Many small business owners take out costly display ads in their local newspapers and then complain about the dismal results. Instead of paying the paper to advertise your business, use the newspaper to propel you to greater name recognition and more business. Here are a few low cost marketing ideas:
- Tie in to holidays or special events. Newspapers love seasonal stories beyond the traditional holidays. Every business in the country puts up decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Why not celebrate Gourmet Coffee Day on October 21st by serving unusual flavors of coffee to your customers? April 6th is National Twinkie Day. The local media would love to cover a program where you send your clients a box of Twinkies. For your bald customers, try celebrating Be Bald and Be Free Day on October 14th. Newspapers are inundated with requests to cover holiday events. Just make sure your holidays are National Kazoo Day or Temporary Insanity Day! For a great resource on creative activities to help you celebrate over 320 untraditional holidays, check out Silvana’s book, Every Day A Holiday.
- Check the newspaper listing of upcoming fund raisers or charity auctions. Even if the auction is only a week away, call and offer to give a certificate for a free offer from your company. It could be two hours of consulting or a gift basket of your products. The organizer will be thrilled to have another donation, but will probably say, “We’ve already printed up our catalog of donations. Would you mind if I made a separate flyer describing your contribution and sticking it in the catalog?” Who can complain about a free full page flyer inserted in a catalog? You’ll receive more attention because your contribution is different from all the others.
- Write an appropriate letter to the editor. Let’s say the newspaper published an article about the problems of teenagers in your community. A short letter to the editor stating, “Last week three teenagers assisted my business, (include your name) in distributing blankets manufactured by our company, to shelters for the homeless. These teens not only helped give physical warmth, they also provided smiles and a listening ear.” Then add a few observations you’ve had as a business person in the community. Adding a positive note to a community issue positions you as a leader in your field.
- Offer to be a media consultant. Newspaper reporters and radio personalities need to have a source of contacts for news stories. Put together a one page typed sheet stating:
Available For Interview
Under that heading list three or four topics you could discuss. How about?:
- Time Management For Home Based Business Owners
- How To Design A Web Page
- The Importance Of Networking
Next write a paragraph about your qualifications. The fact that you own your own business or supervise staff gives you skills few people have. End the sheet with sample questions the media could ask. It makes it easier for a reporter if they can use your prepared questions. (Plus you know the answers!) Sample questions could include:
- How do you motivate employees?
- How do you generate new clients?
- How do you balance work and family?
Does it take a large amount of money to start a business?
Simply send that sheet to the media in your community. When they need a quote from someone about your industry, there’s a good chance they’ll call you. The reporter will quote the profound statements you make and soon you might even be on the cover of Newsweek!
So there you have it. Instead of paying the newspaper, let the newspaper give you the opportunity to generate more business.