How to Market Your Small Business

Developing Goals and Tactics

Bartering and cooperative advertising are effective methods of stretching an advertising budget. Bartering is often called “trade-out.” For example, a small business may be able to trade some of its goods or services to a radio station in exchange for an equal amount of air time. All media will not barter, but if your goods are useful to them, it is worth a try. Cooperative advertising refers to sharing expenses. Two or more businesses may share the cost of advertising or one of your company’s vendors may supply ad dollars as well as camera-ready copy to which you only need to add your company logo. This not only increases the advertising placement budget, but decreases or even eliminates production cost. As advertising costs grow, it is important that small business owners be creative with cooperative and bartering techniques.

Some businesses have discovered that setting up an in-house ad agency will save 15% of media cost. This is a simple procedure and can save substantial amounts, but the small business person needs to consider the extra time spent in dealing with advertising salespeople and additional paperwork.

Any event held to increase sales and traffic is a promotion. Promotional efforts include coupons, contests, sampling, point-of-purchase merchandising, visual displays, gift-with-purchase incentives, seasonal sales, special events, trade shows, imprinted specialty items, and demonstrations.

Creativity and originality are the keys to successful promotional efforts, and there are many low-cost and effective ways to do it. For example, a well-known pizza chain has developed a technique called “banner-shaking” which involves one or two employees standing near major intersections during evening rush-hour “shaking” painted banners at traffic. These banners highlight a special price on pizza immediately ready for take-out. The promotion costs nothing but the price of the banner, and the results are great because it targets working people, tired after a long day, and provides an immediate solution for dinner with no cooking. Creativity is the most effective way of promoting any business.

Promotional activity should always be based on recognizing customer needs and making them feel special. Providing exceptional service, using friendly words and smiles, using their names, giving them advance sales information, and sending them your business newsletter are just a few low-cost or no-cost promotions to use. Superior store or office appearance, cleanliness, business reputation, and even good landscaping and sugnage are all important promotional tools that sell. Promotions are not just sales events, but anything that adds to the image if the business.


Publicity, often referred to as “free advertising”, means getting the company’s name. product, or service in the media at no charge. Publicity is especially important for entrepreneurs with limited advertising and promotional budgets.

Press releases are effective only if they are genuinely newsworthy, and should be accompanied by a photograph if possible. Company newsletters, sponsorships of local athletic teams, donations of gifts for charitable functions, and participation in civic organizations are all good sources of positive publicity. Capitalize upon every opportunity to get your company’s name in front of the public at no charge.

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