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MARKETING

10 Simple Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Marketing doesn't have to be hard or expensive. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective.

As a small business, you may think it's impossible to get the word out about what you do. That's no excuse. And you don't need fads or gimmicks. Follow the proven, timeless tips and techniques of these entrepreneurs to help get the word out about your business and watch it grow.

1. Give Your Stuff Away

Ari Fleischer and Aly Moler of Frozen Pints have grown their craft beer ice cream business by leaps and bounds by attending craft beer shows and farmers markets to do one thing--give their product away. Once customers taste this unexpected combination (which happens to be delicious) for free, they line up at their local store to buy it or even request that the store carry it.

2. Attend Networking Events...

Desiree Scales of Bella Web Design is a master networker.  She attends and presents at almost every event in town. Her contribution to the overall community makes her one of the first people that come to mind when anyone looks for an expert in her area of concentration: small business websites and drip marketing.

3. ...Or, Create Your Own Event

If you don't like the events you are attending, invent your own! Darrah Brustein has created one of the most successful networking events in Atlanta: Atlanta Under 40. The event, which Darrah created to connect with other young entrepreneurs in her city, is now being franchised to other cities.

4. Volunteer to Lead an Organization

The secret to getting the most out of a group or organization is not just to attend but to lead. Take Lisa Calhoun of Write2Market. She served as the president of Entrepreneurs' Organization, allowing her to rub elbows and connect with the brightest minds of the fastest growing companies in the Atlanta market.

5. Start a Podcast

Todd Schnick of Dreamland Interactive is the first person I saw create his own podcast--he interviews other business owners.  People love to tell their story, and by highlighting them on a podcast you make an instant and meaningful connection. It's also a great way to get an education on a topic you are interested in.

6. Be Helpful

Most small business owners struggle to get their finances in line, especially when they move from an Excel spreadsheet to something as sophisticated as QuickBooks. Cathy Iconis of Iconis Group hosts a Quickbook Chat on Twitter every Thursday night at 7:00 EST to answer small business owners' questions--and potentially find some clients.

7. Send a Weekly E-mail

If you want to stay in relationship with your customers, there is nothing simpler than creating a weekly e-mail that provides something of value. Rick Houcek of Soar With Eagles sends one out every Monday that he calls the 2-Minute Monday Motivator. I look forward to getting it every week and often forward his advice to others.

8. Support a Cause

Mary Hester of LAN Systems throws an annual cookout with purpose every Earth Day. Party-goers are encouraged to bring their "e-waste"--old computer monitors and CPUs. At their most recent event they collected more than two tons of IT equipment, keeping it out of the landfills and creating goodwill with their customers, current and potential.

9. Sponsor an Organization

Many local organizations are not that expensive to sponsor for a year if you consider the  so-called per meeting cost. If your product or service is a good fit with their audience, you will get exposure every time the organization sends out an e-mail and a mention every time they meet. Attendees always remember and appreciate companies who sponsor their favorite organizations.

10. Create a Cool Giveaway

When thinking through what your company will  give away make sure it's something they won't want to throw away or easily lose in their desk or bag (think pen).

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