According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses in America account for some interesting statistics. The 28 million small businesses in the United States are responsible for 54 percent of the country’s total sales, for instance. They also supply 55 percent of the jobs in the United States and have created 66 percent of the new net jobs that have been added to the workforce since the 1970s.
Additional statistics that reveal how critical small businesses are to the American economy include the following:
- The SBA considers a small business to be one that has less than 500 employees.
- Over 22 million of the country’s small businesses are nonemployers. To be a nonemployer, a small business must:
- Be operated by a self-employed person who is the business entity’s only employee.
- Have business income of at least $1,000 per year.
- Be required to pay federal income taxes.
- Nonemployer small businesses account for about 75 percent of all of the businesses operating in the United States. Of the nonemployer small businesses in the U.S., nearly 19.5 million are sole proprietorships, and 1.6 million are partnerships. Almost 1.5 million are corporations.
- In 2011, nonemployers generated a combined total of $989.6 billion in revenue — a 4.1 percent increase over the previous year.
- Since 1982, the number of small businesses in this country has grown by 49 percent.
- Big businesses have reduced the size of their combined workforce by four million jobs since 1990, while small businesses have added eight million jobs to the national workforce during the same time period.
- Small businesses occupy between 30-50 percent of the nation’s total commercial space, which is the approximate equivalent of 20-34 billion square feet.
- The more than 600,000 franchised small businesses operating in America are responsible for 40 percent of the nation’s total retail sales, and they employ about eight million individuals.
- More than 50 percent of America’s workforce is employed by a small business.
- Approximately 52 percent of small businesses are run from a person’s home.
Even though a very strong case can be made that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, many small business operators have limited funds to spend on an advertising campaign. In 2011, around 80 percent of nonemployer small business entities, or approximately 18 million businesses, reported less than $50,000 in revenue. Only 368 nonemployer small businesses recorded $5 million or more in sales in the same year.
In general, a business spends an average of about one to five percent of its annual gross sales on advertising. With just over 25 percent of nonemployer businesses in the United States making between $10,000 and $25,000 in 2011, this means nearly one-quarter of the nation’s nonemployer business entities had an advertising budget of less than $1,000 in 2011.
Fortunately, an effective advertising strategy doesn’t have to be expensive. However, for it to be effective, an advertising strategy does need to be well researched, planned and executed — no matter what industry your business competes in. Begin designing your advertising strategy by answering the following key questions:
- What is your target market, and what is the typical profile of the consumers in it?
- What is the consumer need your product or service satisfies, or what problem does it solve?
- Who are your business’ direct competitors?
- How is your business different from its competitors?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to tailor an advertising strategy to attract consumers in your target market and communicate the benefits your products or services provide. Your strategy should also relay how your business stands apart from its competitors and explain why consumers will be better off spending money on your goods and services instead of those offered by another company.
Depending on your industry, location, advertising budget and other factors, you may have to come up with some unique advertising ideas to communicate the benefits of your products or services and how your business differs from its competition. While coming up with an out-of-the-box approach to advertising may be challenging, doing so gives you the chance to connect with your consumers and increase your bottom line within your budget.
Many unique advertising strategies aren’t industry specific. This means a creative marketing technique that works well for a plumbing business in the service industry may be just as effective when it’s included in the mix of marketing strategies used by a law firm, an educational institution, a local bed and breakfast or another business.
Out-Of-The-Box Advertising Ideas for Service Businesses
Whether you’re the owner of an HVAC repair company or a pest control business, or you’re an independent plumber or electrician, being in the service industry gives you the chance to employ some unique advertising strategies to generate business. Some of the out-of-the-box advertising ideas for plumbers will also be ideal for others in the service industry as well as businesses competing in other sectors.
If you’re trying to come up with creative marketing strategies to boost your revenue, consider the following unique advertising ideas for plumbers, electricians and other service oriented businesses:
- Create Informative Videos: In general, people in the service industry do a lot of their work with their hands. For this reason, one of the most effective marketing strategies pest control experts and others in the service industry can use is to create informative, how-to videos that show people how to do specific projects on their own. Videos do more than teach your clients and prospects how to do something. They also increase your credibility and position you as an expert in your respective field.
You can post your instructional videos on your website, blog and social media pages. You can also share a link to your most recent video by tweeting it to your Twitter followers and encouraging them to retweet your link.
If you’re concerned that showing your clients how to complete a project will negatively impact your business, keep in mind that just because people know how to do something, it doesn’t mean they want to do it or have the confidence they can do it correctly. If you’re also worried you don’t have the expertise to make videos that will resonate with online viewers, don’t be. Websites such as Wistia have tutorials that will show you how to make professional-looking videos using your smartphone. If you’re still not confident in your film-making abilities, consider contacting a school that offers film classes in your area to hire a student to film your video or visiting Craigslist or Angie’s List to find a local freelance videographer.
- Set up a YouTube Channel: Once you’re comfortable making videos, you may want to consider setting up your own YouTube channel and sharing videos regularly. You can even cover a large or difficult do-it-yourself project in a multi-part series. You can also record and share the progress you’re making on one of your professional jobs and ask your satisfied clients to comment about your work and the relationship you have with them on camera.
Just as you should let your social media followers know when you make a new video for your website, you should also let them know when you post another video on your YouTube channel. If your clients or prospects visit your office frequently, you may also want to consider a running a loop of your videos in your office.
- Establish a Customer Referral Program: Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful things that influences a consumer’s decision to do business with one service provider instead of one of the company’s competitors. You can capitalize on word-of-mouth by establishing a customer referral program that rewards people for referring their friends, family members and coworkers to your business.
You can reward people by offering them a discount on a future service or by giving them a gift card that can be redeemed in a retail outlet related to your business — which may give the recipient an idea for a project they will need to hire you to complete in the day or weeks to come.
Also, the Internet is changing word-of-mouth in ways that give you a chance to use the online reviews of your business as part of your out-of-the-box approach to advertising. Approximately 88 percent of consumers consider online reviews to be as trustworthy as the referrals they receive from their personal contacts.
To generate reviews of your business that prospective clients may rely on, ask your current and former clients to share a testimonial on popular review websites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, Yahoo Local Listings and Google. To motivate them to take time out of their busy schedules, offer a reward such as a $10 gift card to a local frozen yogurt shop to the first 25 people who publish a review of your business on a designated website.
- Get Listed Locally: Many consumers use websites such as Yelp and Google Maps to find businesses and service providers in their area. Make sure you are listed on these websites so people in your locale can find your company’s contact information. In most cases, you can make your listing stand out by adding pictures or your company’s logo to your listing.
- Be Charitable: Working with a non-profit such as Habitat for Humanity to host a fundraiser can make consumers more familiar with the name of your business as well as the specific services your business provides. It has the added benefit of generating goodwill for your business, and it offers the possibility that your event will be covered by local media outlets.
If you don’t want to host a fundraiser, you can do something to further a charity’s end goals. If you work with Habitat for Humanity, for instance, you can donate a day’s worth of your services or some supplies that will help the non-profit complete a home. You can motivate others to get involved with charity work by sharing what you’ve done on your website and social media outlets. If you’re going to do something annually, make sure you or the non-profit you’re working with sends a press release describing your event to local media such as your hometown’s newspaper, television and radio stations every year.
- Offer Perks to Members of the Community: If you’re in an area where residents are predominantly employed by a single company, you may want to offer a discount to those employees. You may also want to offer a 10 to 20 percent discount on your services to people who work in certain industries such as law enforcement, the military or healthcare to demonstrate your appreciation for everything they do to keep your community safe and healthy.
Your discounts don’t have to run year-round, either. You can offer them at certain times of the year for just a few weeks or months. Many employers will post your generous offer on their own websites or send digital coupons to their employees for you. Be sure the description of your offer and any related coupons include an end date for your promotion and the stipulation that people must show proof of their employment status to take advantage of your offer.
- Get a Toll Free Phone Number: One of the more effective out-of-the-box advertising ideas you can employ is to get a custom toll free phone number for your business. Companies that use a vanity 800 phone number and call tracking in their advertisements see a 25 to 50 percent increase in their response rates.
A vanity phone number offers several other advantages that all-numeric phone numbers don’t have. Compared to phone numbers consisting of just numbers, for instance, custom phone numbers have a higher recall rate. In fact, more than 75 percent of people who participated in a poll remembered a vanity 800 phone number after seeing it in a sample ad.
In addition to increasing your response rate and being memorable, a vanity 800 phone number gives you the chance to tell people about your business. If you’re a plumber, you may want a vanity phone number such as 800-PLUMBER or 800-FLUSHES, for example, which will communicate what your business is or what you do.
Creative Marketing Strategies for Financial Institutions and Financial Advisors
Whether you work for one of your community’s local banks or credit unions or you’re one of the financial advisors at your own independent agency, your company can enjoy the benefits of having a vanity phone number just like businesses in the services industry can. Imagine how a custom 800 phone number such as 800-INVESTS or 800-SAVE-MNY will stick in the minds of consumers while it also informs them about what you do.
While getting a vanity 800 phone number can be a big part of your out-of-the-box advertising for your financial institution or service, there are many other unique advertising ideas that can help you promote your business, including the following:
- Create Outstanding Content: For your content to be outstanding, it must be relevant and meaningful to your audience. You should pick topics that are important to your existing and prospective clients and write in language and terms your reader will understand. Using simple, short words is particularly important when you’re discussing a topic that is often written or talked about with technical jargon that people outside of your industry might not be familiar with.
Your content must also include keywords that will help your material to rank well with search engines. However, be sure to avoid overstuffing your content with the keywords you research. If you fail to do this, it could affect your content’s ranking in browser searches.
In addition to writing great content for your website and blog, you should consider preparing guest blog posts for popular bloggers who write about topics related to your industry. In exchange for your written material, you can ask that the blogger who agrees to publish your work gives you credit for the post you wrote and links your post back to your website. This will increase your credibility and potentially drive traffic to your website.
While LinkedIn is often thought of as a networking site for professionals, the increasingly popular website is also known as a reliable resource for people in many industries. You can publish articles on LinkedIn which can help others, while simultaneously demonstrating your expertise. You can make top ten lists, discuss your industry’s best practices or write about any topic you think people in your field will find compelling. Even if you don’t create content specifically for LinkedIn, you should still share a link to the material you prepare for your website or blog with the members of your LinkedIn groups whenever you post new content.
- Use Social Media: Social media gives you the chance to promote your business in many ways. It gives you the chance to get to know your clientele better by interacting with them online, for instance. This can help you come up with more unique advertising ideas that will attract members of your target demographic group to your business more effectively.
It also provides you with outlets through which you can share your written and video content with a wider audience of readers and viewers. Social media gives you the chance to generate goodwill for your business as well. For example, you can use Twitter to host a fundraiser for a charity you support.
- Show Your Gratitude: While people expect to get free things when they attend an industry event such as a conference or a tradeshow, clients generally don’t expect to get anything from you for free. You can increase the loyalty that people have to your business by surprising them with an unexpected promotional item to thank them for doing business with you.
Your gifts don’t have to be expensive. They just have to be thoughtful in the sense that they will make your clients think of you when they look at or use the item. For example, a calculator card that shows the value of an investment at different rates of interest over varying time periods may be an appropriate gift for financial advisors or for people working for banks to give to their clients and prospects.
- Distribute Business Cards: Your business card and their initial impression of you are what your prospects keep after they meet you for the first time. You should hand out your business card whenever you have an opportunity to do so.
To make sure your business card reinforces the positive first impression someone has of you, your business should include all of the positive attributes that are associated with your business, including your company’s logo and your easy-to-remember vanity 800 phone number. Even if you’re meeting someone who doesn’t need your products or services at this time, give the individual your business card in case they might have an interest in the future or the person knows someone who has an immediate need for your help.
- Start a Letter Referral Campaign: One unique advertising idea that can work well in the finance industry is to initiate a personalized letter referral campaign. By sending a letter to your clients every two months for a total of six months, you can position yourself as the financial advisor or banking professional your clients can rely on.
Don’t make your letters all about getting referrals from your clients, though. Use the first letter to review the action plan you and your client discussed during your last meeting. End the letter with a polite request for referrals. Use the next letter to inform your client about an upcoming event you’d like the individual to attend and ask your client to bring a friend or relative to the event. Use the final letter to educate your client about the different life events that may require the person to change their investment mix, such as a death in the family, a change in employment or a divorce.
Unique Advertising Strategies for Law Professionals
Whether you’re a new personal injury attorney or you’re a seasoned divorce lawyer, you generally need to attract clients to your firm to keep the lights on and pay your bills. While many of the unique advertising strategies that are effective in other industries will also work well in the legal field, you may want to consider doing the following as well:
- Motivate People to Call: You can successfully motivate people to contact your law firm by thinking outside the box. Instead of sending your regular printed newsletter to the people on your mailing list, for instance, consider sending out a colorful postcard that provides reasons why they should call you.
Your postcard needs to have an inspiring title, such as “The Top Ten Reasons People Contact Us.” Your postcards should then list some of your skills, talents and achievements as motivating factors for people to call you. Since 57 percent of survey respondents say they prefer to dial a vanity 800 number instead of a local phone number that only has numbers in it, you can even point out that your fun-to-dial phone number is one of the reasons a person should call you.
Your postcard can also give people a reason to visit your office. Whether you’re a custody attorney, a medical malpractice lawyer or you practice another type of law, your postcard can offer people a free consultation regarding a legal matter.
- Solicit Business From Other Law Firms: While this may seem counterintuitive, one of the creative marketing strategies that personal injury attorneys, divorce lawyers and others can use is to solicit business from bigger or more established law firms. Invite partners from other firms to have lunch with you.
Once you’ve established a rapport and described your credentials, ask them if they have any small cases or clients they simply don’t have time for. If so, inquire about their willingness to refer their smaller or low-dollar cases to you. Every time you get a referral from another firm, be sure to demonstrate your appreciation with a handwritten note thanking the referring partner for their support. Be sure to include a small gift such as a pair of tickets to an upcoming local baseball or hockey game along with your note of thanks.
- Apply for Business Awards and Endorsements: If there are awards or endorsements that are particularly meaningful in your area of specialty, apply for them. Additionally, if your firm is eligible for less specific designations such as a AAA rating from your local Better Business Bureau, apply for them as well. Many awards come with a digital badge you can display on your firm’s website. Having these symbols on your website can increase your credibility and improve your recognition as an expert in your field.
- Establish Partnerships: Another unique advertising idea law professionals can use is to establish partnerships with other businesses in related industries that aren’t their direct competitors. For example, you could work on a joint project, such as a webinar, a class or a teleseminar, with another business.
If you’re a personal injury attorney, you may want to consider partnering with an insurance agency to host a class that teaches consumers what they should do if they’ve been involved in an accident. By working with another business, your firm will get twice the amount of exposure it would have gotten if you hosted the class on your own. Your firm will likely be introduced to a new audience related to your area of expertise as well.
An Out-Of-The-Box Approach to Advertising for the Healthcare Industry
It doesn’t matter if you work for one of your area’s hospitals or you run one of your community’s doctor offices, dentist offices or specialized practices. You can still use an out-of-the-box approach to advertising to increase your business and help even more people get and remain healthy.
Some of the things you may want to do include the following:
- Sponsor Local Groups and Events: To spread awareness about your medical practice, you may want to consider sponsoring a local group. One unique advertising idea for the healthcare industry is to sponsor a local sports team. By sponsoring a local team, the name of your practice will become known to the players on the team as well as their friends, family members and fans. If the name of your practice is printed on the team’s uniforms, the name of your doctor’s office will become familiar to your team’s competitors and their fans, too.
Certain events such as an annual dog or car show also have sponsors. In general, events such as these include the names of their sponsors in their promotional materials, including print advertisements, banners and posters. They also typically list their sponsors on their websites, which can give your doctor’s office even more exposure.
- Host an Event at Your Office: If you’re just opening your office, you’ve recently gotten a new piece of equipment or your hospital just opened a new wing, you may want to consider hosting an event at your facility that involves serving food to your guests. You might also try partnering with the company that supplied your new equipment or constructed your new space to plan and carry out your event. This will give you the chance to combine databases when you send out invitations. Your office will also likely be introduced to potential new clients who are included in your partnering company’s database.
- Use Mobile Marketing Techniques: Mobile marketing can be highly effective because it requires your clients’ express permission and, often, their direct participation. You can send your clients text messages, for example, and require them to click a link to confirm their upcoming appointment. You can also conduct a contest using mobile marketing. You can send a message asking for referrals and provide a $25 gift card to a local restaurant to the first 30 people who send you the contact information for a prospective patient.
Part of your plan to use mobile marketing techniques should include either making your current website mobile-friendly or developing a second website that is specifically designed for mobile device users. Approximately 60 percent of online traffic is attributed to people using mobile devices, and Google currently ranks mobile-friendly websites higher in its search results. You might be missing out on business if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices.
- Write a Book: To boost your visibility, write an eBook and self-publish your work using an on-demand printing platform. Your book doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be about a new topic. You can simply base your book on a topic you’ve discussed in a previous white paper or series of articles. If you don’t have the time or writing skills to pen a book, consider hiring a capable ghostwriter to write your book for you. Being a published author will give you greater access to the media and more high-profile speaking engagements than you’d probably have otherwise.
Unique Advertising Ideas for the Insurance Industry
Agents in all facets of the insurance industry have the potential to increase their bottom lines by employing some unique advertising ideas, including these kinds of insurance agents: health insurance providers, car insurance providers, life insurance providers and business insurance providers. Some creative marketing strategies for insurance agents in all fields include the following:
- Write Articles for Trade Magazines: While having outstanding content on your website and blog will help improve your credibility, having your material published in an actual print publication can elevate your reputation as an industry expert even more. If you’re struggling to come up with an idea for an article submission, consider researching some data that relates to your industry.
While some reports get attention when they’re initially released, a lot of them, particularly industry-specific reports, go unnoticed by the majority of the general public. This gives you the chance to discuss and explain the data, create charts and share your predictions based on the information you’ve shared in your article. Be sure to cite the source of your data in your article so it’s not mistaken for your own research — something that could inadvertently undermine your credibility.
- Conduct an Email Marketing Campaign: An email marketing campaign is an effective way for insurance agents to do two things. First, it gives you the chance to maintain the relationships you have with your current and former clients. It also gives you the chance to introduce your business to new prospects.
Give new visitors to your website the opportunity to subscribe to your monthly newsletter and reward those who do with an exclusive piece of content such as an eBook that’s only available to people who receive your newsletter. Even if you’re a new car insurance provider operating on a shoestring budget, you can still conduct an email marketing campaign by using a free electronic service such as MailChimp.
- Use Car Magnets: If you’re just starting your career as a life insurance provider, you might not have the tenure to get a company car, or you may lack the funds to have your own vehicle custom painted to promote your insurance agency. You can still use your vehicle as a billboard of sorts for your business, however, by having magnets made for your automobile. Your magnets can be made in the form of your logo, and they should include your agency’s name, vanity 800 phone number and address.
- Rent Billboard Space: As an insurance agent, you’re licensed to sell your products throughout your state. This gives you the chance to incorporate billboards into your out-of-the-box approach to advertising. About 70 percent of consumers claim that out-of-home ads like billboard advertisements have an impact on their buying choices. Approximately 35 percent of shoppers say this kind of advertisement persuaded them to buy a product or pay for a service in the past.
If you’re going to advertise on a billboard, make sure the billboard is located along the side of a road that is heavily trafficked with vehicles, pedestrians or both. Make sure your vanity phone number can be seen as far away from the billboard as possible as well, and also avoid using too many images or words that might make it hard for your custom 800 phone number to stand out.
Make 800response Part of Your Unique Approach to Advertising
For more than 25 years, the experts at 800response have been helping businesses throughout North America succeed. We maintain the largest inventory of true custom 800 telephone numbers available anywhere, and we can help you craft a vanity phone number that can indelibly distinguish your business from its competitors. Our comprehensive list of services includes the following:
- A state-of-the-art call routing system
- Up-to-the-minute call tracking reports
- A suite of call monitoring services, including:
- Call recording
- CallFinder speech analytics
- Missed call monitoring
When you use one of our vanity 800 telephone numbers as part of your unique advertising strategy, you do more than get an unforgettable phone number that reflects what you do. You get a partner that wants your business to succeed as much as you do. You also get a partner that uses the latest technology to provide you with real-time feedback on the effectiveness of your advertisements as well as high-quality and helpful customer service. You get a partner that is committed to giving you the tools you need to succeed in today’s increasingly digital business environment.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, how many locations or employees you have or how long your business has existed, our dynamic advertising tools can help you get more phone calls from consumers, close more sales and increase your bottom line. To learn more about how working with 800response can help your business succeed, contact us today.