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Marketing and advertising are illusions for many people; their theory, throw something against the wall and hope it will stick. Not so according to Alan Baker, President and Founder of Creative Marketing Concepts in Latham, New York. Alan,  a guest on my radio show indysmallbiz.com  gave me the scoop on what it takes to make it work. By the way, indysmallbiz.com provides information and tools for small business; look for blogs and podcasts by authors like myself who work with small businesses.

“Good marketing starts with good communication, says Alan, you must know who you are, what you do and know why a client should do business with you if you want to make it work. After that it takes lots of persistence and focus. With business being soft many companies start cutting expenses and often the first to go is the marketing. Businesses should cut programs that don’t show results but a good marketing program should be measurable. ”

Alan’s positive outlook shows in how he works with businesses. The key is to spread the word so that people know who you are even if times are tough. There are still customers with money and your job is to find them and entice them with your offers. A promotional piece is designed to provide added value to your customer and keep your business in the front of their mind. One of the things I found interesting is what Alan calls the “hobo pen.” I thought people bought pens so they could give them out for their customers to use. Alan assures me that the pen’s job is to travel from business to business and eventually wind up in a buyer’s hand. His trick; sign the restaurant   check with their pen and replace it with his pen!

Alan left us with three tips for using promotional materials that are worth noting:

1. Promotional materials are good for all size companies. Even the littlest of companies should have something to give their customers which has their brand and their logo. Products will successfully get your name out and keep it prominent in the market. I know whenever I pick up a pen, I always look at the name and the design of the pen. Promotional items can range from the usual coffee mugs, magnets, blankets, first aid kits and toys. In my case, I bought hot sauce bottles and Alan had a Red Hot Customer Service label made for me and a photo of my book.

2. Think about “spreading your name around” wherever you can. The object of promotional products is to maximize your profits and your investment. Before you choose your products set precise goals for your promotion. This will help you choose the right products for your business. Are you using the products to increase sales, show appreciation to loyal customers or to thank customers for buying your products? Not one size fits all so it’s important to have set goals.

3. Plan your promotions for the year. It’s wise to have a calendar for the year so you can plan how to spend your dollars. Holidays often mean larger expenditures, especially for your better customers so it’s wise to know what you have to spend.  Alan often helps his clients plan for the holidays as well as creating new ones for his customers. If Buca di Beppo can have a “Meatball Day” why can’t a mechanic have a “Wrench Day” and send out tiny wrenches with his name on them?

4. Get involved in Small Business Saturday.  This year (again)  it’s all about the SATURDAY following Thanksgiving when we continue to show our gratitude by supporting the lifeline of the American economy – our small businesses.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were nearly 28 million small businesses in the United States last year.  Over the past two decades, they created 65 percent of net new jobs.  Directly supporting the communities in which we live, every $100 spent in locally-owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures, according to the small business advocacy group The 3/50 Project. My suggestion, go big, go Made in America, tout your small business and be proud of what small businesses have done for our country.

You don’t have to make this one up; American Express is out there again waving the flag for small business and investing plenty of dollars in our behalf. According to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Spend Survey 2011 61% of consumers plan to shop at locally-owned clothing and accessories stores on November 26.

Check out on Facebook  for  Shop Small on November 26th.

Marketing tools and instore signage : http://bit.ly/sT1Xb4

You still have a few days left to get the “traveling pen” out there for Small Business Saturday.

 

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