Saturday, June 28, 2008

Marketing for Small Businesses

More than 1.7 million new small businesses are started in the U.S. every year. Although the details vary, based on the chosen market and business type, one thing remains the same.The need to Market. Every successful company uses some sort of promotion.
The following are cost-effective, easy-to-execute ideas.

The key is to find the methods that are appropriate for your business, marketplace, and professional style.

Contests As one example, a cookware store decided to sponsor cooking contests.After sending out a press release announcing a competition for the best cookie or chocolate cake, a mailing went out to the store's customers soliciting entries. Food editors, professional chefs, and cooking teachers were invited to be judges. Both the winners and the winning recipes were publicized. Essay and design contests are also possibilities, such as a furniture store establishing a prize for student furniture design. Pie eating, pancake flipping, oyster shucking, and grapestomping contests make sense for restaurants. Dentists can hold smile contests, while video rental stores can stage movie trivia quizzes.

Newsletters Another good way to promote, particularly for brokers, banks, and businessconsultants, is through newsletters. They demonstrate how much you knowabout your field and do it in a low-key, informative way. They help keep your company high in the consciousness of your prospects.

Demonstrations Demonstrations are an option to attract people to your place of business, show them how to best use your product, and establish your credibility. A retail-wholesale fish outlet holds cooking demonstrations twice a week, featuring a different restaurant chef each time and attracting substantial crowds. Recipe cards are even given out. Wallpaper demonstrations, fashion shows, gift-wrapping, refinishing, and computer demonstrations have all worked well for retailers selling products associated with them.

Seminars Often more appropriate for business-to-business marketing, seminars are the commercial side of demonstrations. If you hold a seminar, follow these rules for success:
* Schedule the event at a time convenient to most attendees
* Be specific in the invitation about beginning and end, who will be there, and agenda
* Follow up the invitations with personal phone calls
* Charge for the seminar to give it a higher perceived value
* Follow up after the event to get people's reactions

Speeches Depending on your topic and market, you might want to speak before Chambers of Commerce, trade associations, parent groups, senior citizens, or other local organizations.

Donations Donating your product or service to a charitable cause often results inpositive exposure to community leaders, charity board members, PTAs, and civic groups. While consumer products are desired most, many organizations also look for donations of professional service time. If you have a restaurant or a large meeting facility, consider hosting an event for a charitable organization. This works best if volunteers forthat charity are potential customers.

The above tips were compiled from SBA information by Howard Keating, Chief Executive Officer, ZANA Network, LLC - an online Marketplace for small businesses.

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