16 IDEAS FOR
LOW-COST PROMOTION

Promotion and advertising can be a heavy expense, especially for a new business that wants to make itself known in a community. A home-based business, when appropriate,  can step in during community emergency, offering products and services to help an organization or individuals in need.

COUPONING. Americans are very coupon-conscious. Test the market at what level will
coupons increase the volume of various productor service lines? When you get some tentative
answers, star tdistributing coupons that offer a discount on your services.Distribute them to area
newspapers, on store counters, indoor-to-door- mail packets (which can often be
quite inexpensive

Promotion and advertising can be a heavy expense, especially fora new business that wants to
make itself known in a community. A home-based business, however, more often than not, has a
very limited budget when it comes to advertising. The home business owner needs to make the
public aware of his or her product o rservice at the lowest possible cost.

There are many ways. A pet breeder in a large city was strugglingfor several years-until he came
up with a novel idea. He started giving away customized "birth certificates" for the pets he
sold.Almost immediately, his sales rose more than 10 percent.

The owner of a new home cleaning service was trying to attract clients. She couldn't afford much
advertising, so she began offering "home cleaning seminars" to civic groups. After two months of
seminars, she was swamped with inquiries and clients.

Promotion often makes the crucial difference between business success and failure. Customers or
clients must know about abusiness or product line before they'll buy and they must have areason
to buy.

If you are trying to promote your business now, you can move in one of two directions: 1) You
can take the conventional route to promotion and mount an elaborate media campaign, spending
a considerable amount of money. 2) You can let your creative juices flow and mount a low-cost
promotion effort, using a potpourri of attention-getting gimmicks to bring your message to the
buying public.

Now, to be sure, conventional advertising is valuable. If your enterprise is large enough or if you're
selling numerous productlines, you may find that a full-fledged media campaign is the most efficient
and cost effective way to promote your business.

If money is tight, however, or you're not sure you can amortizethe heavy cost of a media
campaign over a period of time, the following is a assortment of low-cost techniques you can try.
Not all may be appropriate for your particular business, and certainly it would be costly to try them
all. But you're sure to find some ideas that will work for you.

GIVEAWAYS. People love to receive "free" items, especially items they can use to gain
knowledge or improve their lives. You can base and entire promotional campaign on this desire. If
you're  running a furniture repair business, for instance, you could give away a furniture repair
brochure, free furniture planning guides,or color swatches. Once you begin giving away
authoritative information customers will begin to perceive you as an expert in your field.

NEWS CREATION. Want to get names and news from your business in the local newspaper? It
may be easier that you think. If youdon't have any news to report to the local media, create
some.Maybe you've taken on a new associate. Or maybe you're selling anunusual product line.
Or maybe you've opened a free advice centerfor the community. Or maybe you've received an
award from a civicor professional group. Local Pennysavers and weekly are oftenq uite interested
in business news of this sort and can help youa ttract the attention of thousands of people.

EVENTS. You may be able to attract the attention of the media ora crowd by staging a special
promotional event. If you run a fitness classe, for instance, you could stage a celebrity instructor
day. If you're promoting a new real estate business,you can offer tours of a model home in the
area. If you're selling children's products and it's springtime, you can offer lunch with the Easter
bunny. Get the idea?

CHARITY TIE-INS. Are you launching a new product? trying to increase visibility among a
particular segment of your community?Offer your product to one or more local charities as a
raffleprize or for use at a fund raising event. You'll receive lots of exposure among people who buy
tickets or attend the event.

CONTESTS. Offer a desirable or unique item-or even several items-as contest prizes. First, find a
contest theme that ties into your business. A caterer might offer a quiche-eating contest. A
photographer might offer a young model contest. A mailorder craft firm might offer an "Early
American" handicrafts contest. Invite contest submissions and offer prizes to thewinners. Do
contests attract attention? You bet. All it takes is a few signs, a small press announcement or two,
and the word will spread throughout the community grapevine.

COMMUNITY SERVICE. Nothing brings you to the attention of the people faster-or more
favorably-than community service. Ask yourself how your enterprise can be a "good neighbor" to
your community. If you're running a lawn care and gardening service,perhaps you can offer one
season's services at no charge to aneedy charitable organization or nursing home in your
area.Hundreds of people will hear about your work in the process.Volunteer for various
community causes. If , at the public library, at laundromats, at any location where people congregate.

BADGES AND NOVELTIES. You can easily and inexpensively producebadges, bumper
stickers, book covers, and other novelty items for distribution in your area. You can imprint your
business name and the first names of the customers on many of these products at little cost and
distribute them for free. Or you can tie your novelty program into a contest: once a month, you can
offer a  prize to any individual whose car happens to carry one of your bumper stickers or badges
with peel-off coupons, redeemable at your place of business.

CELEBRITY VISITS. With a bit of persistence, you may be able to arrange to have a local
media celebrity, public official, orentertainment personally-even a fictitious cartoon character
or clown-visit your service. The celebrity can sign autographs, readstories to children, perform
cooking demonstrations, or performany one of a hundred other traffic-building activities.

CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS. You'll probably want to celebrate majorpublic holidays with special
sales. But celebrate some of theoffbeat holidays as well. Almost every business has a
fewlittle-known holidays. Ever hear of National Pickle Day, forinstance? Or Cat Lovers Month?
Once you find the "right" holiday,you can sponsor a special sale or special product arrange
specialmedia coverage of a holiday event.

GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE. Can you open sales information booths atcommunity fairs and
festivals? This promotional technique can work for gift retailers, craftspeople, and personal
service firms. If you have the people and the time, can you handle regional fairs or even trade
shows?

MAILING LISTS. Once you begin establishing a committed clientele, gather their names on a
mailing list. Save the names from your mail orders and telephone inquiries. Eventually, you'll be
able to send product circulars or even catalogs to the folks on your list and you'll be able to
promise your products by mail.

SCAVENGER HUNTS. If you want people to buy NOW, offer them an unbeatable deal. If they
bring an old product-a small appliance,a book, whatever-to you, you'll give them a worthwhile
discount on a comparable new item. Or stage a general purpose scavengerhunt. Customers who
bring in three canned goods for your community's food bank will receive a discount on
products purchased that day.

PARTIES. Everyone loves a party. Why not celebrate the anniversary of your business or some
special holiday by offering baked goods and beverages? If you're running a service business,perhaps you can offer an open house or obtain a small banquetroom in your community. Besides refreshments, be sure the place is brightly decorated.

GREETING CARDS. Do you send out greeting cards to major customersor clients? Holidays,
birthdays, and anniversaries make nice greeting card occasions. Greeting cards create enormous
goodwill and keep your name in front of people.

SEMINARS. In this information hungry age, people love to receive advice, especially about their
personal needs and hobbies. If you sell health foods or run fitness classes, perhaps you can
offer"wellness" seminars during lunchtime to your area's businesscommunity. If you're an interior
decorator, perhaps you can offer one-hour decorating workshops to any group of ten people who
will  gather in someone's home. If you're running a printing business, perhaps you can offer tours
and layout seminars at your plant.

If you're not pleased with your promotional efforts today or ifyou simply must increase your
exposure among customers and prospects-it's probably time to increase your publicity efforts.

By all means, advertise in the media if you can or must. But don't neglect your greatest
promotional assest-your mind. Ponder the products, services, and events you can offer the
community and devise a creative promotional strategy around them. You'll have to invest a bit of
time and energy in the project, but the payoff will be worth it. You'll save hundreds-or
even thousands-of advertising dollars and, better yet, you'll travel a well-worn shortcut to
promotions that work well for you.


I hope this information helps you in your business endeaver.You may copy and print this article. For more information read Reynold Jay's book    How To Think Small Business For Big Profits  and Born To Be Rich for business motivation. (CLICK for more information.)