Tuesday, September 9, 2014

5 ways to promote

     Free daily write-ups to help people in small business grow--
     from my lifetime of experience starting, operating and expanding businesses.

     All publicity is good. Whether it's positive or negative, publicity gets eyeballs on you and your business. Publicity of any kind gets the word out, keeps people talking about you.

     Of course, if it's negative, you'll want to do some things to correct it. See other write-ups in this series on how to combat negative publicity.

     I learned many years ago that publicity is a lot more than issuing a press release now and then. Here are five promotional techniques that have proven track records.

     Events attract attention. Hold an anniversary party, offer free demonstrations of what you do, set up a free sample table, set up a tent and invite the whole town, schedule an open house, celebrate spring, get a band to come in and perform--or at least a guitar player, launch hot air balloon rides from the parking lot. The list is as long as your imagination. Events attract attention, bring people to you and get them talking about you and your operation. 

     Partner with another business. I know a chiropractor who partners with a fitness operation. They refer people back and forth and sometimes they come together to hold an event open to the public. It's an informal relationship that works with non-competing operations but who target many of the same customers. How about a restaurant and a garden center? A jewelry maker and a gift shop? A pet store with a veterinarian? Who is your target customer/client?

     Network your way through the community. Join a networking group or the chamber of commerce, form a networking group of your own. Don't just pass out business cards--meet new people, engage them in conversation, get to know them in the 15 minutes you spend talking. Do this with no more than half a dozen at any meeting. Then follow up. Check out the MeetUp.com website for networking groups operating in your area--or form one of your own.

     Facebook is an excellent way to promote your business. Snap a quick photo of what you do, your place of business, even a selfie and post it to your Facebook page. This is not an advertisement--rather, it goes to the heart of what an ad does. You are reminding people who you are. The 3 or 4 seconds a viewer sees you on Facebook can be more valuable than a $500 ad placed in a publication. Keep fresh photos going up on the Facebook page. You are building relationships with your public. Even publications use Facebook.

     Volunteer for community activities or hold them yourself. Support local sports teams (bowling, billiards, baseball, soccer, etc.), support food banks and kids activities, blood drives, fund raisers, walks and races where part of the proceeds goes to disease research--or buy equipment for the local clinic or hospital. In other words, do good works. Your participation will return to you many times over. 

     Many opportunities are available to you to promote your business. Notice that there is not a single costly advertisement mentioned in these five promotional methods. You can promote with little or no money out of pocket--or you can spend the dollars you might have spent on an ad by holding an event. 

     Yeah. And send out a press release to your local paper. Just make sure you send it two or more weeks in advance of the event you're doing. They have deadlines, too.

     You'll find many examples of promotional activities in the write-ups I've done. One is called "Spreading the Word" and another is "Partners in Business" and they cover all sorts of businesses--from lawyers to landscapers, bakeries to bookstores, teachers to therapists, salons to spas. Find yourself!  


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