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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
The Sun

There are lots of ways to promote your business inexpensively


Published:   |   Updated: January 14, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Finally! The holidays are over.

You’ve been crazy busy from mid-October until last week, decorating for three holidays, entertaining and making sure you acknowledged all your customers. The twinkling lights are back in the storage room, the leftover cookies were finally tossed in the trash and you’ve taken down all of the greeting cards you collected.

Time to chill out and relax for a little bit, right? Nope!

Now it’s time to do some quick, easy and inexpensive advertising to take advantage of our highest population of the year. Here are some things you can do to get the most out of season.

The best free publicity for your business is a press release to our local newspapers and business magazines. Be sure the copy is newsworthy, though, or it won’t get printed. Send press releases when you hire new employees, open a branch, win an award, reach a milestone, host an open house, partner with another company, expand your products or services, restructure your business, work with a charity or rebrand your business. Newspapers are always looking for noteworthy items to print, so get out the camera and write a great caption!

I know you’ve read this from me several times, but create a company Facebook page. Get out the camera – again – and post photos of your employees doing their jobs. “Like” our chamber Facebook page and post frequent comments about your business to our wall. “Like” other businesses as well and see how fast they “like” you back.

Set up online accounts on local business directories, such as Yahoo! Local and our own Chamber Online. These are great places that help people find local businesses, restaurants, attorneys, physicians and more. In addition, those who have used these services usually post reviews of their experiences, so you can rack up some seriously great PR from happy customers. These business accounts are free, but if you have the budget, you can buy sponsorship ads, too.

Everyone in South County knows me by the paint job on my car – famously dubbed “The Clown Car” by a local resident who thought it too gaudy for the chamber parking lot. Love it or hate it, it’s how people find me and they never forget it. Make your car an advertising vehicle with a magnetic sign that will totally not damage your paint job. Too much? Put your company name on your license plate.

Are you a restaurant, entertainment center, florist, retail store or do you otherwise produce a high-demand product? Donate a prize to local radio stations for giveaways or contests. You’ll get lots of on-air mentions and perhaps a mention on the station’s website. Or donate something to one of the hundreds of ongoing charity events around the South County area. Great exposure for you and it helps a great cause.

You know there’s a company out there you can team up with to get your message out. Think World of Susie Vong’s hair salon and Mary Kay cosmetics with a touch of Bogg’s Jewelers. What about Marquez Medical Clinic and Sun Laboratories plus Mobility Express? You could add links to your websites, share a booth at a local trade show or split the costs for a direct mail piece. The possibilities are endless!

I’ve suggested this before, but it bears repeating – offer your best customers a reason to come back and bring someone new with them. Offer customers a discount if they refer a business or person who buys your product or service. Extend a discount on the new client’s first purchase, too.

Volunteer at a community event wearing company T-shirts. You might hand out water at a 5K race or run a concession stand at a local art fair.

Yes, the holiday season is over, but the season of winter snowbirds has just hit its peak. Don’t let this great time of year and its possibilities slip through your fingers.

Dana Dittmar is the executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce.

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