Volume 2, Issue 5
Effective Strategies is devoted to sharing ideas that can improve
your business performance. Last issue, we discussed networking communication tips ó the language of the power networker. This issue, look at passive and active ways to promote your business. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.
21 Ways to Promote Your Business
Passive and Active Ways to Keep Your Name in Front of Customers
Show me business owners that believe, ďIíll just open my doors and customers will flock in,Ē and Iíll show you business owners who are scratching their head wondering where the customers are 30 days after they open their doors. Promoting your business is a constant struggle. If you take a break from it, your potential customers forget youíre out there. Passive and active promotional activities are critical to creating top-of-mind awareness.
Here are 21 ways to reach a wide variety of potential clients ó some for little or no money. Successful businesses donít utilize just one or two promotional methods. Businesses who are new or are in a competitive market should practice 10 or more of these methods. The more you practice, the more customers you reach.
- Network. Of course, you should seek out the normal venues (chamber of commerce events, networking coffees, or civic clubs) but you can network anywhere if you approach it as relationship-building. Initiate conversations with people who youíd like to know better at church, youth sporting events, and fund-raisers.
- Purchase logo graphics for your vehicle. Your local sign shop or banner company has options that include permanent graphics on your vehicle windows or body, magnetic signs, and license plates. Donít forget to shine up your car and your courteous driving habits.
- Invest in logo apparel. If you have a work-shirt kind of business, work with your local embroidery or screen-printing shop to put your logo on shirts and hats for you and your employees. Make sure employees know that a clean, pressed appearance is important no matter how dirty your work is.
- Put your logo on a nametag. If you prefer a more flexible or dressy wardrobe, invest in a nametag with your name and company logo. Look for these at print shops and trophy stores.
- Launch a website. Many businesses are using a website now. Make sure your website reflects the same look and image as your printed promotional materials. Be extremely cautious when selecting a web development company. Make sure they understand web coding, web design, and web marketing.
- Send permission-marketing e-mails. Spam has forced new regulations and tools to combat it. To protect yourself, make sure you build a permission-marketing database. To do that, invite people to sign up to receive reminders, updates, or information from your company. This will also allow you to include links to information on your website. Think of a website as a bulletin board in your closet ó people arenít inclined to visit websites without some compelling reason. The right invitation in your e-mail will drive traffic to your website.
- Include your website address on your voice mail message and e-mail signature. Your website will be waiting for them if they need more information before you can contact them personally.
- Contact people you know. You probably have a stack of business cards on your desk that youíve been meaning to follow up with. Schedule some time each week to call or send notes or e-mails to those people. Remind them where you met them and invite them to visit over coffee so you can get to know each other better. People are more likely to refer others to people they know well.
- Send e-mails and leave voice mails after hours. Just because your business hours are filled with business duties doesnít mean your promotional activities have to suffer. You can send e-mails anytime (remember to personalize them). Donít be afraid to call your contacts and leave voice mails after hours.
- Utilize direct mail. You can create your own database or purchase mailing lists from professional organizations, chambers of commerce, and direct mail companies. Send information to your database regularly. Letters are easy but postcards can be more effective because recipients donít have to open an envelope to see your message. A postcard smaller than 4" x 6" is cheaper to mail, too.
- Get involved in the community. Charity events are a great way to show off your work ethic and attention to detail while doing something wonderful in the community. Find a cause that moves you and get involved on a planning committee.
- Get involved in professional organizations or special interest groups. Look for an organization that supports the field that you are in. Better yet, look for one that supports an industry that you serve through your business. For instance, a training company benefits from joining an organization for training professionals or human resources professionals because many companies outsource their training needs.
- Tell friends, relatives, and neighbors. Many people fail to inform those closest to them about what they do for living. Send them an e-mail and let them know what you do and that you want their referrals. If you send out a holiday newsletter, be sure to include information and a progress report on your business.
- Informational seminars. You are probably an expert in your chosen field. Put together an hour-long seminar on a topic that showcases your expertise and educates your audience. Potential customers will attend a free seminar if itís a topic that will improve their some area of their life. It establishes a relationship of familiarity and trust that no advertising campaign can match. When attendees decide that they need help with your area of expertise, they will remember you. Make sure your seminar is 90 percent informational content and 10 percent sales pitch.
- Speak at civic clubs. Program chairs for civic clubs are faced with the daunting task of scheduling 50 to 52 free speakers a year. Make their job easier by contacting them and proposing a 20-minute speech about your topic of expertise.
- Host a party. Host a casual gathering at your home for a group of people who you would like to know better. Small gatherings such as dinner parties allow you to enjoy your guests and make the rounds to everyone. Consider hiring a caterer so you can concentrate on your guests rather than cooking or washing dishes.
- Participate in expos. Check out expos carefully ó Who is their target attendee? How are they marketing the expo? How long is it? How many people attended last year? For instance, if your ideal customer is another business, you want to invest your time and money in expos that attract the greatest number of business people. Donít forget to network with the other expo exhibitors. Create your own pre-expo marketing promotion by inviting your potential clients to visit your booth at the expo.
- Get active in your chamber of commerce. Do more than join. Your local chamber has a variety of committees that would allow you to invest time in a topic of interest as well as build relationships with other chamber members.
- Seek out sponsorships. Local charities, chamber of commerce functions, and professional organizations offer sponsorship opportunities to raise funds for their projects and operations. In exchange, they offer the sponsor exposure to the members of the organization and the community.
- Write articles. Many newsletter editors are starving for free content that is relevant and interesting to their readers. Your local business journal or community magazine may be willing to publish your article as a guest commentary or in a regular column. Ask them about free advertising space for your company in exchange for a free article. Better yet, ask them to trade you their subscriber list so you can follow up with a direct mail piece.
- Advertise. The most expensive of all promotional options is paid advertising. Unfortunately many advertising representatives are more worried about their commission than making sure you will benefit from their advertising medium. If you like the medium but think your getting poor customer service from your advertising representative, ask for a different one at the same company. Ask about their demographics and shop around. You probably canít afford all the options so pick one target market to go after and invest in top-of-mind awareness ó advertising that is frequent and consistent. It will prevent you from throwing your marketing dollars to the wind and getting nothing in return.
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Carrie Perrien Smith
President, Soar With Eagles
Release Your Potential
Soar with Eagles equips individuals and organizations with the tools they
need to improve their performance by creating powerful strategies, improving
communication, and strengthening employee commitment.
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