The easiest way to promote and market your business effectively is by talking to customers!
You should do this at every given opportunity, through phone calls, face-to-face interactions, and where relevant through surveys published via CRM's, email marketing, social media, et al.
Always establish what you are doing right and what else the customer might buy from you, in terms of products or services.
A customer who likes doing business with you, is highly likely, if asked, to open up and tell you what else they buy elsewhere, that they would prefer to buy from you, due to convenience or better service (or simply because they would prefer to give you their money instead of another competitor)
Customers will also share feedback on other competitors' strengths and weaknesses, giving you valuable insight into how you might diversify into other areas of business.
Disclaimer: You are not going to get great ideas from every customer and some requests might simply not work within your current business model. No matter. Stay positive and engaged; in a worst-case scenario, the customer will feel more positive towards you, share their conversation with others (word of mouth) and reinforce the fact you are interested in them (reinforcing loyalty)
Speaking with existing customers is the most effective way to boost your promotion and marketing and in many cases, it's free!
2. Keep your business premises and/or shop front neat, clean, and tidy!
The first rule in marketing is to keep your premises neat, clean, and tidy, especially those areas where the general public has access (and don't think customers won't go into your 'off limits' areas once in a while)
The overall presentation of your business, inside and out, tells customers everything they need to know about your professional standards. This sets the tone and leads to those BIG questions a customer is going to be thinking about before they do business with you.
For example, can they trust you? Presentation is key to doing business with people, whatever attire you choose to dress in (doesn't matter) as long as you are clean and tidy and meet their expectations.
Also - is your product or service going to meet their expectations and do you pay attention to the details? A tidy business premises say YES; an untidy one says NO (or at least creates doubt)
3. Dress up your business premises and make them stand out from the other buildings around you.
This is a massive one! So many areas of business and commerce are bland across the world, no more so than the UK!
You only need to do some image searches on Google around 'high street japan, or 'Japanese high streets' to see how dressing up business premises can be done effectively, using colour and engaging signage.
Disclaimer: There is a reason why UK business areas and high streets are bland and it very often ties into local council rules and regulations. These regulations tend to be enforced on permanent signage or signage that poses a health and safety issue or is 'not in keeping' with the area.
You need to box clever, so to speak.
There are rarely any regs in place for temporary signage, especially if it's out of harm's way and is in keeping with the local area and surroundings.
Here is a list of items you can use you dress up your premises at minimal cost:
4. Work with your suppliers to offer regular promotions
Nothing works wonders than offering customers old (and new) a special deal or offer to increase footfall and sales. There is no business on this planet that wouldn't benefit by running promotions.
Customers are in tune with special offers, promotions and the 'odd' bargain - it's in our DNA, so never discount (excuse the pun) working hard with your suppliers or partners to offer something enticing.
5. Create events around themes
This is another underused marketing and promotion strategy that works a treat, especially if you can get experts involved in giving talks and demonstrations.
Tie the event into new product launches or special promotions and BAM! That's gold dust right there!
6. Evolve and Research how your business can change product and service offerings.
Set up a new project, away from 'business as usual', and do some thorough research into how you can evolve your business, move with the times and pivot this into new product/service launches.
Change is inevitable and you must embrace evolving your business, so you stay fresh and relevant.
Research can be conducted online; calling existing suppliers and visiting trade shows.
Always ask yourself 'what's new' out there and take an active role in embracing new products and service offerings.
7. Keep in touch with your customers
Always keep in touch with your customers and keep them informed of what's new in your business.
Keeping customers up to date can be done by word of mouth if you are a traditional business, or by using the many software-based solutions (from emails to online marketing campaigns) if your customers are based across the region you serve.
Communication is key when marketing and promoting your business, so never let the conversation dry up; always be seen by your customers as innovative and you won't go far wrong!