If you have a great service or product but few know it exists, your business might not realize its full potential. One of the best ways to bring attention to your business is through a marketing plan. Try several marketing options to find the best way strategy for your company.
One free form of communication is to publish a newsletter online that allows you to share industry-related information. You also can develop a company brochure of your products and services. Use surveys to find out what your customers think of your company, products and services. Business cards can be passed out at networking events, included in mailings, or given to to prospective clients who receive your brochure. Give away promotional items such as calendars, pens or sticky-notes that have your company information imprinted on it. Create a tagline or slogan that is catchy and describes your business. Print this tagline or slogan on all of your marketing materials--letterhead, fax cover sheets, invoices. Create and maintain a website for your company. You can create free websites or very low-cost ones on sites such as FreeWebs.com, WordPress.com or Homestead.com. Create and use a signature block on all your e-mail messages. Include all of your contact details such as the business website address, business phone and fax number. Use client testimonials on your marketing materials such as the website, company brochure and e-mails. Trade mailing lists with a business that offer products or services that complement your business. Test the list by sending an e-mail promotion. If the mailing produces results, then add the e-mail addresses to your current mailing lists and start communicating with them regularly. Instead of using plain white envelopes when running a direct mailing campaign, use colored envelopes or have something interesting printed on the outside of the envelopes to make it stand out from the rest of the mail people receive. Use e-mail, faxes or mailings as an opportunity to announce free offers, special deals and discounts.
It's a good idea to use media and public relations to your advantage. It can be a very effective way to boost sales. Create a list of local and national (if your business is nationwide) publications that might be interested in a story about your business. Keep you list up to date with the names of journalists or writers that cover stories like yours for the publication. Use this list to submit news releases about your company--special events, introductions of new products or services, or other "newsworthy" topics. Write a column for a local newspaper, trade journal or trade publication or get an online column that allows you to position yourself as an expert in your industry. Write an article and when it's published, use copies or reprints of the article in your marketing materials. Submit timely and newsworthy releases online and to local publications. Also, post them to your website and include them in your marketing materials. Announce and celebrate notable milestones throughout the year--fifth year anniversary or the 1,000th customer you've served. Create an annual award and promote and publicize it. You can create an employee of the year. Learn everything you can about public relations and the media and use this knowledge to implement new ways to gain publicity for your business. There are many online resources that provide free information on these topics. Make an appearance on a radio or TV talk show. Again, you're positioning yourself as an expert in your field and plugging your company at the same time. Create your own online radio show, podcast or video program series. Use it to share information with your audience. You can easily distribute items like this on iTunes, YouTube and UStream.tv--all for free. In response to a recent article, write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper or trade magazine that covered a topic or issue that pertains to your industry. Invite a newspaper or magazine editor out to lunch. Make sure you're in special event photos that are taken by the media and provide quotes to journalists for articles they're covering. Read and review newspapers and magazines for possible PR opportunities--special events, places you can volunteer to do a guest speaking engagement or exhibit your company. Submit "how to" and "tips" articles to newsletters and newspapers. Conduct research and conduct surveys to compile important data for your industry. Then write a news release or an article to share the results or the discoveries you made. Create a press kit that includes recent press releases, a company brochure, business cards, client testimonials and copies of stories printed about your company or reprints of articles you've had published.
When you establish your business phone number, get distinctive and memorable number. Obtain a memorable URL and e-mail address for the business and make sure to include both of these items in all of your marketing materials. Print phone stickers or contact cards to give to clients and prospects when you meet with them. Use an online service such as Plaxo.com to send an electronic business card to clients and prospects. Partner with a related business and promote their business to your mailing list and have them promote your business to their mailing list. Place a free online classified ad on sites like Craigslist.org. Have your ad translated or write your ad in another language to reach a new segment of the market. Run special contests online or in your location where contestants have the chance to receive a free product or service offered by your business. Do a lumpy mailing campaign (something that makes the mailing envelope lumpy) where you send samples of your products or promotional items such as a pen to your prospective mailing list. The lumpiness of the envelope usually intrigues recipients--making them open the envelope to see what's inside. Make a list of specific "hot prospects" you want to target for business. Go to meetings, events and invite them to lunch in order to get the opportunity to network with them and possibly convert them into a customer. Trade an ad on your website for an add on a related business' website where your target market visits. Use a light project to project your company logo or a special message at events or in front of your business location. Place a classified ad in the local newspaper. Use a vanity license plate on your car that relates to your business. Use car magnets on the sides of company vehicles to announce your business name, phone number or web address. Use car decals or bumper stickers to promote your business. Place special codes in your ads so you can track the effectiveness of each one. Run two ads at the same time--slightly altering one aspect of the ad to test which ad performs better. Use the better performing ad to write a new ad and then run the test over again. Continue to do this in order to continuously create better performing ads. Refresh the signs on your business location building. Consider using direction signs if your business is not on the main floor. Use a lit sign on the outside of the business location. Create a logo or improve your old logo so that you can use it on all your marketing materials to create brand recognition for your company. Run and promote an online sweepstakes.