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Q: Promote small business ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Promote small business
Category: Business and Money > Advertising and Marketing
Asked by: hilda18-ga
List Price: $11.00
Posted: 02 Aug 2004 08:02 PDT
Expires: 01 Sep 2004 08:02 PDT
Question ID: 382385
I'm a self employed photographer living in the Chicago area.  My
question is, what is the most effective way to promote my business,
keeping in mind that I can't spend very much money. I have nice
professional looking business cards, and I pass those out wherever I
go. I also have the name of my website on my van, so I can advertise
around town. Most of my business comes from referrals. In a month my
youngest is going to first grade, so I'd really like to get more work.
I average about one shoot per month, I'd like to do at least one per
week. To give you some idea on my work please see
I'd prefer soeone with marketing or small business background to
answer my question please. Thank you in advance.
Subject: Re: Promote small business
Answered By: scribe-ga on 02 Aug 2004 09:35 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Hilda18,

Paid media advertising can cost a bundle! Even a small ad in the
classified section of a local newspaper can be costly. Yellow Page
display ads, and listings, are also expensive for someone like
yourself who it trying to build a small business.

Instead, why not consider doing some guerilla, street-smart marketing?
I have visited your website, and I like both your work and what seems
to me to be the very viable marketing premise behind it: more and more
people eschew the formalized and trite look of studio portraits and
are looking for something more ?natural.?

I think your best sales tool is your actual work. Therefore, I would
strongly suggest that first you create a simple 8? x 10? sheet that
prominently displays your ?best shot? and that conveys a succinct
message: ?Nothing Artificial Added? (as the headline) and 
?Natural-light photography where you live. Truly beautiful.? (as the
short copy). Or something like this, that really telegraphs the
uniqueness of your services.

 I don?t know where you live exactly. If it?s in one of the more
affluent Chicago suburbs, then you are already in the midst of your
best target group: Better educated people who are more open to new and
unconventional ways of doings things. People who are of a more
?experimental? cast of mind. And for whom ?natural? (in food, looks,
lifestyle) may be a core value.

Where?s a good place to find such people? Certainly one of them has to
be a Whole Foods Market store. Go here for their locations in the
Chicago area:

What I like about this notion is that there is a natural synergy
between them and you.

Here?s what I would suggest. Go to a Whole Foods location and just
hang out there for a while. (Do NOT simply start passing out your
flyers to customers outside the store.) Once you have a sense of the
place and how it runs (Whole Foods employees are all part-owners, I
believe), ask to speak to the manager.

·Tell the manager you feel your services would be of great interest to
Whole Foods customers and employees. Ask the manager if you could
distribute your flyer to the employees in their lunchroom or, failing
that, post a flyer on the employee bulletin board? Say you want to
offer a discount to all Whole Foods employees (including the manager).
You could just handwrite on your flyers something like: ?10% discount
for all WFM employees.?  If the manager and/or other employees try
your services and are satisfied, you can then move on, with the
manager?s support and agreement, to the customer phase.

·The Whole Foods Market can tell their customers a special offer of a
reduced price on ?all natural? photography is available exclusively to
them. Maybe they would make this offer in a newsletter they publish
for customers. Or maybe on a customer bulletin board. Or maybe simply
by allowing you to leaflet customers with this offer at the store?s
entrance. (If you are comfortable with this kind of thing, the
personal contact and conversation can be a terrific way to introduce
yourself and YOUR ideas about portrait photography). By the way,
leaflets on windshields is probably not a good idea for this target
market and probably not the sort of thing WFM would allow you to do

·My feeling is that WFM is probably quite protective of its customers,
so they  will most likely not let you simply leaflet them, without you
laying this kind of groundwork and propsoing this kind of
?partnership? approach.

So that?s one idea: try to form relationships with places where YOUR
target customers are most likely to be found. Maybe a local hospital,
where packages for new mothers might include a special offer for your
services. Or maybe childcare centers. Or LOCALLY-OWNED child clothing
or toy stores.

Also, there ARE some locations where leaving flyers on parked car
windshields might be a good idea, such as parking areas at family
sporting events like Little League games or at public parks.

With this TYPE of non-media, non-paid marketing, you have to be
willing to put yourself out there and make the pitch. Maybe you feel
you don?t have enough time for this, especially to stand outside a
location and pass out leaflets. But one-on-one marketing is what?s
called for here, I think, whenever and wherever possible.

Finally, using the search terms, ?Chicago small business maketing,? I
searched to find what resources might be available to you locally.
There are many, as listed at: Note the services of

But unless you don?t want to spend a lot of time and/or are willing to
spend some money, I think you should be self-reliant (and continue to
use resources like Google Answers). To my mind, you already have the
essentials to effective marketing: a Unique Selling Proposition
(?all-natural photography of your family?s life where you live it? is
one way to put it); you have great product ?samples?, and you don?t
have to spend a lot of money to create a flyer that will do you proud
(Kinko?s can help, inexpensively.)

I hope this answer opens up some exciting possibilities for you. By
the way, I have worked in advertising most of my life, as a
copywriter. And the principles of effective marketing have permanently
embedded themselves in me.

Good luck!

Request for Answer Clarification by hilda18-ga on 02 Aug 2004 14:40 PDT
Thanks so much for your great answer. You've really given me some great ideas. 
I do live close to the "affluent suburbs", if you can just throw me
one or two more ideas, I'd be thrilled. They don't have to be more
than a couple of sentences. Should  I use cupons etc? Any other places
aside from Whole foods?

Clarification of Answer by scribe-ga on 02 Aug 2004 18:11 PDT
Oops. I posted my clarification as a comment. If my "comment"
satisfies, then it wil serve as my "clarification." Thanks.
hilda18-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you, for your answer.

Subject: Re: Promote small business
From: scribe-ga on 02 Aug 2004 18:10 PDT
Hello again,
The other avenue I think you might explore is the suburban weekly
newspapers. Perhaps you could work out a deal with one or more of them
for a small display ad (perhaps containing a 10 percent off coupon),
to run in tandem with an article about your services. My feeling is
that your services are rather unique and therefore could be
"newsworthy." By the way, these publications may offer an ad-design

Ideally, you should also have a press release to quickly  present
yourself to such publications, and to make it easy for them to give
you the publicity you seek. If you are not comfortable writing such a
release, maybe hiring a local freelance writer would be worth the
bucks. take a look at:, the website of Independent Writers of Chicago.

Another idea might be contacting local churches and synagogues. Most
have a weekly bulletin, and a display ad in such bulletins may not be
too costly.

Hope this adds a little more "meat."
Subject: Re: Promote small business
From: onthego-ga on 04 Sep 2004 00:51 PDT
Have you utilized your current customer base? Asking for referrals?

You said you "had a great business card"....does it feature some of
your photography? And instead of a business card (which can often land
up in someone's trashcan!),what about a magnet of some sort? Either an
oversized business card type or one that is also a picture frame. One
that stays on a refrigerator...perhaps one that incorporated some of
your work.

Getting and keeping your company name in front of your target audience
is a layering process.(NOTE: who is your target market? Mothers?
Brides? Get in front of whoever it is!) Perhaps I saw one of your
coupons and threw it out thinking I didn't really need/want your
services right now. But there you were again a month or so
later....written up in the local business journal. And a month later,
someone at church showed wonderful pictures of she and her
husband...she raved about your company! I was thinking about pictures
of my niece, who am I likely to call??

Give 2 business cards to every customer or prospect you for
their records and one to give to a friend.

Good luck!
Subject: Re: Promote small business
From: hilda18-ga on 05 Sep 2004 06:37 PDT
Hi onthego-ga,
Thanks for your comment. I'm starting to realise that there's no one
answer, so I guess I'll try them all.
I just ordered the magnets, that's a great idea! My business cards do
have my photos on there finally!
Thank you so much for your great suggestions, I really appreciate it.

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