When it comes to promoting your business, there is no one perfect way to bring in new customers. Creative marketing ideas can encompass anything that is out of the ordinary and that your competition is not already doing. Marketing doesn't have to cost a fortune or be particularly complicated. The key is to find an idea that captures the interest of current and potential customers so that they will turn out in droves.
Creative Marketing Ideas to Get You Started
Throw a Bash
There's always a reason to throw a party, so what better way to get out the word about your business? Start by coming up with a theme, such as Flower Power for a florist shop or Midnight Munchies for a bakery. Once you have a theme, design and send out invitations to your current customers. Offer a gift if they bring along a friend or two.
This is also a good opportunity to invite reviewers and media. Contact the local media; they may run an article about the event, which garners you additional free promotions.
Write Up a Storm
You know your business better than anyone, so write a book that will help your customers. If you run a hair salon, you could write a book about choosing the best hairstyle for your age and face shape, for example. Offer the book as a free e-book download on your website or publish through a print on demand system such as lulu.com or Amazon.com. For additional promotional opportunities, send copies out for review and line up book signing and speaking events.
Stage a Coup
Is the competition beating you down? Some types of businesses have a lot of competitors to contend with, such as restaurants and tanning salons. The key to gaining a loyal following is to offer a unique promotion that no one else is offering and then keep those customers come back for similar offerings. This could be anything from a family day out complete with hot dogs, entertainment and bouncy houses for the kids to a deep discount that may not earn you money but will likely bring you a new customer.
The key to staging a coup is to research what your competitors have to offer, figure out where they are lacking and fill that gap.
Create a Flash Mob Scene
Flash mobs get a lot of media attention and are fun for customers to participate in. Think about what types of things represent your business and decide on whether you want the mob to perform a musical number or a dance or both. Once you have all the players in place, text them a day and time to show up for the flash mob.
Be sure to leak the mob to a media person or two and video tape the scene so you can add it to YouTube for ongoing promotions. It might be a good idea to have an event going on in your store so that those who stop to watch the flash mob will filter through your doors once the mob is over.
Sponsor an Event or Team
A good way to get your business's name out in the community is by sponsoring a sports team or putting your money (and name) behind local events. For example, a dentist's office might sponsor a local church event to reach out to the membership of a large church. A sporting goods store might provide uniforms for the local little league with a small space for their store name on the back of the uniform. This tactic not only gets your name out there, but it also creates the perception of your business caring about the community.
Utilize the Space in Front of Your Store
If you own a brick and mortar store, use the space in front of the store to draw in new customers. Think outside of the box and use things like sidewalk chalk that points the way into your store. Use a sign to advertise something unique. Have an employee hand out samples in front along with coupons for a later visit.
You could also work with other businesses and create a scavenger hunt. Local people follow the clues from one store to the next, collecting samples and coupons along the way. Enter the customers into a drawing for a main prize all the businesses can chip in to provide, such as a weekend getaway to a local bed and breakfast. By collecting the entries, the businesses also collect mailing information and can reach out to these potential customers at a later date.
Use Social Media
There are different ways you can utilize social media sites to gain new customers. Offer a special gift for anyone who shares an image (can be an ad for a special offering) on their wall or for the 1000th person to "like" or follow your page. Once you have a nice number of people following you, take advantage of that potential customer demographic by offering specials or even doing a survey to see what they are looking for in your type of business and then offer that.
Create a meme that other social media users will want to share with friends and family. Try to keep the meme lighthearted and funny or informational and it may just go viral. In the lower left corner, you can include text with your website address or company name.
List events on social media that are occurring at your store and have your customers invite others.
Create Special Online Offers
Facebook has a feature that allows you to create a special offer. This offer can be shared both with your own friends as well as shared by others. The offer can be anything from a discount at your store to a free e-book download.
You can also tie social media to your brick and mortar business. Ask your current clients to "check-in" when they arrive at your store. You may even want to give them a small discount or prize when they do so.
Offer printable coupons by posting images on your social media pages. Potential customers simply print and bring to your business to redeem.
Reach New Customers While Keeping Current Ones
While you are using these creative marketing ideas to reach new customers, don't forget to take care of your current customers. A card on a birthday or a thank-you of a free gift when they bring someone new to your store goes a long way to creating customer loyalty that will pay off with word-of-mouth advertising and a customer who will stay with you for a long time.