What Every SOHO Should Know in ’96

Redmond, Wash., January 9, 1996 — Two thousand three hundred dollars. That’s the average annual budget that most SOHOs (small offices and home offices) allocate to market their businesses after print advertising buys, according to Link Resources.
“And it isn’t enough in this highly competitive marketplace,”
says Jay Levinson, a member of the Microsoft Publisher SOHO Council, a newly formed organization of SOHO authors, marketing experts and entrepreneurs. The Council is helping small businesses and home offices get
“more bang for their budget buck”
through an ongoing nationwide educational campaign sponsored by Microsoft Publisher.

Members of the Council include Jay Levinson, author of Guerilla Marketing for the Home-based Business; Paul Tulenko, syndicated Scripps Howard small business columnist and founder of the Paul Tulenko Institute, a consulting firm for companies and individuals; Brad Edwards, entrepreneur and founder of My Fortune; Chuck Green, author of The Desktop Publisher’s Idea Book and the forthcoming Clip Art Crazy, and Ruthann Lorentzen, Director of Marketing for the Microsoft Consumer Division.

“It’s not that SOHOs need to work harder at marketing,”
says Ruthann Lorentzen,
“they need to work smarter especially since they are competing for customer attention with 25 million other SOHOs as well as big businesses.”
For 1996, the Microsoft Publisher SOHO Council recommends these 10 tips no matter how small the marketing budget:

DO-IT-YOURSELF-MARKETING Bring design and printing in-house to save money by using desktop publishing products that help you create professional quality marketing materials with a step-by-step, how-to instructional approach.

CONSIDER NEWSLETTERS . An easy, cost-effective and dramatic way to
“sell”
your business and its expertise is through a simple, desktop published newsletter.
“By combining useful information with”
stories
“about your company’s pursuits and successes, you can position yourself as a leader in your business category. Newsletters provide the style and depth simple letters cannot and are a great way to win and keep customers,”
says Council member Chuck Green.

ONLINE NETWORKING . Participating in online chats can expand the contacts you make through memberships in professional clubs. More importantly, these chats also can give you the social interchange, new ideas and business leads that you may be missing since you’re not in a big office and collaborating with a large staff.

THE DATABASE . Good marketing plans are rooted in an active, up-to-date database system. Consider using your database to segment your market and focus your communication. Stay in touch with customers in as many ways as possible, via phone, e-mail, mailings, etc.

CARE & FEEDING OF THE CUSTOMER BASE . Don’t overlook innovative and inexpensive ways to stay in touch with your clients…from pager/voice-mail and fax services to mail merges to send customized newsletters and product information. Also consider teleconferencing and e-mail, when appropriate.

BE HUMAN .
“Don’t overlook the phone to stay in touch with clients and to”
cold call
“prospects. In this technology age, customers appreciate the personal touch, and I’ve found that the more cold calls I make, the more I am to capture prospects,”
explains Council member and entrepreneur Brad Edwards.

TECH-WISE OR BUSINESS FOOLISH . Web sites can be seductive, but before you pay to play, be sure you strategically integrate your site into your overall marketing program. Also, keep your site up-to-date and ever-changing so people continue to sign on and aren’t bored.

CONSIDER SURROUNDINGS . Your company’s image plays an essential role in your marketing direction. Schedule business meetings where you’ll appear to be the most professional. Your home office may not position you in the best light. Conference centers can be the answer.

PLAN AHEAD . Set aside an hour each week to consider your marketing initiatives. Ask yourself what’s working and what’s not. Most SOHOs could spend more time thinking creatively and less time in putting out
“fires.”

NEVER STOP LEARNING . Don’t work in a vacuum, there are too many ideas that can be at your fingertips in seconds via classes, television courses, and such organizations as the Microsoft SOHO Council. Questions for the Council can be sent via e-mail to dpercifi@edelman.com or by mail to: Microsoft Publisher SOHO Council, 1500 Broadway, 25th Floor, New York, NY l0036.
“Today, SOHOs can compete with the Fortune 500 by actively marketing their businesses, no matter what the budget,”
concludes Council member Paul Tulenko,
“especially if they consider these 10 easy initiatives.”

The Microsoft Publisher SOHO Council will offer additional suggestions and forecasts for SOHOs throughout the coming year. The Council will be available online in the future.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing everyday.

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