Like any new business owner striking it out on his own for the first time, James Gilcrease needs to get the word out about his recently opened shop, Day Old Blues Records.
"Facebook and Instagram are really my biggest helpers," Gilcrease says. "I post just about everyday on Facebook, and I tell people what's coming, when it's coming, [I tell followers] I'm putting in a special order, I'm getting in t-shirts."
At a time when consumers often forgo physical copies of music in favor of digital downloads, Gilcrease uses both to his advantage. He subscribes to the online service Spotify to make playlists of incoming orders and give samples to anyone unacquainted with a particular artist.
"I remember one guy came in picked up Ponderosa," Gilcrease recalls. "He said, 'Who is this?' [I] put it on, and within two songs he said, 'I'll take it."
"Social media is one of the most widely used marketing tools out there and you need to have a presence," says marketing strategist Amy Kinnaird.
Kinnaird, owner of Uncommon Sense Marketing, says business owners can build a customer base by interacting with others in their neighborhood and in their industry.
Gilcrease does just that by posting information for local bands and devoting a special section to them in his store.
"A local band cannot go to Best Buy and say, 'Hey, can you sell our CD,' because they won't to it," Gilcrease says.
Kinnaird says social media sites usually cost nothing except time. However, Facebook ads and tweets are not the best method for every business. For some companies, tried and true tactics like cold calls, fliers, and direct mailings may prove more successful.
The Small Business Development Center- housed at LSU-Shreveport- is open to anyone who wants to start, grow, or succeed with their business. The group offers free advice on a variety of subjects including marketing and social media, Quick Books education, and writing a business plan.
"There's a number of folks here with a wide variety of backgrounds and professional expertise that can really help these people get a grip on what they need to be doing to get their business moving forward and to be more successful," Kinnaird says.
Amy Kinnaird offers these additional tips for business owners:
-Attend networking events
-Post specials or new items to a Facebook page
-Use photos and videos to engage Facebook users
-Start a blog with answers to frequently asked questions
-Like" and respond to other Facebook posts as you want people to respond to yours
-See which posts get the most attention and most responses and try to duplicate the success
-Consistency is key