I haven't ever advertised for any of my businesses so I have relied on Word-of-Mouth and "Word-of-Mouse" marketing. I think this is the best way to go about most businesses these days and this is what I love talking to photographers about. The world is becoming increasingly more connected and you can see that natural, organic growth doesn't necessarily mean a slow adoption of a product or service. If your product is good and if you listen to your customers and make changes that need to be made your business can skyrocket even without the typical things that you think you might need.
Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist for Apple, says we need to approach most business with a "Ready - Fire - AIM" mentality.
I did this in my wedding business.
I started shooting weddings long before I was "prepared" - I didn't have a sample album (still haven't gotten around to that), I didn't have a website or a blog, didn't have any promotional material (still don't but I have a cool business card), have never advertised, never ever went to any bridal shows and at the beginning I didn't even have a computer to show my work on! I showed my first clients pictures from a service project I did in Mexico! I showed pictures of sad little kids but I booked the jobs and it made me realize that a lot of the things people think they need to succeed they actually don't need at all!
Showit-DVD is another great example of this! Countless people told me this would never work and since this business cost 10's of thousands of dollars just to start it and is a semi-expensive business to run it kinda freaked me out. But I knew from my own experience that there was a need and that a lot of photographers didn't want to deal with the hassles of producing and delivering products to their clients and so I went about it the same way as I've gone about starting my other companies. I've gotten the product out there and let it spread on its own. We haven't even made a real website for it yet because we wanted to see if it would actually get adopted and boy did it ever! This is a little graph my partner Todd sent me today showing the rapid growth shown by monthly orders we've had simply by letting customers who use it and enjoy it tell their friends. Last month there were 397 Showit-DVD orders!
What are you putting off because you don't feel ready? Go do it...and don't be afraid of failure because I've learned that it's impossible to fail if you are results oriented. Think about it. You ALWAYS get a result! It's not always the result you wanted or hoped for but you can learn and grow from it and that is success!