal, alumni, religious, sporting, professional, etc., networks to get out the word that you're starting a new business. Always have more businesses cards with you than you think you might need. And, if soliciting businesses, introduce yourself with a flyer or brochure that outlines your services.
Printed Marketing Materials
To support your old-fashioned networking efforts, be sure to have high quality physical materials to distribute. At the very least, you should have beautiful business cards that leave a lasting impression on the recipient. Designing and printing business cards and flyers can be expensive.
Being great at repair doesn't mean you're great at design. Take a look at these examples of business cards. It should be obvious which one is better:
(This professional design sample is available as a free business card template.)
This business card needs improvement.
Remarkable design and printing services are available from '''MOO'''. Printing with '''MOO''' can be more expensive than its online competition, but the print and paper quality are far superior. Additionally, the design features are more versatile and unique.
Inexpensive professional quality design and printing services are available at '''Vista Print'''.
Social media is not a panacea. Having a '''Facebook Page''' for your business does not mean that new customers will come flooding in. Social media takes a continuing investment of time. It is important to regularly communicate with "friends," "likes," and "followers." Share interesting articles, thoughts, and pictures to keep people engaged.
Two important warnings about social media:
- Social media makes it easy to be praised and insulted in very public ways. Disgruntled customers are more likely to post on your page than satisfied customers. Always ask customers, in person, to compliment your service online.
- A successful social networking strategy doesn't mean having a profile page with every online network. There are '''tons of online social networks'''. If you pick too many networks, you won't be able to invest the time to make your online presence successful. Pick one or two networks and actively engage with them.
Communicate with the world in 140 characters or fewer on '''Twitter'''.
If you're aiming to land corporate clients, '''LinkedIn''' (the online resume for businesses and individuals) can be useful.
If This Then That (IFTTT)
'''IFTTT''' isn't a social network. But, it will make your online presence much easier to manage. You can set up links to make all of your online pages update with the same information, pictures, links, etc. When you find yourself making the same update on several different websites, try '''IFTTT'''.
Most first-time customers won't be searching for your business by name. They'll use a trusted online source to search for the service they need in their area. That means it's unlikely your business website will be the first thing they see. Be sure to register with online business listings to ensure that first-time customer finds you.
A note: on business listing sites, you won't be able to delete nasty comments about your business. Always ask customers, in person, to compliment your service online. And, keep a watchful eye on your online listings so that you can respond quickly to any negative comments.
Bing Business Portal
'''Bing Business Portal''' provides a free listing for your business. Register on '''Bing Business Portal''' and your business will be searchable on Bing based on your business name, services, and location.
Create a business profile on '''Yelp''' and encourage your customers to rate your service by offering incentives. All you need is a few ratings to earn some valuable credibility.
'''Angie's List''' is a paid membership community for people who want reliable ratings for local services. Businesses can list themselves for free.
It's a good idea to have a website, even if it is little more than an online business card. Repeat customers might look for you by name. Make sure they can find you. There are countless webpage providers. Here the providers that we strongly recommend:
'''Strikingly''' delivers exactly what it promises: "gorgeous, mobile-optimized sites in minutes." Their service is free, but you will need to pay to have your own URL.
'''Wordpress''' is another free web service that offers a wide variety of templates and plugins to build exactly the site you want. Custom URLs and certain features require a paid account.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The internet is home to more than 600 million websites. How will you make your page stand out? It isn't a matter of making your homepage pretty or picking the right font. SEO is building you website in a way that search engines understand what content is available at your web address. There are many companies that you could hire to help optimize your site, but we recommend that you start with a '''Beginners Guide to SEO'''.