It can be difficult as a business owner to promote your business, marketing and promotion can seem like a full-time job in itself. Budgets are squeezed and, for many small businesses, it’s not practical to hire a marketing professional or outsource the job to an agency. We looked at some ways you can drum up business on your own – and there are plenty!

These days we often devote so much of our time, energy, and budgets to online promotion, however, we shouldn’t over look off-line advertising and promotional materials.

Depending on what type of business you have and what its focus is, you can determine which materials make sense for you. Let’s run through them.

  • Business cards: There is no need to spend a lot on extravagant cards or a professional logo; sites like Vistaprint make business cards and other promotional materials affordable and accessible to everyone. Some points to keep in mind:
    • Ensure your information is accurate and up-to-date. Also, a no brainer: if you’re listing a business email address that you don’t check regularly, make sure you start checking it now!
    • Make the design visually pleasing, keep it simple and don’t clutter your cards with a busy logo designs and too much information. The focus should be on your business and how potential customers can reach you, so ensure the info is easy for them to find.
    • Order enough; the last thing you want is to attend a networking event or meet a potential customer only to realize you have run out of cards.


  • Rack Cards: These cards are effective if used in the right situation. However, don’t waste your time and money handing them out or sticking them on every windshield in sight as this won’t likely convert to new customers. A smart–and more efficient use of your money–is to distribute them on bulletin boards in places potential customers might look. For example, parks, cafes, universities, libraries, hotel lobbies, waiting rooms and apartment complexes are just a few places that have bulletin boards where you can post your materials.


  • Brochures: If your business offers multiple services that you feel needs to be explained, then consider brochures. They are pricier so make sure they fit your business needs and will get good use. Like rack cards, they are well suited to distributing to local businesses which display other brochures and promotional flyers such as hotel lobbies.


  • Postcards: Postcard can be used for more than just mailing, they have many different purposes, such as promotions, sales, and special events. However, there are a few key points to keep in mind:
    • Make headlines bold and short
    • Include a call to action – phone number or email
    • Encourage action, such as a deadline on a current promotion
    • Splurge for glossy, color postcards, which are eye-catching and effective
    • Don’t overcomplicate them with too much information; people just won’t read it


  • Swag / Promo items: It might make sense for you to spend your promotional budget on “swag” items, which are items that potential customers could use in their everyday lives, such as t-shirts, pens, magnets, cups, drink holders, bottle openers, etc. Think about what would be a good match for your business–magnets and pens are universally used, while items such as cups and drink coasters tend to be used more by bars and restaurants. Other examples of swag include USB flash drives and mouse pads; these tend to be well-suited to businesses focusing on professional services such as website design, computer repair, etc. Before you spend your budget on these items, think about what will be a good match, and most importantly, if people will actually use see your logo and use the item.


  • Flyers: The best use of flyers is to inform potential customers about special events and offers. Many of the same tips apply: keep it simple and uncluttered, make contact information prominent, and be clear about the services you offer and/or details of the event or promotion.

You should now have a few ideas on what promotional materials are available to you. If you have a logo, make sure it’s used consistently across all of the promotional materials. Ensure your contact phone number, website URL and email addresses are all consistent and working.

Now, get to promoting!