Print SMART Small Business Tips

5 OF THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS/SMALL BUDGET MARKETING IDEAS!

High-cost marketing techniques are not always the best options for small businesses that are struggling to keep afloat in this economy. There are many very effective ways to market your company that cost next-to-nothing. All it takes is a little imagination and forward thinking. If you want to start generating interest in your company, it might be time to get “down and dirty” with a few low-cost marketing ideas and products.

Here are five of my favorite money-saving marketing ideas. Try them out yourselves. What have you got to lose?

post_it
This small business owner might have gone a bit far with his post-it note guerilla campaign

1. Make a Marketing Stamp!
• Put your business logo, web address, and include a clever or funny line of text on your custom stamp
• Take your stamp and a pack of post it notes everywhere you go. Put your custom post it on car windows, on the doors of local businesses, on the tables of fast food places, stamp it anywhere you see a guerrilla marketing opportunity
• Stamp your logo on the shared newspapers in your local coffee shops – find the ad section that ‘s relevant to your business and put your stamp at the top of the page!

I’ve heard some funny stories of people putting their stamp on competitor’s flyers, business cards, and other marketing promotions! In particular, I was told about the owner of a small lumber firm who walked into a major “Home” improvement “Depot“ and sporadically stamped a message on the opposing stores lumber that read: “If you want better priced lumber go to….” (I’m not advocating this practice, however effective it may be!)

2. Guerilla Business Cards
• Now I know what you’re thinking; “Not business cards, again! You guys are always banging on about business cards!” Well, that’s ‘cos we sell them! But hold on a minute! I have a new suggestion for using them in a way that you might not have considered.
• Spend a day visiting libraries and bookstores in your local area and find the section that relates to your business, i.e., directories, reference books, magazines, self-help, etc. Open each publication and slip a business card between the pages! Voila! A dirt-cheap targeted marketing campaign! You can use this same technique with the magazines in salons, doctor’s offices, and other waiting rooms (you’ve nothing better to do while you’re waiting, you might as well use the time to your advantage)

3. Do Not Disturb Door Hangers
• If you’re going to an expo or business convention, use the opportunity to guerrilla market yourself whenever possible.
• Get some door hangers printed up with your business information on it, or better still, get some less expensive rack cards made, hole-punch them, and rubber band attach them to as many hotel room doors as possible!

Make your yard a home for your business promotions
Make your yard a home for your business promotions

4. Yard Sign
• Use your own yard to advertise your business. Instead of a “For Sale” sign in your backyard, you could be making use of this space to advertise your own business
• Purchase a custom yard sign at Office Max or Staples. They can make a custom sign for you for around $50
• Customize it with your business information, web address, and a funny line or saying that might catch people’s attention!

5. Project-a-logo
• Use your office wall, or find someone who’ll let you use their wall, to project your logo and business information
• You may think that this is really expensive to do! Not so! You can buy a low-cost mini-projector for about $70 that can project photo/design files created on your computer or laptop
• It’s amazingly effective for getting your brand recognized and talked about

These are 5 of my personal favorite marketing ideas but there are thousands of ways that you can promote your business for less. As long as you can think a little “outside the box ” then the possibilities are endless.

It’s LISTOMANIA week on the Overnight Prints Design & Print Blog. Check out our other list articles that will be posted all week: Abominable Fonts, 10 Favorite Design Sites

Project your business by projecting your logo
Project your business by projecting your logo

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63 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Great ideas…thanks for sharing!!

  2. Avatar

    I really like the stamp idea – could have a lot of fun with that!

  3. Avatar

    Great article Ben!

    Especially the part about the signs! (:^)

    Another way to brand your business in your local community is with magnetic signs or vehicle lettering (since those little Post-it notes will fly off).

    Mobilizing your advertising creates ONGOING EXPOSURE beyond the physical location of your business.

    Cheers!

    Tim Harrelson
    Head SignChef
    http://www.TheSignChef.com

  4. Avatar

    You guy’s are brilliant.
    I have used the one about putting biz cards in the magazines on the rack and it works. I love they other ideas. how do you get a printing company to set up a custom store where we could set up all the materials for my dist to purchase?
    Hey check my new video

    I made for a client it’s still in beta. not ready for prime time but i like the concept.

    Steven Hall
    V.P. 20/20 Marketing
    503-516-8457

    P.S I am serious about the web store. i can sell that to few of my clients. Have some body call me

  5. Avatar

    To whom this concerns,

    I love this. I hope that you continue these marketing ideas for us and yourself. Right on the money. As a matter of fact, I would love to see 5 tips a week!

    Thanks,

    Ronald Eaton

  6. Avatar

    Excellent “out of the box” tips.

  7. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by billhazelton: 5 OF THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS/SMALL BUDGET MARKETING IDEAS … http://bit.ly/aW8FCU

  8. Avatar

    And where would you find such a cheap projector? 🙂

  9. Avatar

    We use your printing services a lot! We are a small company that helps other companies get noticed. These guerilla marketing techniques are awesome. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Keep it up! We love it!
    Melissa

    http://www.lostbumblebeee.com

  10. Avatar

    oops- I miss-spelled the website… See this is why you need to make sure to edit your stuff before you print!
    🙂
    M.

    http://www.lostbumblebee.com

  11. Avatar

    I like these five simple ways to project your image. Someone is not afraid to market themselves in the community.
    With a new business in town, this sounds like an especially effective technique.
    Good ideas.

  12. Avatar

    I’m sorry, but some of these suggestions are spammy and wasteful. For instance, your suggestion of leaving business cards in books – I’ve heard more than one bookstore/library employee complain about having to pick up all the dropped cards off the floors or picking them out of books and trashing them. Besides not leaving a favorable impression on your business, it wasteful both financially and environmentally.

  13. Avatar
    Dmitriy Zasyatkin

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Avatar

    Thank you so much for posting these marketing tips, I’ve enjoyed them. Do you have any more? – M.J.

  15. Avatar

    In reference to your idea #3: I have attended large conferences where guests of the conference received door hangeradvertisments and/or sample bags, but the conference organizers charged the provider a hefty fee for “sponsoring” the event. I would be willing to hand deliver my own door hangers (or pay help to do it), but would not want to have the hangers picked off and trashed by angry congerence staff–or hotel staff, for that matter. However, I love the idea; any suggestions for getting through the red tape?

  16. Avatar

    Hey these are really good ideas..thanks

  17. Avatar

    Thanks for a great article. These are great marketing ideas! I especially like #1. I’ve never heard of that before. I’m going to try it! Not sure if I want to stamp a competitor’s flyer……..but the thought is making me smile :-).
    By the way, I had you guys make me some postcards recently, and I want to say they look fabulous. You’ll definitely be getting more business from me.

    Becky Williamson

  18. Avatar

    Cheap and effective! Not sure that the wife would also agree to making the front yard into a billboard advertisement either but who knows. I particularly like the idea about the business cards in the magazines or books at the library. Very targeted and attention grabbing. Thanks again Ben!

  19. Avatar

    Thanks Ben these are some great ideas, I plan to implement a couple of them with one twist. I will include a text message call to action in each of these so that I can extend the reach by providing additional content through a mobile website and text message response. For some more ideas visit my blog at http://www.mymobileriver.com/our-blog.

  20. Avatar

    An idea I did a few years ago, I bought up the web addresses of many of my competitors names and directed them all to my website.
    I ended up with a LOT of people complaining about me on internet biz groups in my field, threats and a bunch of jumping up & down, but I couldn’t have bought that kind of publicity. The following year my sales DOUBLED!
    I eventually let the names go or sold them back for a nominal amount, but the publicity stunt worked…also got even with a few less than scrupulous competitors who had been lying about me to customers for some time.

  21. Avatar

    great ideas, thanks!

  22. Avatar

    I love these ideas.
    Thanks

  23. Avatar

    Some interesting ideas. I wonder, what’s the legality of putting your business card inside of a magazine at barnes and nobles (for example)? I doubt one or two cards would really attract any business, but if you put in more than a few, they would definitely have your information to contact and fine.

  24. Avatar

    Inclusion of the “I’ve heard some funny stories..” bit at the end of the first suggestion is really out of bounds. The “I’m not advocating this practice” statement at the end is hogwash. It’s a pretty shoddy tactic that says more about a company that would use it.

    By virtue of including it both Overnight Prints and the column writer are advocating it.

    Bad karma, folks.

  25. Avatar

    These are some great, fun ideas — if anything, just to get the imagination going. It was a fun read. Thanks!

  26. Avatar

    Love the idea about the door hangers – combining things like a text marketing strategy will increase the effectiveness of any of these techniques. Simply adding a text in to receive something to a guerilla campaign makes lead capture instant and allows you to grab people while you have their attention.

  27. Avatar

    These are great ideas I used the one about putting the cards in books at the library. I only put one though
    I need to do more.

  28. Avatar

    My Dad and I ran a large screen image projection company in the Early 90’s. The Idea of projecting our logo onto adjacent buildings would have been great!

    I only wish someone had came up with that idea way back when!

    Jay Jetty

  29. Avatar

    These marketing ideas sound great, I am a graphic design business and can already see how I can utilize these concepts. WOw! I’m on my way!

  30. Avatar

    @lee (above): Consider yourself lucky that your competitors didn’t slap you with a trademark infringement suit. Domain names that incorporate your competitors’ business names are illegal without their permission. Please see the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

    Anyway, nice article to at least get us thinking laterally, even if they aren’t completely ideal.

  31. Avatar

    I like some of the ideas, but suggestion about stamping your business name and advertisement in the competitor’s store is unethical. I would not want someone else to come to my store and stamp my products and marketing materials that I have invested money and time with their advertisement. It’s stealing. I would not do business with a person who does “dirty” advertising.

  32. Avatar

    Is it legal to put business cards in magazine? Would you get into trouble for that? Just want to make sure that I don’t get fined….

  33. Avatar

    I question the mini projector and it’s ability at $70 to project such a large image from a distance! Gotta cost substantially more in order to achieve such results. Prove me wrong!

  34. Avatar

    Great subject for creating this article. It was enjoyable reading.

  35. Avatar

    Hi Webmaster, commenters and everybody else !!! The blog is absolutely fantastic! Lots of great material and inspiration, both of which we all need!Keep ’em coming… you all do such a great job!

  36. Avatar

    These ideas are really, really great. Thank you so much!

  37. Avatar

    Some good ideas. Small businesses should check their local Chamber of Commerce for the laws on advertising at their homes. I have a small business in Southern California and am not allowed to even post a business related bumper sticker on my vehicle if it is being parked in my driveway. Excellent products btw, I have always been completely happy with Overnightprints orders.

  38. Avatar

    by and large these “tips” are spammy and wasteful. not to mention they will make potential customers mad at you.

    the yard sign is fine…it’s your home, your place. if you want to project a logo on a place you have permission to, that’s fine too. i don’t see how it will result in much, though.

    i’d love to hear good marketing tips, i just don’t need instructions on how to spam.

  39. Avatar

    Great tips!! I am leaving my stamp here 🙂

    Bright, Bold, and Beautiful!
    http://www.lauratrevey.etsy.com

  40. Avatar

    Thanks for the post! It really got my creative juices flowing! I think i’m going to rent a gorilla suit.

  41. Avatar

    thanks for that email, got me brainstorming about these great ideas and how to implement them into my business plan.

    🙂

  42. Avatar

    “i’d love to hear good marketing tips, i just don’t need instructions on how to spam.”

    @april:
    -uhm, all marketing IS spam. There is No single advertisement that is not spam.

    un·so·lic·it·ed (ŭn’sə-lĭs’ĭ-tĭd)
    adj. Not looked for or requested; unsought… ie – Your ad

  43. Avatar

    While I like the “out of the box” upside-down approach, I have to agree about that most of these ideas are spammy and potentially wasteful. I’m not interested in the negative press the library or bookstore employees might give me when they are totally irritated. One or two cards, maybe. A whole bunch? not cool. I’m kinda disappointed in OverNight…

  44. Avatar
    John the mechanic.

    In reference to Lee who bought up the website adresses of many of his competitors and later attempted to sell them back to them after they complained is just plain, wrong dude.

    Would you also sell your Mother to the highest bidder?

    That was a joke, but gosh darn man, talk about a cut throat way to obtain business and ruin your reputation all at once.
    Seriously, if I knew a business owner operated in such a way, I would probably go out of my way to tell everyone what a dirt ball he was, but I’m sure your sales pitch is just as slimy.
    I think I’m gonna call B.S. on your business doubling as a result.

    Back to the tips, I really like the post it note idea but I feel that they would get thrown on the floor or stuffed in a purse and be forgotten since they are so flimsy and sticky.

    I like to slide business cards in the weather seal between the door seal and door glass of select cars that I like to work on, and my cards are too pretty to want to throw away. (Image is everything!)

    I do alot of business in parking garages so I will “walk” the garages when I finish up a job, but sometimes I get over-zealous security personel coming after me and they make me remove them.

    I have found that my best marketing tactics are (honest, competitive business practices), word of mouth and reminder post cards for scheduled maintenance or if I don’t hear from a customer for a year I will send a promotional reminder.

    My best marketing trick yet was one I came with one day while hoping my phone would ring.
    I started texting reminders on my cell phone to past customers, and have found that they have been extremely positive and very easy to drum up business with.
    It does not cost ANYTHING and the customer’s really have been excited to get a text from me and felt like I cared about them enough to text them.
    It is very simple, and almost puts the customer in a position to respond to your marketing tactic where you never get such an instant reaction with post card reminders.

    When things get really slow, don’t feel bad calling every single customer you have ever dealt with, but man, the idea of buying someone’s website domain and trying to sell it back to them is about the lowest, most scum bag business tactic I have ever heard of, and I know because it happened to my Brother in Law by someone he trusted and it really hurt his business and cost him a friend, BUT charma caught up to the guy eventually as it always does to people who play dirty tricks like that.
    I could never put my family in jeopardy over something so brazenly deceitful.
    I hope none of your competitors decided to pay back revenge at the expense of your car tires or worse.

    Someone had to say it.

  45. Avatar

    I ideas that make you go Hmmm. Good stuff.

  46. Avatar

    These are great!! When I sold products used by families I used the “card in the book”. If a business doesn’t want ads projected on the wall, How about having Overnight Prints print some calendars with your name and business? Calendars hanging on walls are great advertisements.

  47. Avatar

    No offense, but the first four of your ideas are either illegal, obnoxious, or tacky! And, as someone mentioned, not environmentally friendly! Try writing articles and getting yourself positioned as a leader in your field, blogging, email campaigns, join your Chamber of Commerce,….

  48. Avatar

    novel ideas, but “littering” cards in books could backfire, and most communities prohibit signs so be careful. Also, comments on spamming, I agree business that send out e-mails to potential customers are spam if not requested, and e-mail lists that are published are even more of problem. Make a product or service that draws people to you, instead of pushing yourself on people.

  49. Avatar

    Those are great ideas!! I especially like the targeting of books magazines,reference info, etc with my cards!
    How come we creative types still get stuck in the old habits???- thanks for the ideas!
    kj

  50. Avatar

    These are not marketing ideas for most businesses. Gorilla marketing of this nature requires more reward verses risk for the company.

    Biz Cards – Leaving it in a book in your field is actually counter intuitive. For example, if someone is reading a book on drafting…they are learning drafting. They are not looking for a drafter.

    Lawn Sign – Only makes sense if the thing you are selling can also be seen near the sign. Works well for roofers and such. Otherwise it looks cheap.

    Stamps – I swear you were on something when you thought of this. I can think of no person that would use a company that stamped on a post-it and then stuck it on their car. I think I’d rather call the jerk and rip him for sticking something on my car or use it to throw away my gum.

    Projection – Sorry but no. It cost much more to have any quality in a projector.

    Door Hangers – Great…now you are sticking DND hangers on doors with all your company info on them. Perfect for allowing the hotel to easily contact you with a bill for illegal solicitation!

  51. Avatar

    I really like the stamp the newspaper s idea!
    http://Householdwords.etsy.com
    wall decals & lettering

  52. Avatar

    Very good tips. Visiting the library is a great way to promote and leave cards in related books.

    http://sealubbers.etsy.com

  53. Avatar
    Latricia Mcpherson

    hey this blog is great. I’m glad I came by this blog. Maybe I can contribute in the near future. PM ME on Yahoo AmandaLovesYou702

  54. Avatar

    Thank you for sharing such an topical article with all of us. I’ve bookmarked your blog will come back for a re-read again. Keep up the great work.

  55. Avatar

    Thanks! Non-profits like us are always looking for ways to promote our programs.

  56. Avatar

    i run a small business both online and offline and they serve as my primary source of income. my small business at home is a mini hyrophonics vegetable farm.-`;

  57. Avatar

    These tips are great, we love reading them at http://www.pelayodesigns.com. Keep them coming 🙂

  58. 5 OF THE BEST SMALL BUSINESS/SMALL BUDGET MARKETING IDEAS! « Design and Print Blog | Overnight Prints…

    There are many such business ideas online which can work for you regardless of your location. ………..

  59. Avatar

    Very nice site

  60. Avatar

    I love these ideas I think about things like this often. I don’t know about the ethics in stamping newspapers but I have thought about it.

  61. Avatar

    I recently tried something a little different than
    my usual local business marketing methods.

    I bought a cartoon video and used it to promote
    my business. the cartoon was hilarious and my
    customers were all talking about it.

    Im using another one to promote our summer
    specials. Its not for every business but worth
    a look. The company that creates them are very creative
    and helpful.

    here is there link
    http://socialifire.wordpress.com/

  62. Avatar
    Kelsey Zollner

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks

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