Business promotion is to running a successful business as practicing scales is to playing the piano well; it may not be a thrilling activity in itself, but you just have to do it! You should spend at least an hour a day on business promotion or planning how to promote your business (and more is better, if you can fit the time in)!
You promote your business by getting the word out. The first axiom of business promotion is that you have to do this consciously.
You can't rely on other people to do it for you, no matter how great your product or service is.
The second axiom of business promotion is that like every other aspect of your business, it's a budgeted activity. But promotion doesn't have to be expensive. Here are ten inexpensive ways to promote your business; all most of these will cost you is some time.
You have business cards, but you also put out a lot of other documents in the course of doing business. Check these to make sure you're using their promotional possibilities to full advantage.
Is your business name, logo, contact information (including web address), and slogan present on all your correspondence? Any document that you send out (whether electronic or printed) should have a letterhead with all of your company information.
Mobile business promotion isn't just for white delivery vans. Where I live, one in every four vehicles has the name and phone number of a business decorating one of the windows or doors. Think of all the people who see your vehicle when you're driving around - especially if you live in a place where people often get stuck in traffic!
Modern vehicle wrap advertising consists of applying removable "stickers" containing your business logo and information. Wraps are digitally printed onto a specially-applied media and will not harm the vehicle paint job.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are great ways to promote your business through social media.
A good example of how this can be effective was illustrated to me recently when we had a power outage that affected some areas of our community. One of the local restaurants posted on Facebook that they had power and were open for business and within an hour they were packed with customers.
To get started with social media see How to Create a Social Media Plan. See also How to Create Facebook Fan Pages and How to Promote your Business on Twitter. If you are skilled with taking video (or know someone who is) you can record video promotions of your products or services and post them on YouTube.
When you're thinking of how to promote your business, don't forget about writing articles.
Well-written articles can provide free advertising and build positive word-of-mouth. If you're a realtor, for instance, you could write a piece on preparing your home to be shown. If you're a website designer, you might write a piece about assessing website usability.
The more specific your topic the better. Write a short biographical note, or "blurb" about you and your business to go with the article. Then send it out!
Sending out press releases is another great way to get some free business promotion.
The caveat to using press releases as a business promotion tool is that your press release has to actually contain information that is newsworthy, and be engaging enough to get people's interest.
Has your business recently expanded? Do you have a new product? Have you been involved in some promotional activity such as sponsoring a charity event? Have you or your company recently won an award? All of these are examples of "news" that you can capitalize on to get some free promotion for your business.
Press releases can be published online or in print.
Buddy marketing involves joining up with another business or businesses and pooling your resources to promote all of your businesses. Like a joint venture, buddy marketing is a great way to extend your reach.
For example, when you send out brochures, you could include a leaflet and/or business card of another business which had agreed to do the same for you. This gives you the chance to reach a whole new pool of potential customers.
We're all familiar with hearing or reading advertisements that promise that the first 50 people to visit a particular store will receive a free (____). You fill in the blank. It could be anything from a red rose through an ice-cream cone! Pens, designer mugs, ball caps, and T-shirts are always popular as well.
We're all familiar with this kind of spot promotion because it works. People love to receive things that are free.
Besides using freebies as business promotions, you can also use them regularly as customer "rewards". For example, I recently had a picture framed; the framer had attached a free picture hanger to the painting's wire, with a small card thanking me for my patronage. It's only a small thing which certainly didn't cost him much, but as the customer, I appreciate not having to rummage through my home looking for a suitable hanger and can't help thinking positively about the service he provides.
You have expertise that other people are interested in! (You couldn't be in business if you didn't.) Why not share that expertise and promote your business at the same time?
For example, a local carpet company advertises a free seminar on installation techniques for a type of laminate flooring. Participants not only learn how to install this type of flooring themselves but are offered special discount prices if they wish to purchase laminate flooring. Another local retailer who sells goods made of stained glass offers courses on working with stained glass on-site.
If there's no direct tie-in to your product or service, you can still give a presentation on a related topic. Nursery people or horticulturalists, for instance, often give demonstrations on topics such as tree-pruning, or slide shows of famous gardens they've visited. Although most of my business involves providing specific writing or training services to businesses, I have given presentations on general topics such as "Promoting Your Business on a Shoestring".
Your local radio station or cable TV station may have programs that are looking for guests - a great low-cost way to promote your business! And don't forget to search for suitable podcasts on the internet. Business-related programs are ideal. Find out who the host is and approach him or her as willing to share your expertise on a particular topic.
Call in programs are popular; you may be able to appear as a guest expert. If you're a mechanic, you might offer to take call-in questions on car maintenance; if you operate a health store, you might market yourself as an expert in herbal remedies.
Have your proposal clearly worked out before you contact the program host, and make sure the parameters of your appearance, such as details about plugs, are clear beforehand.
SkillsTech has been working with the Business Promotion concept since inception. Being associated with many of the Business Promotion projects in both Govt and Non-Govt organisations, SkillsTech is promoting this technology driven structure.