Any small business owner would likely agree that growing their business is one of the primary goals. And as a fire alarm dealer, differentiating yourself from the competition is even more vital. That’s why getting your company’s name out there is so important, right from the start.
Beyond word of mouth from satisfied customers, advertising is your best bet for attracting new prospects and building your customer base. Luckily, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on prime-time TV spots to create an effective advertising strategy. In fact, by starting small, you’re more likely to attract the strong customer base that you want—local, and actually in the market for your services—without overspending.
Consider these steps as a starting point:
- Use email marketing. Email is a very inexpensive way to reach new customers, advertise your services and specials, share news about your business and discuss updated industry news or new fire codes. Low-cost sites such as iContact and Constant Contact allow you to easily build HTML emails, even if you have no coding experience. You can collect contact information for prospective customers at tradeshows and other events, or even buy or rent it through a leads agency. Quarterly and/or monthly newsletters are also a great way to stay in touch with current customers and deliver new ideas on expanding your relationship.
- Build a blog. Company blogs are another free way to get your name out there, while demonstrating industry leadership, market knowledge and company expertise. Your blog could be a great outlet for photos of successful projects, commentary on industry news and even employee spotlights. WordPress and Blogger are two easy-to-use (and free!) blog platforms that can help get you started.
- Connect with local media. Share your company’s story with local news stations, newspapers and bloggers. Then, offer to write guest commentaries on fire safety and other fire topics. The more you spread the word on fire safety, prevention and technology, the more people will associate you with this level of expertise.
- Network with other businesses. Remember: Networking is one of the golden rules of great public relations and business lead generation. Connecting with other local businesses, residents and local government groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, is a great way to build opportunity for new business. Many local residents and businesses find service providers through Chamber of Commerce recommendations.
- Get social. Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are free to use and can really help to increase your brand recognition. As a local business, it’s also important to monitor review sites such as Yelp and Google Review to gauge levels of customer satisfaction. Remember that the most important thing is your reputation. When a customer posts a negative review of your work, you must address it and use it as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
- Stay involved. Becoming an active member of your local community can go a long way. Sponsor a local little league group or actively support a local charity, such as Habitat for Humanity. Not only does giving back help increase brand awareness; it also establishes you as a company that cares.
- Leverage PR tools. New online tools such as HARO (helpareporter.com) and Pitch Engine are an inexpensive way to increase exposure and get in front of customers and media.
Experiment with these and other advertising ideas to find the approach that works best for your company. Before long, you’ll start to see a return on your investment – in the form of a growing base of happy customers.