Chicago Small Business Marketing – Part 1 – Basics

Distributing Marketing MaterialThe Chicago-land area has several great areas to distribute marketing material. The La Salle and Union Train Stations are great places to hand out postcards, brochures, and flyers. The great thing about distributing marketing material in these areas is that you are guaranteed to get a broader audience. People that take the train downtown to work in Chicago come from all over the state of Illinois. If you want to reach a large broad audience, handing out information at these train stations is detrimental. Millennium Park and North Beach are also very popular relaxing spots where several people gather in one place. When the weather is warm, these are also great places to hand out marketing material. Remember, handing out free material at any of these locations is legal as long as you are not selling or soliciting any product or service.DO NOT flyer parking lots or place advertisements on vehicles. First of all, businesses may call the police and you can be fined. Second, if too many of your advertisements are thrown on the ground, you or your business may be cited for littering. Finally, it is hard to win someone over to visit your business or website if you upset them by invading their personal space.Lawn SignsLawn signs are a cost-effective way to advertise your business. They are very cheap and can gain lots of exposure if marketed the right way. For example, 18 inch by 24 inch lawn signs only cost around $3.00 each and come with a 10″ x 30″ stand. Placing ten different lawn signs with your business info at major intersections (with the permission of the city of Chicago, Cook County, or state of Illinois) is sure to bring traffic to your business. If you do not have the time or effort to contact these authorities, there are other ways to use lawn signs. One possibility is contacting businesses off major streets or intersections and asking them if you can place your sign on their property for a small price. Or, you can talk to neighbors that live on busy streets or near intersections and offer them money or even better, discounts on goods or services that your business offers.DO NOT place lawn signs on un-authorized property without permission. Best case scenario you will lose a $3.00 yard sign from someone who is paid to remove them. Worst case scenario, you may be fined up to $250.00 in Chicago, IL.Trade-ShowsThere are several different trade-shows occurring each month in the Chicago-land area. Some of the most popular trade-shows are Home and Garden Expos, Home Improvement Expos, Bridal Expos, Golf Expos, and Pet Expos. It is relatively cost- effective to become a vendor at many of these shows. Prices range from $800 – $1,000 for a 10 foot x 10 foot booth to $1,500 – $1,800 for a 10 foot x 20 foot booth. Most shows are two days (Friday and Saturday), although some shows are three-day events (Friday – Sunday). The prices for these booths are for the entire show, whether it be two days or three days. You should not expect to pay more than $1,000 for a 10 foot x 10 foot booth, unless you are at the McCormick Place. Trade-shows are by far the best place to find new clients. You are able to see your customers face to face and have the opportunity to catch their undivided attention, at least for a few minutes. If you cannot sell them you product or service on the spot, you still have a chance to gather their contact information. When all other resources are exhausted, be sure to speak to ever vendor at the trade-show. It’s best to speak to every vendor the first day of the show a couple hours before the show starts. Go around to each booth when they are setting up, introduce yourself and ask them for a business card or marketing material from their company. Go around to each vendor until you collected everyone’s information.
Even though they are business owners, remember we are all consumers as well.Vehicle WrapsChances are if you own a business, you own a vehicle. Wrapping a vehicle with your company logo or information can be one of the biggest bangs for your buck when it comes to cost per impression. Cost per impression is the price that you pay for each person to view your ad. A vehicle driven on a Chicago highway will be seen by well over thousands of vehicles or more depending upon the length of time and distance the vehicle is driven. If the cost of a vehicle wrap for a standard car is two thousand dollars, which means the cost per impression over the cost of a year are pennies or even fractions of a penny per impression. The best thing about a vehicle wrap is the one-time cost. Unlike other advertising methods, in most cases, the vehicle wrap will pay for itself in less than a year. After a year, it is free advertising except for the cost of insurance and gas.a Great Idea on How to Advertise and Help People at the Same TimeSome businesses have to pinch every penny to get started and that is completely understandable. Sometimes making sacrifices now can help your business later. There are many of people in the Chicago land area that could use extra clothing. It is very cheap to print your company logo with information on a t-shirt and donate them to Goodwill, a homeless shelter, or other local charitable fund. On a more extreme note, can you image if you donated heavy jackets with your company logo to people homeless and freezing? The news stations would probably be following you up and down the Chicago streets! Of course, you realize what that could do for your business! If it is truly from the heart and money permitting, this would be a great idea to implement.Look out for Chicago Small Business Marketing – Part II Intermediate