From reader Stephanie:
I am a natural organizer. I love to decorate and organize! I have always loved to. I had my own business cards made up about 6 months ago and I have been handing them out and telling everyone about my new business. As of now I still have not had any bites. I am wondering if you can give me any advice on what else I can do.
Your first mistake is “telling everyone about my new business.”
One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make is thinking that everyone is their customer. The truth is, not everyone is your customer. If you think everyone is, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
Look at how the big boys frame their marketing and advertising campaigns. In the apparel business, in theory, you will think that everyone is a customer since everyone needs to buy clothes (or at least they should). But if you look closely, these companies are not targeting the general public, but instead are reaching out to narrower markets.
Old Navy targets middle-class families who seek basic apparel and accessories at low prices. Juicy Couture’s main market consists of women in their mid- to late 20s looking for trendy sportswear with a saucy edge. UK Retailer Paul Smith targets wealthy, educated men ages 35 to 60, mostly tall men with a slender physique.
One common denominator for them: they don’t pretend to be everything for everybody. And that’s what you should do.
Marketing to the right audience is key. You need to be able to identify who your real target audience is; who will use your organizing services the most. You need to know who they really are. Profile your customer. Ask specific questions such as:
- Where can you find this person?
- What does this person like?
- Where does this person live?
- What is the best way to reach this person?
- How does this person live?
- Why will this person need help in organizing?
Sometimes it may help if you start identifying who are NOT your customers due to various reasons: they can’t afford your services; they are not likely to hire someone to help them organize or decorate their homes; or for some other reasons. Then you know who you should not target and waste your precious marketing dollars on.
Then you may be able to end up with the customers you think will need your services the most, which can be middle to upper class families, busy professional singles, or small businesses.
Once you have identified who your target markets are, your marketing strategies and approaches will be more effective. It’s the whole shotgun vs. rifle approach to marketing your business
I’ve previously written a piece on “How to Market a New Local Business on a Shoestring Budget” where you may be able to get some ideas on how to market your new business. Depending on who your target market is, you may be able to use some (if not all) of my suggestions:
- Build a website – this is especially critical for showing your portfolio to potential clients. If someone asks you, “How can I see your work,” then you can simply direct them to your website containing photos of the before-and-after comparisons of your organizing jobs.
- Optimize your website for local search and make sure that potential customers looking for your service in your area can find you on the Web.
- Get listed in local directories and local search engines, such as Angie’s List, Yelp.com, YellowPages.com, etc.
- Write a press release targeting your local media.
- Do work for free in order to build your portfolio.
- Create opportunities for people to learn what you do through podcasts and Youtube videos
- Talk to local organizations or organize a small seminar in your local library as a means of presenting yourself as an expert in the area
- Use coupons to lure customers
- Look for opportunities to cross promote with complementary businesses
- Use car decal or magnets to advertise your business
- Be active and network with other business owners
- Use Yellow Pages if your target market are likely to still use it (e.g. seniors may be more likely to use Yellow Pages than busy young professionals who’re glued to their iPhones or Blackberries)
In addition, you consider joining professional organizing professions such as the National Association of Professional Organizers http://www.napo.net/. There are also a number of professional organizing seminars and certifications that you can get to give your credibility a big boost such as Certification for Professional Organizers http://www.certifiedprofessionalorganizers.org/
If you have tons of patience, you can also try to connect with other professional organizers and learn from them (be prepared to hear “No” as many may see you as a competitor and will refuse to work with you.)
Good luck to you!