Reasons for promoting a business include: increasing visibility; adding credibility to you or your company; enhancing or improving your image; and bringing in new business. The key is to find the methods that are appropriate for your business, marketplace and professional style.
- CONTESTS. As one example, a cookware store decided to sponsor cooking contests. After sending out a press release announcing a competition for the best cookie or chocolate cake, a mailing went out to the stores customers soliciting entries. Food editors, professional chefs and cooking teachers were invited to be judges. Both the winners and the winning recipes were publicized.
- NEWSLETTERS. Another good way to promote, particularly for brokers, banks and business consultants, is through newsletters. They demonstrate how much you know about your field, and do it in a low-key, informative way. They help keep your company high in the consciousness of your prospects.
- DEMONSTRATIONS. Demonstrations are an option to attract people to your place of business, show them how to best use your product, and establish your credibility. A retail-wholesale fish outlet holds cooking demonstrations twice a week, featuring a different restaurant chef each time and attracting substantial crowds. Recipe cards are even given out. Wallpaper demonstrations, fashion shows, gift wrapping, refinishing and computer demonstrations have all worked well for retailers selling products associated with them.
- SEMINARS. Often more appropriate for business to business marketing, seminars are the commercial side of demonstrations. If you hold a seminar, follow these rules for success:
- Schedule the event at a time convenient to most attendees.
- Be specific in the invitation about when the event begins and ends, who will be there, and what the agenda is.
- Follow up the invitations with personal phone calls.
- Charge for the seminar to give it a higher perceived value.
- Follow up after the event to get people's reactions.
- PREMIUMS. Also called an advertising specialty, a premium is a gift of some kind that reminds your customer of you and your service. There are thousands from which to choose: key chains, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, baseball caps, paperweights just about anything that can be engraved, imprinted, silk-screened or embroidered with your company name and phone number.
- SPEECHES. Depending on your topic and your market, you might want to speak before chambers of commerce, trade associations, parent groups, senior citizens or other local organizations.
- ARTICLES. Another possibility is to write an article for a trade journal, reprint it, and mail it off to your friends, customers and prospects. This positions you as an expert, and is a particularly good way to promote a consulting business.
- BONUSES. If you have a restaurant, give away a glass of wine with dinner to introduce a new menu. If you sell to retailers, give them a display fixture with the orde
new pen with a sizeable purchase. If you’re in the cosmetics business, offer customers a free sample blusher when they buy mascara.
- COUPONS. For best results, the price break should be significant at least 15 percent. This is one of the least expensive ways to develop new trade, and an excellent tool for evaluating advertising. However, one theory holds that coupons draw people who only buy discount and never become regular customers. So be sure to monitor the results.
10. DONATIONS. Donating your product or service to a charitable cause often results in positive exposure to community leaders, charity board members, PTAs and civic groups. If you have a restaurant or a large meeting facility, consider hosting an event for a charitable organization. This works if volunteers for that charity are potential customers.
11. SAMPLES. Giving potential customers a sample is an excellent way to attract attention and make a positive impression. In many cases, it makes just as much sense to spend your marketing and advertising dollars on giving out your own products instead of buying advertisements especially if cash is tight. The key is to give samples to the audience you want to reach, i.e., software packages to computer user groups, or nutritious snacks to health-oriented consumers.
12. FREE TRIALS. If your product is too big or expensive to give away outright, why not offer a free trial to qualified customers? Try shipping it out to prospects with no strings attached. Most people will appreciate the opportunity to try the product, and hopefully many will like it enough to buy it.
13. FREE SERVICES. If you can’t afford to give away products, offering your services as a way of generating new business can also pay off. For example, if you own a retail clothing business, send out a flyer offering customers a free fashion consultation to draw them into the store.
14. SPECIAL BENEFITS, RATES OR NOTICES. Smart organizations go out of their way to make customers feel important and appreciated. Frequent flyer clubs are the most pervasive example of loyalty-building benefits for customers only, now adapted by many kinds of businesses. Most software companies sell program updates to customers at discounted prices. And advance notices about sales or other changes or opportunities can help cement customer ties.
15. SAY "THANKS". One of the best ways to let customers know you value their business, and to encourage their continued patronage, is also one of the easiest. It boils down to saying "thank you" in letters, mailers and surveys. On statement stuffers, receipts and invoices. And in person.
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