Is it your dream to launch your own business, or do you have one already? Chances are, especially in this economy, you’re looking to promote that business, whether it’s a coffee shop or you sell handcrafted items, but how to spread the word without breaking the bank? I’ve spent decades at the head of several small businesses, all of them successful, so I can help! Here are9 ways to promote your business, and some of them are completely free (which is always in budget).
Right now, there are more than 600 million active Facebook users across the globe, and I’ll bet some of them are just dying to buy whatever it is you’re offering. If you have a flat zero advertising and marketing budget, create a Facebook page for your business! If managed properly and professionally, it can be an amazingly effective tool, getting you more face time with your existing clients, and exposing new potential clients and customers to your products and services. The key is to provide new, interesting information in a casual, upbeat way, and to offer specials to the people who “like” your business’s page on Facebook. Facebook also offers advertising for a small fee, which is another great, inexpensive, and effective way to connect with new and existing customers.
Much like Facebook, Twitter offers you the opportunity to reach potential and current customers as often as you like, free of charge. It’s important to keep your tweets professional and upbeat, and to offer specials once in a while. Remember, if someone is following you on Twitter, they want frequent updates, so before you start tweeting, make sure you’re committed to it.
3. A Website
If you’re getting more traffic than a Facebook page or Etsy storefront can handle, you may want to invest in your own website. Again, the key is professionalism — don’t let your brother-in-law design the site just because he can, and he won’t charge much. Invest in a professional site, or stick to Facebook or Etsy, for a poorly designed or badly written site is far worse than not having one at all!
4. Local Press
When you’re ready to launch your business, be sure to alert your local small media, like that free paper that comes in the mail each week, as well as all of the other local press, the smaller and more niche, closest to your business, the better! They’ll be eager to help you promote your new business!
Kids’ soccer teams need new jerseys, Girl Scouts need a place to sell cookies, and runners need sponsors for marathons. Use any opportunity you can to get in front of new clients by sponsoring an event or a team that will give you more face-time with just the right people. This is a fantastic way to promote your small business, but be creative! If you’re opening an ice cream shop, sponsor a children’s t-ball team or offer a free scoop to the kids after practice. If you’re running a bingo hall, though, you’re going to want to reach an older crowd, so sponsor something else.
6. Contests and Promotions
People love contests and promotions, so they’re another great way to advertise your small business. Fill a huge jar with jelly beans, and have a contest to see who can guess the right number in there, or how many blue ones are inside. Offer a prize! Or host a silent auction for a charity, offer a discount on someone’s birthday, or use a unique tie in. For instance, on Valentine’s Day, offer a discount on everything pink or with hearts in your store. Again, get creative, and make sure your promo or contest is going to appeal to the right people — potential customers!
7. Traditional Print Ads (maybe in Non-traditional Places!)
I adored using print ads to promote my small businesses. The right ad in the right place can be very effective. Again, make sure it’s professionally done, and that you’ve chosen the right place to advertise. And again, be creative!
8. Traditional Media
Aside from leveraging the small local media channels, you’ll also want to send a professionally written press release to the traditional TV, newspapers, and radio stations in your market. They’ll be less responsive to news about your new business, but be the squeaky wheel and keep contacting them until someone agrees to do a story. Use the story to promote one of the events or contests or sponsorships you’ve set up. The business promotion double-whammy!
9. Word of Mouth
Word of mouth can be a very powerful business promotion tool, since people love to talk about their positive and negative experiences with local businesses. Tie this in with a Facebook page, and you’ll probably be able to gain hundreds of new customers from this avenue alone! All it takes is a little encouragement, simply asking your happy customers to tell their friends and family. It works!
Use any of these business promotion tools, especially in a creative combination, and your small biz will be sure to shine! I especially recommend the freebies — Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth — since these are, well, free! Now that you know how to promote your small business, it’s time to launch (or refresh)… are you ready? Which of these small business promotion tools will you use, and how? Please share!
Top Photo Credit: govcedric