With the economy as it is today, many people are very passionate about shopping at local businesses to support small, family-owned companies and young start-up shops.  But how do you catch the attention of this potential client base?  You can draw these new patrons to your local business with creative marketing tactics that are low-cost, quick, and simple, keeping the control in your hands as your reach out to the greater community.

Not Your Typical Newspaper Ad

You’d be surprised how many people actually read their local newspaper.  Advertisements do not usually cost so much to purchase, and you can usually specify where in the paper you would like your advertisement to be placed.  Consider a non-standard slogan, such as an interesting photo or outrageous quote, that will catch the reader’s attention.

Wooden Vinyl Signs

Nothing gives a better impression than a really beautiful advertisement – and a custom-made wooden vinyl sign is the perfect way to accomplish this particular marketing strategy.  Those who see your unique design on such a sign will find it memorable.  You can order a wooden vinyl sign to your exact specifications, and place them around town in very visible locations where the community typically passes or gathers.

Giftcard Giveaways

Free money is a great advertising tactic – especially when it doesn’t come as a big loss to your business.  Give a small amount of money to potential customers for free, through a giftcard or coupon mailing campaign.  Or, ask your current patrons to spread the word about your business and as a reward, give them a giftcard in a small denomination to say thank you.  It might be a very small gesture, but it will help you build up your local client base fast.

Supporting Local Theatre Projects

If you’ve ever been involved in community theatre, you know that these local artists are always turning to nearby businesses for donations and help with their productions.  Contact administrators and directors of your local theatre organizations, and ask if they would be interested in letting you advertise with a sign or within the brochure of their next production if you give a small donation to help them cover their costs of putting together their play or show.  Similarly, ask local bands, orchestras, and other music groups if they would credit you on their website, in their CD leaflet, or mention you as supporters at their events if you contribute to them financially.  Your image will be shared within the community as caring, generous and helpful, and many fans of these groups will consider purchasing your product or services!  Remember, the arts community is a primary way in which a community forms in a town or city, and these events will draw lots of patrons who will be exposed to your advertising.

Give it Away for Free!

Sometimes, the more counterintuitive approach is best when it comes to marketing a local business.  Instead of giving a discount, invite members of the surrounding town to try out your product, free of charge.  Specify a date and time – such as one particular Monday between 12:00 and 2:00pm, in which you give away your free cupcakes, coffees, books, or whatever product you make or sell.  Those who come will be very impressed by your product, and will be sure to tell the story about getting free goodies to their friends and family, too.

This is a guest post by Nate Miller, an occasional guest-blogger and a full-time marketing consultant. His main interest areas are local business marketing. Nate currently represents Prints on Wood a large-format printing company specialized in wood signs. When not working or campaigns Nate likes to travel, his favorite destinations can be found in South-East Asia.

Unique Marketing Strategies For Local Businesses