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In 2016 the Death Wish Coffee Company—a small business consisting of only eleven employees—captured the attention of small businesses across the country with a Super Bowl ad about a group of determined Vikings rowing in the high seas. The multi-million dollar commercial was funded by a Quickbooks campaign that catapulted the Death Wish Coffee Company into the spotlight, resulting in a flurry of calls and online orders.
If it weren’t for that ad, points out The Balance, who knows how long it would have taken Death Wish Coffee to become an internet sensation.
If you’re like most small business owners, a Super Bowl ad is way off your marketing radar.
Fortunately, you don’t need one to get your small business noticed. What you do need, says The Balance “are some very creative, inventive, and bold ideas to breakthrough.” Whether you’re a florist shop, a car mechanic, or a small town dentist office, the key is to be original.
Below you’ll find seven ways you can draw attention to your small business and increase your foot traffic.
7 Creative Ways to Get Your Small Business Noticed
1.Don’t Follow the Crowd
“One of the biggest mistakes you can make when promoting your small business is to copy the competition,” says The Balance. Naturally, you want to do what the competition is doing when they’re successful. But consumers aren’t going to shop with you because you’re copying a successful business…they’ll just go directly to them.
What you need to do is be a Purple Cow, as Seth Godin puts it in his book of the same name. In other words, be different. If you’re a florist, for example, you could drop your prices instead of raising them on Valentines Day like everyone else.
Not only will this draw attention, but it will send a new wave of customers your way, and convey the idea that you’re “the only florist who actually gives a darn about the tradition. From there, you have the potential to gain a loyal following of hundreds of new customers.
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2. Sponsor a Challenge or Competition
Competitions are popular and nearly always viral. Eating challenges, for example, bring in a lot of business to restaurants and have the potential to make loads of extra cash.
For example, you could offer free meals for people who completely clean their plate. The thing is, the meal is so big, only 1 in 100 people will actually be able to do it. That means you have a lot of people paying full price for a huge plate of food! The best part is, they’re willing to hand over their money for the chance to win themselves a T-shirt, a photo on the wall, and 25% off for life.
If you don’t own a restaurant or bar, create a challenge based on your business. Own a sporting goods store? Offer a prize for anyone who can hit a golf ball 500 yards in the simulator. Bookstore owners can offer a prize for the person who correctly answers quiz questions on a best-selling novel.
People love to prove they can win a challenge—especially if they’ll get something free for their efforts—so competitions are a great way to draw attention to your business.
3. Go For the Shock Factor
Do something that creates a stir or generates buzz because it’s unthinkable or outrageous.
A restaurant called The Heart Attack Grill does this by offering huge “quadruple-bypass” burgers, spanking customers who don’t finish all their food and letting customers weighing over 350 pounds eat for free.
As crazy as it sounds, if you take something typical and completely turn it on its head, you just might attract more attention to your business than you can handle!
4. Do a Good Deed
Your brand’s purpose and mission makes a difference. When you help out a local charity, not only do you build goodwill with your customers and the local community, but the charitable organization benefiting from your kindness gets some much-needed funding and publicity.
But guess what? You get publicity, too, so it’s a win-win situation. You can never go wrong with helping out others!
5. Ride the Coattails of Popular Trends
Pay attention to what people are talking about. What are they sharing on social media? What are the big trends in the news?
Associating your business with something that’s trending provides you with an easy way to connect with a huge audience. For example, a local dentist in Colorado handed out fidget spinners at a school fair in 2017. Although the fidget spinners don’t really have anything to do with dentistry, the dentist cleverly promoted them as a way to “keep the kids entertained while you’re in the chair.” With the fidget spinner trend at its height, the dentist’s exhibit drew enormous lines.
Each spinner was branded with the dentist’s contact info, which was a very cost-effective way to capitalize on the trend’s short-lived popularity.
6. Issue a Press Release
Sending out a press release—published online or in print—is a simple way to get some free business promotion.
Just make sure your press release actually contains information that is newsworthy and engaging enough to capture people’s interest.
Do you have a fabulous new product? Have you been involved in sponsoring a charity event? Has your company recently won an award? These are all examples of noteworthy news that will garner free promotion for your business.
7. Use Your Hobbies & Leisure Activities to Promote Your Business
The Balance mentions one savvy businessman who relaxes by playing in a rock band. Every time the newspaper mention’s his band’s gigs, they also mention the name of his business!
Whether you like to use your spare time participating in a community restoration project, surfing, or hitting the gym as often as possible, there are numerous ways to promote your business while you enjoy your favorite leisure activities.
When you go hiking or rock-climbing, for instance, you could wear a T-shirt that has your business logo on it. You could also carry your business cards everywhere you go so you’re ready to hand them out when an opportunity presents itself. If you get in the habit of promoting your business everywhere you go, suggests The Balance, you’ll be surprised how word-of-mouth builds.
Whether you’re a florist, an apparel boutique or a local toy store, marketing is a crucial component of your business’s success. The great thing is, promoting your small business doesn’t mean you have to make a multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad.
But as The Balance points out, with so much competition and noise, you’ll need some creative, inventive, and bold ideas to breakthrough. Being different, or original is the key to standing out from the crowd.
Use the 7 creative ideas above as a springboard for getting your brand the attention it deserves!
Also published on Medium.