Small business owners, take heart! All across America, small businesses like yours are wrestling with the age old challenge – how to make a big marketing splash without drowning in debt. In addition to our best wishes, we offer you a Baker’s Dozen marketing ideas that are sure to help you pump up the volume without inflicting much pain in your checkbook.
1. Sponsor a Local Youth Team – Parks are filled with opportunities to get involved in the community. Soccer is everywhere throughout the year. Little league baseball is seasonal and don’t forget about your local high-school football and basketball team. Even the marching band can use a helping hand. Usually in exchange for your support, you can get credit in a program, a banner or be able to give out flyers to the parents of the kids on the team.
2. Attend Trade Shows – You don’t have to buy a booth to benefit from trade shows. Just attend them with a healthy supply of business cards. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to network, create alliances, make sales pitches to prospects and much more.
3. Donate to Silent Auctions – your local schools and religious organizations are always holding these fundraisers. Donate a custom-made basket of your businesses’ products or a gift certificate for an hour’s worth of your time and let them sell it. You’ll gain exposure from all the folks who bid on it and the lucky winner will become very familiar with you and your business when they open their basket.
4. Car Door Magnets – If you’re on the road, you should be spreading the word about your business. These magnets are removable, so you can take them off when you pull up at a fancy restaurant. Be sure to include your logo, name, address, telephone numbers and URL.
5. Sponsor Local Events – organizations that need to raise funds often hold carnivals. You can easily sponsor a ride or a game booth to help them cover the operating costs in exchange for a banner, a mention in the program and the opportunity to hand out flyers at the event.
6. Windshield Advertising – you’ve probably encountered advertising tucked under your windshield wiper – now it’s your turn to use this economical tactic. Here’s a twist on that idea – print up bookmarks that include information about your business and have a neighborhood kid distribute them for an after-school job.
7. The Business Card Bowl – Hold a weekly drawing (or monthly if you prefer) from a collection of business cards dropped inside a large glass bowl on your checkout counter. Your customers will love the chance to win a valuable gift. And you can use the cards to create a database to send our postcard mailings or email to.
8. Loyalty Card Program – If you have a business that relies on repeat purchases, you must use this technique to encourage loyalty to your establishment. These can be as small as a business card and require a unique punch or stamp to keep track of a customer’s visits. When they’ve purchased a dozen times, reward them with a FREE gift!
9. Invitation Only Sale – Everybody wants to be treated like a VIP. Hold a by-invitation only sale after hours and only admit those on the exclusive guest list. Send out an invitation card to your best customers and offer them an evening of special desserts and coffee beverages and a discount on your merchandise.
10. Share Your Knowledge – you probably are an expert on the business you’re in (otherwise you would have done something else, right?). Offer a free seminar to be held right in your store on a weekend or after hours. Invite both customers and the general public. It’s a great way to position yourself and your business as the leading authority on whatever subject you choose to teach.
11. Create a Magalog – what’s a magalog? The best of a magazine and a catalog rolled into one. Your printer will know it as a brochure. You’ll fill it with your products and services, your hours and address, map to your location, customer testimonials, and advice from you – the expert, and much more. Distribute them to the residents and businesses in your area and let the calls start coming in.
12. Custom Shopping Bags – here’s a great way to create custom shopping bags at an economy price. Have your logo, name, address, phone and URL printed on a colorful sticker about 4″ x 4″ and slap them on colorful plastic or paper bags. Your store will look like one of the famous spots for a fraction of the price.
13. Statement Stuffers – every time you send out a bill, include a colorful flyer with product or service promotions. You are already paying the postage; why not let a little marketing ride along for free? You can use this for announcing new additions to your product line, or create a referral program where your present customers send you new ones.
There they are – 13 economical ideas that can help super-size your marketing impact. Dive in and see what happens. You can’t just sit there hoping the phone will ring. Get busy and start promoting your business.