Building business in a barren landscape

There may have been more enthusiasm for some business when they first opened, but now that the economy is still in a slump, even startup companies are finding it hard to get a good grounding in terms of establishing a customer base. If it seems like online banking is constantly showing your accounts in the red, there are strategies you can employ to try and turn things around before bankruptcy becomes necessary.

Promotional items

Giving away stickers, notepads and promotional items with your company logo on them is an easy way of gaining visibility. According to research conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute, company-themed increase recognition and drive more customers to seek information about your business, subsequently making it more likely that they'll shop with you. The best part may be that, in exchange for increasing your reach, promotions are low-cost and easy on your financial plan.

Online presence

Not only are social media sites free, they're also incredibly popular. Putting your business on Foursquare and Facebook will give you an outlet for drawing customers with marketing and discounts that you don't have to pay to advertise. Focus, an online market research firm, recommends sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and Digg to boost hits to your sites and draw more consumer traffic. Other pages like LinkedIn and Xing can establish you as an authoritative leader in your industry, helping further boost your business' popularity within the online community.

Offer trials

If your product is unique or on the expensive side, it may be difficult to encourage customers to even try it once, let alone buy it. Entrepreneur Magazine recommends offering trial periods on items and services to show a potential customer the benefits of giving you their business. This is a common strategy with long-term contract programs and television marketers – GameFly, Netflix and Blockbuster all manage to target the same audience successfully by offering their game and movie services for a free period before requiring payment to continue – and can also work for smaller businesses. This stratagem often improves brand loyalty and strengthens clientele relationships by entrusting a product or service to a consumer before the sale is made.

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