We’ve talked a lot over the last few weeks about online promotion for small businesses. We covered paid search advertising, online resources for finding networking events, and places to promote your website or business online for free. And while using the web to promote your small business is a very important (and cost effective) endeavor, there are also lots of grassroots ‘offline’ promotional opportunities to take advantage of. For our final entry in the promotion series, here are a few grassroots promotion ideas to get you started:
1. Free Samples or Services
When your business is new or you are offering a new product/service, a great way to jumpstart your promotional efforts. Let’s say you give away samples or services to 10 people, who then tell 3 friends each about you, who then try you out for themselves, and each tell 3 friends about their experience — that’s a lot of word-of-mouth marketing for very little effort. If you have a storefront, set up a sidewalk promotion. If there is a flea market or similar venue in your community, rent a booth and offer some freebies.
2. Sponsorships and Partnerships
A great way to get your name out in the local community without breaking the bank is to join forces with other businesses or organizations. One way to do this is to find out about local charities, events, etc. that might be looking for sponsors to help share the expense, or donate goods and services for raffle or auction, in exchange for shared publicity. Another approach would be to find someone whose businesses complements your own. Say you make your own body care products. Check with a local spa to see if they might be interested in using your products in their spa services in exchange for the exposure of having your products displayed at their checkout counter.
3. Community Newsletters
This may seem a little throw-back, but community newsletters and periodicals are still a great way to get exposure in the local scene. Not only can taking out an ad create name recognition and exposure, it will also tell your neighbors that your business is interested in being an important part of the community, not just a business that happens to be located there.
Have you tried any grassroots local promotion for your small business? What kind of results have you seen?