1. Giving out free, informative pamphlets can be a pro-active way to engage new customers. Try to resist making them too sales-focused and get people onside by including genuinely useful content, such as recipes or top tips related to your product or service.
2. Use existing customers to generate new ones, by asking for written testimonials. Choose the people you request to do these carefully to ensure you get glowing feedback, which can then be displayed on marketing materials in the future.
3. Print out flyers with a difference. You can advertise your brand or business at the same time as creating something people would genuinely like to receive. If you run a crèche consider printing your flier on the back of a fun face-mask, while a car valet business may choose to print their contact details on free chamois cloths
4. Turn your car into a mobile billboard. Placing a sign on the top or sides of the vehicle is one way to do this. Alternatively you could be a little more creative, for example landscape gardeners could cover their car in Astroturf, while children’s entertainers may put a big red nose on the front of theirs.
5. Create a press release for a new product, promotion or business milestone and send it around to local papers and magazines. You may also be able to use your commercial data to demonstrate a trend within your industry, which could form the basis of a superb press release for an industry publication.
6. Providing sponsorship for a local sports team is a canny way to get known in the community. In return for your contribution you should be able to get your company logo on the team’s shirts and perhaps even around the ground where they play.
7. Offer your product as the prize for a local contest, whether it’s for a church fete raffle or a school fancy dress competition, this will really cast your business in a positive light.
8. Hold a writing or design challenge for a local school or community group and incorporate the winning entry into one of your products or marketing campaigns. People are always happy to support friends and family in their endeavours, so by being integral to the competition, your company will be able to benefit.
9. Offer a specific discount to a particular group. You may choose to target a club or attendees of a certain event, or perhaps offer standard discounts to students, nurses or members of the armed forces. As well as encouraging these individuals to make purchases with you, this generosity is also likely to attract word of mouth promotion amongst people they know.
10. Creating a business network can be endlessly useful when it comes to sharing marketing costs and attracting business through referrals. The trick is finding another business that doesn’t compete with you but offers complementary services or products – and working from there.
11. Participate in trade shows to enhance your business network. By getting a booth and making sure your display is eye-catching and memorable you’ll be able to access people you’ve never reached before – and stay in their minds long after the show is over.
12. Never miss an opportunity to chat about your business with the people you meet. Lots of other businesses will be in the same position as yours – i.e. looking for new customers – so you’ll probably find they’re keen to share experiences, learnings and perhaps even marketing ideas.
13. Make sure your business card stands out. It’s easy to get standard business cards that cost next to nothing, but these types of cards are also very easy to forget about and throw away. Use bold colours, unusual design and plenty of imagination when putting together your business card to ensure it fulfils its potential as a marketing tool.
14. Send your customers a regular newsletter through the post, to remind them that you exist and encourage repeat business and referrals. Put together newsletters that are compellingly written and full of useful, interesting content to ensure they don’t become bin-fodder. Adding a monthly competition and including the name of the winner in the next edition can be a good way to increase a letter’s stickiness.
15. You can help to further your customers’ knowledge about you and your products by sending out advice bulletins from time to time. These can be sent in addition to a regular newsletter to let customers know when something exciting is happening, such as a new product, promotion or sale.
16. Sending your regular customers Christmas and birthday cards is a lovely way to encourage them to advocate your brand. If it’s relevant to the products or services you offer, you may even choose to send out a tongue-in-cheek Valentine’s card each year!
17. Ask a group of regular customers to be a part of an exclusive advisory panel. Customers love to feel valued in this way and by running new products, services and pricing by them you’ll get some valuable insight into what direction your business should be moving. If needs be you can always reward participants with product incentives or perhaps even dinner.
18. Design branded calendars to select customers around the start of the year. This will help to ensure you stay front of mind for them whatever the season. One point to consider though is making them wall-friendly; photos of farming equipment may be relevant to what you do but they’re not the kind of thing most people will want to look at all month.
19. Surprise and delight existing customers by going the extra mile. Giving them a quick call to find out how they’re getting on with your products or how they found your service will take very little time and money but really impress people.
20. Throw a party or special event for your most loyal customers. Making it feel exclusive will make these customers feel really valued and popping photos of the get-together in marketing materials may make potential customers keen to get involved next time. Again word of mouth can be harnessed with this idea; as people in attendance tell their colleagues “you’ll never guess where I was last night”…