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Ten marketing ideas for your small business

Ten marketing ideas for your small business

Running a small business can be very time consuming. Often, marketing and advertising your business falls to the bottom of the pile. The result: you do the same stuff everyone else is doing, because the local ad rep walks in your door and sells you the same things.

Be different. Be original.

Sure, you should still utilize the standard marketing tactics: ads, coupons, loyalty programs, etc. But if you really want to stand out, then you have to do and offer something really different.

1. Give things away for free

Obviously this isn’t going to work for car dealers, but if you can offer a free burger Wednesday or double pizza Tuesdays (buy one get one free) you’ll get noticed. Of course you’ll include some type of limit to increase the urgency to participate - perhaps you’ll limit the offer to the first ten or 25 customers to keep the promotion manageable. Don’t forget to tie this into your social media promotions too.

2. Print up crazy t-shirts and offer incentives to customers who wear them

No, I’m not talking about your run of the mill promotional t-shirts. I’m talking about clever, funny, and (perhaps if it suits your business) an even slightly vulgar shirt. Own a yogurt shop (since they’re popular these days)? Print up a shirt that says “I ate yogurt at XYZ shop and that makes me smarter than you.” Or perhaps “I got a swirly at XYZ yogurt shop.” Customers that come in wearing the shirt get a discount or something free. They’d also earn a reward if they “tag” your shop in a social post.

3. Hold or sponsor an event for kids or parents

Go to local day care facilities and offer to sponsor a night out for parents. That is, you pay for the teachers to stay late and watch kids after hours. Just require parents “opt-in” to your email list in order to participate. Or depending on what you offer, combine the “babysitting” gig with a promotion at your location.

Or connect with local sports leagues and offer to host their awards ceremonies or victory parties. And of course, offer discounts to anyone who shops while wearing their uniform.

4. Hold a “customer of the week” promotion

Reward loyal customers or randomly select one and then offer them free stuff every time they bring people in. Make them feel really, really special. Put their picture up in your store. If they sign a release, use their image and name in your email promotions and ads. Make sure you promote each of their visits on social media and ask them to share the fun too.

5. Gamify customer visits and/or referrals

Print up “business cards” with QR codes or UPC codes that can be scanned (so you can track them). Then hand out five or six each to a few dozen customers. If they give the cards to friends or family and they come in - the initial person receives “credit” and a reward for the referral, and the new visitor gets a discount. If the initial person has all their referral cards redeemed - then give them a big prize.

6. Pull a Willy Wonka stunt

Hide six special prizes in your items, or hide them around your town and have folks find them to win. Or join with other businesses to create a treasure hunt that requires folks to visit multiple stores to gather a number of things to win a prize. Of course, have them tweet or facebook their discoveries as a requirement too.

7. Create or sponsor an annual event

Connect with your township to hold an annual event. Perhaps it’s a barb-e-cue cook off or a petting zoo or a carnival. Just make it coincide with your target customer.

8. Head over to fiverr.com

It’s amazing what some folks will do for five dollars. So head over to fiverr.com and pay someone to create a crazy song or video for you. Have several people do it. You can then use these wacky little videos to promote your business.

9. Hold special event days

Have massage therapy Mondays or dog grooming Fridays - and I don’t mean only if you’re a massage parlor or dog groomer. Coordinate a service that complements yours and that will attract your target audience. Or promote family time with “take grandmom out for a walk” days. Run a promotion that rewards family members for bringing grandmom or granddad with them to your store.

10. Buy giant stuffed animals for prizes

Almost everyone loves stuffed animals - and giants ones are even better. Buy a few online wholesale and use them as the prize for an in-store or social media competition.

Be creative and try new things.

Some things will work. Others will not. But if you keep testing ideas you’ll eventually strike upon something excellent. Of course, make sure your approach is in line with your customer. It wouldn’t be smart to hire a string quartet to play at your tattoo parlor. So make the activity, event, or promotion match your target audience.

Jan 22, 2015
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