Practical Advice from Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp

My team visited Scottsdale, Arizona last week as exhibitor and sponsor of the Women Entrepreneurs’ Boot Camp.  We had a chance to sit down with organizer, Susan Ratliff, and discussed key marketing tips and business tactics for beating the recession in 2009 and I thought I’d share some of her insights.

Susan happens to be an award-winning entrepreneur herself and President of Exhibit Experts and here are thoughts a few important topics these days.

On marketing tactics you can’t live without:
Networking is how I built my business. It translates so well to social media and online marketing tools like email, or networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, because it is economical for small businesses. Simply joining a Chamber of Commerce provides the opportunity to network. People often complain that the same people are at these events, but that’s good because when they see you there every month they get to know and trust you, so they are more likely to buy from you when they are ready.   I often hear complaints that it’s the same people at these sorts of events, but if people get in front of each other and you buy from whom you know, then you want the same people to be at the events. The ones that attend time after time and know you don’t need help making a decision when it comes time to buy.

On consistent communication with customers:

It costs less to sell to existing customers than to get new ones. That’s why email marketing helps keep businesses top of mind with their customers. If I don’t contact a customer within three months, then I can almost guarantee they will leave for someone else they do hear from. All businesses have to consistently stay in front of their buyers in order grow themselves.

Susan’s best piece of advice for women that are launching a business in today’s economy:
One thing people should know when starting a business is that marketing is what makes or breaks you. You can have the greatest product in the world, have superior service or be a great inventor, but you will fail unless people are MOTIVATED to buy your product. I know a lot of people who have a hobby and think they know how to run a business or maybe they were great at selling products before, but when starting a new business there is a great need for marketing.

On remaining competitive in 2009:
Everyone needs to get up to speed on technology. You can’t be afraid of the computer. We must all seek good advice and trusty advisors and stop thinking that you can do it all by yourself – there are only so many hours in a day. Then use technology to remain visible to their customers. You may be the greatest but who cares if you aren’t visible.

Susan will be presenting with me on March 3rd in Scottsdale, AZ at VerticalResponse’s Small Business Marketing Workshop.

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