By Todd Turner
There’s no denying that the Internet plays a huge role in the success of small businesses these days. At the same time, savvy business owners market their products and services offline, in cost-effective ways that help increase sales.
With some imagination and focused efforts, you can significantly boost awareness of your business and create a growing audience of loyal customers. Here are tips on advertising your business offline:
1. Craft a killer elevator pitch.
How adept are you at summarizing what you do in a matter of minutes? Regardless of your business, every entrepreneur should come equipped with a concise, well-honed elevator pitch capable of intriguing every new person they meet. Work on describing what your business offers in 60 seconds or less. Focus on benefits to customers, with a little thrown in about your experience in this area of business.
“The purpose of an elevator speech is to spark interest, not to close a deal,” notes Karen Utgoff, a strategic marketing advisor who also blogs for SucceedingInSmallBusiness. “Instead, strive to make your pitch so tantalizing that the recipient will hardly be able to wait to learn more.”
2. Show your customers how much you appreciate them.
In an era of faceless technology, anything you can do to show customer appreciation makes your business more memorable. How about thanking long-time customers with a personalized, handwritten thank-you note? Or maybe a special discount the next time they purchase your product or service?
High-quality customer service, in general, will make your business stand out from the competition. Be sure your employees understand the critical importance of making every customer’s experience positive and satisfying.
3. Offer coupons in mailings and in your store.
New customers are typically attracted by the opportunity to save money. Include a coupon in your business newsletter. Reward a first-time customer with a special savings on their next purchase. It’s a great way to generate repeat business.
4. Attend trade shows and other industry events.
Going to trade shows and conferences will heighten your “business profile.” Armed with business cards and your terrific elevator pitch, you can make a great impression on others in your industry as well as “regular people” attendees who will remember you the next time they’re in need of your service or produce.
Networking, in general, offers plenty of opportunities to get your name out. Yes, it takes time away from running your business, but actively meeting and greeting new people is a low-cost, high-return investment in boosting awareness of who you are and for demonstrating the passion and commitment you bring to the table.
5. Get noticed by local media.
Advertising has its benefits, but nothing generates credibility with prospective customers like having your business mentioned on local TV, radio or the newspaper. You can hire a skilled publicist to help attract notice and maybe get an on-air interview, or you can take matters in your own hands.
Research local reporters, feature editors, TV assignment editors, etc., and write a press release linking your business to events in the news. Or promote a local civic event that your business is sponsoring. Either way, says SucceedingInSmall Business blogger Mark Auerbach, “A concise, well-written, well-targeted press release is your key to opening the door for media coverage that will help bring new customers to your door.”
6. Volunteer for speaking engagements.
Public speaking isn’t everyone’s most-beloved activity, but community organizations and business groups are always looking for speakers to address their members.
Let’s assume you’re a subject-matter expert in your field — what better way to draw interest in your business than by volunteering for a local speaking engagement? As long as you use the occasion to share valuable information in a crowd-pleasing way, not to push a hard-sell in front of a live audience, you’ll gain credibility and new awareness of your business.
Finally, think about occasionally giving away your product or service for free. When would-be customers have a positive experience with your offering — as part of a free sample or on an introductory trial basis — it’s a safe bet they’ll happily purchase it the next time around.
Bio: This article was written by Todd Turner of Logo Magnet. Logo Magnet specializes in custom design magnets for schools, non-profits, and sports teams.