Guerrilla Marketing: a Cheaper Alternative.
So you've spent an enormous amount on advertising in the media and got very little response -- or maybe you were scared enough by the prices that you never put the ads there to begin with. You're annoyed at how expensive it is to get even the simplest and smallest ad in front of anyone, and how useless the whole thing seems to be.
That's because media advertising, in the main, isn't designed to cater to home businesses. No, if you want to get ahead as a home business, you're going to have to do the advertising yourself.
What is Guerrilla Marketing?
Guerrilla marketing is a way of advertising when you have an almost non-existent budget. Instead of thinking of your business as a smaller version of a big one, you have to realise the situation you're in, and behave accordingly to maximise your profits while minimising your marketing costs. Essentially, you're going to try to do anything to get publicity.
Don't worry, I'm not talking about telemarketing of the nasty call centre variety here. It's B2B (business-to-business) telemarketing you want to be doing -- basically, phoning up local businesses and making yourself known. You'll be surprised at just how effective this can be, since businesses tend to appreciate the effort you've made to contact them and offer your services far more than a customer does if a business phones them at home.
It shouldn't be too difficult to get hold of a mailing list that covers your whole area -- ask your local post office if you're unsure, as they'll often be able to help with bulk mail campaigns. Alternatively, if you don't even want to pay for delivery, you could hire a few local teenagers to go round putting your letters in people's mailboxes. This will work best if you keep your message to one small page or even just a business card, so that people will keep it if they're interested and call you in their own time.
Another effective guerrilla marketing technique, at least for some kinds of business, is to hang around outside giving out leaflets to passers-by. This gives you an opportunity to 'meet and greet' people, and lets you do some free targeted advertising by choosing your location carefully. If you do odd jobs in people's houses, for example, you could stand outside the DIY store, handing out leaflets that say 'Why Do It Yourself? I'll assemble and install everything you buy today for only $50!' If you custom build and sell your own computers, you could stand outside a big-box computer store with this leaflet: 'Get your computer tailor-made, for half the price of [big store]'. You get the idea.
You'd be surprised just how effective it can be to stand around handing out free gifts. If you do something that relates to children, then hand out balloons to them in the mall. You'll make some kids' days, and your name and perhaps website address will be written there on the balloon for all to see. Free pens are a very effective thing to give away if you provide a more serious business service -- people are always short of pens, so they'll keep your pen in their bag and be reminded of your business each time they use it. Even better, the cost of getting thousands of balloons or pens printed with whatever you want is almost nil.
Attack the Competitor.
Nasty as it might sound, hardcore guerrilla marketers regard their competitor as their sworn enemy, and will do anything to bring them down so that they can replace them in the marketplace. A little disturbingly, this can be quite simple to do -- fake a few letters complaining about a business to a local newspaper, and you might find that they follow through and do a feature on it without even checking the story out.
In the end, with guerrilla marketing, there are endless ideas -- it's all about being inventive, and having the guts (and the patience) to try them out. When you get your first customer without buying a single media ad, it'll all be worth it.