There is a stereotype about women in 2006, and I’m definitely one of the examples of it. The stereotype is that we women know quality, and we know value; and that we’ll go to Nordstrom’s and walk around for an hour, and try a few things on; and then buy a lipstick at Nordstrom’s, and go shop for clothes at Marshall’s. But I mean, why not? If you can get a bargain, you should.
So here are ten way-super-cheap marketing ideas for your business. Leave a Comment with some other favorite ideas of your own!
1) SWAP PROMOS.
Let’s say you’ve got a card-and-gift shop and there’s a wine store down the street. Create postcards for each shop, and leave ’em in each other’s establishments. Your postcard says “Bring your receipt from Jane’s WineShop and get a 10% discount!” Her poscard says the same thing, in reverse. You’ll reinforce one another and spend very little to generate new customers. The same principle applies in non-retail establishments; let your Virtual Assistant clients know that they can get a discount on your friend’s pet-sitting service, and vice versa. Swaps are da bomb.
2) DO SOME MINI-CRM.
Huge concerns like Staples have ridden a rocket to the stars on their state-of-the-art CRM systems. (Customer Relationship Management, that is.) You can do the same thing on a micro-basis with just an Excel spreadsheet. Keep track of your clients’ birthdays, their kids’ names, their dog’s names. I’m not being extreme – the more personal information, the better. Now send a card on your client’s birthday. Send one on the dog’s birthday. It’s amazing. Offer a free something-or-other in celebration of the big day. Keeping in touch is an incredible business generator – don’t lose track of your past customers, no matter what.
3) GO IN WITH OTHERS.
Want to create a marketing piece but don’t want to spend the money? Go in with other complementary businesses. Create a joint postcard for the three or four of year, and buy one prospective-client list between you. Everyone will benefit.
4) GET IN THE WAGON.
Depending on the nature of your business, you might really benefit from the Welcome Wagon – it’s waaaaay different than when we were kids. The Welcome Wagon buys lists of new mortgages (in other words, people buying houses) and sends them a bound, four-color address book with ads. My point is that one of the ads could be yours. If your product or service appeals to people who are new to town, definitely take a look.
5) SPONSOR SOMETHING.
Might be your daughter’s ice-dancing squad or a musical group at the farmer’s market – sponsorship is marketing plus reach. That means that you reach an audience AND get to associate your brand with something that is good and that people appreciate. Take a look at local sponsorship opportunities – there are eight zillion of them – and plug in to one that is close to your audience’s interests.
6) DONATE TCHOTCHKES.
In a recent post called Ten Jump Off the Cliff Activities, we talked about creating marketing specialty items – also known as tchotchkes – to advertise your business. When you have a minor change (one that doesn’t affect your contact info or your basic pitch!) give the leftover tchotchkes to an organization that is planning an event. They’ll include the tchotchkes in event attendee gift bags. Absolutely free marketing, if you were going to toss those last-generation tchotchkes anyway.
7) DO A DEMO.
Find a group in town – like the Ladies Auxiliary or another group that has some intersection with your ideal client base – and call them up. Offer to do a demo or mini-training session for them. Think about it – free content from an expert (that’s you) – who’d pass it up? Get yourself on the calendar for one of these gatherings at least once a quarter. I went to an HR managers’ luncheon (my background is HR) and heard a woman speak on office organizing. Of course, that’s her business, and her advice was fabulous! The line of HR people waiting to get her card afterwards was six deep. Smart cookie.
8) BRAND YOUR BODY, OR YOUR VEHICLE.
Tire covers are awesome. Magnetic signs for your car are great. Brand yourself and your vehicle – wear a pin with your logo on it, so that people will say “Now what is that interesting design?” and you can tell them. Put your kids in your logo sportswear. Get a colorful tote bag with your company name on it. Don’t overlook these really granular activities – you’ll be sitting in a coffee shop talking with a client, and someone will come up to you and say “What an interesting name – is that your company?” Rock on.
9) Get on LinkedIn.
Now this is free. Just go to www.linkedin.com and create a profile for yourself. Connect to your friends by clicking on the Add a Connection button. The LinkedIn Toolbar will let you download your Outlook address book, and it will identify friends of yours who are already LinkedIn users. Connect to them. Connect to everyone you know. Connect to me! Your network is a great source of business leads.
10) Get a Consortium going.
You can join a leads group, but you won’t be able to pick the players. Or you can form your own Consortium – a group of complementary-business owners who agree to help and cross-refer one another. So if you’re a nanny agency, get together with a pet sitter (kids and pets go together, right?), a handyperson, a house-cleaning-service entrepreneur, etc. Y’all can refer one another. You can advertise as a group, too. The key is that people who need one type of business in your group will eventually need others – that’s where the leverage is. Now, give all these folks a bunch of your tchotchkes and your business cards, and vice versa. You’ll have a trunkful of giveaways – what’s not to like?