The business landscape is saturated with advertisements. People have learned to block these things online and tune them out in real life. If you want to draw attention to your business, you’ll have to be creative—and people notice creativity. However, you do not have to stage an expensive publicity stunt or produce a humorous yet costly commercial that airs on TV. It’s possible to leverage unorthodox marketing on a budget, so here are a few ideas you can consider:
Capture people’s attention outside
If you have a brick and mortar location, try to capture people’s attention as they pass by. One of the most common ways of doing so is with air-powered “tube dancers” or custom feather flags. Motion and color will draw in people’s eyes, increasing the likelihood that they will look to see who the hubbub is for and possibly pay a visit inside.
You can also paint murals on your external walls, use chalk art on the sidewalk, put feather flags around your neighborhood, and take advantage of other visual media to catch the attention of passers-by. Many people love to window shop, but they cannot enter every business they see, so using flashy but not obnoxious marketing should encourage them to prioritize you.
Get involved with your community
One of the best things you can do is get involved with your community or a nonprofit organization. Not only will you benefit someone in need—which is the right thing to do—you will spread awareness about your business and bolster your reputation as an enterprise that isn’t entirely focused on profit. People want to feel good about their purchases, so they appreciate knowing that their money does a little something extra.
How great would it be if you sponsored a booth at your local craft fair, or had your name displayed on a banner at a nearby charity run? Participants will make a note of businesses that care—especially if you are small—and keep you in mind for the next time that they need your products or services.
Post live social media updates
Posting live social media updates does not mean live-Tweet everything that goes on behind-the-scenes at your business. One way to incentivize people to follow one of your channels, though, is to provide them with real-time benefits. If you are a bar, for instance, you can post on Instagram at 3:35 that happy hour starts at 4 to get people in early. If you are a retailer, post on Facebook on Friday that you are having a last-minute sale on Saturday. It never hurts to market such things ahead of time, of course, but your followers will probably mostly consist of people local to your area if you are a small brick-and-mortar business, so you can give them a reason to follow your channel and enable notifications for updates.
Host online contests
Want to generate buzz about your business online? One way to do so is by hosting a contest. Maybe you could ask people to submit photos on Instagram and tag them with a hashtag of your own creation, have them tweet stories about a topic you bring up, ask them to create short videos, or have people vote in polls. Contests do not need to be elaborate—people might not participate if you request too much of them, so content like photos are excellent because they are easy to create—and they are an inexpensive way to get people excited about your brand.
Establish yourself as a thought leader
This method is not precisely unorthodox because it’s something almost all businesses attempt to do, but there are creative ways of going about it: establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field. When you prove that you are knowledgeable about your industry, people are more likely to turn to you for your authority and supposed trustworthiness. So, write articles and publish them online (such as on your own blog or through guest-writing on other outlets), create infographics and post them on social media, host question-and-answer sessions with your followers and customers, attend industry events, and find different ways to cement your place in your field.
The federal government mandates that 25 percent of all government contracts go to businesses owned by women, minorities, and service-disabled veterans. If you are such a person, you can get your company certified by federal, state, or private organizations so that purchasing agents know you exist.
You need to promote your business, but it’s essential that you find ways to stand out from the crowd. What other ways can you think of to market yourself creatively without spending high amounts of money on advertising?