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Seven Helpful Tips -- Marketing on a Shoestring

June 2009 By William Lynott
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IT'S NO secret. Today's economy is filled with uncertainty. One day, consumer confidence is up and things look promising. The next day, some bad economic news casts a pall over the outlook. With a tiny advertising budget, it can be difficult to find ways to boost your bottom line.

In uncertain times like these, it may seem natural to pull in your horns—take shelter until things look more promising. But that's exactly the wrong thing to do. The economy may look gloomy, but there are still plenty of customers in need of printing out there.

Your job is to ratchet up your marketing efforts while your competitors are slacking off. When the smoke clears, you'll be stronger than ever and the competition will be wondering what happened.

Here are seven ways to build your business on a tight marketing budget:

1) Take action on something that most of your competitors only talk about. The printing business is a people business; you sell your services to people, not to objects. All of the Harvard Business School expertise in the world is no substitute for an understanding of that basic business principle.

The most effective and the least expensive marketing technique for any small commercial or quick print shop owner is an uncompromising commitment to customer satisfaction. As you know from your own experience, it's a pleasure to do business with a firm that keeps customer satisfaction at the top of its priority list.

Making certain that every one of your customers goes home with positive feelings about you and your shop will turn those clients into walking advertisements for your business.

2) Harness the power of the telephone. Independent studies consistently show that the telephone remains one of the most underused business tools. In one study, researchers called 5,000 Yellow Page advertisers to say, "I saw your Yellow Page ad. How much does your service (product) cost?" The responses clearly indicated lost opportunities.

More than 78 percent didn't bother to ask for the caller's name. More than 55 percent took eight rings or more to answer. According to the researchers, many spoke so rapidly that the caller had a difficult time understanding what was said. Less than 10 percent answered the phone in a way that made the caller feel welcome.

To harness the power of the telephone as a marketing tool, you and your employees must regard every ring of the telephone as a marketing opportunity. Here are three simple steps that will help you create that profitable first impression:



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