Five Low-Cost Local Marketing Ideas
Over the years I’ve found that most entrepreneurs spend too much time and money on promotions that don’t generate new business.
Whether it is local sports sponsorships, newspaper-ad buys or social media, they waste money on marketing strategies that may boost their egos by making them local celebrities, but don’t actually translate into sales.
Entrepreneurs, especially those relying on customers in their local areas, should first focus on networking with other area businesses, major employers, schools, churches and other organizations. They should network and then create marketing strategiesand events that are beneficial to all parties.
Here are some marketing ideas to consider before breaking out the big bucks:
1. Hand shake and business card. There is this amazing new social networking tool that’s become popular lately: a radical concept called meeting people in person. Whether you’re a business owner or the general manager, make a point to introduce yourself to at least five people every week. You might be pumping gas or going to the grocery, but say something like: “I’m John Doe, the general manager of John’s Bistro down the street. Just wanted to introduce myself. Have you tried us out yet?” If they haven’t, pull out a business card, write a special freebie offer on the back, and sign and date it. Out of the 250 people you might meet over the year, odds are 185 will use your business-card coupon, and about 50 will become new customers. That’s a significant amount of new business with no advertising cost.
2. Cross promote with other local merchants. It is time for you and your peers to scratch each other’s backs. Provide a special certificate for other local businesses to pass out to customers with a special offer from you — compliments of them. You get your advertising handed out for free, and the promotional partner gets to offer their customers a perk.
3. Make local employees your VIPs. Got a major employer near your business? Offering a discount to workers who show their name badge seems like a good idea, but often doesn’t work because only those who are already customers take advantage of it. It’s better to persuade the employer to distribute a “VIP card” from your business to each of their workers. Most of them will stick your card into their wallets or purses, and then decide it might be worth it to give you a try. Generally, you should offer something repeatedly for a set period of time to the VIPs — 30 to 60 days is a good time period. A restaurant might offer a percent discount or free desert. A photo shop might price 5×7″ photos as 4×6″ photos. Keep the offer lower than you generally would with merchant cross promotions.
Continue reading this article at Entrepreneur.com after the break!