Thinking outside of the box does not always mean reinventing the wheel. Sometimes it means inventing new ways to use the wheel. If you’ve hit a wall trying to market your small business, check out these unconventional strategies for using long-established marketing tools.
Personalized direct mailers
Like most people, I tend to throw away direct mailers because they are almost always too generic and impersonal. However, companies that are willing to think outside of the box have found success by creating mailers that are personalized, and distributing them to a highly specific demographic.
Consider this example: over a year ago, I received a direct mailer that actually looked like a piece of “real” mail. The envelope measured five inches by seven inches rather than being the standard #10 business envelope that can be a dead giveaway for “junk mail.” My name and address appeared to be hand written, going a long way in saving this mailer from an immediate toss into the trash can.
When I opened the envelope, I was surprised to find a friendly note asking if I would be interested in selling my car to a local dealer. The message was, again, presented in a font that looked just like someone’s handwriting, and it was printed diagonally on a simple sheet of notepad paper, which displayed the car dealer’s logo in one corner.
Not only did this advertisement stand out from the crowd visually, it was also very relevant for its recipient. You see, the particular model year of my vehicle is heavily sought after by used car buyers. I was so impressed by the personalization of the advertisement, that I still have the mailer…over a year later. And when it comes time for me to sell or trade in my car, I know where to go.
It’s no secret that professional networking is an important part of growing a business. But I want to encourage you to take this strategy one step further. Rather than limiting your networking activity to business mixers, expos and conferences, try forming a small group of like-minded professionals who are committed to each other’s success and their community’s well being.
Consider meeting with your group regularly to share experiences and to discuss business strategies with each other. These meetings serve to build mutual trust and respect among group members, encouraging them to refer business to one another. Get to know everyone’s strengths and explore ways of using these strengths to benefit your community. This could be in the form of volunteer efforts, fundraising initiatives, donation collections, or even the provision of free business services to community members who could not afford them otherwise.
Establishing meaningful bonds with other professionals and your community can help generate referral business while enriching the lives of those around you.
If your customers are an inquisitive bunch, chances are they have visited Reddit.com at one point or another to find information related to your area of expertise. Reddit allows users to post questions, comments, photos and more within niche verticals, called subreddits.
Engaging with users in subreddits related to your business can help establish credibility for your brand and generate valuable referral traffic to your website. However, Reddit users do not take kindly to comments that are overly promotional rather than helpful in nature. So here are some important “reddiquette” notes to keep in mind.
- Be transparent: Let users know which industry you work in and who you work for when answering questions on behalf of your business. As long as the purpose of your post is to contribute valuable information rather than to push your products and services, Reddit users are usually accepting of these honest comments.
- Do NOT post too many links: If your answer requires a link that genuinely adds value to the subreddit, go for it. Otherwise, be selective about when to include links in your comment.
- Choose only relevant subreddits: Subreddits that are closely associated with your industry offer exposure to users who are within your target audience. Posting in categories that are too broad will minimize the effectiveness of your efforts.
- Choose your username wisely: Once you have registered a username, it cannot be changed. So put some thought into this decision.
Thinking of new, creative ways to employ traditional marketing vehicles can help your small business grow without breaking the bank. If you’ve had success using any of the above tactics, please share your experience in the comments section below!