As I’m sure you’ve heard, social media is a big deal! Social media, social media social media. And if we are not discussing social media, then we better be talking about mobile and pay-per-click because that’s where the action is, right?
When I opened my mailbox recently and found a hand-addressed envelope from my lawyer, I was reminded that social media and digital marketing are not the only games in town. In the note, he thanked me for my business and reminded me that his firm handles other issues too – besides business – just in case I ever needed other legal assistance.
I had engaged in a similar mailing back in the day and recall that it had netted significant income over the course of the next year as old clients starting hiring me for new engagements. It only cost me an afternoon of my time to craft the letter and some stamps.
People love social media marketing for many reasons, but a main reason is that it’s affordable. The good news is that there are many other marketing methods available that are equally affordable, and maybe even more effective. Here are 10 of my favorites (aside from the “personal letter” approach, above):
1. Give something away for free: A “loss-leader” (as you likely know), is a marketing strategy that says that if you offer a steep discount on one item, it will bring people in the door, and you can then use that increase in traffic to make other sales.
Nothing gets people’s attention more than getting something for nothing. A free consultation, product (“buy 2 get 1 free”), or a free sample, definitely leads to extra sales.
2. Befriend a concierge: If you manage a service business like a restaurant, then getting a hotel or office building concierge to recommend your services is a sure-fire way to increase sales.
3. Human-held signs: If you own a retail business, be creative by hiring a college student to stand in front of your store, have him wear an attention-grabbing costume while holding a sign that promotes your business. Does it work? Well, it sure seems to do something for the tax preparers, pizza restaurants, and mufflers shops in my area.
4. Become the expert: By being known as an expert in your field, you can charge more and advertise less. People seek out experts. You can be the go-to guy or gal by:
- Putting on public seminars around your area of expertise
- Writing a thought-provoking piece for your local periodical
- Having a podcast
- Getting quoted in the local paper or on local news channels
Which leads me to…
5. Engage in PR: Engaging with local press to pay attention to you and your business will definitely get you more business.
6. Wrap your vehicle: Wrapping your car in an advertisement for your business may seem silly, and maybe it is, but that difference is what makes it stand out and have people remember it. And after all, isn’t that the point of marketing?
7. Have a contest: A bakery can have a contest for the best banana bread recipe. A vintage clothing store could have an “ugliest jacket” contest. A photographer could run with a “most-exotic vacation picture” contest. The important thing is that a contest will 1) engage your audience, and 2) get you some of that great PR you want for your business.
8. Barter: There are two forms of barter – the first is an informal, “this-for-that” exchange. The second is what I am referring to here – engaging in a barter club. This sort of barter is great for three reasons:
- First, it exposes your business to new people; folks who likely would never have heard of your business otherwise.
- Second, it allows you to get rid of unsold merchandise.
- And third, it costs very little. Simply sign up for an online barter exchange (Google the term to find a few) and jump in.
9. Demonstrations: Demonstrating your product at a mall or a trade show usually leads to sales. Infomercials follow the same principle: People like to watch a product being demonstrated.
10. Donate to a good cause: Donating your time or product to a worthy cause creates goodwill.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.