By now, you should have incorporated the first half of my tips (listed here) into your marketing efforts in some capacity. Whether you made it a point to ask your last client for a referral or you finally started that Facebook page for your business, I know you’re ready to tackle the next few.
- Meet the invisibles – Do some digging! Spend a little time getting to know the vendors from whom you buy products and services. Ask if they have a use for the products or services that you provide and if they know anyone in their network that may benefit from yours as well. If they have space where business cards or samples are displayed, ask if yours can be added, especially if you’re a designer. Also research existing mail order companies that are willing to include your products in their catalogs or e-store. You may be able to strike up an affiliate marketing business model.
- Utilize incentives & give-aways – Everyone loves an unexpected perk. Start a loyalty program for repeat customers by offering a complimentary good/service or discount after a certain number of purchases or visits. Keep a stash of inexpensive premiums branded with your logo on-hand to use as give-aways. You can include them in gifts bags at events or use them as thank you gifts. Another tip, create certificates for a pre-specified activity or discount to be raffled off at charity events, used in swag bags, or VIP gifting suites.
- Take advantage of free or low cost advertising – Professional associations often publish directories either in print or online that are typically included in your membership fee. Be sure to list your company there and anywhere else that makes sense. Also look into trade publications and local media outlets (newspapers, radio, cable TV) that are popular amongst your target market that may offer business listings or advertising spots for a marginal fee. Go ahead and try your hand at negotiating a barter arrangement as well.
- Get creative with outdoor exposure – Highway billboards and bus shelters may be a future goal, but for now, put a spin on outdoor exposure with a few pocket friendly methods. Use your means of transportation to advertise your business. Consider getting your business name and contact information professionally painted on the sides of your company or personal vehicle. If you don’t want to fully commit, try removable magnets or window decals. You can also print business appropriate apparel (t-shirts, polos, caps, visors, etc.) for your team to wear while working an event.
- Hire a marketing intern – Recruit an eager college student to specifically work on marketing for your company. They are particularly good at managing social media, drafting memos and presentations, copy editing, and administrative duties. Just be clear on a few things upfront. You must provide structure, the resources needed to get the assigned tasks done, and college credit. They can be a big help if given the right amount of training and constructive feedback. After all, they are only interning because they want the experience, not because they really want to work with you for free (unless you’re Diddy). Arm them with a small lunch or transportation stipend and prepare to be dazzled!
So there you have it. Of course, this is not everything you can possibly do to market your business, but I’ve found these top ten to be the most fruitful and cost effective. Let me know how they work out for you. If you have any other tips that didn’t make my list, feel free to share.
-Monique Myles Carswell
A seasoned industry professional, Monique Myles Carswell is currently the head of marketing at Black Enterprise, a business, news and career centric resource for African Americans. Prior to that, she honed her skills shaping campaigns for CosmoGIRL! Magazine and Keen Management Group. She also advises others in the art of brand management through her agency Myles Ahead Consulting, LLC. A founding member of the New York Urban League Young Professionals, the current Leadership Council Director for the WorldofMoney.org, a non-profit that teaches financial literacy to underserved youth, and as the former youth advisor for the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP, Monique is committed to giving back. She has addressed many audiences, from Princeton to Rutgers University, and has been featured in The New York Amsterdam News and on C-SPAN. When not wearing her brand champion and humanitarian hats, Monique runs a relationship blog with her husband, YoungBlackandMarried.com and a production company, Red Ladder Events. You can follow her daily musings on Twitter @moniquecarswell.