Here are a few marketing ideas that go beyond the traditional Web site, business cards, leave-behind materials, and social media. All involve some combination of time, effort, or money - but they are ideas that will get you noticed. The goal isn't for you to implement every idea on this list - or necessarily any of them. It is to get you thinking about creative new ways you can market your business.
- Once a month, give something away for free. If you deliver pizzas, pay for the pizza yourself and give it to the customer at no cost. If you're a hair stylist, give away a free shampoo and cut. If you're a REALTOR, give one of your clients a magazine subscription. The idea here is the element of surprise. Be as creative as you can.
- Partner with 3 or 4 other professionals in your industry (or allied industries) to host a fundraiser for a charitable organization. If the others are in your specific field, you might want to invite them from surrounding communities. (1) Decide on a theme. (2) Select the nonprofit beneficiary. (3) Choose a date. (4) Find a venue. (5) Invite everyone from each of your lists - and the charity's list! (6) Use social media to spread the word. (7) Do a media release and send it far and wide.
- Host a drive to collect goods for a worthy charity: US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq; no-kill shelters; teachers in low-income school districts; group homes for teens or the mentally ill. Invite your clients, vendors, friends, and family to participate. Write up a media release about your success. With the organization's permission, make a video of yourself delivering the goods you collect.
- Host a party/event for your A-list clients. Do something intimate and interesting: visit an art gallery; have a wine tasting at a local wine bar; play laser tag; paint some pottery; plant an herb garden; give each other mani-pedis. Make it a regular event.
- Hire someone whose only job is to attend the myriad networking events available to you. Find a way to make them memorable: they wear your company's colors to every event; wear a cool hat or carry a unique bag; sing their 30-second commercial.
- Nominate yourself - or have a trusted friend or colleague nominate you - for an award. This one seems obvious - but many awards go to less-qualified candidates simply because the better qualified folks never even tossed their hats into the ring.
- Hold an online treasure hunt. For one week, use social media to post a question a day about your company - and send people to your Web site or blog to find the answers. For example, a restaurant owner could ask participants to name the third ingredient in one of her dishes. Make the prize worthwhile, like a gift certificate for your products or services.
- Write and release a free eBook. Include links to your website throughout, and encourage your readers to share the book. If the eBook is good enough, it could go viral and drive lots of traffic to your site or blog.
- Go to the beach and write your Web address in the sand. Of course, you want to make sure you're out of the way of the tide, and that the letters are large enough to be seen from a great distance. An alternative to this - but one that costs considerably more - is to hire a skywriter to do the same thing. NOTE: This will work best with short URL. And make sure to check the weather in the days before your ad goes up, up, and away!
- Always carry an supply of extra business cards with you to leave behind in coffeehouses and shops that allow around such promotions. You can get GREAT deals on business cards and postcards for this at www.gotprint.com.
- Run a contest related to your business, and make the prize a service you’ll perform. The only limit is your imagination, but here are a few ideas to get you started: messiest office; garden makeover; Web site makeover; biggest weight loss; chili or other food cookoff; best video.
- Use www.gotprint.com to make stickers with your logo and Web site. Hire some kids to pass them out at a highly trafficked event like a ball game, street fair, or concert. People are a lot less likely to throw away a sticker than they are a piece of paper.
Please notice, you didn't see the phrase "outside the box" anywhere in this post. While it may have been a clever phrase the first 1,000 times it was used, it is now as cliched as "teach an old dog new tricks." Time for someone to come up with a new term!
For more great ideas about mischief, guerilla, and unconventional marketing, read:
Mischief Marketing: How the Rich, Famous, & Successful Really Got Their Careers and Businesses Going, by Ray Simon
Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business, by Jay Conrad Levinson
101 Ways to Promote Yourself: Tricks Of The Trade For Taking Charge Of Your Own Success, by Raleigh Pinskey
This is Day 11 in the 60-Day Content Challenge. See you tomorrow for the next post!
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