Thursday, June 17, 2010

Marketing Ideas Part 1

JadeDumpling says:
Hi Everyone- I have been wanting to share some marketing ideas for us for a few weeks now- I am celebrating a brand new MBA! TO kick off the party and my attempt to start to be a FT artist and crafter I am going to share a list of ideas we can start now so we will have a great source for designing our holiday programs! The following is from a non-credit class I teach here in IL called 101 marketing ideas in 101 minutes! I can't wait to see everyone else's ideas too!
Grab a pen and paper and enjoy 1-20 the rest of the 101 will be coming soon!

1.License Plate frames
Auto dealerships use this method the most, but this inexpensive item gets a lot of viewers every day. Most custom printed frames sell between $5.00 - $25.00 each. Check for online dealers to get the best price.

2.Set up email signatures
Most, if not all email software has on option to put an email signature on the bottom of each message sent. Be sure to use this feature as it gives your small business formality. Be sure to include your name, title, email address, and any other information you want your contacts and customers to see. You will have much better responses when people realize and understand whom they are speaking with.
Cost: $0.00!

3.Pens, pencils etc.
This cheap and easy marketing promotion gets results! Pens and pencils are light, inexpensive and easy to pass out. Be sure to put pens by your registers, customer service areas and other high traffic places. Encourage people to keep the pens as they write out their checks. They will think of your business every time they write a note!

4.Blogs and Forums
Blogging and participating in forums is a fairly new marketing strategy. The idea is to promote yourself and your business in a way that shows that you are an expert in your field. People want to get good information at all times about every subject! If you know how to do something specialized, talk about it. Let people know. Search online for Blogs on your topic, or start on of your own. There may be many online communities that deals with your industry- don’t be left behind!

5.Create and grant annual awards
This may sound at first like a daunting task for a small business owner, but it really isn’t. Set a price, however much you can and find a school or an organization that you wish to be a part of. Approach the staff with an idea such as a technology grant for the local high school. Many schools and organizations will post your businesses name on newsletters and other promotional materials as a thank you. As an added bonus, these types of activities make great human interest stories and will be a welcome story for local newspapers and on your business website. Get involved with your community when ever possible.

6.Create a tip sheet for customers
Tip sheets are terrific ways to get out the word that your business is knowledgeable in your industry. Engaging your customers with valuable information will bring them back and promote repeat business. For example if you own a small business that sells pet products, create a tip sheet that discusses good grooming techniques for dogs and cats. You don’t need to hire someone to do this; it can be done with common word processing software and great stock images!

7.Do something newsworthy each year
Many small businesses do newsworthy things all the time, but don’t seek out the recognition. “Being newsworthy,” means different things in different communities, but it is always news worthy to do good works for your community. Some ways to benefit the community is to organize staff to volunteer at food pantries, visit and bring flowers to retirement homes, or tailgate at your local sports venue. Other things to seek out press are a new product line, new top staff, and other restructuring projects. The point is having your business be seen – and make sure those that have not seen you- hear about you!

8.Create free items for your website
Free items on a website does not necessarily mean free products, although it can be free trials of your products or services. Many times free items refer to entertaining items such as industry related games, facts, or information.

9.Create a website if you don’t have one
Even if you do not intend to sell products or services online, it is wise to have some sort of online presence. It is very inexpensive to put a website online. Here it is critical that you list your products and services, list prices and conditions, and give important information. You will bring in traffic to your brick and mortar store by telling people your location, a little about your business and its key employees and list any possible awards or community mentions. There are many free web design programs that take very little effort to learn. Find one you like and have fun with it. I suggest you look to see what your competitors have online, and see what is industry standard first. Keep the information relevant and increase your business.

10.Send out your products for review
Many businesses will gain valuable information by sending new products for review to their best customers. Before you launch an expensive new product, make an effort to contact a few people and send or give them the product for free. Create a short survey that asks their opinion and if they would buy the product. Make sure to ask what they would pay for the product to aid in setting an appropriate price point.

11. Wear your logo often
Find local print shops or go online to get t-shirts and hats and other wearables printed. Many local stores can print your t-shirts with a small minimum so you don’t have to but 500 t-shirts! At many places you can just but one or two. Have your employees wear the shirts and hats as a form of uniform. It reinforces your brand and promotes a united professional look to your customers

12. Get decals printed and place them on cars and other noticeable places
Here the same concept applies. You want as many people as possible to see you logo, your business name and your address or web address. Search online for inexpensive printers. Many offer free samples for your first order. Many print houses can print bumper stickers, decals or magnetic signs to put on company vehicles. These also make great give-a-ways for customers. Create a good looking bumper sticker that ties in with something funny or current and people will be happy to put it on their cars. It doesn’t have to be controversial to get noticed, but make sure the message works with your company values and culture.
Try for free samples

13. Send promotional items with orders
Everyone loves getting something for free. In your shipping boxes, staple to your invoices a note thanking them for the order and include a small key chain, pens, business card holder, or other small gift. Look online for companies who specialize in promotional products. You will find thousands and thousands of fun ideas. From stuffed animals to wine classes, with a little research, you will find the perfect item to thank your customers. Also check to see if there are any fun holidays or remembrance days coming up. Earth day makes a great time to send a packet of seeds or other “green” gift. Every month there are lots of fun themed days that can provide a great reason to thank you customers. Studies have shown that these items often will stay with a customer for years. Give them a gift, and your company will have a presence on their desk for years! This is a great return on investment.

14. Press releases and how to use them
Similar to businesses getting newsworthy, the press release is used in much the same way. Contact your local newspapers and get to know the staff if possible. Find out what type of news that they want to hear about. Most towns will want community related news. However, even in large cities, people will always want to read about how your business is doing good works in the area. Ask editors how they want you to send them information, what types of files they want, word docs, PDF’s etc. Also be sure to ask how they would like pictures to be sent to them. Wither you are working out of your home or have 100 employees, you can be a newsmaker. Make it part of your job to get in the press and make a difference. The cost is so small, but the return is huge. Just remember, unlike celebrities- bad press is not good press for the small business owner. Be sure to be shown in favorable light that shows your company values and promotes a positive look at what you and your company does!

15. Trade shows
Industry trade shows may be a great way for a small business owner to promote and present their products and services. Here some initial investment is required, as you will need to design and implement a trade show booth. Look online for display vendors and start with something small. It is wise to plan a theme and a message to your booth. Upload photos of your products to digital frames and hang them for everyone to see. Have plenty of samples, order forms and grab a friend or employee to help you set up and take down the booth. Start with shows that are in your area. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on booth, but start with the smallest you can and utilize the area you do have to your advantage. Use bright colors (but not garish) and be sure to have demonstrations or be able to talk about your products and services. Be clear and never offer services or discount prices beyond any set markdowns. Be sure to have a mailing list sign up sheet – and follow up with every lead! The same goes with any business cards you get. Take the time to email everyone, to thank them for learning about your company. Now is a great time to introduce a sale, a new item, or benefit. Don’t loose these valuable leads; give them the time and attention they deserve.

16. Join on-line discussion groups
The same idea as Blogging- find other people online who are interested in the industry and want to talk about it. Develop your online presence in multiple ways and use your information to drive customers to your business.
Cost: Usually $0.00!

17. Give gift baskets and other items to repeat business
Giving a larger gift for loyal customers is a tried and true way to retain these customers. Everyone likes to feel like they are important. This is why casinos give out comps to their high rollers. When people have been spending money at your business, let then know that your appreciate it. Gift baskets are a great gift because they are large and noticeable. You can fill them with lots of small items and can make it into a theme if appropriate. Make sure you send it to the client; it will make a bigger impression. Include a thank you card and if you want a discount card for their next purchase. There are many different promotional gifts that can be given for every situation and for every price point. From Lobstergrams to flowers, it is wonderful to thank the people who keep you in business.

18. Do a public demonstration of your products and services
Many communities have festivals all through out the year. Buy a booth and sell your products in a new way. If you sell gourmet food items, give out free samples and recipes. If you sell detergent and cleaning supplies, have a booth to get out stains. Get creative. Understand what goes on in your area and think of new ways to show your products to people. Get excited about your products and other people will too.

19. Create sell-sheets
Unlike the tip sheet, the sell sheet is all about your products and services. The sell sheet typically describes on product or service or a series of familiar products or services. Here you want to have a terrific professional commercial photo taken of your product(s) and list all of the benefits, it’s description and all other important information about the product(s). Be sure to include your company contact information and the price or sale price. These sheets are great to use in trade shows, mailings, to pass out to customers and other ways that you want to increase the exposure of your product or service. Again, these are great to staple to invoices and include in all mailers. When you increase the customer knowledge of your business, you will get a return on your investment. Use great stock photography, and so it yourself with common office software. Call your local printers for pricing and start passing them out!

20. Add a brochure in shipping cartons and shopping bags
One quick and easy way to provide your customers with additional product information is to place a brochure or a sell sheet in your shipping cartons. If a customer is buying one product from you already, let know what other products and services you can provide them. In shipping, be sure to place the information in a place in the box where the customers will look at it, but will not cut into when they are opening the box. If placing the information in a shopping bag, it is a great idea to place the brochure on the top of the bag so it does not get discarded when unpacking the items from the bags. This is also a great time to include a introduction coupon for the item you are showcasing.

Thanks everyone for reading my part 1 of the MBA sell-a-thon marketing session! I will be posting part 2 soon! Please visit my shop JadeDumpling.etsy and give me some feedback, I have just started selling here on Etsy this year but haven't had too much time so far with school- now that it's over! Let get moving!

Have a wonderful week- Susan (Jade Dumpling) Source : Etsy Forum Thread

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