15 Foolproof Ideas for Promoting Your Company

Every successful company uses some sort of pro-
motion to influence certain audiences – usually
customers or prospects – by informing or per-
suading them. Reasons for promoting a business
include: increasing visibility; adding credibil-
ity to you or your company; enhancing or improv-
ing your image; and bringing in new business.
The following cost-effective, easy-to-execute
ideas have the power to increase sales in a way
conventional advertising cannot. The key is to
find the methods that are appropriate for your
business, marketplace and professional style.

1. CONTESTS. As one example, a cookware store
decided to sponsor cooking contests. After send-
ing out a press release announcing a competition
for the best cookie or chocolate cake, a mailing
went out to the store+s customers soliciting en-
tries. Food editors, professional chefs and cook-
ing teachers were invited to be judges. Both the
winners and the winning recipes were publicized.
Essay and design contests are also possibilities,
such as a furniture store establishing a prize
for student furniture design. Pie eating, pan-
cake flipping, oyster shucking and grape stomp-
ing contests make sense for restaurants. Den-
tists can hold smile contests, while video ren-
tal stores can stage movie trivia quizzes.

2. NEWSLETTERS. Another good way to promote, par-
ticularly for brokers, banks and business consul-
tants, 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 pro-
spects.

3. 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, fea-
turing a different restaurant chef each time and
attracting substantial crowds. Recipe cards are
even given out. Wallpaper demonstrations, fa-
shion shows, gift wrapping, refinishing and com-
puter demonstrations have all worked well for re-
tailers selling products associated with them.

4. 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 re-
actions.

5. PREMIUMS. Also called an advertising special-
ty, 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, cof-
fee 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.

6. SPEECHES. Depending on your topic and your mar-
ket, you might want to speak before chambers of
commerce, trade associations, parent groups, sen-
ior citizens or other local organizations.

7. 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 partic-
ularly good way to promote a consulting business.

8. 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 fix-
ture with the order of a gross. If you sell of-
fice supplies, give away a new pen with a size-
able purchase. If you+re in the cosmetics busi-
ness, offer customers a free sample blusher when
they buy mascara and lipstick.

9. COUPONS. For best results, the price break
should be significant – at least 15 percent.
This is one of the least expensive ways to de-
velop new trade, and an excellent tool for eval-
uating 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 mem-
bers, PTAs and civic groups. While consumer pro-
ducts are desired most, many organizations also
look for donations of professional service time.
If you have a restaurant or a large meeting facil-
ity, consider hosting an event for a charitable
organization. This works best if volunteers for
that charity are potential customers.

11. SAMPLES. No matter what you do to promote
your business, giving potential customers a sam-
ple 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.
In the food arena, where one taste is worth a
thousand words, firms now exist that test market
new products for large and small companies alike
through in-store demonstrations. A good demon-
stration company not only keeps track of how much
of your product was given away, but also submits
detailed reports on what people said about the
product and how much of it was purchased.

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 ship-
ping it out to prospects with no strings at-
tached. Most people will appreciate the oppor-
tunity 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 busi-
ness, 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 cus-
tomers 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 cus-
tomers 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 cus-
tomers know you value their business, and to en-
courage 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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SMB Reviews
SMB Reviews 473 posts

SMBReviews is committed to providing small and mid-sized business owners with the information and resources they need to select the best service or product for their company.

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