Article by: Steven Mayhew, CBA
Once you’ve got your business up and running, it’s time to focus on an effective marketing strategy. Marketing any business is crucial to nurturing its growth and sustaining long term profits. Following the helpful tips in this article you’ll be ready to take your business to the next level.
Creating Your Own Portfolio or Idea Book
Showing pictures of what you can create is important for your client to visual the many balloon décor options for their event. Building a professional portfolio can be a time-consuming challenge.
Start by building designs in your home or office. A photo taken with a high quality camera of an arch at your doorway or a set of balloon columns in your backyard will help you build your portfolio and give you hands-on experience.
Important Note: Remember that images on other balloon décor sites are copy written and require written permission to use in your portfolio.
Word of Mouth Marketing
Family and friends are a great way to get the word out about your blossoming business. Invest in quality business cards and flyers featuring fun-filled images of your balloon décor. Spread the word through your community connections at churches, schools, country clubs, and local businesses. Let them know about all the creative décor you can create for their next special event. Never leave your home without a handful of business cards in your pocket – you never know who you’ll run into.
Websites…Do I Really Need One?
I would say a decorator could get by without a website and be able to invest in other marketing avenues; however nowadays, a website can prove to be a huge driving force in your business. To get started, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars. Talk to friends and clients and let them know you are looking for help in building a website for your business. They may have contacts or even family members who would be able to design an attention grabbing site at a reasonable budget. Craigslist.com is another great way to find local web designers.
Advertising in the Phonebook
This form of advertising can be a hit or miss. Look into the phone books available in your area and speak with one of their representatives. List out the pros and cons with either sticking to their free listing of your business name or upgrading to an ad on the page.
Marketing Your Car
Use your vehicle as a constant form of advertising. Have a design screen printed on the side or have magnetic signs made that can be used as needed. Most important thing to focus on is that your phone number is large and easy to read.
Cold Calling 101
The first step to making a successful cold call is targeting your call to a specific market. Making a call to a random home number is not as effective as direct a call to the event coordinator at your local country club. When calling, inform them of whom you are, what your business is and set up a convenient time to meet them and drop off a few of your brochures for when their clients are interested in balloon décor.
When you stop by, bring a bouquet of balloons to leave behind with your contact information and a handful of your flyers. Make a good first impression and always thank them for their time!
Capturing Repeated Business
List your events in your next year’s calendar to make a courtesy call to see if they need of balloons again for their next party. Targeted mailings and email campaigns to your past customers with special offers and incentives can also help increase business. Another effective tool is a friendly “Thank You” letter with a self-addressed return postcard for them to fill out. Thank them for their business and ask how they enjoyed the event and your décor. Include a business card magnet in the letter as it’s guaranteed they’ll place it on their refrigerator or cabinet for the next time they need balloons.
Words of Advice in Small Business Marketing
Start small and grow your advertising budget as your business grows. Also, it’s critical to track your advertising success. Always ask your customers where they found out about you every time they call. Investing in a marketing campaign and not knowing where your customers are coming in from is pointless. It’s that extra 10% of effort that will insure you maximize your marketing success and grow your business profitably.