Shoestring Marketing

Advertising is something that most small businesses can’t afford to do very often.  But it doesn’t have to be.  You just need to think of advertising differently.

It’s true that buying an ad in a newspaper or magazine can be expensive and running an ad once isn’t very effective.  But there are other ways to achieve effective results without the hefty price tags.

Your Advertising Mindset

You need to think of advertising as “any way that you can think of to let people know about your business.”  To begin with, don’t jump around from one message to another.  Use one message consistently anywhere that you advertise.  And it’s preferable if this message is a benefit rather than a product.  Remember to use strong action words.  Think of a thought provoking header that will make your readers curious.  You want them to pick up the phone, visit your website, or stop by your business.  Curiosity is an excellent motivating power to make them do just that.

If you’re spending money for the ad, test how effective it is by including a coupon or code.  Testing is essential or you may be wasting your marketing dollars.

Think of simple, affordable but effective ways to get the word out.  To get you started, here are a few:

  • Advertise on your invoices or receipts.  Offer a deal that is too good for them to pass up.
  • Advertise on other company’s blogs that offer complementary products or services.  They’ve already attracted the customers for you.
  • Print up some advertising postcards and place them on other store’s counters in exchange for advertising at your store or web site.
  • Give away free samples.  Many times that is cheaper than advertising.  Mrs Fields started her cookie company by standing on the corner in her town and handing out samples.
  • Every time you attend a mixer, take a basket of inexpensive products (packaged candy, mints, or think outside the box) with your business card or a “special offer” card attached.  Hand them out to everyone you meet.
  • Think of a unique marketing idea and write a press release about it.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Put on that “thinking cap” that we talked about in a former post and start marketing on a shoestring.

3 thoughts on “Shoestring Marketing”

  1. Thanks for your comments Gerardo. They are excellent. Although this site is targeted at gift business owners, I have many readers in other industries as well. Much of what is said on this blog applies to most businesses!

    Come visit again and offer your comments. They are appreciated.

    Joyce Reid

  2. I did not realize this was a gifting site. Oops. Obviously your home improvement store is any store that carries gift cards. If someone is there, approach them and introduce yourself, tell them you have a gifting business, and hand them your card. The rest is basically the same.

  3. I think this is a pretty good post. One of the things that I would also recommend is that the particular business owner actually talk to people.

    Personally, I think word of mouth advertising is king. It’s by far the cheapest, and the most effective. Too many people don’t use their business cards. They are by far one of your most valuable tools, particularly because they are so cheap.

    Here’s a really easy way to get your cards in the hand of someone who may be a good prospect for your business. The next time you are anywhere that sells anything related to your business, swing by that section, and see if anyone is checking something out.

    For instance, if you have a construction business that does Tile or anything related, the next time you are at a home improvement store for whatever reason, check out whether you see a customer checking out a product that you install. If there is, walk up and tell them that you notice them looking at tile, and that you install it. Hand them your card, if they say thanks or okay, walk away; they are not interested. If they start asking you questions, they are interested and you have a potential client.

    Figure out how that works for your business and use it. Don’t be afraid of a no, or rejection, they either were or were not interested in your product or service before you walked up to them. Do try to be tactful though, you dont want to be escorted out be security


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