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Unique Promotional Items to Make Your Small Business Memorable

For small-business owners, staying afloat in a sea of big-name corporate brands can be one of the biggest challenges in today’s market. In order to keep your head above water and maintain a competitive edge, you have to get your name out there – and get it to stick. Effectively promoting your business to potential customers not only spreads the word about your business, but with the right promotional items and techniques, you can build a positive image around your brand that helps people remember who you are and what your business is all about.
If you think promoting your business only involves passing out flyers and wearing a sandwich board on the street corner, think beyond. In addition to the massive list of suggestions to browse here on IdeaCafe, visit you can find a few more smart and effective ways to promote your small business noted below.
Go Green: Consumers and businesses alike are becoming more aware of the impact their choices have on the health of the environment. Eco-friendly promotional items let potential customers know that your business is making the right choices toward a more sustainable future. At Straight North, for example, we send our clients T-shirts made from bamboo that help promote a sustainable resource – bamboo requires less energy and water to grow, can be grown without pesticides, and is 100% biodegradable – and promote our company brand. Or you can give out reusable water bottles with your name and logo, which work as a walking billboard as people carry and use them wherever they go, while helping reduce waste caused by disposable plastic water bottles.
Make an App for That: A successful iPhone app keeps people engaged with your brand all the time, and sends the message that your company is keeping up with current trends and technologies. Be sure your application provides functionalities and solutions that speak directly to your customer base. If you work mainly with business-to-business clients, for instance, you can design a calendar app that helps keep track of business meetings while adding special dates and events that promote your own business. When you give the application away to existing customers and sell it on the open market, your promotional item becomes a profit center instead of an expense!
Go Beyond Coupons: In today’s Internet age, coupons have gone online by providing daily deals on growing websites such as,,, and more. People check out these sites to try something new while saving money. When you offer deals and discounts on items that new customers might not normally pay full price for, such as spa services or meals for half off, you can significantly expand your customer base to include people who never knew about you before. And when people find a good deal, they’ll tell their friends! So start spreading the word about your business.
Fight for a Cause: Teaming up with a nonprofit organization or helping to support a community event can help both your business as well as a good cause. Some consumers may feel they cannot afford to donate money to an organization, so they are more likely to support a cause that offers a service or product in return. Furthermore, when they know their money is going toward something they believe in, they won’t feel as bad spending a little more. Chicago credit card processor BluePay, for example, donates a portion of its proceeds each month from new merchants to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® fight against breast cancer. When new merchants sign up for a merchant account with BluePay, they receive credit card processing services while donating to breast cancer research.
Get Eventful: Invite your community and potential customers to a special event held onsite, so that people can discover firsthand what your business has to offer. If you’re in the food industry, plan a sampling party that gives people a taste of the types of food and drink your business offers. Provide live music and get a chance to mingle with your customers and get to know your community. A factory tour can give customers a behind-the-scenes look at your products and company operations, and after the tour you can offer gift bags with additional promotional items (Bamboo T-shirts! Reusable water bottles!).
Create a Social Media Buzz: With all these events and online coupons and iPhone applications that are promoting your small business, you need to get the word out! Market your unique promotional items though social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. You can even increase your social media followers by offering promotional items every time a person follows your business profile. From there, you can let your fans and customers know whenever you’ve developed a new application, or if you are holding a wine tasting event, or even just to start a conversation about hot industry topics. Engaging with your customers helps build lasting relationships that will keep people trusting, talking about and returning to your business.
Get creative with your promotional items! Take a close look at your customers and your target audience, and offer fun, useful ways for them to start talking about your small business. Pretty soon, you won’t just be floating among those bigger fishes – you’ll be swimming laps toward success!
About the Author: Jacqui MacKenzie is a writer for Straight North, a premier Chicago Internet marketing agency that works with BluePay, a leader in small business credit card processing solutions. To start a discussion on effective interactive marketing strategies, visit the Straight North Facebook page.


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