Yellow pages, directories, SEO, PPC, trade magazines — there have never been so many ways to market. The reach a single person can have today is outstanding, yet a double-edged sword: There are too many options for most budgets. If you want to pick up extra business on the cheap, stay local.
You might think that Elance and other freelance job boards are better places to find work, but they're not. Local businesses like to deal with other local businesses – it's easier to meet face-to-face, builds trust and credibility, supports the local economy and holds you more accountable. Elance is great for finding freelance work, no doubt; but the fruits of your local B2B market can taste so much sweeter. Local competition can be just as fierce as online competition, so try these five unique places to advertise your graphic design services to local businesses. T-shirts – You don't have to buy a lot of shirts to achieve incredible brand recognition, especially if you're in a small market. Ask a local screen printer to make T-shirts with your logo, a dash of creative copy and your URL. Wear them everywhere. You can print just one T-shirt for less than $20, or print several and recruit friends and family members to wear them out and about. I know of at least one firm that started with a single T-shirt and ultimately grew into 40 worldwide locations. Contest – Hold a contest for art students at your high school or local college, and get the local media involved. You'll get free press, an invaluable benefit. I once created a contest whereby local art students were asked to submit designs for the next athletic T-shirts (these things are everywhere!). The winner received a $100 scholarship; the company sold the shirts and donated a portion of proceeds back to the school athletic program. Every time they cut a new check, they got even more free press! Accountant – Ask your accountant to pass along your brochure, sales sheet, business cards, etc., to other business clients. If they trust the guy with their money, they'll trust his recommendation. Takeout – Find a local restaurant that gets a lot of daily business orders, and ask them if you can leave a flier to be delivered to businesses. You could offer to help pay for the packaging, or you could trade services in return. You could also sponsor a special B2B coupon sheet and print them for a win-win-win scenario. Imagine your flier on every pizza box delivered to local businesses – that's branding! Utility Bills – Many municipalities today are selling ad space on vehicles and buildings to boost revenues. Some are willing to slip your flier or brochure in with the utility bill, for a fee (or potentially a service trade). What can you add?