You can develop marketing plans and invest in advertising--you should do those things as a small business owner. But beyond the traditional marketing strategies, there are creative ways to bring recognition to your business that have little to do with your actual product or service. Of course building your brand is essential to success, and your business reputation rolls right into brand development.
One might say they are intertwined.
Have you considered these three ways to bring recognition to your business without traditional marketing?
Your community is as great as the people who contribute to its success, and that includes you. Participate in a cause that helps your community. Host a clothing drive, or collect diapers or personal hygiene products and donate them to charitable organizations. Invite your customers to bring in items when they use your service, shop at your store, etc. Get a group to help at the local food bank, join in a Habitat for Humanity project, sponsor a local art show or culinary event, get locked up for MDA.
With National Volunteer Week coming up this April 10-16, 2016, look for unique ways to volunteer your time and energy.
Whatever you do, ask your employees to tell their stories about volunteerism, then share those stories and photographs on social media.
Be a speaker
Getting yourself in front of an audience of your peers and other industry associates does a number of things. It immediately establishes you as an expert, and people learn to associate your face with your message in a way that's much more difficult to achieve online.
Speaking at conferences and other industry-specific events brings the obvious benefits of networking, possibilities for collaboration, and general advancement of your industry. When similar minds come together, the brainstorming and innovation that ensues can help your business and your industry. And don't forget the perks that come with being a speaker, like free food and beverages, and possibly even a free ticket to the event!
Tips for getting speaking gigs:
- Note the conferences and events that interest you well in advance. Keep an active calendar of potential speaking opportunities. Know what's happening!
- Develop and be able to customize your speaking abstracts. By having a packet ready to send out that includes your bio, your expertise, a summary of your presentation (including a catchy title for your presentation), the format in which you deliver your materials, and whether or not you need specific equipment.
- Solicit a lot of speaking engagements. Like anything else, the more you put yourself out there, the more likely you'll have success.
- Consider sending your abstracts to industry publications for added exposure.
Nothing makes people happier than free. Even better is getting something free when you least expect it. Think about appreciating your best customers with a free gift. Not necessarily your product or service, but send a token--a box of chocolates, a certificate for a free ice cream cone from the shop next door, a complimentary glass of wine--something to say, "thanks for being a great customer, we appreciate you."
"You can't sell anything if you can't tell anything," says Beth Comstock, vice chair of Business Innovations at General Electric. These methods of marketing--performing community service, guest speaking, appreciating your customers--are more like storytelling, giving your clients good reason to invest in you because you invest in them.
What ways do you market your small business that have nothing to do with your actual product or service?