Simple yet effective ways small businesses can advertise and market their business without spending a lot of money
As a small business owner, you are always looking for ways to promote your business without becoming stale. You don’t want to be too pushy when it comes to promoting your business – but you do want to stand out, get noticed and be remembered. For many small businesses there tends to be a fine line between tooting your own horn and being over-the-top with your sales and marketing approach.
In a world full of occasionally annoying salespeople (yourself excluded of course), here are a few fresh ideas to help you market your business and score long-term leads:
1. Fish for Leads
Ask if you can leave a fishbowl on the counter of a high-traffic local business. Solicit business cards and advertise a drawing for a gift card to the establishment. Use those cards as leads. Always carry plenty of business cards with you. Drop them in fishbowls, tack them to bulletin boards and leave them with a tip every time you eat out. Encourage your employees to do the same.
2. Get to Know Your Chamber of Commerce
Be a resource for everyone at your local chamber of commerce. Your local chamber is typically full of other business owners and representatives that are eager to network and establish meaningful connections. As you develop strong relationships, people will do your word-of-mouth advertising for you.
3. A Driving Advertisement
Vehicle car wraps are very popular these days – they get your business noticed when you are using your delivery or sales vehicles in your local market. If you aren’t interested in investing in a full car advertisement wrap, opt for a customized magnetic decal instead. Give potential customers an easy way to grab your number or website URL when they see you out and about.
4. Leave Pens Everywhere
Have pens personalized with your logo, and leave them everywhere. Whenever you sign a receipt, address a letter or sign your name, use your own pen and leave it. These types of promotional branding items are very low cost – typically starting at a few cents a piece if you buy in large quanities – so they are an inexpensive way to leave a lasting advertising message about your business.
5. Partner With a Security Company
If you are in the business of helping people protect themselves, why not join forces with a business doing the same thing? For example, according to LifeShield.com, insurance agents whose referrals sign up for a home security service will receive $150 or six months of free security monitoring themselves.
6. Use Consumer Review Websites
Review sites are quickly becoming a go-to source when looking for a business online. Set up an agency account on websites like Yelp.com, Viewpoints.com or RateItAll.com. Visitors can write recommendations about your services, which could lead to more business. Encourage happy customers to share their opinions and reviews on these services.
7. Create an App
Make sure your business pops up when people are searching by creating your own app. If you can develop a useful smartphone app for customers it will differentiate your business from competitors and provide you with an ongoing tool to promote your special offers, sales, new products and more.
8. Release Viral Videos
Every successful business creates and uses videos, either for presentations, training, spreading information or just for fun. Make your own personalized and professional-looking videos, then upload them on YouTube. Humor tends to be a good way to ensure that a video becomes popular or viral. Share on your social networks and encourage others to share in hopes of it spreading like wildfire and giving you a stream of free advertising.
9. Blog About It
Instead of just promoting yourself, share interesting stories or little known facts on your blog to get reader input. A blog is a great way to informally extend the reach of your website, creating more opportunities to share stories and behind the scenes information on your business. These less formal ways of promoting your business often get noticed and make a big impact.
10. Deliver Fliers
It may seem like old school marketing, but having someone tuck advertisements under windshield wipers or door mats can yield results. Make sure the location you choose is likely to target your demographics.
11. Detailed Email Signature
Include your business’ website, phone number and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more) in your automated signature in every email you send, whether it’s a professional email or not. You never know when someone will forward your email as a referral – make it easy to connect by communicating your main contact information.
12. Wear It On Your Sleeve
Have several polo, dress and T-shirts made with your business name embroidered clearly on the breast. Wear them to community events and school activities. Give them to your best customers – they will wear them proudly and help spread the word with free advertising everywhere they go.
13. Get In Their Phone
Encourage customers to program your information into their phones so they can always call you with questions. Outbound customer service calls are also a great way to get in their “recent calls” list so that they can get your number. This way they are always carrying your information and can share it with others should the opportunity arise. Set up an incentive program for referrals so that customers have even more reason to pick up their phone and call on YOUR business.
Guest Contributor: Catherine Wallace
As an online marketing director, Catherine embraces technology, especially the cloud computing tools available to her to enhance online advertising and marketing techniques.
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