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yawningdog
07-03-2001, 10:32 PM
As I suspect some of you may know by now, I consider myself an entrepreneur. I own a (really) small business in which I build/sell computers. This thread is for you businessmen and women.

What would you say is the best way to attract customers? I'm on an extremely tight budget and advertising is expensive. So far I'm kind of stuck walking around business parks handing out business cards, with megar results. I get the odd customer, but not nearly enough business to give up the leech farm.

Please feel free to ramble, I can use all the info I can get.

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He thrusts his fists against the posts but still insists he sees the ghosts.

Paleo Pete
07-03-2001, 11:02 PM
Flyers and business cards any place someone will let you put them. Several stores here will gladly allow local residents or small businesses in the county to put business cards on their counters, usually near the cash registers. I have about 50 business cards out now, flyers soon as I'm satisfied with the design. Some businesses have bulletin boards where flyers can be placed. Some will let you tape a flyer to a window or door. Check the local library, they might have a bulletin board. Center the phone number at bottom and use a large font, but not larger than your business name. You can also print flyers with "tear strips" for the phone number so people can tear on off and take it with them. You'll have to cut them yourself...

Local weekly sale papers might be worth a try. They're the free (usually) weekly papers people use to place ads for cars, homes and various personal items they wish to sell. The ad will cost you, depending on size. If you use graphics, keep them sparse and simple, these papers are distributed on newsprint, graphics quality is often not the greatest. Again the phone number should be in a large font, and centered at bottom is the most common method, but don't make it larger than your name.

A magnetic sign on the door of your car with the phone number in LARGE TEXT might be a good idea. You're a moving target, so make the name and phone number easily legible. Keep it simple.

Yellow Pages. 'Nuff said...

Junk Mail http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/biggrin.gif http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/eek.gif http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/mad.gif (Spam me and your ISP will have a copy tomorrow...I've had about 25 accounts shut down already.)




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sea69
07-03-2001, 11:04 PM
hey

some of these you probably already do.......

build and include in your advertising a website.

local community papers (sometimes free).

post signs (you design and print yourself) in local libraries, grocery stores, convienience stores.. anyplace that will allow you to post them.local churces have bulliten boards too and if you fix a deacons pc you will get references from / to church members.

offer free diagnostics. (obviously it would be free, how else could you fix it??) but this is marketing.

offer 'House Calls'

sometimes local cable channels are cheap-(for the future).. make a little dancing cartoon logo like frikkin jiffylube...lol

very effective.

just a few off the top of my head.. as I say, you probably already do most of these.

http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/wink.gif



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homepage (http://www.seanweb1.homestead.com/3.html)


;)~

psabi
07-04-2001, 01:35 AM
I know you said you are on a limited budget - and others have made excellent suggestions on how to advertise and where. Give serious thought to WHO you want to advertise to. What are the demographics of the area? Focus on a upper middle class area and you may come across people that only know Dell, Gateway, or have full confidence that Best Buy isn't bending them over... Perhaps a more middle class audience, one who knows of Dell but who attention you can grab be advertising "the same Dell PC for $200 less!"

Another suggestion: Do you have a local chamber of commerce? DOn't write this off yet - although there is a fee to join, membership usually gets you invited to local breakfast meetings and lunches that can help you network with local business. People at the these luncheons are looking to make business connections so it would be the right audience - you might get a better reception then doing the walk-up and hand business cards out approach.

Know if the local firehouse or Elks lodge has a monthly pancake breakfast? Drop the $7, and start chatting up a storm (with plenty of business cards in hand). Then it becomes a sales pitch; convince these potential customers they can trust you more than the guy at Circuit City who suggests that a Pentium 4 is what you REALLY need to use AOL...

My experience has been that people are looking for someone they can trust - someone who can identify their needs and someone who may prove to be more dependable then the 4 hour recording they would be listening to before reaching someone at Gateway tech support... Word of mouth is what you need.

One last bit: watch the technical speak. You can tell them you are A+ certified, that you can overclock a classic pentium like nobody's business, and that you know that Intel's 430mx chipset doesn't perform nearly as well as the 430hx - you may lose them. You can start at an "easier" level and bring the conversation/sales pitch up as you determine their level of knowledge.

Me thinks I rambled a wee bit too long... I hope this helps.

Good luck

-Pete

yawningdog
07-04-2001, 08:48 AM
Okay, we're rolling, good info everyone.

Va. Beach has business demographics which would make most businessmen drool. Lots of military, lots of transients, tons of disposable income. I think psabi is correct in that "chatting up a storm" would be healthy for business, but he is incorrect if he assumes that I posess a great deal of this skill. At risk of tweaking my shoulder again by patting my own back, I'm a very good communicator, but a lot of people wish I wasn't. My wife will be the first to tell you that she wishes I wouldn't use big words like "demographics". Anyway, note to self- work on interpersonal skills.

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He thrusts his fists against the posts but still insists he sees the ghosts.

ranchdog
07-07-2001, 06:26 PM
Man -- Word of mouth is THE best advertisement in the world. But it can also be a killer if something didn't go right. The only thing I might add? If you are a Vet get your buns down to the VFW or American Legion. Be a Member. Meet and greet. http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

hiredgoonz
07-07-2001, 09:20 PM
Be able to do stuff compusa and best buy can't, for example:

Stock items the "big guys" don't have (I know $ is an issue so just keep one or two on hand) it's amazing what people will need and be unable to find:

18" IDE cables, monitor cables w/ferrites (these are impossible to get), screws, jumpers, plastic drive bay covers, CMOS batteries, a box of old "junk" parts for a dollar here and there...

Run specials like "Computer tune-up" for whatever you want to charge (little things can make a system run a whole lot better, especially a brand name pc, just by cutting a bunch of progs out of the startup menu in msconfig, you can boost performance a lot, running scandisk and defragmenter since a lot of people don't even know about them)

If you do run some ads include coupons for stuff like memory, hd, software installation, or coupons for whatever services you offer, people love to save a buck...

There's a shop around here that leaves business cards with the "techies" at Compusa...these guys give them out when compusa doesn't have a part the customer needs...that's how I found out about the place...

Good luck



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When all else fails, read the instructions.

iisbob
07-07-2001, 09:36 PM
All i have to say is, BE HONEST!!!! don't lie to clientale, don't try to scam them when you know they don't need a part, don't bad mouth any other businesses,( even bestbuy, compusa-they can't help who they hire sometimes ) and don't treat anybody like an idiot.
Most people may not be able to tell the diff between memory and storage, but they will know when they're scammed. I'm not saying or implying anything bad to or about you, it's just that less than a year ago i had to participate in a class action law suit against a local computer business who's owner would make B.Gates look like an angel. I believe that a lot of members to this forum own/or work at local computer shops-and that's great that they take the time to come on here and help out, it shows that for every bad apple out there, there is a bushel of good ones still around. Didn't mean to upset you, if i did , again i apologize-and i hope you have a successful business. http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/smile.gif

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iisbob
"Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run."

sea69
07-07-2001, 09:40 PM
A+ Cetification looks good too.

at least prepare for the test.

http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/wink.gif

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sea1_69@hotmail.com

homepage (http://www.seanweb1.homestead.com/3.html)


;)~

yawningdog
07-07-2001, 11:25 PM
You have nothing to fear iisbob. You've not offended me and believe me, I'm the most honest person you've never met. Thanks again for all the great suggestions, Keep 'em coming.



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He thrusts his fists against the posts but still insists he sees the ghosts.