With the pandemic end in sight, I hear and see more businesses working to develop new promotional ideas and concepts. I am occasionally asked what would work best, and my response is – it depends. What works best depends on your business, your specific products or services, your community, your competition, and your skills to promote your business. Keep in mind these six critical points as you think about promoting your business:
① Promotion’s one primary goal is to get the right message to the right people at the right time.
② The cheapest promotions are word-of-mouth referrals. Keep your current customers happy, because it is cheaper to keep customers than to go get new ones.
③ Great promotions will never make up for inferior quality or poor service.
④ Promotion is an investment in the future.
⑤ If your promotion doesn’t point out benefits to your customers, it’s wasted.
⑥ Promotion does not have to be expensive to be effective.
Here are some quick and easy promotion ideas:
⦿ Invest in good quality, colorful, unique business cards (think mini-billboard).
⦿ Create a good ten-second introduction about yourself and your business. Practice your introduction until it becomes second nature for you.
⦿ Develop a clean, crisp, distinctive logo for your business. Use your logo on your business cards, letterhead, and invoices. Integrate your logo into your signs and printed material.
⦿ Stage a fun event or theme at your store. Just about anything you can think of can be used as a theme. With a bit of thinking, you can build an event that will bring traffic and generate free publicity.
⦿ Start a customer suggestion of the month program. Offer a nice gift certificate. I would suggest $50 or more. Two things happen: 1) you reward current customers; and 2) you get good suggestions on how to serve your customers better.
⦿ Invite everyone you do business with to do business with you. I know a menswear shop that has business cards printed with an offer of a discount on the reverse side. The owner asks every employee to hand out the cards and offers an incentive for doing so. At the end of the quarter, the owner pays a bonus to the employee who has the most cards returned. One employee earned $500 one quarter, and the store saw a $13,000 increase that quarter.
⦿ Develop a customer e-mail and mailing list. Having these two lists gives you two great ways to promote your business.
⦿ Write an article for a trade publication. Select publications catering to your field of expertise and take a close look at the types of articles they run. Make sure your article fits the format. Call the editors with specific questions about their guidelines. To build your credibility and name recognition, post reprints of the article at your store and send it out on your e-mail list.
⦿ Send special event notes or cards congratulating customers for promotions, accomplishments, or other special events. Keep your ear in tune with what is going on in your customers’ lives and scan the internet or newspaper for good things customers have done.
These are just a few ideas to help promote your business. Next week, I will add some more, plus a checklist of what percentage to spend on promotion.