If you’ve spent any time googling “marketing ideas for small business,” you would think the only way to promote your business and be successful these days is to promote yourself solely online. That is simply not true.
There are a lot of easy ways to promote your very small business (or “company of one” as I like to say) offline. “Offline” as in the real world we venture into everyday. Many are also “budget flexible,” meaning that if you can do it yourself, you can keep costs low or if your budget allows, you can increase the quantity, use a professional service and expand your reach.
Here are ten tried-and-true ways to promote yourself in the real world that still work despite the rise of digital.
- Business Cards: Everyone, employed or not, should have their own business card with contact information that includes social media details (no need for a physical address unless you have an open studio). Carry some of your artwork in your pocket. Because you really never know who you’ll meet and where. Be ready. If you have artwork, I recommend getting printed at UPrinting.com. If you do not have artwork, Moo.com offers pre-made looks that rock. Both do a quality job.
- Direct Mail Postcard: As brief as a cold calling email with an opportunity to share a visual of your work. Really strong visuals often get pinned to a board or added to the fridge – meaning they are kept much longer than an email. Plus, there is a lot less “traffic” going into our physical mailboxes these days versus our in-boxes.
- Flyers: Coffee shops, libraries and other local businesses often have a community information table or bulletin board to post a flyer, business card or some of those leftover postcards you didn’t mail. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people each week will pass by, take notice and possibly pick up.
- Vehicle Signage: There are three ways to go on this: the door magnet, the vinyl decal in the back window and a full-blown vehicle wrap. You are driving around in a mobile billboard – take advantage of it.
- Promotional T-Shirt: Remember to include your website address on the back or bottom of the piece. I’m not a big t-shirt person but my husband and son are so guess who promotes my brands for me. You can buy some iron-on paper and DIY at home for a few or head to CustomInk.com for gifts for all your friends and clients. Walking billboards – great idea.
- Leave a Custom Pen: Another great promotional product are custom pens. Leave one in the church pew for others to write a check, leave one by the cash register, leave them in public areas. And certainly when someone asks for pen, there you are! There are some places that allow for a quantity as low as 50 pens.
- Networking Events: Mayor Breakfasts, Chamber Happy Hours, Meet-up groups, industry association events – you do not need to afford to $300 membership fee. Often Chamber events have a non-member price to allow you to attend one-off events. Networking events increase your visibility and help you build community relationships. Try three before you take this one off the list.
- Press Release or Article to Local Papers: Smaller papers are in need of content and love to share from local people. From a regional/family recipe to how-to articles, submit your ideas to the local editor and see what happens.
- Donate: Create a gift certificate and offer up your services or products as prizes for local fundraisers.
- Guerrilla Marketing: Yarn bombing. Draw your url in chalk on sidewalks. Hire a street artist to do a standout window display. Here’s a list of great ideas on how to take it to the streets for little money and get noticed.
By the way, I’m not saying not to be online. I believe in integrated marketing which means same message, consistent look across all marketing efforts you implement.
Need help with any of these? Call on me!