A business, more often than not, has a very limited budget when it comes to advertising. The business owner needs to make the public aware of his or her product or service at the lowest possible cost.
There are many ways. A pet breeder in a large city was struggling for several years-until he came up with a novel idea. He started giving away customized "birth certificates" for the pets he sold. Almost immediately, his sales rose more than 10 percent.
The owner of a new home cleaning service was trying to attract clients. She couldn't afford much advertising, so she began offering "home cleaning seminars" to civic groups. After two months of seminars, she was swamped with inquiries and clients.
Promotion often makes the crucial difference between business success and failure. Customers or clients must know about a business or product line before they'll buy and they must have a reason to buy.
GIVEAWAYS. People love to receive "free" items, especially items they can use to gain knowledge or improve their lives. You can base an entire promotional campaign on this desire. If you're running a furniture repair business, for instance, you could give away a furniture repair brochure, free furniture planning guides, or color swatches. Once you begin giving away authoritative information, customers will begin to perceive you as an expert in your field.
NEWS CREATION.Want to get your business in the local newspaper or TV? It may be easier than you think. If you don't have any news to report to the local media, create some. One man hired a team of beautiful girls outfitted in skimpy bikinis and had them waving signs in a busy part of town announcing his new Web site address. Did it get attention by the media? You bet it did!
EVENTS.You may be able to attract the attention of the media or a crowd by staging a special promotional event. If you run a fitness classes, for instance, you could stage a celebrity instructor day. If you're promoting a new real estate business, you can offer tours of a model home in the area. If you're selling children's products and it's springtime, you can offer lunch with the Easter bunny. Get the idea?
CHARITY TIE-INS.Are you launching a new product? Trying to increase visibility among a particular segment of your community? Offer your product to one or more local charities as a raffle prize or for use at a fund raising event. You'll receive lots of exposure among people who buy tickets or attend the event.
CONTESTS. Offer a desirable or unique item-or even several items-as contest prizes. First, find a contest theme that tiers into your business. A caterer might offer a quiche-eating contest. A photographer might offer a young model contest. A mail order craft firm might offer an "Early American" handicrafts contest. Invite contest submissions and offer prizes to the winners. Do contests attract attention? You bet. All it takes is a few signs, a small press announcement or two, and the word will spread throughout the community grapevine.
COMMUNITY SERVICE.Nothing brings you to the attention of the people faster-or more favorably-than community service. Ask yourself how your enterprise can be a "good neighbor" to your community. If you're running a lawn care and gardening service, perhaps you can offer one season's services at no charge to a needy charitable organization or nursing home in your area. Hundreds of people will hear about your work in the process. Volunteer for various community causes. If appropriate, you can step in during community emergency, offering products and services to help an organization or individuals in need.
COUPONS. Americans are very coupon-conscious. Test the market: at what level will coupons increase the volume of various product or service lines? When you get some tentative answers, start distributing coupons that offer a discount on your services. Distribute them to area newspapers, on store counters, in door-to-door- mail packets (which can often be quite inexpensive), at the public library, at laundromats, at any location where people congregate.
BADGES AND NOVELTIES.You can easily and inexpensively produce badges, bumper stickers, book covers, and other novelty items for distribution in your area. You can imprint your business name and the first names of the customers on many of these products at little cost and distribute them for free. Or you can tie your novelty program into a contest: once a month, you can offer a prize to any individual whose car happens to carry one of your bumper stickers or badges with peel-off coupons, redeemable at your place of business.
CELEBRITY VISITS.With a bit of persistence, you may be able to arrange to have a local media celebrity, public official, or entertainment personally-even a fictitious cartoon character or clown-visit your service. The celebrity can sign autographs, read stories to children, perform cooking demonstrations, or perform any one of a hundred other traffic-building activities.
By all means, advertise in the media if you can. But don't neglect your greatest promotional asset-your mind. Ponder the products, services and events you can offer the community and devise a creative promotional strategy around them. You'll have to invest a bit of time and energy in the project, but the payoff will be worth it. You'll save hundreds-or even thousands-of advertising dollars and better yet, you'll travel a well-worn shortcut to profit.
I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.