Swing Dance Yard SignYou’re shopping in your favorite natural foods store when a smiling woman asks if you’d like a free sample of a new hand cream made with organic ingredients. When you accept, she launches into a gentle product pitch while handing over the tube.

Promotions are a classic consumer-marketing tactic. Designed to target individual customers, they stimulate buyer interest and prompt immediate sales.

There are as many ways to customize a marketing strategy for a small business as there are types of businesses.  For storefront businesses that depend on foot traffic, eye-catching window displays and exterior signage are essential. Consider using:

vinyl banners (long-lasting and reusable)
sidewalk sandwich boards
yard signs

You might also consider direct marketing methods, such as:

• telemarketing
• direct mail letters
• catalogs

Direct marketing may be a good addition to your marketing mix if you:

• Have an extensive, up-to-date mailing list of your target market
• Sell direct to consumers through the mail, phone and Internet
• Sell a high-end product that requires a more personal, detailed approach than advertising allows
• Depend on regular renewals to build sales, such as subscriptions.

Of course, these days many businesses do the lion’s share of their marketing via the Web. Even if you have a storefront as well as an online presence, you’ll want to consider using:

• email blasts
• an e-newsletter
• a blog
social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

What’s the optimum marketing strategy for your small business? Only you and your advisers know that. The best course of action is to select a few key elements from both online and offline marketing, and test them for at least six months, tweaking as needed. Discover what builds business best for you, and hone your marketing plan accordingly.