Creative Marketing Ideas for a Down Economy
Let's face it, 2009 is going to be lousy. But complaining about isn't going to help anyone. It's time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get creative. Here are some marketing ideas to get you started.
First plan! Set a budget, figure 3% of gross sales as a starting point, commit the dollars and stick with it. Be realistic with your budget, even if it's small, start with a number. Next evaluate your marketing efforts from the past, what was successful, what wasn't.
Next clearly identify your target market, the better you are at fine-tuning who is in it, the better you can market to them. Determine your roadblocks to success weaknesses, competition, trends, etc. and then determine your competitive advantages new products, strengths, trends, etc. Plan out the year using a calendar to determine when marketing efforts will take place and what your deadlines are for each activity. Planning in advance with a calendar will help you stick with a plan and have activities to look forward to throughout the year.
Carpe Diem! Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. These days you have to be creative and think outside the box to locate unique marketing opportunities. It may mean partnering with someone you would have never thought about before. Listen more than you speak! Connect with others and try to connect others within your network, helping others always comes back to you.
Get Googling! Google provides an extraordinarily flexible marketing tool, get onto Google Adwords and play around and start advertising. It is completely flexible in terms of geographic area, budget, keywords, placements, etc. If you're not Googling, I guarantee your competition is!
Grab your partner, Do se do! Partnering with another firm is an easy way to double your marketing dollars and your reach instantly! Think of logical connections first - clients, vendors, complimentary services, then think beyond that and think outside the box. Consider a tri-partnership and triple your budget! Host a networking party together, do a creative joint promotion, distribute a mailing together, provide something free to their clients and vice-versa.
Put pen to paper! Tap into your own expertise and write an informative article. What 5 or 10 tips can you provide to your potential clients!? How can you help them to better understand your industry? As a source of information, you become a trusted resource to both the media and potential clients. Make the article informative and not self-serving. Take a good headshot and send it with the article so people start to know your face. Try industry publications, local business newspapers, association newsletters, etc.
Use your manners! If most of your business comes from referrals and word of mouth (which is likely), how are you saying thank you?! Begin a referral thank you program and be consistent with it. One of my favorite tools for this is SendOutCards (see my bio to try it for free). You'll be able to send cards for as little as .62 customized with your handwriting, signature and logo and get them mailed out for you in less than 30 seconds. This is an easy and inexpensive way to boost recognition and this system can be used to send postcard mailings as well.
Consider the alternative! There are many ways to reach customers when you think creatively. Here are a few alternative ad ideas:
car magnets (not just for the local painter!)
on-screen theatre advertising
advertise on the local dry cleaners bags
mini sample giveaways
host an open house
church or temple bulletins
contests and giveaways
scholarships at local high schools or colleges
host a survey
offer coupons to other businesses and give theirs
have your car 'wrapped' with your business information
teach a course through a local adult ed or college program
advertise on diner placemats,
sponsor a local Little League team,
join the board of a local non-profit organization
Everyone is looking for creative ways to keep business flowing. Perhaps the best and cheapest way to advertise your business is to invite a bunch of folks to a networking breakfast. Even of only one other person shows up, you'll have an interesting breakfast and toss around a few ideas and boost your moral. And it could turn into a monthly networking event that everyone will appreciate!