Regardless of whether your business is based in a bricks and mortar store front, a home service or on the internet only, your business relies on traffic to sell your product, and that requires advertising. Here are five advertising strategies, either free or nominal cost, that apply to any business.
Write a short article about you and your business, and submit it to both paper and online newspapers or newsletters catering to the area or type of people you serve. For example, lawn and garden newsletter subscribers would likely be interested in a garden tractor business. Be sure to tell who you are, how you happened to get into this business, and why you love it. Show some passion for your work! Give examples of how you help your customers solve a problem. Include a gentle call to action along with the street address, phone, email and/or web address they can use to do business with you.
The second idea requires a more natural form of communication – giving advice. Join and contribute to a members’ forum or advice column in related publications or on the internet. Just write what you would say if they called you up and asked you the question. Be sure to include your contact information whenever permitted. For example, contribute wood finishing tips in a woodworkers’ magazine. People will come to see you as an expert in your field, someone they trust to do business with. Be sure your answers include words that would be used by people searching for your product in a phone book or search engine.
Strategy number three: run classified ads in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet. The ads should mention your product as a solution to a problem. This is particularly effective in publications where you have contributed to a forum or advice column.
A fourth method is the “pieces of paper” method. Print up simple business cards, fliers, and/or signs with your business name, descriptive tagline, and contact info. Hand cards to people you meet who might use your product. Leave one in the restroom, or on the restaurant table or other places your customers are likely to be. Put fliers on cars at the mall, or post a sign in your front yard, local bulletin board, or busy corner. You need only leave a few per day to begin seeing results. Be sure to get permission as needed.
Team Up! is the fifth method. Look for other businesses that complement your business, and trade endorsements and ads. If you sell cookware, team up with a specialty foods business, a painter with a paint supply store, a writer with a website developer and so forth. It’ll do you both good!