Don’t even think about ignoring a sales and marketing plan for your business, even if that business is in your home. You may be the only one to see your marketing plan, so it doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should include items you know you can use to market your business effectively. You need to identify your target audience, look at what your competition offers, and what they charge for their goods and services. Can you offer extra services or personalized attention that your bigger competitors overlook? Your business plan should help you develop a competitive edge that can put you ahead of your competition.

You probably don’t have the budget for a major marketing campaign for your fledgling business, but there are many cost-effective ways for you to market your new company.

  • Networking should be a Top Priority: When you start up, you probably won’t have a lot of walk-in traffic. That means you need to market yourself at every opportunity. Make sure you always have a stack of business cards with you. Network wherever you are, from the grocery store to your kids’ schools. Network within your community, join local organizations, and think of ways to generate buzz about your business. If you spend time online, jump on the social networking sites to promote yourself, and start a blog.
  • Use Online Social Networking: In many cases, doing business at home means doing business online. Use that online presence to build up your presence at social networking sites. Join sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get the word out about your new venture. Be sure you post often, friend others, and offer special deals to your friends and fans.
  • Don’t Ignore Your Contact List: Make sure you update your contact list on a regular basis, and keep it on your mobile device so you can access it at any time of the day or night. You should network regularly with your key contacts, too. You can upload your contacts to your social networking sites to see which of them are connected, and then invite them to become your friends. Develop an email newsletter and send it out often to establish another online presence.
  • Make Sure to Follow-Up: If you don’t follow up on leads, you’re throwing your marketing efforts in the trash. Follow-ups can turn potential customers into clients, and they are key to your business success. Make a reason to contact potential customers, and then follow up with a personal call, note, or email. You can follow up on questions and concerns on your social networking sites, too.
  • Build Your Identity: You may think that your online presence doesn’t require you to stock traditional letterhead stationery, fax sheets, envelopes, and newsletters. However, if you do use them, you should make sure your logo and look is memorable and creative. Create an unforgettable catch phrase or tag line, and make sure everything matches. Use that memorable logo on your social networking sites so people get used to it and relate it to your business.
  • Become an Expert in Your Field: Write about your business and offer your essays to local newspapers. Get in touch with local TV stations, radio stations, and schools to offer your expertise. Get to know the movers and shakers in your community and offer yourself as a speaker for seminars and other engagements. You need to promote your business to as many people as possible, and becoming known as an expert just gives you more credibility. Make sure you promote your expert status on your social networking sites, too.