Over The Slump

Toot Your Horn

Got a huge need for publicity and a tiny publicity budget? You don't need to have a Madison Avenue-sized advertising fund to make your name known. Here are five ideas to help you promote your company:

1. Write a column. Go to a local paper, no matter how small, and offer to write a column on your area of expertise or on business in general. Don't ask to be paid for it, and promise not to promote your company. You won't need to--your byline, words (and maybe even photograph) will do that.

2. Speak up. Make yourself available to talk to every civic, business and educational group that will have you. Stress your expertise, and, as with the column, never try to sell anything--except your reputation as a knowledgeable, trustworthy professional.

3. Write notes. Include a one- or two-line personal message with every piece of literature you send out. You can even write it on the material. This tactic helps customers see the person behind the company.

4. Be a joiner. Get involved in trade associations. You may spend a lot of time with competitors, but it's a way to let people know you're out there, and it will offer you opportunities to sell.

5. Be a sponsor. A few hundred dollars gets your company name on Little League caps; a little more, perhaps an ad at a roller rink. Donate money or materials to the local parade or a float. This buys goodwill and is great self-promotion.

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