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Now is not the time to stop marketing your business. Fact is sales and marketing are the two ways to produce revenues. You must continue to keep your customers interested and informed and attract new customers. The economy will turn around and you want to be ready for it. The key is to find cheaper ways of promoting your business.
One-way that costs little or no money is applying for and winning small business awards and contests offered by corporations, professional associations and government agencies.
As a small business owner I received multiple awards from the Small Business Administration, local Chamber of Commerce and community organizations. Each time I was recognized for excellent service, community service, or leadership there was another story in the newspapers about my company. Television interviews and speaking invitations rolled in. More opportunities to bid on contracts came our way.
When someone else toots your horn it increases your credibility. Potential customers learn about you and become customers. The media wants to tell your story. It starts with you. You have to toot your own horn first by nominating your company or getting a customer to nominate you.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Yearly the U. S. Small Business Administration has a Small Business Week program during which they present an award for Small Business Person of the Year for each state. From the state award recipients they choose a national winner. There is no entry fee.
- The U. S. Chamber of Commerce has the America Small Business of the Year awards program which is open to members and nonmembers. The online application is available for $25 for members and $150 for nonmembers which include a one year e-membership. You must be able to attend the organizations annual summit where the awards are presented.
- Check to see if your local Chamber has an awards program. I received an award for the fastest growing business in the region from my local Chamber of Commerce.
- The Stevie American Business Awards celebrate business people in many categories. One category recognizes women entrepreneurs and their achievements. The entry fee is $230.
- The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship offers awards for achievement and advocacy as well as education and others. The Association presents awards at their annual conference. There is no entry fee.
- Check out awards and contests and awards sponsored by organizations specific to your industry. I was in the contract maintenance and cleaning business and received the Executive Housekeeper of the Year award from the Massachusetts chapter of the International Executive Housekeepers Association.
- Newspapers and magazines recognize entrepreneurs with business lists such as largest business, fastest growing business, fastest growing woman-owned business, largest woman-owned business.
When you win an award write a press release and send it to your media contacts just in case they did not get the news. Put it on your website, in your newsletter on your Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook page.
Carrie H Johnson is founder of three businesses including a cleaning service she started with no money and grew to a multimillion dollar contract-cleaning company that supported 165 employees. During her 17 years as President of this company she received several business and community awards.
Ms. Johnson is a small business adviser specializing in business and program development, business planning, public relations and marketing. She also is a journalist and author. She has written for several newspapers and has a book scheduled for release in early 2009.
Ms. Johnson has served on several Board of Directors including for The Center for Women and Enterprise, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower women to be economically self-sufficient and prosperous through entrepreneurship. She also served on the board for the New England Minority Supplier Development Council, Wayside Youth and Family Network, and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
Ms. Johnson has a BA and MA in journalism from California State University, Los Angeles and Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Please visit http://www.carriehjohnson.com
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