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Promoting Your Business


Today's Snack: An old-fashioned way to promote a restaurant or store is for a person to a wear a "sandwich board." It is a two-sided human poster. One side points forward and the other points backward, with the person in the middle of the "sandwich." The person would walk up and down the sidewalk, and people can't help reading the message because of the eye-catching way it was presented. Fix yourself a sandwich and dream up an attention-getting way to promote YOUR new business idea.





Blank paper, colored pencils


"Promotion" is the term for pushing your business product or service forward into the public eye. When you "promote" what you are selling or would like to do for pay, you are offering your product or service to customers who may not have heard of you before. Or maybe they've heard of you once or twice, and the third time they see your name, they decide to "bite" and become your newest customer!


Every business needs to promote itself in order to get started, and even after that, keep up with promotion ideas in order to grow and get more customers.


The most common forms of promotion include:


        Flyers, palm cards, brochures and posters.


        Business cards.


        Paid advertising.


        Free publicity - a free ad or article in a publication, or TV or radio program.


        Public Service Announcement - a free TV or radio spot if your small business is helping a charity.


        Signs and banners.


        Clings on windows, including car windows.


        Bumper stickers.


        Giveaways with your contact information on them, such as pencils, refrigerator magnets and small notepads.


        Uniforms or T-shirts with your business logo or graphic, and contact information.


        Facebook page.


        Instagram account.


        Twitter feed.



There are many levels of promotion besides the obvious ones, as listed above. Some of the more sophisticated forms of promotion include offering discount coupons to people who refer you to new customers, bargain prices for repeat customers, free products or services just to let people know about you or to help people who are ill or elderly, offering every 10th car wash or every 10th window washing job for free (or whatever your service is), designating a portion of your profits to a worthy charity, and any number of other ways to let people know you have a quality product and are a quality person to back it up.


When you are just getting started, it's a great idea to "tryout" your product or service on family members, neighbors and friends, and charge little or nothing in return for them acting as your "guinea pigs." These "trial runs" will help you perfect your product and improve your service until you are ready for "prime time" sales to people you don't know as well, or who you don't know at all. While you are "practicing" on these friends, you can also collect their testimonials - nice things they have to say about you and your product or service. Then you can use those testimonials, that "testify" about how good you are, in your future promotions.


Another promotional idea is to give a gift certificate or free coupon to a local fund-raiser, such as a school carnival or church social, so that everybody who attends that fund-raiser sees your name and service and learns about you that way.


Does anyone in your family know anyone who's famous? Even a little famous in your locality? Having a "celebrity" appear in your ads or come to a public presentation with you and endorse you and your product is a powerful way to promote your business, too.


Now let's practice making one promotional piece! Pretend that you are starting a dog-walking service. Using a piece of blank 8 x 11" paper and colored pencils, sketch a flyer that you could post on a bulletin board at the local pet shop, or duct-tape to a telephone pole in your neighborhood, or walk from door to door, to advertise your new service. How else could you use a flyer?


Brainstorm all the facts that you need on the flyer. What kind of art or drawing or graphic would be eye-catching for your service? Do you need to invent a name for your service?


Have fun making your flyer, and if you're in a group, present them to each other when you are finished.


By Susan Darst Williams Business 08 2014

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