By Kristine Jacobson, KRJPR
If you are a small business owner, you know that promoting your business is important. An open sign on the front window isn’t enough to draw in customers. But, sometimes it’s hard to squeeze out any money on marketing or advertising, especially when you are just starting out.
If you don’t have a budget to spend on advertising, here are a few ways to promote your business without spending much money:
Send A Press Release To The Media: News media, especially in small towns, are short-staffed and always appreciate a good story idea. I worked in small-town newsrooms for six years, and I was always excited to receive a press release about a new business or a unique event.
Some topics worthy of a press release may include a grand opening, a new product or service being offered, an anniversary celebration, a new employee or a special unique event. When I sent a press release to the news media about a new Fit Farmer’s program at a YMCA, the news media scooped it up right away. Newspapers republished the press release, and the local television station invited us to talk about the new program on live television.
If your business has an event, an anniversary, a new employee or a grand opening coming up, write up a few paragraphs and email the information to your local newspaper, television or radio station.
If you’d like a more in-depth press release, KRJPR can help.
Send An Email: Why do you think you have an email from Target in your inbox nearly every day of the holiday shopping season? These large retailers know the power of email. And, it works for smaller retailers as well. Start collecting your customer email addresses during the check-out process. Or, sponsor a giveaway in which customers share their email addresses to win a prize.
Loyal customers should be glad to give you their email address if you are promising to send them news of your sales and specials. They won’t want to miss out on the deals. You can make the email process simple by just sending your customers a few typed paragraphs (be sure to list their addresses as bcc), or you can sign up for an online email service that will track emails for you and keep all kinds of statistics about who opened the emails and when. Some good online email services are Constant Contact, Convert Kit and Mail Chimp. I recommend Mail Chimp because it’s free if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers.
Flyers: Use Microsoft Word, Publisher or online applications like Canva to create a simple flyer for your business, sale or event. Post the flyer on your social media channels and print off copies to display around town at businesses, community centers and churches.
Table Tents: Sometimes, restaurants will allow you to put a table tent flyer on their tables for upcoming events. We promoted an upcoming weight-loss challenge for a YMCA on table tents at area restaurants. One local patron signed up for the challenge because he saw the table tent and ended up losing nearly 100 pounds! That little table tent may have saved his life! To create a simple table tent, fold an 8.5 by 11 sheets of paper into thirds and tape it. Put your information on the three panels using Microsoft Word, Publisher, Canva or other design software.
Social Media: Post regularly on your favorite social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. There’s no fee to join any of these channels. However, don’t rely exclusively on social media. Many small business owners make the mistake of creating a Facebook post and then assuming that everyone knows about it. Statistics show that only about 6 percent of your fans Facebook fans will see a post that is not promoted. Use social media in addition to one or more of the other freebie publicity ideas to get the most traction.
Speak at a Community Event: Often community groups like Rotary or women’s church groups invite speakers to give presentations. Although the group of people who actually attend may be small, the event will also likely be promoted in the local media or church newsletter leading up the event, giving you an extra chance of publicity.
Create a Company T-shirt and Wear It Often: T-shirts can be created for less than the price of a Facebook ad and can be worn over and over again. Get creative with your business or non-profit T-shirt idea. Be funny or create a memorable phrase that relates to your business or mission. Wear the T-shirt if you volunteer for events or plan to be out among your potential clients or customers. Check with your local t-shirt shop or order custom-designed shirts at 24-hour tees or Custom Ink.