When it comes to small business marketing, many businesses are forced to work with a very limited budget. Being able to come up with creative and low-cost marketing ideas is the key. With a limited budget, finding ways to market that cost little or no money but still bring in customers is your goal. One way to do this is to consider finding community organizations looking for business donations of products or services. With my small businesses over the years, I have found business donations can be a very effective marketing tool.
There are many organizations that look for companies throughout the year who are willing to donate their products or services for things like raffles, door prizes, or silent auctions. You can donate a tangible product or a gift certificate for products or services. These donations are then used by the community agency to raise funds for their organization.
One place that, as a business owner, I found lots of success with was elementary schools. Where schools used to do fundraisers with catalogs and the kids going door to door, many schools are now turning to ‘bingo night’ or school activities that include a ‘silent auction’. Either one of these work well to promote your business, as the PTA’s are very good about making it known to parents what companies they received donations from. If you are a retail business selling a particular product, both of these are a fantastic way for potential new customers to see what you carry. If you offer services, a gift certificate can also do the same. Just remember to ask if you can include business cards that potential customers can pick up if they find your product or service something they would be interested in.
Other good places to contact when looking to donate to an organization are local humane societies, Boy’s and Girl’s clubs, homeless shelter or services, or any organization within your community that conducts fundraisers throughout the year. You can also look at more national organizations like the American Cancer Society or other medical groups. These may cater to a more national level and are good if your business is not specific to your physical business location.
Community organizations are always looking for businesses to make donations, and many have volunteers that do nothing but try and find these businesses who are willing to donate to their cause. Contacting them and volunteering makes their jobs easier, and you may find that you are asked every time they have a new fundraiser.
Organization donating of products or services from your business also shows prospective customers that you care about the community in which your business is located. Making the decision as to which organizations to donate to can be difficult, but I always recommend donating to an organization that means something personally or that your products have a connection to. I usually did my donations to the schools silent auctions, because I was always active at the schools as well, so other parents were able to connect my business with me. Now, if you own a pet shop, a donation of pet supplies to an animal shelter’s fundraising event would probably prove to be in your best interest.
Either way, you will find that the donation of a product or service is of little cost to your business, but the potential for new customers it creates is unlimited. For those small businesses working on a tight marketing budget, donations can prove to be your best marketing tool and can make you feel good that you are helping others at the same time.
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