Surprise Them with Your Metaphorical Handshake

open shopBusiness cards are still the handshake of the business world, but the standard design is predictable. Printing business cards online has become the course de rigueur because it is cost-effective, customizable and fast. When you’re creating your business cards, try to think outside the box so that people will actually read and retain your card. Try printing a relevant funny cartoon on the front instead of your headshot. On the back, print a coupon or secret code to a special part of your website reserved for invited guests only. There are many fun and playful ways to draw them in.

Create a Club To Build Rapport With Your Target Market

Consider creating a buying club for your business that compensates your loyal customers. You could offer reduced rates on merchandise or service according to certain tiers that your customers reach as they spend more. For example, if they’ve bought $500 worth of handmade soap, all their future purchases are 5 percent off. After $1,000 spent, they receive 10 percent off, plus free shipping, etc.

Broadcast for Free

Television commercials are beyond the budget of most small businesses. But thanks to YouTube and other social media channels, your business can garner more engaged viewers than even the biggest television networks can deliver. Your YouTube commercial needn’t look like you’re trying to sell anything. Create an informational short video about your product like Dr. Bronner of the now-ubiquitous Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. Using the soap example, film your soap-making process. Emphasize how your soap is better than other handmade soaps because you source organic products. In fact, include a still shot of the lavender farm where you source your essential oils. Another idea is to use humor to sell your product. Make a funny video entitled “What the World Would Look Like Without Soap.”

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Make a Visual Statement

Dr. Bronner filled his liquid soap label space with verses from the Bible. You may not agree with his beliefs, but you have to admit his products stand out on store shelves. Don’t let your labels be stuffy and blend in with your competitors. Dream up some out-of-this-world images or words to draw in customers. One idea is to have a contest to challenge others to design your label for you. The winner gets free soap for a year. This really gets people thinking deeply about your product and also gives them positive feelings about it. You can advertise the contest on YouTube and have contestants register on your web site. This way you could also gain demographic information and an opt-in mailing list.

As a female small-business owner, you aren’t naïve. You know that it still takes money to make money. But you can thrust your business profile over the top with a very limited budget as long as you’re willing to push the envelope of some traditional marketing rules. Don’t be afraid to take calculated marketing risks as long as they align with your brand image and corporate sensibilities.

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