Copyright © 2002, Sandra K. Shirah
As an owner of a home based secretarial business, finding time to market my business while actually running my business was difficult - so early on, I implemented a few marketing strategies that takes less than 10 minutes each to assemble - thus freeing more time for paid projects - while still getting the word out about my services! Below are a few suggestions - some I still use, two employees and three corporate contracts later...
Fliers. Create fliers on heavy bond paper to announce your business. Use bright colors that immediately grab the attention but doesn’t blind (avoid neon colors). Distribute them to doctors’ offices, hospitals, law firms, court reporters, post on bulletin boards, etc. Cover a wider area by hiring high school or college students to help with the distribution.
Fliers can also be FAXED to prospective customers with just one touch of a button (assuming the numbers are already programmed into your machine).
Business Cards. Invest in a set of good quality business cards that are in an eye catching, vibrant color and/or design(avoid cutesy graphics). If you design your own, I recommend using Avery Rolodex Business Card Paper. Distributing cards that can be easily added to their existing Rolodex will decrease the likelihood of your business card being “forgotten” in a desk drawer.
Press Release. Issue a press release announcing your newly opened business. Some smaller newspapers and official city websites will publish your release free of charge! You’d be surprised at the number of government organizations and media that support hometown businesses, especially those owned by women! For tips and a template, download my free ebook, PR PRO: Writing A Winning Press Release .
Newspaper Ads. Take out a 1/8 of a page ad in your local newspaper – not in the classified section where it may get “lost” among others – have it separated, bolded and bordered. If your town has more than one newspaper publisher, consider starting with the smaller circulated paper to “test the waters.” Major newspapers usually charge considerably more than the smaller ones. If you’re short of funds for this form of advertising, consider partnering with a NONCOMPETING home-based business owner – share the ad space and the expense!
Barter. I realize this sounds odd when you’re in business to make money, but sometimes bartering can be an excellent marketing tool. For instance, I volunteered to design and print fliers advertising a local church’s fundraising activity. In return, they gave me a 1/4 of a page ad in the “Sponsors” area of their monthly newsletter – announcing my services to a whole new audience.
Postcards. Create a set of bright colored, yet professional, postcards (Avery Postcard Paper is recommended). These make great reminders to past customers that your services are still available and to announce any “specials” that may interest them – and draw them back!
Specials (or Sales). Create your own “specials” or use the ones I’ve listed below. Be sure to keep accurate records and invoice at the “special” rate.
Sweetheart Sale, 14%off all projects!
Referral Roundup, 20%off your next project for each new customer referral!
Halloween Hauntings,10% off all transcription projects!
Christmas Cheer, 20%off all transcription projects!
Every other project FREE for non-profit (501c3) organizations.
Business Website. If you’re serious about marketing your services on a global scale, a business website is a must. It’s not necessary to hire a web designer – you can do this yourself in no time with the numerous “professionally designed” templates and free text editors that are out there! Among my favorite is 1stPage 2000 by Eversoft (www.eversoft.com). It’s extremely easy to use and features three different levels: basic, intermediate and advanced – this freeware really grows with you. For free templates, visit...
- WebAlley - http://www.weballey.net/templates/
- Steve’s Templates: http://www.steves-templates.com/
- Web Design Helper: http://www.webdesignhelper.co.uk/
- Free Layouts: http://www.freelayouts.com/
Online Resume. The online resume is simply a webpage listing, in detail, your qualifications (education and experience) as a transcriptionist. Don’t confuse this with your business website! This is strictly a page sharing your qualifications with the world – sell your services with your business website.
Copyright © 2002, Sandra K. Shirah.
Sandra is a freelance writer for several on and off-line publications. She's also the author of "How to Start A Home-Based Transcription Business...and Succeed!" Available in early 2003 at major bookstores everywhere, or directly through the author.