2003 Spring Volume No. 1
8 Strategies for Promoting Yourself and Your Business
Faye Kelley, Vice President of Business Development firstname.lastname@example.org
Many portable sanitation businesses maintain their success using a few basic marketing strategies. They keep a Yellow Pages ad, they follow local construction project bids by reading Dodge Reports (McGraw Hill Publishing), they prospect with phone calls and sales visits, and they maintain visibility with a memorable company name clearly posted on all their units in the field. This may be all you need to survive. However, when competition heats up, when the economy slides downward, and when gas prices, insurance or other expenses rise, you may be looking for more ways to keep your business thriving.
The following are eight strategies for marketing a successful portable sanitation business. This is by no means a complete list. There are probably hundreds of ideas for growing your business and hundreds yet to be discovered.
1. Become web savvy. Today, you can get Dodge Reports online (the first five reports are free at www.construction.com). You can also access many city planning and purchasing departments online. Or, when you want to approach a company for a new business pitch, learn everything you can about them by visiting their web sites.
At polyjohn.com, you can find business support, get technical assistance and shop.
Finally, if you don't have your own web site yet, it might be time to think about building one. While you can't expect your site to bring in many new customers on its own, it can be a good place to send potential customers to learn more about your company's services.
2. Boost your Yellow Pages ad. Most everyone in this business has a listing in the local phone book. We would recommend testing display ads and even color ads. One portable sanitation operator we know claims to receive four new customers a month from his color Yellow Pages ad. Because he is the only one in his area who spends the extra money on a color ad, his listing really stands out! Also consider expanding your geographic area by purchasing ads in books from outlying areas. An outlying ad is far less effective for you, but they charge a lot less to list your business in outlying areas.
3. Use testimonials. A satisfied customer can be your best salesman. When a customer pays you a nice compliment, ask if you could put it in writing to use as a sales tool. Most people will be flattered that you appreciate their comments enough to use them in your own marketing. A few testimonials liberally sprinkled on your brochure or web site tells potential customers that you deliver what you promise.
4. Join local service, church, political and business groups. The more people you know, the more word-of-mouth and relationship marketing you generate. The Chamber of Commerce, the Elks, VFW, your church, the Country Club, the Democrats or Republicans, most communities have a dozen or more community groups. If you join the ones that interest you, the amount of time you put into helping your organization will come back to you in new business relationships. Volunteer work helps you get to know the movers and shakers in your community. Attending governmental meetings helps you learn more about community plans for development, environmental regulations and building projects. It never hurts to know the right people and be in the right place at the right time when contracts are being bid.
5. Develop your image. Hire a professional design firm to create your company logo, business cards, truck graphics and unit stickers. The cost is a one-time fee that can help you for many years to come. When developing your company's image, look for other logos that you admire and show them to your designer. Don't try to get too fancy. Bold, simple and memorable makes a much better marketing tool than cute, complex or silly.
6. Sign Language. If your business is on a heavily traveled road, have an attractive sign built with your company name, services and phone number on it. A good sign is like having your own advertising billboard, only better, because you only pay for it once.
7. Telemarketing. Have a well-trained, friendly person available to answer your phone. You might call that person a receptionist, but you should think of them as a telemarketer. Teach your phone person how to begin the sales process by learning all about your products and services. Leave it up to your salesman to handle negotiations, closing the sale and follow-up.
Your receptionist can also use the second line to call leads and prospect for sales appointments. Have your best salesman develop a script for your receptionist. But make sure the main phone line isn't being tied up and that the script doesn't sound "scripted."
8. Stay in contact by mail. Every customer you ever served and any prospect you ever called on should be on your mailing list. An address book program like the one in MS Word can easily print a personalized form letter or postcard from your desktop computer to your printer. Once you have a good list of addresses, printing a mailing is quick and easy. You should try to communicate with former and future customers at least every four months. Think of special promotions or one-time offers you can run to prospect for new customers and reactivate former customers.
Remember, when it comes to promoting yourself and your business, everything you do should help brand your company. When people see your ads, read your letters, talk to your salespeople, or call your business, the impression they get should be the one you want to send. Does your current marketing program do that?
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