Last month, we discussed some ways to keep your brand name in front of potential customers. This month, I've got another concept you might find useful to you.

Most areas have a business owners' assocation, such as the chamber of commerce. Some chambers do an excellent job of promoting each business, while others seemingly cater only to a select group of people.

If your area does not have a Chamber of Commerce or similar group, or if it is not meeting your needs, you might start your own cooperative of local business owners.

Some things to consider:

  • meetings- of course, your group will decide how often to meet, but what should you do at these meetings? One option is to have different members present a topic at each meeting, perhaps even having local guest speakers at special meetings. For example, when gearing up for tax season, have a local accountant speak about ways to prepare for April 15. Make your meetings open to the public, and keep the group's name in front of the press. A write up for the local paper after each meeting is a great way to get new members, plus you will become known as public servants. You might also consider having some meetings that are simply brain- storming meetings, where members can help each other solve their problems.
  • meeting times- make sure you set a time that is convenient for the business owners in your area. Some folks may be able to take a lunch hour, while others might appreciate a chance to mingle after hours.
  • dues- you might only charge enough to cover postage expenses and other incidental expenses. Remember, this is not a way to make money, it's simply a way to promote businesses in your area.
  • members- you want to invite members who will compliment your own business. For example, someone who owns a printing office might consider having a local florist as one of the members. Since weddings need both services, each business can easily refer folks to other members.

The end result should be a group that works well together, is willing to pitch in to help solve problems and will be able to refer potential customers to each other, plus is seen as a group that is contributing something back to the community.

For more ideas on how to market your business, check out one of my favorite books: Off-The-Wall Marketing Ideas, by Nancy Michaels and Debbi J. Karpowicz. At around $12 for the paperback, you can't go wrong. It's wonderfully full of great ideas, and it will inspire you to come up with more of your own ideas as well.

Enjoy!