Small businesses consistently look for new and cheap types of advertising locally to increase customer awareness, build trial, and increase frequency of visits. In my Consultancy practice, I’m constantly told that a marketing program is too costly, or an outbound email program is going to cost too much money, etc.
Against the backdrop that everyone wants to find ways to solicit new users and improve the number of user occasions as much as possible, let me offer some quick suggestions for your business.
First, however, you must keep in mind that you need to be able to identify who your customers are. You may think that you know your customers, but my experience has demonstrated that less than 37% of my clients really know what groups constitute their customer base. If you don’t know who your customer is, how will you ever know how to reach out, make contact with them, and engage them to return over and over?
Quick answer: You won’t.
So let’s find a way to get potential customers into your business, and we’ll make the assumption that once they are there, you are doing such a great job they will return again and again.
Here are some tried and true, cheap types of advertising locally and get potential customers into your business:
Hold a contest. Give something away. It doesn’t matter if it’s something from your stock, a gift card that you’ve purchased, a gift certificate, dinner for two, or even a bicycle. As a matter of fact, a bicycle presents a very well-perceived gift. Studies have shown that customers will often register for a bicycle even if they don’t ride a bike, if a youngster in their home isn’t a bicycle rider, or even if they don’t have any children. They’ll give it away to a deserving child.
So simply make it known that you’re giving away a bicycle, and be sure to collect not only the name of the customer, address, zip code, telephone number, and also their email address. It gives you great follow up opportunities and those opportunities cost you little or nothing to originate and execute.
Adopt Something. What should you adopt? Adopt anything you want—the key is to connect with customers and potential customers. Adopt a school club, adopt a church group. Adopt a highway and commit to cleaning it up, getting your name on a sign. Adopt a cause. Find a Little League team or a Junior Bowling team, or even a Speech and Debate Society.
Throw a party. Everyone likes a party, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to do this. You may even find other merchants who will contribute to your party for a simple recognition of their contribution. What should you celebrate? How about your business success, or the 50,000th customer, or the newest wallpaper on the walls? Point being, you can celebrate something—or nothing at all — it’s simply a celebration and everyone wants to find a reason to party. Maybe it’s a holiday. Maybe not. But if you give your customers a reason to celebrate, you’ll find that the party-goers will be back over and over and over.
Dress your employees the same. It is very reasonable to purchase every employee two logo’ed golf shirts. Encourage them to wear them even when they are not working. Get your logo all over town. I guarantee that you will soon have all types of logo ware available for your staff. Why? Because logo’ed clothing serves as walking billboards for your business. How many thousand Hard Rock Café® T-Shirts have you seen all over the world? If you’ve got a cute and funny name, or logo, here’s where you can capitalize on it. And hey—the risks of having your logo show up in a mug shot on TV or having one of your logo’ed shirts turn up in an illegal gambling raid are miniscule compared to the benefit you’ll receive from people seeing the name of your business and your logo all over town. It increases that all important top of mind awareness. You want them to think of you first.
Co-Promote. One of the best and most reasonable types of advertising is to co-promote with another business. Find a complementary business—not a competitor—and put together a co-promotion. Share the costs and, although you will share the benefits, both of you will benefit. And the sum total of the benefit exceeds the 100% you might achieve if you did this all by yourself. So allow another business to “horn in on your parade” and gain significant new customers.
One of the best sources of cheap advertising– Your own employees. Keep them happy and make sure they enjoy their job. Happy employees tend to tell their friends about their jobs, about their workplace experiences, etc. Families hear about job opportunities. They see the job as beneficial to the learning experience, and they tell their friends. People like to visit happy places. They buy more, and the cost of advertising is negligible…you’re a good employer all the time.