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Contests, Cross-Promotion, and Parties: Building a Local Brand with Customer Engagement

 

It’s no secret that small business owners have to wear a lot of hats. Chances are that you’re not just the visionary and the CEO, you’re also the top salesperson, the marketing guru, the social media maven, the R&D department, and of course the customer satisfaction expert. You’d rather not be stretched so thin, since juggling all of these efforts is taking you away from doing what you do best, but right now your staffing budget is limited or even non-existent. As a result, you’re probably always on the lookout for hacks and hints help your budget bloom on a shoestring.

One area in which a little creativity can go a long way toward making up a budget deficit? Marketing! Read on for free or low-cost initiatives that are easy to implement and effective in promoting your brand!

 

Holding a Contest Is a Win-Win

Everyone loves the excitement of a contest, not to mention the chance to win prizes. A contest can be conducted entirely through social media — make sure to create a custom hashtag for the event, and ask followers to share, comment, or react in order to be entered into the giveaway.

You can also go old-school and invite customers to visit you in person to participate in the contest. Especially if your business benefits from foot traffic, this can be a great way to show folks what you’re all about.

 

Partner Up!

Giving out prize packs is great if your business is an apparel company, vegan bakery, gift shop, or nail salon. But what if you run a dental practice or body shop, or are a tax accountant or life coach? Some enterprises don’t lend themselves to gift baskets full of products or even gift certificates for freebies.

If your services are a little harder to market, consider teaming up with other local businesses. Maybe the Mexican restaurant next door would kick in a gift card good for free tacos if your dental practice does the heavy lifting of promoting and hosting the contest.

Or maybe a contest isn’t the way to go. Consider partnering up with Welcome Wagon or organizing a hyper-local event for Small Business Saturday. Cross-promotion is always a win-win, so get together with neighboring shops and services to see what creative ideas you can come up with!

 

Host an Open House

Another way to spread the word about your brand is by throwing a party! You can invite community members to your location for an open house, a meet-and-greet, a customer appreciation event, a fundraiser, a girls’ night out — you get the idea. This is another great opportunity to team up with other local small businesses. A massage therapist might offer five-minute mini-massages, a caterer or food truck could provide refreshments, a local winery can conduct tastings.

Offer discounts to give people a reason to return and patronize your business at a later date, but expect to do plenty of business the night of the event, too. For even more entertainment, hire a jazz trio or a local rock band to play a set, raffle off some prizes throughout the evening, and hand out small gifts or even discount counts to anyone who signs up for your mailing list or follows you on Facebook.

 

Wrapping Up

With the holiday season right around the corner, there’s no better time to start thinking about creative, clever marketing tactics to help your business and brand get the recognition they deserve. We’d love to hear about any fun events, giveaways or other promotions that you have had success with, or even that you have participated in as a customer, so share your thoughts in the comment section!

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