By Cori Shaw Meloney, Writer, SoMdWeddings.com
We hope you’re already doing all of those. (You are, aren’t you?)
But if you’re looking to expand your reach, consider these 10 marketing ideas that are a little bit outside the box. Some won’t cost you a cent.
You’re an expert in your industry, so why not share your knowledge? There are several ways to do this:
- Offer to give a workshop at a bridal show or other bridal event
- Host and organize your own workshop or day of workshops
- Host or participate in an online webinar
- Host a question-and-answer night on Facebook or Twitter once a week or once a month
- Guest blog – Did you know that SoMdWeddings.com welcomes guest blog posts from our advertisers?
You’ve done all the networking to meet other Southern Maryland small businesses – put those connections to good use! Collaborate with another business (or businesses) for inspirational photo shoots, cross-promotion, coupons, or recommendations. Obviously, you wouldn’t chose businesses that are your competitors – a photographer, for example, wouldn’t want to cross-promote with another photographer. But, a photographer might want to cross promote with a make-up artist or decorator. Find someone you get along with, whose work you respect, and whose business is compatible with yours.
Your website, social media, and email marketing are fine as-is, but you can kick them up a notch with audio and video. No, we’re not talking about background music playing as readers visit your website. We’re talking welcome messages, informational and explanatory videos, behind-the-scenes footage, or other sights and sounds that give a client or potential client some insight into your business. These videos can be used across all of your social media, on your blog, and on your website and email newsletters.
A business card is a marketing staple, even in this high-tech world. Does your business card blend in with the rest? A little extra time and money can get you a card that gets noticed. Last month, we recommended online printer VistaPrint to you, and while it’s true they have many great, free designs for business cards, marketing materials, and websites, we’d recommend you spend a little extra and get a business card that is unique to you. Creative designs, photographs, and unique colors or foil can help your card stand out from the rest of the cards that a couple picks up at a bridal show.
Looking for another way to make your business card stand out? Add a QR code to the front or the back. QR codes are the bar-code squares you’ve seen on everything from brochures to advertising to billboards. Users read them using their smartphones. QR codes link to a website of you choice, and it’s a cool way to make use of mobile technology. Link to your website or even a video welcome message!
People love free stuff, and if you’re planning to set up at a bridal show or other event, it’s worth your time and money to have something to give out. Think about the things couples need as they plan their wedding, and then order some with your name, logo, and contact information emblazoned on them. We’re thinking pens and paper, calendars, calculators, stress balls, mirrors, tote bags, fans, manicure sets, sewing sets, mints – and more.
Everyone loves a discount – especially engaged couples on a strict wedding budget. Show-only deals, off-season specials, or coupons entice them to give you a try. Go high tech and offer a coupon through social service Groupon! Give your deal or coupon an expiration date so customers feel the urgency to jump on the deal before it’s gone.
You never know where you’ll find your next customer, and getting involved in your community is a great way to spread your brand and build a reputation as someone who cares about the place where they live. Volunteer at a charity event, or sponsor an event being put on by your favorite organization. Sponsor a local sports team! They’ll wear your name every time they play a game. Your business can also donate to or otherwise support local charities; most publicly thank large donors. It’s a win-win: You market your business while benefitting your community and your favorite cause.
Get in the Media
Share your expertise and knowledge with reporters who are writing stories on topics you know and care about. You can connect with reporters looking for sources at Help a Reporter Out (HARO) at http://www.helpareporter.com/. You can find out when reporters are looking for experts and sources like you and perhaps get your name in local or national media.
Send a Card
Did you ever get a holiday or birthday card from an institution like a bank, and the signature is stamped inside? You know no one remembered your birthday except the computer that printed the card. As a small business, you can take a more personal approach. Send handwritten and signed cards to clients, past clients, business associates and connections, etc. for thank yous, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. They’ll appreciate the personal touch – and they’ll remember your business as one that cares about its customers.
When you thank someone for using your services, make sure you ask them to refer you to their friends. Be sure to include business cards in your note so they can pass them along. When a referral turns into business, consider giving a discount or gift to the person who referred you!
Use Your Car
Whether you’re driving for work or just running household errands, your car can be a marketing tool. Use window decals and magnets to share your business name, logo, and contact info. It goes without saying that these should be on any company-owned vehicles, too. You never know when that next customer will be driving by!
TELL US: What unique methods do you use to market your business?