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Tips & Bits #21: Outside of the Box Ideas for Promoting Your Business

You may not have a marketing budget as big as your competitors, but you can outsmart them by thinking of innovative strategies for winning customers and boosting sales. Here are a few ideas that have become legends in the annals of promotions.

Dare to let your customer name the price.

There once was a restaurant that had no prices on its menu. The following was set in small type at the bottom of the page, "Pay us what your meal was worth." The owner reportedly made more money than he did with the prices listed.

Now, we don’t recommend removing all the prices from your place of business, but this kind of thinking might be worth experimenting with on special promotional items or services.  

Try giving it away for free.

Set aside a finite amount of your products or services to give away each month for free to institutions or individuals in need. Get your customers involved by inviting them to nominate deserving recipients. Names can be left anonymously in a box or emailed to your web address.

The result can range from having your customers think well of you, all the way to attracting the attention of local media and receiving thousands of dollars’ worth of free publicity.

Reward customers who complain.


Year ago, there was a bar owner who established a unique complaint system. Every month the winner’s picture was placed on a “Whiner’s Wall of Fame.” The program became the talk of the town and was covered by the local newspaper.

Consider holding a similar contest with a suitable reward for the best complaint of the month. The prize could recognize when a genuine problem was uncovered — especially one that resulted in a positive solution.

Award the winner a gift certificate, and publicize the results to the local press and in customer communications. Of course, you don’t want call too much attention to poor performance on your part, especially where legal issues may be at stake. But the outcome may be well worth your time and effort.

So get thinking – you just might create a legend of your own.

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