December 31, 2018 Last updated December 27th, 2018 389 Reads share

Marketing Your Small Business: 4 Refreshing Promotion Ideas

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If you think that your small business’s promotion strategies need an update, look to the reasons that people have for supporting small businesses over their larger counterparts. Individuals looking for companies with genuine interests in their customers and the communities they serve will often choose to support small businesses.

Your promotion strategies should work to confirm customers’ inclinations that small businesses care more about their supporters. They want a business that provides superior customer service, interacts with its customers outside of business transactions, invests itself in the community, and rewards regular customers.

Whether your small business already exemplifies those qualities or is working to incorporate them, you need brand promotion techniques that show your customers that you’re there for them. Luckily, you have the Internet on your side to make communicating with vast numbers of current and potential customers faster and easier than ever.

Even in the age of Internet-based promotions, however, you shouldn’t abandon perennially successful strategies built on face-to-face interactions with your consumers and the community that you share. We’ll explore promotion strategies online and off so that you can reach your customers effectively wherever they are.

Let’s begin with a way to promote the small business that you can put into practice whenever and wherever you have the opportunity to speak or write about your history and your mission. As you form your next promotion strategy, your first step should be finding a way to tell your business’s story.

1. Tell the story of your business.

One of the primary reasons that people choose to patronize small businesses is that they want to support the goals or missions of individuals like themselves. From this perspective, supporting a large business benefits a corporation headquartered far away. Supporting a small business, however, benefits people from the customers’ community.

Small businesses have a promotional advantage in that their images are often closely associated with real people: their founders, their owners, and their employees. As you work to tell your business’s story, make individuals the face of your business.

People want to support a business that has their best interests at heart in terms of quality, value, customer service, and personal engagement. Show them that you care with a captivating story, which may also reveal that your business and your customers share certain experiences or are committed to similar causes.

Searching for a story that will work? Go back to your origins. If your business started as a much smaller operation and has experienced growth and expansion over the years, focus on this progress. You can also adapt this narrative to place an individual, like your business’s founder or owner, at the center. Your customers will love learning how your business’s hard work and dedication brought you success.

For an alternate approach that emphasizes your business’s commitment to teamwork, tell a story that highlights your employees and the unique roles they play in keeping your business going. If your customers get to know your business through its employees, they’re likely to feel more personally connected to it and consider it trustworthy.

If you’ve connected your business to a charity, community organization, or another good cause, you’ll want to emphasize this in the story you tell. Let your customers know why the cause you’ve chosen is important to your business. If your business has long been involved with that cause, including the origins of your partnership.

Connecting your business to a cause can attract new customers with shared concerns as well as secure the loyalty of returning customers who admire your business’s commitment.

Next, apply your story to your promotional activities and materials. Aspects of your story may translate well to visuals that could become part of your logo, branding, or incorporated into promotional products that you can customize yourself using an online platform.

Looking for other ways to put your storytelling to promotional use? Include it on your website and social media efforts. Your customers will feel more connected to your business if they’re given the opportunity to learn more about your background and your values.

2. Harness the power of social media.

It’s fairly safe to say that your customers are on social media. We’re not just talking about millennials, though they use these platforms frequently. Almost everyone has a social media account or two set up! Whether you’re new to social media for businesses or looking to expand, you can benefit from increased engagement on social media sites.

Start by meeting your target audience wherever they are. Since each platform has unique features that make it suitable for a particular form of sharing, there’s an advantage to diversifying your social media outreach. While having a presence on all of the popular platforms may sound like the best option, it’s not necessarily the best option for your small business.

If your business is just starting out on social media or you don’t have the time to devote to learning the ins and outs of every site, start by identifying the most important ones for your business. Which platforms do your customers use? What about the customers you’d like to have? Get to know how these sites work and start promoting your brand on them.

Use your chosen platforms effectively. Try a multimedia approach! Pictures can show products in their best light, while videos are great for introducing your team members or sharing new developments in your business. No matter the type of post you’re sharing, keep your storytelling strategies in mind as you develop your social media presence.

Your first goal should be finding your customers on their favorite platforms, but you should also consider which ones work best for your business. Use Facebook for more writing space and the widest audience and Twitter for short, fast interactions with customers and an opportunity for humor that’s worked well for many brands.

Once your social media presence is established, make sure your customers know it! Links to your account should be prominent on your website. If you sell products online, consider adding an option where customers can share that they made a purchase from you on their own social media profiles.

Looking to get more involved on social media? Run a contest for your followers and offer branded promotional products as prizes. They’ll have fun competing over who can share the silliest photo or provide the best caption for your post, and you’ll promote your brand when they wear or use their prizes around their communities!

Your business doesn’t have to limit its use of promotional products to social media contests. Whether your business is just getting to know a new community or has been established for years, you can build loyalty with promotional products that your customers will enjoy receiving.

3. Offer promotional products.

Once you’ve become a brand that your community loves and trusts, especially if you’re an integral part of your hometown, they’ll want to show off their loyalty with quality promotional products that they can wear, carry, display, or use.

Wearable promotional products like t-shirts are tried-and-true favorites, and for good reason: they’re highly customizable, people love to get them, and supporters who wear them in public bring new attention to your business. A custom t-shirt platform like Bonfire can help you design, print, and order a custom shirt that your customers will be happy to receive.

High-quality promotional products show your customers that you care about them and, if you’re distributing them at special occasions, remind them of fun events that your business facilitated. It’s like giving your supporters a gift!

You already know that t-shirts or other promotional products would make good prizes for a social media contest that shows off your business’s fun side and encourages customer interaction. But there are so many more possibilities!

If your business is partnering with a charity or community organization for a local event, consider offering promotional t-shirts to guests. The shirts will remind them of the fun they had any of the good work your business does for the community.

If your small business has loyal customers, they’d likely enjoy receiving a product thanking them for their continued support and strengthening their relationship to your business. They’ll appreciate that you acknowledge their value to your business and will likely continue or increase their support.

Promotional products really shine when loyal supporters wear or display them and others learn about your business when they encounter them. Both of these can happen when you incorporate promotional products into your community involvement.

4. Get involved in your community.

Community involvement brings everything together. Your business can add to its story, develop personal connections with customers, and create an opportunity to distribute promotional products that will get people talking.

There are several ways that your business can support your surrounding community and gain recognition for your brand in the process. Partnering with a charitable cause or a community organization to host an event is a great choice that can attract new customers and form the basis of a recurring collaboration.

Sponsorship is another strategy for building brand recognition that can be easier to plan and recur more regularly than an event. Whether you support a charity, a local organization, or provide individual awards or scholarships, sponsorship makes your business more central to your community.

For small businesses, community engagement is key. Whether community members encounter you at a charity event, a local gathering, or through a supporter displaying your promotional product, you want them to know that your business is committed to their needs.

As you’re refreshing your small business’s promotion strategy, focus on the attributes that make it unique and that tie it to your community. From this start, you can form a memorable story that will make its way through social media, products, and events to new and loyal customers alike.

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Kevin Penney

Kevin Penney

Kevin Penney is the CMO and co-founder of Bonfire.com, a company that’s reinventing how people create, sell and purchase custom apparel. He loves solving difficult problems, working with the Bonfire Product team, and hockey. He has over 10 years experience in digital media, design, and technology.

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