You can’t get customers without exposure and you must invest some money to get that exposure. But you don’t have to go broke doing it.
Following the old, basic marketing model – putting a sign with your company’s name on the door; sprinkling your advertising budget across print, radio and television campaigns; and paying a graphic designer for a slick brochure or pamphlet – minimizes your impact in the marketplace. An important step in expanding your customer base is gaining exposure to generate interest in your brand. And if you were thinking that you couldn’t get a lot of exposure because of a limited budget, keep in mind that there are always effective, low-cost marketing options to attract potential customers.
Here’s a look at a couple of ideas to stretch your advertising dollars.
Just under a decade ago, only the large companies were using their websites as effective marketing tools. Today, almost every business needs one. Your website serves as an essential piece of your overall marketing plan that fuels a sense of legitimacy for your business. If you don’t have a website, potential customers may be turned off because these days, the perception is this: if you are a legitimate professional, you have a website. It’s as important as having a phone number for your business.
The options for the size, appearance and functionality of a website are endless. But a presence on the Web is essential for you to take your company beyond your word-of-mouth customer base. As you look into planning your website, remember to budget for website design, development, hosting, maintenance and content management.
Trade shows bring a targeted group of businesses to one location, and the event is marketed toward that industry’s target audience. When you participate as a vendor at a trade show, you know the customers walking in the door are more likely than the general public to be interested in your product or service. As attendees walk past your trade show booth, your display will introduce the customer to your company before they formally meet you. And you must come to the event prepared to sell – your team should be skilled in delivering your elevator pitch, know the details of your product or service and be able answer any questions potential customers may ask.
To make sure you attract attention and stand out from the crowd of exhibitors, you must make a smart decision about where to purchase your trade show display. If you are working with a limited budget, tabletop displays make a big statement for a small investment.
And there are more advantages to tabletop displays than just price. Larger, more elaborate floor displays are often heavy, cumbersome, must be transported in several pieces and have a complex assembly that requires help from more than one person. Tabletop displays, on the other hand, are reasonably compact and lightweight, easily transportable (whether by airplane or car) and simple to put together. Many come with lighting, a shipping case, and a variety of add-on options to make your display more elaborate. If you are looking to fine-tune that polished look, remember to add table throws, trade show flooring and literature racks. If you aren’t quite sure which type of trade show display you want or need, you may be able to rent a more sophisticated model for a significantly lower price.
It seems that advertising has sneaked its way into every nook and cranny of our existence – and from your local weather broadcast to the Olympics, companies large and small have learned that sponsorships are advertising at its best. Companies often sponsor well-publicized events to create an association in the consumer’s psyche between charitable giving and their company and/or product – even companies that are well-known household names. McDonald’s was an official sponsor for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games; Altria (the parent company of Kraft Foods and Philip Morris) sponsors domestic violence prevention programs; from children’s health in New Zealand to classrooms for students in England, Microsoft spends millions of dollars each year in charitable giving; and scores of small and large businesses offer funding to support events and causes in their local community, from cancer walks and 10K marathons to your local after-school programs, symphony, little league teams and amateur sports leagues.
No matter the size of your company, there is a charitable organization, cause or event that could use your dollars for support. Of course, the more money you give, the more exposure you will receive. But, whether you give $100 or $1,000, your company will receive some exposure.
Keep in mind these strategies are just a few ideas as part of an overall effective marketing plan. You can also participate in speaking engagements, do volunteer work, get memberships with clubs and associations, offer give-away promotions as well and etc. But through an effective website, regular trade show participation and a consistent sponsorship strategy, you will be maximizing your marketing dollars for quality exposure without blowing your budget.
About the Author
Mat Kelly is the president of ExhibitDEAL, the Original Exhibit Wholesaler specializing in trade show displays. The company provides eight and six-foot tabletop displays as well as custom displays, literature racks, trade show flooring and table throws. http://www.exhibitdeal.com/