The last year saw an explosion of new, do-it-yourself social and mobile marketing tools. These tools are generally affordable and easy to use for the typical small business owner.
Does ease and affordability translate into exciting, consistent marketing that drives customers back to your front door? That’s not always the case. As a small business owner, you may have the will, and even the time to devote to the shiny new service, but you didn’t go into business to be a marketer. I’ve seen plenty of owners recycle the same tired 20 percent-off coupon or worse—give up marketing altogether in exasperation.
Here is your brass-tacks guidebook to help you brainstorm your next promotion.
Businesses often use specials to avoid excessive price discounting or to highlight new food or inventory. Specials can be tied to specific days, times or channels, or they can be evergreen—Monday wing night 5 to 7 p.m., early bird specials, and seasonal specials are all great examples.
Giveaways, Gifts and Freebies
Everyone loves free stuff. So give away a prize to the 100th follower on Facebook or the 500th subscriber via e-mail. Fans always love the proverbial T-shirt giveaway and that’s free advertising for you. And the word “free” is viewed almost always as the most powerful word in all of marketing.
Trivia Contests, Challenges and Scavenger Hunts
You ask customers to perform one or more challenges in return for some type of reward. The challenge is typically to gather a list of physical items, but can also be simply figuring out a puzzle or finding particular information. Challenges can be performed by individuals or groups and can have one or more winners. Simple example: An online baby gifts store owner asked customers to find the birth date of her baby daughter on her website in return for a discount on a shirt for Father’s Day.
Sweepstakes, Instant Win and Raffles
Sweepstakes are a game of chance. Customers submit a free entry form and one or more prizes are awarded to the random winner. You can giveaway free food for a year, free video rentals, or even free haircuts for a year, like recent clients of ours are doing. Sweepstakes help you bulk up your fan list and create excitement. Text message providers even enable winners to be drawn on the spot. Sweepstakes are governed by strict sweepstakes law so you’ll need to write down your office rules and follow some process. Of course, the original sweepstakes could well be dropping your business card in the restaurant’s fishbowl to win a free lunch and one of the all-time favorites? McDonald’s Monopoly game. Check out raffledog for more ideas.
Some of the most popular promotions are the simplest to run. Money off promotions are typically coupon-based so they have the added benefit of providing trackability.
Throw a Sale
A well-constructed sale can often be the most effective tool you have to spur revenues. Try some of these and be sure to limit the sale to a set number of days and times: 7 Days of Christmas, Back to School Sale, Summer Preview 2011, Labor Day Clearance Sale, 10% Off Every Tuesday, or a VIP Private Sale.