Tips & Bits #33: Low-Budget Advertising Tactics for Small Businesses
Advertising expenses can easily overwhelm a major portion of a new-businesses’ startup funds or an existing small businesses’ operating cash flow. But advertising is essential to attract new customers and to drive continuing sales. Happily, there are economical ways to advertise and promote your business.
Raise Your Profile Within Your Community:
Host events, contests, parties or picnics –invite your customers and tell them to bring friends.
Give product baskets or service packages to local charity auctions.
Give free presentations and lectures to community groups.
Sponsor or operate a booth at a local fair or carnival.
Attend your local business groups’ meetings and business card exchanges.
Do business with other small businesses in your neighborhood.
Participate in cooperative advertising in special newspaper supplements.
Post your business’s flyers, cards and brochures on community bulletin boards.
Giveaways and Gifts:
Give away free samples or advertising specialty items (magnets, mugs, pens, note pads, etc.).
Distribute discount coupons.
Offer free evaluations, estimates or consultations.
Send out newsworthy press releases to local media outlets.
Let it be known that you are available for interviews on local radio and cable television shows.
Write how-to articles for trade and consumer publications.
Host a local cable television show related to your business.
Place classified ads in free shopper papers and websites.
Company Logo and Slogan:
Design or have someone design a logo for you and create a slogan that will become identifiable with your business. Display the design and slogan on all your business cards and promotional materials as well as on magnetic vehicle signs, lawn or sidewalk signs, T-shirts, flyers and such.
Get plenty of business cards and hand them out to everyone you meet.
Teach and Advise Others:
Give free demonstrations at nearby trade shows and community or store events.
Teach courses at local schools or community colleges.
Conduct workshops at business conferences or expos.
It costs less to keep a current customer than to attract and acquire a new one.
Word-of-mouth is still one of the best and most credible advertising methods.
Send thank-you, birthday and seasonal cards.
Hold a by-invitation-only sales event for loyal customers.
Resolve customer complaints quickly and to their satisfaction.
Always do a little extra for your customers.
Be professional and respectful to all customers.
Learn and Get Smart:
Always present your promotions where they will reach your target customers.
Evaluate each promotion’s responses and repeat those that bring the most business. Remember, customer satisfaction is the best (and lowest-cost) advertising avenue of all. Put customers first, and your product or service will practically sell itself.
By simply “walking a mile in your customers’ shoes” you’ll understand how many of these tactical ideas will be effective in growing your business without spending a fortune on promotional expenses.
These are all the result of many other small business owners experience and attending the “college of hard knocks.” Your business plan probably doesn’t include any of these down-to-earth strategies, but they can make a big difference in your operation and the bottom line.