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Friday, March 15, 2013

5 No-Cost Ideas for Generating Business

New business is the lifeblood of your organization. But generating new business can be difficult, especially if you're working on a tight budget. The good news is that stirring up new business for your company doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, with a little creativity, you can bring in new customers without spending a dime.

Here are five ideas to help get the creative juices flowing:
  1. Write an article
    As the owner of a small business, it's assumed that you possess some level of industry expertise. For example, if you own a music store you probably know a little something about music. Why not put your expertise to work for your business?
Think about writing an article and having it published in a local or regional publication. Most publications are open to submissions from new writers with expertise and will be willing to mention your business in an "About the Author" paragraph at the bottom of the article. If you have expertise but lack writing ability, recruit a friend to help you craft a quality article that is informational and draws attention to your products.
  1. Craft a press release
    Another way to generate publicity for your business is to generate a press release and distribute it to local media outlets. Reporters are always on the lookout for good story ideas with a local angle. You may not get a call right away, but who knows? Maybe a reporter will be in a pinch for a story idea at the exact moment she receives your press release.
  2. Pursue informal reciprocal marketing agreements
    Reciprocal marketing agreements are a fantastic way for small business owners to band together to promote each other’s businesses. Find and partner with another local business that offers products and services that do not compete with your business. For example, if you own a hardware store you could partner with a flower shop.
Then agree to distribute a copy of your partner's brochure or business card along with every purchase from your store. If you are able to partner with businesses that offer complementary (but not competitive) products and services, both businesses may reap noticeable profits.
  1. Send an e-mail to your existing customer base
    One of the great things about e-mail is that it is free. If your business has a mechanism to gather e-mail addresses from existing clients and customers, you may be able to generate additional business through an e-mail promotion.
Anti-spam laws make this a little tricky. However, if your customers have indicated they want to receive information about sales and promotions by e-mail, it shouldn't be a problem.
  1. Give something away
    Okay, this isn't exactly free, but it can be very inexpensive. Giveaways are a tried and true staple of low-cost business generation. Maybe you have a box of printed t-shirts left over from last year's Labor Day sale. Distribute flyers announcing a one-day sale and that the first 50 customers in the door get a free t-shirt. You'll free up some space in the storage room and bring in some new business at the same time.

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