It’s often said that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and it’s also the cheapest. There are lots of ways to promote your small business that don’t cost much money and you’ve likely used some of them already.
The purpose of this article is to suggest and stimulate more creative ideas that might work for your business. The best part is you’ve got little to lose by trying them out.
The Internet has opened up a world of possibilities that didn’t exist before. Take advantage of this unprecedented capability to spread the word.
What used to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in printing and postage is now essentially free. Send out regular electronic newsletters to those who provide their email addresses on your website. Keep them informed on new products and services, as well as coming sales and special deals.
Customer Loyalty Program
Frequent flyer miles work, or the airlines wouldn’t award them. So do restaurant rewards cards that allow you to collect points toward a free meal. You can do something on a smaller scale by giving discounts to customers who exceed a dollar threshold of total purchases. Design a loyalty program unique to your business that will keep your customers coming back again and again.
Join the Chamber of Commerce and other groups that will bring you in contact with others in the local business community. In addition to engaging with people who will talk about your business, it demonstrates your commitment to the growth and success of your community. Goodwill goes a long way toward creating a favorable, positive image.
Be your own celebrity pitchman and produce an eye-catching video to promote your business. There’s no more authentic way to stand behind products and services than for the business owner to present them in a compelling way. Embed the video on your website in a prominent spot where it will receive maximum views. The search engines love videos and so does YouTube, so take advantage of all available communication channels to distribute your message.
Contests & Awards
Contests work if you make them worth the effort to enter and you vary the theme and awards. Free products, discounts, gift cards, and other forms of sweepstakes will spur interest in your business throughout the life of these programs. Publicize each contest, design creative ways to make the awards public, and officially recognize the winners. Select a “customer of the month” and feature them all in a running gallery of award recipients.
Find a company with products that compliment yours but don’t directly compete with you. Let’s say you’re in the business of making custom vases and other ceramics. Consider an exclusive marketing deal with a flower shop to provide vases for their specialty arrangements. Their customers get to see your work with virtually no effort on your part. They get the benefit of providing quality vases that can be used by their customers and seen by their friends and acquaintances.
Many cities and towns set aside one or two days during the year to spotlight their small businesses. Some even hold parades where the businesses are invited to participate and provide sponsorships for local groups. Get involved in these events whenever you can. It will help solidify your image as a business that fully supports the citizens of your community.
When it comes to jumpstarting promotional opportunities, the possibilities are virtually endless. This article only scratches the surface of ideas you might consider, and some may not be a good fit for your specific business. Think about what would attract you to your business if you were a potential customer. Putting yourself in their place will help crystallize ideas that will provide the most impact for your money.
Don’t forget webinars, seminars, blogs, and social media. Having a top-notch website is a great start, but it should only be the foundation of your online presence. Build from that by taking advantage of all the Internet has to offer.