Many small businesses and entrepreneurs promote their products and services during events. Whether it is trade shows and conventions, or local events like festivals and farmer’s markets getting a good return on your investment can be tough.
With a creative marketing mindset events are still a great marketing tool if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and goes into “guerilla marketing” mode. Creativity is the key!
No amount of marketing or freebies will compel people to listen to your message or take a chance on your business if what you are offering doesn’t provide real value. So, it is time to get creative!
Local Outreach: Think Referrals Before You Up Your Ad Spend
Many of your past customers are either employees of companies or in business themselves and have contacts and friends they talk with regularly. This lead source is often overlooked, and you’ve got direct access to them.
Send direct invites to past customers to events your business will be attending and ask them to pass it on to one or two people they know that might be interested. Make it more enticing by having a form that asks who referred them and providing an incentive for the person that referred the most attendees.
Connect With Local Clubs, Associations & Groups
Many not-for-profit groups have charters that state their members will be informed about opportunities that will enhance their membership, career, and education.
Put together a promotional kit announcing your event and the benefits of attending for members of relevant organizations.
You can also offer the association something for free or in exchange that is feasible in your line of business for promoting your business or the event.
Don’t miss the opportunity of offering your services as a speaker at some of the group or association meetings, and even bringing some event brochures with you after you have the leader’s approval.
Hit The Streets With Useful Promo Materials To Build Relationships
A fun outreach program is to implement a Bookmark Brigade on behalf of the businesses. These are unique announcement bookmarks printed with your event or business and Website on one side and the local business name on the other.
Make them big and bright, and get a team loaded with bookmarks to visit every business shop, coffee shop, bookstore, grocery stores, newsstands, cleaners, music stores, and libraries all over the area.
Give something to the manager or in-store sales personnel as you do this. Maybe a free T-shirt or pass to the event. Some stores may even let you hang a poster or calendar (check out Calendar.com for $5 off $40 + Free Shipping with code FALLFIVE) where you can put stickers of your business logo or website that hang around that business all season or all year. The printing bill is bound to run less than half or full-page ads in the relevant weekend newspapers.
Take Advantage of the Perks of Local and Area Memberships
Do you belong to local chambers of commerce, networking groups, or masterminds? Dive into the list of benefits that came with the membership you paid for and make sure you are leveraging every single one of them. Can you post on their blog? Get in the weekly email newsletter? Get preferential seating or event space with your membership? If you don’t know, it is time to ask.
If your business is working an event, the event sponsors and exhibitors are your best allies. Negotiate favorable logo and listing on the sponsor’s website. And remember, they may have a support network of resources for recruiting attendees in place that you can leverage.
Use any of the tools that come with the partnering with the event and check if you can access to their members for cross-marketing. That means you also provide the sponsors with marketing collateral such as banners, posters, or tabletop signs they can post around their offices and at the event.
Key Points of Local Outreach & Promotion
- Build in a tracking method on each marketing piece, such as unique URLs and/or codes.
- Be ready to offer incentives such as discounts or gifts to gain access to clubs or sponsors members, lists or audience.
- Have the appropriate marketing toolkit ready before you start. It should contain such things as Web banners, email templates, sample sales copy, and special offer announcements packaged for easy access.
Local Outreach Campaigns Still Work
A good outreach program promotes special relationships with the local community and customers. Using guerilla marketing tactics in addition to your digital marketing tactics takes creativity and elbow grease, but intentional outreach creates loyalty that can’t be matched with paid ads and inbound marketing.
Questions or comments about small business local marketing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or email me.
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