You want high visibility in your industry, but a full-page, four-color ad in a trade magazine can run about $4,000. Ron Harper, chairman of Harper Companies International, a $17-million holding company based in Charlotte, N.C., found a way to save money without sacrificing visibility.

Harper offered a $500 bonus to any employee who could write a technical article and get it published in a trade magazine. To date, at least 10 of his employees have met his challenge, which cost Harper $5,000 for what he guesses to be $40,000 worth of publicity. "Plus," he says, "the articles have a lot more credibility than an ad." To boost production, Harper lined up a local free-lance writer with whom employees can work and split the take. "Those who feel uncomfortable writing have no excuse now," he says.