August 3, 2011Every business has an obligation to promote their goods and services in order to consistently attract new customers and maintain their existing customer base. Of course, this isn’t always easy when cash flow is a concern. The following tips offer sound marketing ideas for small businesses with a “cash-strapped” marketing budget.1. Build a Network—Whether online or in person, networking is one of the most essential marketing steps a business owner can take. Even better, it can be accomplished for free or very little cost. Social networks are free and you can build a network of followers in a very short time. Attending trade shows and events also don’t have to be pricey—avoid spending money on a booth, simply go to network and pass out business cards.2. Run a Contest and Offer a Premium Giveaway—A local candy store owner sponsored a tag line contest—offering a new iPad to the winner. The owner promoted the contest on Twitter and Facebook, announced it in his monthly newsletter, and sent a press release to local media. The total time investment to promote the contest was a handful of hours—while the payoff was immense. Participation was through the roof and brought several people into his store to get ideas for the tag line. 3. Be Social—Whatever type of business you have, chances are your customers and prospects use some type of social media. Invest the time in creating a Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn account. Building fan or profile pages and loading them with relevant content and special offers for followers shows that you care and creates another level of “stickiness” with your business.4. Reward Loyalty—It’s important to remind your customers to refer business to you and to reward them when they do. Small gifts like restaurant gift cards or discounts on your products or services go a long way and accelerate loyalty.5. Take Advantage of the Media—Issue press releases on newsworthy information like a new product or awards you’ve won. If picked up, it’s just more free exposure. Your local media wants to know what’s going on…be a source of information for journalists.
Small business owners in many communities offer downtown trick or treat events. Take advantage of this opportunity to build your business reputation. Involvement in local events goes a long way with both existing and prospective customers—indicating a vested interest in your community. Find creative ways to make your business stand out this trick-or-treat season. We hope the following suggestions will spark fun promotional ideas:
October marks Women’s Small Business Month, and we are happy and proud to recognize women in business both locally and around the world. Successful business women of the past and present continue to forge new paths for female entrepreneurs. We celebrate all those who are breaking the glass ceiling and serving as role models and mentors to women everywhere.
For many business owners, September tends to bring a bit of a slowdown. The chaos of getting kids prepared for going back to school has passed, and a focus on saving money tends to kick in as people prepare for the coming holiday spend. Combined, this can often translate into a lull for business owners.