I met with the owner of a services company in Atlanta the other day. Like so many small businesses, he was from that industry and decided to strike out on his own by finding some capital, finding a couple of clients and growing through referrals. And, like some other businesses, he’s done ok.
But growing solely through word-of-mouth early on is a blessing and curse. The blessing is that it’s a cheap way of marketing, the leads are stronger than an advertising lead due to the relationship nature, and that you can grow into a pretty sizable business depending upon how much time you put into it. But the curse is more often than not that all kinds of business comes in (some not-so-good), the business coming in is not predictable, and the business tends to grow to a certain point then levels off due to the time that owners have to continually invest.
For these businesses, the learning curve on becoming a more effective, efficient marketing operation is steep. How do you get leads into your business? How has it changed over the years?