Straight and Simple Marketing for SOHOs
If you are a self employed entrepreneur/SOHO, you probably don't have a sales and marketing team. You are your own sales and marketing team. Could be that you dislike networking too. You probably want to generate new customers without spending a fortune. The problem may be you have no idea where to start. What you need is the basics - they're straight forward, simple, and they work.
Do you have a corporate client? Leave some business cards with them and ask them if they'd mind mentioning your company to their contacts/clients. If you provide them with excellent service, they will be happy to recommend you to others. You can also ask places like your local Vet if you can leave some business cards on their counter.
If your business is the type in which you can gather some clients together in the one place, perhaps offering them a free seminar or an information evening, do so and encourage them to bring a friend and to keep in touch with you. If your business is "virtual" - suggest an e-group situation in which they can openly share and discuss issues relevant to their business and again, allow them to invite friends. The more the merrier.
Ask your existing clients for referrals. Some people are shy about this, so here's some tips: Sweeten the deal for them - offer them something in exchange for the referrals, like an incentive scheme. This could be discounts for your products or services, free samples, gift vouchers, or even cash rewards. If you don't like to ask outright, design a "Referral Form" and include it with your invoices. Don't send it with the first invoice! Establish your value and integrity first. Ask them outright if they have any leads for you to follow up. You may be able to put business their way too using the same method - suggest this.
Affiliate yourself with other companies/entrepreneurs who can put business your way in exchange for you offering referrals for them. Even appropriate links on websites can be useful, but make sure you are linking to a professional outfit or your own reputation may suffer. If you find an online business with whom you'd like to exchange links - email them, and if you can't find an email address for them or a "Contact Us" link on their website, email their webmaster.
If you haven't got a referral program in place, whenever you gain a new client from a referral, remember to send a thank you and a small gift to the "referrer" - even a lottery ticket! You could also run quarterly competitions and your clients who generate the most referrals could win a prize - the prize being something you know they will appreciate and that you can afford. Chances are they will enjoy this and will send more referrals your way - just remember to always be thankful and offer something in return.
Of course, there is much more you can do as a SOHO in terms of sales and marketing, but if you are just starting out these quick tips are manageable and not likely to overwhelm.