If you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur selling your services, you probably won’t be hiring a PR firm (and its generous rates) to market for you. You can make your marketing dollar stretch farther by some creative strategies that tell the world where you are, who you are, and what you have to offer. These strategies don’t cost big bucks, but they do require some imagination and a spirit of “opportunism”.
One of the first rules of the game is “Packaging is everything.” The term “packaging” refers to a great deal more than brown paper and string or tape. It relates to all the things you do to “package” your good and services. Some concrete examples are crisp, clean business cards, the free coffee and cookies at your storefront, the attractive tip sheets you distribute to your prospects and customers.
“Packaging” can refer to prompt delivery, a neat and clean office or retail space, a smile in your voice when you or one of your employees answers the phone. The way you handle customer complains is a sign of good or poor packaging. Annoying as those complaints may be, your calm and positive voice and your ability to listen patiently will go a long way toward keeping rather than alienating customers.
Supplying your customers with printed instructions on the use, maintenance, repair, cleaning, etc. of a product becomes part of positive packaging. This also includes providing a phone number for the customer’s use in case of questions, complaints, or suggestions.
A website can be part of your packaging, too. Is it well organized, easy to navigate, without an avalanche of words that intimidate or confuse the reader. Keeping the web site up-to-date with fresh information rather than text that is two years old gives you high marks for packaging.
“Packaging” your business/service effectively will draw customers to you and keep them coming back. It will give those customers a pleasant buying experience and cause them to refer their friends to your business.
To bring home the definition of “packaging” think of the rest rooms you have visited during stops at gas stations on the way to another city. If the rest rooms were nightmares of disorder and trash, as though they hadn’t be cleaned in years, you walked out with vivid memories and a firm desire never to stop there again. If the rest rooms were clean, well supplied, and maintained, you probably made a mental note to recommend the gas station to any friends traveling the same route.
The time and attention you give to “packaging” your business will pay off in a thousand ways. Your competitors may be bigger and better off financially but your thoughtful packaging of your goods and services may bring customers away from them, right over to your door.
Vivian Conterio of Born2bhip Consulting