Posted by : Amanda Stein Thursday, December 20, 2012

Every small business owner knows that advertising is important to continued success. Some of the more traditional methods of advertising can be rather expensive, and others just aren't effective. To promote your small business in today's world, you need to be creative and personable. Get to know others. Become well-known and well-liked in the community. Let community members know who you are so they can begin to trust you. With this attitude, you can find great success with these four clever ways to promote your small business without alienating your potential clientele.

1. Speak at local events. Local organizations are always looking for members of the community to speak at their meetings. Libraries, commerce groups, clubs, associations, and local government meetings are excellent places to volunteer your time. You may not like the idea of giving a free seminar on your subject of expertise, but consider that people involved in such organizations tend to be powerful players in the community. Don't promote yourself, but make yourself stand out as a friendly, trusted expert in your field.

2. Blog. You don't have to know a lot about web design to make a successful blog. You just need to provide something useful to others. Highlight the benefits of your products and services. Offer discounts or special deals. Search engines help people find solutions to their problems, so you won't become relevant to the search engines until you become relevant to a common concern. If you have a lawn business, think about the common questions people have about lawn care. Blog about those issues frequently. Over time, people will find you, share your posts with their friends and contact your business.

3. Create YouTube videos. It doesn't take long for a video to go viral if it meets certain criteria. All viral videos are deemed by thousands of people to be funny, interesting, helpful, unique, entertaining, or memorable. If you have a story or a joke to tell related to your business, make a video. Think of YouTube videos as free commercials. Don't advertise openly, but include a link at the end of the video for people who want to know more about you and what you do.

4. Give away promotional products. Freebies such as shirts, hats, notepads, and screwdrivers have long been used to advertise in an unobtrusive way. Most people are willing to become walking billboards for anyone who gives them clothing. Almost everyone will take notes on a free notepad. You can even design promotional products that are particularly relevant to your business. For example, a plumber may consider giving away free plungers to his clients. The handles may be engraved with the plumber's name and phone number. The important thing here is to be creative. Small business owners can use promotional products to encourage new customers to become repeat customers.

Caitlin Murphy on behalf of FastSigns, specializing in customized promotional products.

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