While advertising campaigns often focus on highlighting specific products, services, and special offers, promotional campaigns are more about building brand equity. Promotions expose your business to the public eye and help draw in new customers and boost sales. Promotions tell the public that your business exists, and they typically do so in a creative, cost-effective way. For this reason, promotions can be attractive to small business owners with limited budgets.
Some ideas for promotional campaigns include:
- Become a sponsor. Sponsoring the cleanup of your local highway will both benefit your community and get your name on a plaque; you might also sponsor a local little league team to put your business name in front of all those cheering parents.
- Offer raffles and free samples. Donating your product or service to a raffle can benefit a worthy cause and promote your business name; handing out free samples in areas that your target group populates is also a good idea.
- Spread the word. Print fliers and exchange them with other businesses, post them in your local library and on public bulletin boards, or hand them out on the sidewalk downtown (perhaps in costume to attract attention).
- Make your vehicle a rolling billboard. Paint the name of your business on your vehicle or put a sign in the window. There are also companies that specialize in removable magnetic signs for vehicles.
- Send out press releases. If you're sponsoring a local event or will be making a public appearance, issue a press release about it ahead of time and encourage journalists to attend.
- Use blogs and newsletters. Maintaining a business blog and sending out electronic newsletters are two inexpensive ways of promoting your business online.
- Support a charity or cause. Make a donation in your business's name to a worthy cause. Many people like to support businesses they feel are charitable and concerned about the well-being of the community.
- Cover all the bases. Promote your business through a variety of printed materials, including business cards, pens, and stationery; also, make sure you list your business with all the appropriate free directories.
This list is far from comprehensive. In fact, the number of promotional ideas and opportunities that exist is limited only by your imagination. From gizmo giveaways to publicity stunts, the idea is to expose your business's name in a way that appeals to your target audience. You can also form alliances with another business to promote both your services. For example, a local dry cleaner and clothing store might run a combined special together.
Before embarking on a promotional campaign, it's best to keep a few important things in mind:
- Stick to a budget. Create a budget at the outset, identify your costs, and keep careful track of all expenses.
- Keep an eye on the competition. Knowing the types of promotions your competitors are doing can give you your own better ideas.
- Understand the objective. Is the goal of your promotional campaign to build brand awareness? Boost sales? Show customer appreciation? Knowing the answer at the start will help you to proceed in the right direction with your promo campaign.
- Join a team. Partnering with another local business can drive down promotional costs, strengthen business relationships, and help you reach a wider audience.
Promotional items can be a cost-effective way to generate exposure with your target audience, and ultimately more sales and repeat customers. Once you've set a budget and decided what you want to accomplish, you might just find that the opportunities are endless.
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