Promoting Your Business

Promotion refers to marketing activities that create awareness of your business and/or product. These activities get the word out so potential customers know what you have to offer. Promotion also includes activities such as community involvement, sponsorship of special events and giving away specialty items (keychains, hats, pens). These activities allow you to subtly promote your product or company because the focus is on the event or specialty item. Your company's name is simply associated with the event or specialty item.

The type of promotional activities you choose helps to create and affirm your company image. For example, if you offer free water bottles (with your company logo on them) to participants in a race to raise funds for breast cancer research, your company will be associated with caring about health issues affecting women.

Community Involvement and Special Events
Because your community supports your business, it is a good business practice to support your community. Community means more than just a location. Community also can refer to specific groups of people, such as the Hispanic community. The great thing about participating in community events and programs is that it's a win-win for both you and the community.

When choosing an event or program to support, set specific goals for your participation that provide tangible results. For example, if you choose to serve on the board of directors of a local woman's shelter, your goal may be to network with other board members for business opportunities. Or, sponsoring a highway cleanup for a portion of a well-traveled road puts your name in front of potential customers. You should also look for events and programs with natural tie-ins that reinforce the image you want to have. For example, sponsor a golf tournament if you run a sporting goods store.

You should also consider the resources you have available for community relations, such as time, equipment, products, facilities or money. If all you have is time, find an organization or program that needs your skills. If you have a product or facilities to offer, but no time, find an organization that would be helped by using your facility or product.

Types of Community Involvement and Special Events

Shows, displays and exhibits
The most typical of these is the trade show at which you host an exhibit, speak, and/or host an event.
Road shows
An exhibit or presentation that you take on the road or to several locations in your town.
Fairs
Consumer job fairs, health fairs
Parades or pageants
Depending on the type of your business, this might be a fun and economical promotional outlet for you.
Athletic competitions
Fun runs, bike races, and sponsored walks
Entertainment and cultural events
Shakespeare in the Park or a Designer Showhouse
Commercial displays
If you have a storefront, you might use your window display to tie into seasonal themes or community activities.
Stunts
Your imagination is the only limit here. But be careful - stunts backfire as often as often as they succeed. Be sure to adequately publicize your stunt and make it unusual enough to gain attention.
Banquets, luncheons, style shows or meetings
Sponsor or co-sponsor an event for a local chapter of an organization (whose members are your target audience).
Volunteer (or accept a nomination) to serve on the board of directors of a not-for-profit organization.
Not-for-profit organizations are always looking for people interested in supporting their cause. Not only will you feel good about what you do, but it is a great networking opportunity.
Participate in community activities
Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras or Earth Day celebrations.

Specialty Items
Your office and home are probably full of them. A keychain with a realtor's name stamped on it, a cap with a company's name embroidered on it or a yardstick with the local hardware store's name.

These are specialty items, also called give-aways or promotional items. Specialty items are a way to get - and keep - your name in front of prospects. You can spend a few cents to thousands of dollars for a specialty item. One thing is certain: there's a specialty item you can use to promote your business if that is part of your promotional plan.