1. Create a Website
2. Leverage Social Media
Creating a reliable mailing list is essential to any new business' survival. That's why social media is key. When you invite others to join your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, you are asking them to join your mailing list in a non-threatening manner. Best of all, it's even better than an email or direct mailing list because whenever anyone "likes" a comment, post, or your page on Facebook for example, a post is sent out to all of their friends that they did so and that can sometimes be THOUSANDS of potential customers, who after seeing their friend join may also like to be included in your mailing list as well. Best of all it's free to set up a Twitter and Facebook account. Be sure also that you include a "Like Box" for Facebook and a "Follow me on Twitter" button on the top left-hand side of your website. Nothing will be more powerful to your business start-up than when visitors see that hundreds or even thousands of people "like" your page and follow you on twitter. To learn more about how to leverage social media see other posts like "7 Steps to Automating your Social Networks and Traffic Growth" "Get a Flood of Twitter Traffic the Easy Way" "3 Easy Ways to Get Traffic to your Facebook Page" "5 Ways to Drive Traffic to your New Blog".
3. Go Door-to-Door
Going door-to-door is good for any business you have. Direct mail pieces and online advertising are good, but one of the best ways to let people know about your business is to go door-to-door. If it's for a product, then hire sales reps to go out and sell your product for you. If it's a business such as a health club, then go out and tell people you're getting the word out about your new location. Then offer a special deal if they come visit you within the next week or two and hand them a flyer. You don't even need people with sales experience to do this. Keep it simple, no more than two or three sentences is all, and it will mean a lot more to people who see a real-life person than only seeing a piece of paper.
4. Coupon/Flyer Exchanges
I've been using this one in particular quite a bit lately. Initially I ask, "Do you have any flyers or coupons we can pass out for you to all of our students and parents?" I was shocked to find that most local businesses always keep something on hand to give out and if they don't, they ask me to come back to pick some up or they'll drop it off at my business. After about a week or two I stop by and pick up more flyers and coupons to pass out for them. They oftentimes tell me how effective it's been for them; at this point I ask them to distribute my flyers/coupons to all of their customers. I've only been turned down once because their corporate policies wouldn't allow it. Now I have my flyers being placed in shopping bags upon purchase at Old Navy, Rue 21, and plenty of other local businesses in my area. As a result of this one idea, I now have an "in" with over 60 businesses in my community who know me on a first-name basis. So now do you not only have your flyers being distributed for you in nearly every business in your community, you can now offer hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars worth of free items when they purchase a product or service from you. Can this open up future business opportunities? You bet!
5. Host an Open House
When you host an open house, it's key that you have good entertainment. Bring in a band or a performing group that can fit the genre of your business. Another idea is to bring either a local celebrity or a more widely known celebrity to your area.
Whatever it is you decide to do, be sure you use these same methods as mentioned before to let people know about your open house event and give them a reason to come. It can be free food, entertainment as mentioned before, a great deal to all who come, or better yet, all of the above.
Direct mail is without question the most expensive form of marketing I've mentioned yet. Though if you have the proper funding, can be a powerful tool. Work with a professional for the first few direct mailing campaigns you put on. This will save you immense time and money. However, when working with a professional, still plan on receiving an approximate 3% response rate, depending on the product or service you're offering. So if you want roughly 3,000 new customers, then send out a mailer to 100,000 people through the postal service. You might want to consider reading these posts to get the most out of your direct mailing campaign "The Power of Z" and "3 Steps to Finding the Right Ad Words for your Marketing Campaign"
7. Write an Article
If you write an article that is informative and helpful in anyway that isn't too "pitchy," you'll most likely get published in any local newspaper. Your goal, depending on your industry, would be to get published in a more national newspaper or magazine. If you write an insightful article pertaining to your industry, then the newspaper or magazine will oftentimes cite you as an "expert" and list your experience or business background, giving you an opportunity to share what your business is about.
8. Attend Trade Shows
Most trade shows charge you to place a booth but can be well-worth it if you plan ahead. Try to have an attention grabber that sets your booth apart from everybody else's such as a roulette wheel where no matter where it lands the guest gets a prize, or a performing group with music will usually get a crowd too.
9. Become a Public Speaker
Become an "expert" in your field or industry and deliver as many speeches as possible. Start local since that's all your new business is at this point. Delivering a speech in LA will not help you if your business is back in Toronto most likely. If feasible and beneficial for your business, speak at local schools, from elementary to college. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising and your job is to get that buzz going.
10. Host a Charity Event
It does not need to be anything special; it can be as simple as a canned food drive wddhere the potential customer needs to enter your store to submit their item for the charity event. Your job is to create maximum exposure with as little effort for your potential customer as possible. The more steps necessary to be involved, the less the response.
These steps are meant to help you start small before you begin spending mass amounts of money on advertising. As you become more familiar with marketing and what works for you, you'll start to think of more creative and effective ways to accomplish your business goals as you begin seeing money come in. Best of luck and as always, I want to hear your success stories!