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Small business should never be static. Either you're growing or you're in danger of falling behind. Treading water is not a good option.
The business environment, like the weather, is always changing. What worked last year might not work as well this year. Keep your ear to the ground and try new things.
Example: Dale is trained and certified in acupuncture. He set up a place and has a growing list of clients. To grow more, he set aside a large room where several people can lie down, relax in a communal setting. These are short, inexpensive, stress-reducing sessions. It's quiet and no electronics of any kind are allowed. Individuals pay $20 for a short session. To attract more attention, Dale offers discounts to those who bring along a friend. He posts pictures on Facebook and short explanations on LinkedIn. Many of his clients are corporate types looking to relieve the stresses of their work. They spread the word and more referrals come in. Best of all, it's working to bring in more private clients with problems that require longer sessions.
Example: Cheryl runs a fitness center. She tried joining several networking groups with limited results. She knew she could do better. She went on MeetUp.com and formed her own networking group for people looking to lose weight, get in better shape, and deal with post-surgery problems. Her monthly sessions have become a popular community gathering. Regulars look forward to interacting with others, and they bring new attendees. Cheryl spreads the word on Facebook, LinkedIn and MeetUp. The result has been a great deal of publicity for her fitness center, and she has signed up additional private clients.
Example: Vicky runs a small neighborhood restaurant. She serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. She knows that her reputation is spreading because new people are showing up. To speed up the process, Vicky had coupons printed offering one dollar off any meal. These are printed to suggest the size and color of real money. (You cannot print a dollar bill unless you want a visit from the Treasury people.) Vicky hands out these coupons every time someone pays their bill, encouraging everyone to take a couple extra to hand out to friends. Her regulars gladly promote Vicky's restaurant. One dollar coupons work much better than percentage off coupons.
Inexpensive promotional ideas are everywhere. Try something and build on it. Notice that these examples cost the business owner little to put in place. But the results are real.
Promoting your business is an on-going activity. And promoting can take many forms. I frequently write about promotions that any small business can use--see previous write-ups.