A Dozen Ways to Market on a Dime

By Erika Somerfeld

No doubt, you have heard the Einstein phrase “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Now, thriving in business depends on the ability to have the word “budget” replace the word “knowledge” in that famous quote.

Here are 12 ways to help you imagine success without the excess:

Fax it: Faxing at night is affordable, even to hundreds of outlets. Remember, every business card offers a fax number. This 8-1/2 x 11 page message has less competition, unlike your email, which will certainly compete with many others. Use cool (but clear) fonts on your faxes. They will be seen, unlike the fonts on emails that may or may not be displayed on the recipient’s computer.

E-newsletters are colorful: They are free and easy ways to reach people who have opted-in to hear more about you. Know your subject line will determine if the reader will open your message, so make it marvelous. Something like, “In this edition: Celeb tips you can use, free organic samples, breakthrough products.”

Freebie web sites: Sites like herbeauty samples.com, freestuffchannel.com and freakyfreddies.com allow you to link into their powerful portals (over a million visitors a day), you just need to have a viable prize giveaway on your site. I used Freaky Freddies when I started a website in 1998 and it helped garner huge traffic.

BLOG: Blogging brands you as an expert in your field, forces you to be on top of innovations, keeps you in the game and costs nothing. Try two: I use Blogspot.com to attract beauty buffs and beautyblognetwork.com to find my pro pals.

Take great pictures: If you shoot your own photos due to a less than picture-perfect budget, aim to shoot better ones. I recently had a client risk losing national press because of car reflections and a lack of composition in their photo that deemed it unusable in print magazines.

Co-Brand with a non-compete company: For example, a hair salon at 2000 Main Street and a nail salon at 2300 Main Street should be referring clients back and forth. This is good marketing, free and all you need are business cards and a promotion in place for ready referrals.

Hire interns for college credit: Teach them what you need them to learn. Anything they take from their valuable experience will be priceless.

Free salon directory listings: Sites such as searchhairstylist.com and hairdirectory.us allow you to list your salon, even in specific beauty categories, such as hair extensions or weaving. City-specific sites like newyorkcity hairsalon.net allow your press release to be seen by hundreds of potential clients. Don’t forget yellowpages.com foryour free business listing.

Events: I’m sure you set a budget for some salon events, but add a newsworthy element that does not cost much more, and you could have a prelude to press. Saints Salon in Santa Monica collected hair clippings in May as part of the Matter of Trust organization, which makes hair mats to help collect oil in the ocean from the recent Gulf disaster.

Be eco-friendly, it makes cents: Use both sides of every piece of paper that comes out of your business. Set your internal office printer to “draft” quality, and you will use half the ink. Ask employees to bring their own coffee cups. You could save that $100 a year in non-biodegradable Styrofoam cups.

Trade services: Use bartering by trading $300 worth of cuts for $300 worth of publicity.

Storefront attention: Assign a few employees (who are already being paid) to stand and sample, sidewalk style. Gather email addresses (which are marketing gold); add a dash of free iced tea in gold paper cups, stand out promotional combs and free bang straightening (with for-sale irons), and you have yourself a fun, free fiesta.

Erika Somerfeld has owned The Beauty Channel since 1998.

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