These ideas aren’t quick fixes; you’ll need to be patient and not expect miracles. But they will undoubtedly payoff in the long-term, and in the short/medium time frame, you’ll find they don’t strain your cash one bit.
Pick (and even better) initiate a significant community service project which you (and your employees) can support whole-heartedly.
You might fund-raise for a local hospital or cultural centre; you could work with the your local Habitat for Humanity chapter, or you might want to work on an environmental cause/program. It doesn’t matter too much, as long as it aligns with your values (and your employees).
As an example, in Ottawa, local masonry supplier Merkley Supply, along with other key suppliers and industry leaders including plumbing supplier Boone Plumbing and Heating Supply Inc., put resources and support behind a 117-km cycling fund-raiser for the local hospital. It didn’t take them long to ask me to help out with media support (which I gladly provided).
If you ask: “How much business did the initiative generate for the supporting businesses?” I couldn’t give a good answer — but I know that the connections and communications by participating have generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, and I was certainly not expecting anything. Remember, great community relationships enhance your contacts and improve your brand (reputation). But you can’t do this from a mercenary perspective: There is no reward if you expect any reward beyond the satisfaction of doing something good.
Think about your website and make it really good.
Your website can be incredibly inexpensive to build and maintain, and done right, you’ll acquire direct leads, and warm referral inquiries to want to do business with you. As well, people and businesses searching for your product/service without knowing you, will find you if you have optimized your site for the search engines like Google.
A full-service professional website/marketing service might charge $5,000 to $7,500 for the job — and you should budget for a major or at least significant rebuild every three years. But (even allowing for some maintenance costs), this would represent a cost of less than $3,000 per year. And this is if you are paying top dollar. If you are prepared for some sweat (learning) equity and possibly some false starts with offshore contractors, you can reduce your cash costs by an order of magnitude — possibly paying just $500 to $750 for the work.
Speak up, speak out, and harness the power of free publicity.
“Free” might not be the best word, because you’ll need to bring some expertise and skill to the equation — but if you can be recognized as the thought leader and expert on the topic that defines your business, you won’t need to bang your head against the wall to discover plenty of profitable business. You can’t fake it; but if you have the leading-edge knowledge on a topic important to your market, let the world know about it.
Go for it.
If you want some help/guidance on taking the steps you wish to take, you can consult with me. I can offer a turn-key approach, or if you wish to save some money, provide guidance on how you can do the much of the work yourself.