Working from home, help please!(8 Posts)
Since leaving my full time job as manager of a retail store I have juggled various ideas and found something I love to do. I love staying at home with my son so going back was never really an option for me.
I started personal styling and event styling and have had a few recurrent clients and done some events but they seem few and far between, does anybody have any ideas of how I can generate some more customers? I already have a website, done the whole business cards/flyers/forum thing and need some other ideas.
The majority of my custom seems to be from word of mouth and I am helping with a wedding next year which i thought would be a great opportunity to build a customer base. Any ideas? All welcome. Thanks in advance.
Offer to "style" a features writer at your local newspaper... and then they have to write a feature on you.
PuppyMonkey is spot on - 'local' is a key point for SMEs
get your website optimised so when people google 'style advisor Lincoln' or wherever you are you come near the top.
local schools? PTA fundraisers?
could you do (eg) Susanna & Trinny-type styling parties for groups of women?
Offer to give talks to:
* local chamber of commerce women's group or other local network-y type women's events
* local WI-type event - they may or may not hire you themselves (depending on the age group of the audience) but will tell others
*golf club ladies' section club night; Rotary Club etc?
Could be a bit hit and miss so I would make a list of all the possible places that might like to have you in to give a talk and then prioritise a few to approach.
Important thing with the talk is that it stands alone as a piece of entertainment but leaves people wanting more (so they then come to you for individual help).
Your timing is perfect - I am just finishing a presentation called "How to market your business on a limited budget"!
Here are a few ideas:
- make sure your company/website is listed in all the free directories you can find - in particular, get listed on Google Business, yell.com and Thomson local - there are about 20 "good" nationwide ones, and other local ones too
- Do GoogleAdwords - you only need to spend perhaps £10-15 a month and it will increase your visibility
- Make sure you have submitted your website to Google, Bing, Alltheweb and AskJeeves
- SEO - titles your pages properly, make sure meta tags are relevant, add a sitemap to Google using Google Webmaster Tools, make sure link and images descriptions are accurate
- do some PR - write a press release about your company (must be newsworthy though) and submit to local papers, local business mags, other local target media
- networking - join your local Chambers of Commerce or one of the women's networking groups like WIBN or Athena Network
- social media - join LinkedIn and some relevant groups on there and get involved in discussions; add a Facebook page; start tweeting on Twitter; join Ecademy and Plaxo
- consider ambient media - get stickers for your car or magnets (VistaPrint is cheap); signposter.com lets you advertise in one-off places like your local bus shelter or poster site
Hope that helps some.
On top of all the other stuff that has been mentioned here...
If you are interested in the Wedding side of things, why not go along to a few local bridal wear shops (choosing a nice quiet time or making an appointment beforehand!) and get chatting to the ladies that work in them to see if you can leave some brochures on their notice boards or by the tills.
Make it a mutual thing so you keep a big refernce book containing their leaflet or info, so that you can be sending business to them, and it is not just a one way street.
make sure you have some specialised leaflets so they are more enticing to your target market (weddings in this case!) if you do this sort of thing - brides are going to want to be looking at pictures of wedding=y things, not office christmas parties for example (and vice versa!). It never hurts of course to mention that you do other stuff to, but when you target particular segments of the market having a special leaflet means you can put in your key differentiators and reasons for getting you IYSWIM.
You could offer to do a couple of weddings cheaply in return for them letting you use a couple of pictures and use them as references - the sooner the better!
Then there are the wedding fairs - another source of lots of brides-to-be looking for assistance. They are also ways of building relationships with other companies that could be mutually beneficial - you might want a car hire person for wedding cars, they might get brides or grooms worrying about other aspects of their wedding etc.
Another idea is to pick up on some key buzz words in the media - credit crunch has got to be one of the ones at the moment - and see if you can think of some workshops or (re)styles that you can do around these themes, stick them on your website, offer to do a series of credit-crunch 'update your style on a budget for autumn daytime (now)/outdoors (halloween)/partying (xmas)/etc for the local paper on a monthly/weekly basis (I am sure you will have many more ideas than me) - all more of a hook to draw people and to make you a bit different from others that might be doing the same thing.
Also - people love to think they are getting a bargain. So could you do some sort of offer - bride and groom get honeymoon style makeover for free if you do their event for example. Or free makeup lesson if you do a clothes style or declutter their wardrobe etc. Or a free group talk if you do an event for them. If the offers could change every so often (or get added to) you have another reason to contact people with a 'something' rather than a general 'here I am' reminder.
(which ties into - Do you do an email newsletter that people can sign up for on your website? Always useful to build up more customers)
I've kind of concentrated on the wedding thing here as you mentioned but all the different aspects apply equally to other aspects of styling stuff. Figure out a few key areas and look for ways to find out what people want and how to give it to them. I'm not great at knowing cars but they act as a useful metaphor - No point offering a rolls royce if people are going to be going cross country and need a range rover or need to be driving economically and parking in the city so need a mini instead IYSWIM. People are not going to want to fork out £500 for a big session with you if that is their entire clothing budget for the next couple of years whereas they and a couple of friends may well spend a £100 each for a saturday at one of their houses going through an armful of clothes each to update and restyle etc, and each getting a new hair style and make up look too... You know the services you offer better than me, but you get the gist.
And remember to think of other links to your customers to build relationships with.
oops. sorry, got a bit carried away typing there...
There are Wedding One Stop Shops around too, where they might sell wedding dresses but have stalls or samples etc from other wedding services.
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