Whether the economy is up or down it is always important for small businesses to be resourceful and creative when it comes to marketing their brand. The “Guerilla” approach to marketing is the route most people think of when they think of clever marketing for small businesses but the reality is graffiti, sticker bombing, and flash mobs just do not work for every business. Some can even be met with disapproval from the community which is directly counterproductive to it’s purpose. Here are some cost-effective methods of marketing that will both spread the brand and help promote a positive image in the community:
Small discounts for customers who refer others back are very common today. Take it a step further and make it an organized event. Offer something big to somebody for big results. For example If you run a pizza place, have a contest the month before a sports event like the Super Bowl where the first person to refer 100 customers to the business gets free pizza for their Super Bowl party. Same thing can be done with sponsoring local clubs or teams at the schools. If they raise a certain amount of business or refer a certain amount of customers, you pay for new uniforms for the next year.
Don’t Neglect the Small Items
Make sure your brand has a presence everywhere whether it’s a flyer, billboard, or a few custom pens in the front desk pen holder. Have an animalistic territorial attitude and make sure your signature or stamp is everywhere in town. Most small businesses survive by the being the signature service provider of a certain small town or section of a city. Hand out koozies, cups, and other useful items at events like 5K runs and fairs. If your service really is quality the potential customer will look no further than the first brand they see when seeking out that service. Make sure you are always the first that they see.
Allow Local Clubs and School Teams to Market For You
The local high school or college usually has some clubs or teams looking to do fundraisers for their new equipment or travel expenses. Allow them to do carwashes, dunk tanks, or other cool fundraisers in your parking lot. This both reaches out to the community in a more personal, friendly approach, and brings opportunity for business.
Even the most depressing town has something they celebrate annually. Make it point to enter a float in every annual parade that comes through town. It amazes me how much certain businesses underestimate the value of participating in these events. Usually these parades hand out awards and publicly recognize the best floats. Get the employees together and make it a team building project. If it’s good, you’ll make people remember you and think of trying out your services. If it’s the best you’ll get exposure in the local media and be able to market to a much wider population than those who actually saw the float.
Today nearly 20% of all time people spend online is in social networking which means your business simply can’t afford to not be doing it. Maintain a consistent presence with local organizations and extend share your page with as many people as you can. Use social media to announce fundraisers, let people know when you are hiring, and to let people know what is happening with your business.
All of these methods have relatively little cost and large potential for return on your investment. Small businesses survive by establishing identity with their community. Personal outreach and creativity are always much more appreciated than buying a mile’s worth of adspace all over town.
Alice Jenkins is a writer and marketing guru who loves researching new and innovative ideas for small businesses to thrive in a tough market. She writes for PensXpress, a leading supplier of branded and personalized pens.
Image courtesy Cliff