Promoting Your Biz on a Budget

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Charles Pixley, 60, used to work as a financial underwriter; now he spends his days on Wall Street – literally walking up and down Wall Street - toting a sign that says “Stimulate the Economy, Hire Me.” Passersby may think he’s crazy or desperate, but they all notice him, and according to Pixley, that’s the whole point.

“This is fundamental marketing. Thousands of people see me everyday and can make an instant decision whether or not to approach me,” he said. “It’s better than having my resume end up in a pile somewhere.” Pixley says he’s received dozens of business cards already and has several interviews scheduled this week.

It may sound eccentric, but Pixley’s method is applied everyday by small businesses around the country hoping to attract new customers quickly. Now, more than ever, these guerrilla tactics may prove essential.

The advertising industry has decreased spending drastically because of the recession. Even Internet ad revenue, once thought to be totally reliable, has been ailing recently.

Meanwhile, studies in the past four decades have shown those companies that continue to advertise during a recession, despite immediate economic pressures, end up reaping huge profits in the long run. The reason is simple: your competitors will be putting up less ads, which means your advertising will face less competition. So you’ll capture more of the market share and when they start spending again, you’re more likely to cash in.

Before you go hire an ad agency, consider these three innovative and free ways to advertise yourself or your small business:

1.    Advertise Under Foot

Experts debate whether or not it’s legal to advertise on public property. But some big companies are already taking advantage of this space. Dominos (Stock Quote: DPZ) and General Motors (Stock Quote: GM) have started using sidewalk ads to reach consumers. As long as you write your ad with chalk or something that can be erased, it’s not technically considered defacing property.


2.    Tweeting Your Way to a Successful Business

Social networking is the future, but which Web site should get the majority of your time and money? Our vote is for Twitter. It’s free and takes only enough effort to type 140 characters at a time. From there, getting your posts noticed has become a science. Fast Company recently ran a piece describing nine ways to spread your news via Twitter. Facebook is also good, though less efficient. Facebook users are inundated with events listings, photos and wall-to-wall banter, all of which may overshadow your promotion attempts.

3.    Create a Spectacle

We’ve all endured our fair share of bake sales to promote awareness for a cause. The same tactic may boost your company as well. If your company sells supplies, why not do a juggling act with them in the street? If you’re opening a consulting firm, set up a stand and offer free financial advice to passersby. The best places to reach people are undoubtedly in areas with captive audiences like airports and doctors' offices. But if you plan to cause a big scene, your best option is probably a park.

(If you’re willing to really shock your customer base, consider the benefits (and risks) associated with the Glenn Beck marketing method.)

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the BankingMyWay.com Credit Center.

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