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10 Low-Cost Marketing Tactics You May Have Overlooked

overlooked marketing tactics

Don’t put your eggs all in one basket is a very wise maxim when it comes to marketing. While marketing your business through the more obvious mediums is a business staple, there are plenty of other low-cost marketing tricks you can use. These methods have an extra advantage, as they’re not likely to be used by your competitors. Even better, they don’t break the bank. So, when you’re ready to expand your marketing efforts, give one of these ten tips a try.

Barter
There are two forms of barter. Using the traditional method, you and another vendor agree to trade goods or services. More often these days, barter is done through a barter exchange that acts as an intermediary. The exchange issues “barter bucks” to you when you do something for someone else in the group. You can then use those bucks to purchase goods or services from anyone else in the group. As with everything else, the Internet has changed barter, too. Online barter exchanges have cropped up across the Internet, and they are great places for small businesses to get started. A good virtual barter exchange should keep track of transactions, act as an intermediary, issue the currency, handle the paperwork, and keep its fees to a minimum.

In fact, according to the International Reciprocal Trade Association, almost half a million small businesses use commercial barter exchanges every year, generating more than $10 billion in sales. It makes sense, as barter offers several benefits:

  • You can get rid of excess assets. Store owners have excess inventory, restaurants have empty tables, chiropractors have free hours, and so on. Barter allows you to move assets and products that are not being used.
  • You create new customers. Barter exposes new people to your business. By joining a barter group, you may find that people who bartered for your goods or services may become regular clients.
  • Barter saves money. When you use your time rather than your money, you save money.

Contests
A contest can generate interest and free publicity for your business. For example, a restaurant might have a yearly contest to see which customer can eat the most of its famous “Flaming Chicken Wings.” Not only would this generate interest among its clientele, but also a local newspaper might pick up the contest as a fun human interest story. These days, contests may be even better online. Having a contest on your Facebook page, or a Twitter contest linking to your website is a great way to generate buzz and make a sale.

Networking and Social Networking
Having a good elevator pitch can create opportunities out of humdrum real-life encounters. Beyond that, social networking, of course, is a marketer’s paradise. Spending time investing in more knowledge of how to use these platforms to market your business would be beneficial to any company or entrepreneur.

Demonstrations
Demonstrating your product at a mall, trade show, or other high-profile location usually leads to sales. If you think about it, infomercials are nothing but 30-minute demonstrations. See if you can work out something with related, but non-competitive businesses in your area.

Samples
When the car dealer lets you take the car that you are considering buying home for the night, what is that? It is a free sample. Gourmet grocers set out free food all day, as does Costco. Why? Free samples are inexpensive loss leaders that create sales. What can you offer for free?

Seminars
Seminars are a good way for service businesses to introduce themselves to potential customers, build rapport, and entice people to want to know more. Seminars are used by many professionals – doctors offering Lasik eye surgery or lawyers who create living trusts are common. Although not the most inexpensive option, seminars can be a very lucrative marketing mechanism.

Become the Expert
When you become known as an expert in your field, whatever your field, you will find that the world will beat a path to your door. Consider the following:

  • By being the expert, you immediately distinguish yourself from the competition.
  • By being the expert, you immediately offer your clients something of value that competitors cannot, and do not, offer.
  • By being the expert, you can charge more for your services.
  • By being the expert, you become the first choice.

How do you come to be known as an expert? Pick something that you know or do, something that you are passionate about, and begin to devote more energy to it. Then, share your analysis, ideas, and insights with colleagues and the public.
How else can you become known as an expert? Draft a press release, have a television or radio segment produced about you, or have a newspaper article written about you. Write an article for the local paper or for a trade journal. Advertise as “specializing in…,” like the car dealer whose ad reads, “Specializing in customers with credit problems.”

Befriend a Concierge
The job of the concierge at a hotel or office building is to offer services to guests. If you have a service that hotel guests would likely be interested in, take time to visit local hotel concierge staff. When you get on the concierge’s list, he or she can become a significant marketing ally.

Offer Free Consultations
If it makes sense for your business, you can offer free consultations to help generate leads. Instead of spending your time selling your services, some companies find it easier to promote the free consultations and let trust build naturally. In many cases, free consultations lead to paying clients.

Be a Good Citizen
By sponsoring a youth sports team, coaching a team, or donating your services to charity, you begin to create a positive reputation in the community. What about sponsoring a segment on your local public broadcasting television or radio station? That certainly can be a chic method. All of this will (eventually) lead to mores sales.

Many of the options listed here are intended to whet your appetite. There are simply so many ways to market your business, many of which are underutilized by most small businesses, that it would be a shame if you stubbornly stuck to the same few techniques. Try a few of these out and see if you do not experience increased sales as a result.

About Steve Strauss

Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible, Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.