Small Business Tax Center
Small Business Ideas, Grants &
Plans to Start & Run a Business:

Small Business Grants
Network in Cyberschmooz Community Ask Questions Questions and Answers Share Tips Small Business Ideas List Your Business Business Advice from Idea Cafe Experts Coffee Talk with Experts Starting A Business Business Plan Biz Planning | Sample Plans Small Business Ideas Idea Name Your Biz Name Plan Your Biz Plan Financing $ Starting a Business Do It! Running your Business Marketing Tips Promotional Merchandise Marketing Tips Marketing | Sales | Customers Human Resources HR | Employees | Contractors Legal Forms & Tax Information Legal | Biz Forms Managing a Business Managing | Operations
Financing Resources Financing Your Business E Commerce & Webhosting eCommerce Take Out Info Trade Publications FREE Trade Publications Business Books Biz Books Your Own Business Small Business News Small Biz News Gen X Biz Gen X Biz Work at Home Work @ Home Business Information The Fridge - Biz Info on Ice Destress Send Awards Send Awards & Greetings Yoga At Your Desk Yoga @ Your Desk Fun Guide Guide to Find FUN Online About Idea Cafe Press Idea Cafe has received Idea Cafe in the News Idea Cafe's Kudos Kudos for Idea Cafe Advertise on Idea Cafe Advertise on Idea Cafe Privacy Policy Privacy Policy Contact Idea Cafe Contact Idea Cafe Link to Idea Cafe Link to/from Idea Cafe Join Idea Cafe
Search Idea Cafe Site Directory Site Map Online directory to business resources Biz Web Guide

Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

color business bar

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!


Small Business Tax CenterIdea Cafe HomeSign UpBiz Grant CenterCyberSchmoozCoffee Talk with ExpertsPeople in Biz ProfilesStarting Your BizBiz PlanningRunning Your BizFREE Trade PublicationsMarketingFinancing Your BizHuman ResourcesLegal & Biz FormsManaging Your BizeCommerceYou and Your BizGen XWork@HomeThe FridgeDe-StressSend an AwardSend an eGreetingYoga @ Your DeskWeb GuideIdea Cafe in the NewsAbout Idea CafeAdvertise on Idea CafeContact UsPrivacy PolicySite MapSmall Biz News

Copyright 1995-2019, Idea Cafe Inc. Downloads are for personal use only, not for resale to others, and may not be reprinted in any form without written permission from Idea Cafe Inc.

DISCLAIMER: We hope whatever you find on this site is helpful, but be cautioned that it may not apply to your own situation, or be totally current at any given time. Idea Cafe Inc. and all of its current and past experts, sponsors, advertisers, agents, contractors and advisors disclaim all warranties with regard to anything found anywhere on this family of websites, quoted from, or sent from Idea Cafe. and its related sites, publications and companies. We also take no responsibility for comments published by others on these pages.

TRADEMARKS: The following are Registered Trademarks or Servicemarks of DevStart, Inc.: Idea Cafe®, Online Coffee Break®, The Small Business Gathering Place®, Take out Info®, Biz Bar & Grill®, Complaint-O-Meter®, A Fun Approach to Serious Business™, CyberSchmooz™, and BizCafe™.