During my regular trawl through the business forums last week I came across a post from someone who is selling fashion accessories at their local markets and the giving the profits to local charities. They had a really low budget and so they were looking for sources of cheap advertising.
Unfortunately, advertising will often fail to give value for money, especially if it is used in isolation, small quantities or with a limited budget. I wanted to help, so I offered some tips on other marketing and promotion ideas that can yield dividends without costing very much money. An abridged version of my reply is below.
I think you should consider this from a rounded marketing approach. Don’t just think about advertising, which is probably going to be too expensive for you, think about other methods of promotion that will require time without costing too much.
1. Press Releases.
There are a few free press release websites that you can load press releases to. Also, contact your local paper with interesting things you are doing, new lines of jewellery, other activities. When you have been going 1 year, tell them. You are a charitable organisation, so they are going to be happier to print it than if you were just a new small business. You are clearly a big hearted person who cares for others, doing something other than moaning about your situation, a real can do person. The press will love writing about you.
Your on the web so set up a free account at blogger.com and start writing about the things you do. Make it personal and interesting. The people you met at the various markets, the new lines of products, how sales are going, are you nearing a target, etc. Once or twice per week if you can. Put the blog address on any offline marketing you do (leaflets, cards, press releases, etc)
So if you are blogging then try micro blogging. Set up a free account. Follow a few people who are interested in jewellery (search twitter for those users) and then try to write a few tweets of your own. Be upbeat and amusing. Tweet a few times per day if you can. People will start to follow you.
Again, its free. Set up an account and start a fan page. You can upload photos of your designs and get feedback on them. Also you can profile the charities that you are helping. Every time an amount of money goes to a charity, find out what it does, then let people know.
There may be awards in your area and nationally that you could win. Business people pat themselves on the back all the time. There may be something like the Pride of Britain awards in your area. I am sure that someone knows about the great job you do and if you were nominated for a local hero award then you could raise your profile and sell more jewellery and do even more good.
6. Personal Representation
Try to put yourself in front of as many people as possible. On days that there is no market you might want to try contacting local organisations either on the phone or in person. You could try to sell directly to the people you talk to or ask if you could have a small table with samples that you could sell during lunch time or at home time. Again, make a point of letting them know that this is charitable work, they are more likely to allow it. Maybe business centres with a lobby area or larger organisations with plenty of staff could be good locations.
All my ideas are designed to be cheap or free and generate buzz around your business. The more people talk about your business and how great your products are and what a great job you do for charity the orders will start to come in.
I really do wish you all the best of luck with this. Let me know if I can be of any further help.
You can read the full post thread at the UK Business Forums, http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?p=1142952#post1142952
If Aileen gets in touch to say how things are going then I add it to my blog.