So many of us underestimate how hard it is to build a business. We often think “my friends will tell their friends about me for sure, my product/work will sell itself, I’ll break the internet with before and after pictures and I can surely hashtag my way to a solid business”. Yes, some of those things will bring you clients but aligning yourself with other small business that compliment your business will secure your place in your community. You do not have to build your business alone not should you.
Business to business marketing is an incredible tool for all entrepreneurs but must be done wisely! My three personal rules for B2B:
- Stop by the business in person (not during peak time for them). Introduce yourself and let them know a little about you. If they seem busy, pay attention and make it short. Ask when it would be a better time to follow up.
- Don’t pick random businesses! Be selective! They must be businesses that you believe in so you can easily market for them. If you don’t believe in their business why would you expect them to believe in yours?
- Offer them something! Don’t just show up with a stack of business cards and expect them to put them on their counter/display. You want them to like you personally. I typically stop by in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon with a sweet treat and free product samples.
- Set a marketing budget for yourself and stick to it!
When I first started in hair I made a ton of mistakes! I made gift certificates for services for the PTA/PTO’s for the schools surrounding my salon (sounds great right?) but failed to put expiration dates on them and gave away FULL services. So people used them long after they were issued which did not help my immediate business need and giving away full services (meaning no boundaries) lead to long appointments and large expenses on my part. I paid for tables at bridal shows and concert in the park events but did not set up ways to capture customer information like their email address. So through trial and error I have developed a system and a budget for myself. I stick to it and I stay consistent.
A few tricks I use to make the most of my time and marketing budget:
- I setup a day at the local bridal shop and do hair and make-up for Brides trying on dresses. (This is my most successful and the shops love it).
- I offer to do hair and makeup for the bridal shows which gets me a free table to display my marketing material plus people see my work in person!
- I do two large donation baskets to the schools and four gift certificates a year, with expiration dates! (I actually benefit more from the PTA parents talking about me than the items)
- I take breakfast to the guys at the local barber shops (men love goodies) and they in turn give me shout outs on their Instagram’s and Facebook pages. 33% of my clientele has come from a referral from their husband or boyfriend that heard about me at the barber shop!
Find what works for you and your business! When you do it won’t feel like work!