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Marketing and promoting your business can be a challenge on a limited budget but it's not impossible. There are traditional methods such as the Yellow Pages, neighborhood newspapers, or – if your budget permits - direct mail pieces such as flyers and announcements. It's important to understand that engraving is not an impulse purchase. Rather, it is usually driven by a specific event or need. Direct mail is not considered a good starting point to launch your engraving business unless you can target a very specific audience or address some special need. Developing a prospect list and sending direct mail pieces targeting schools with a special on trophies, for example, may lead to some inquiries.
Here's a list of often-overlooked ideas that can give your business a boost at a very reasonable expense.
Your personal contacts can be invaluable to a new or existing business. Take the time to join local clubs and associations. You'll meet plenty of prospects, learn local gossip about upcoming events and intensify relationships. Don't forget about the advertising you can get from association newspapers and newsletters; it's oftentimes very inexpensive.
Sponsor a team and actively support it! You can't imagine the number of trophy shops that overlook this opportunity and miss out on the connected benefits. Sure, you will probably have to provide some awards at-cost but, if the team is part of a much larger league, you will find the expense well worth the investment.
If you actively sell baby or wedding gifts, key rings, lighters, golf accessories, picture frames, money clips or other gift and novelty items, offer a gift certificate for the engraving. Many times the giver does not know exactly what information to put on the gift. Give them a way of dealing with the problem. It may also introduce the gift recipient to your business.
Don't underestimate the value of giving a coupon for future discounts to buyers. They may choose to pass it along to a friend or family member. At a minimum, it will encourage them to come back to you for repeat services.
Seems obvious, doesn't it? Most shops overlook this opportunity. If you have walk-in trade, use this. Place a bowl or decorated box on the counter and ask for business cards in exchange for a gift. Offer a giveaway each week or month. Everyone, who comes to your shop, whether they are purchasing or just looking, can be a future prospect. Get their name and address to add to your database if you intend on doing future mailings.
Take plenty with you and drop them everywhere you go. Keep them simple and easy to read, and don't forget to include your telephone area code and zip code. Don't make the oft-repeated mistake of assuming you can only service local customers.
A free gift has proven time and again to be one of the most successful, cost-effective promotion tools around. This very incomplete list includes pens, key rings, toys, scratch pads, magnets or matchbooks. The point here is to get the word out to everyone you can.
You may want to investigate advertising along with other local area businesses. Many communities publish a co-op paper for local area merchants such as those used by a group of antique shops, etc. It can be very inexpensive to have your company name printed on pizza boxes, dry-cleaning receipts, bowling score sheets and restaurant place mats. If your shop is one of several businesses in a small shopping plaza, consider getting together with your neighbors to print a flyer listing all of your businesses. If the community is small, these are very cost-effective ways of keeping your name in front of potential customers. This is especially true if you have competition in the area.