Free Marketing Alternatives Do Exist

By: Alyice Edrich

Have you ever wanted to find a low cost alternative to marketing your company? Have you wanted to promote your business to thousands of people, outside of your local area, but couldn't afford the cost? Did you ever wish you could spread the word about a fabulous small business that you frequently use? Then you are going to love this co-op marketing idea.

Simply put, you join groups that agree to help market each other's materials, free of charge.

There are several groups set up online for this very purpose, but you'll have to do a little research to find them. One such group is The Mom Pack ( It uses the free listserv, Yahoogroups, for its correspondences.

Basically what happens is you send a notice to the online listserv that you are willing to accept promotional materials in exchange for distribution of your materials by the person who sends you his or her materials.

Promotional materials can be anything that has your company contact information. Such as:

  • business cards

  • flyers

  • discount coupons

  • buy one get one free coupons

  • pens

  • pencils

  • notepads

  • samples of your products

  • free one hour consultations

  • free one-time service

  • contest announcements

  • magnets

  • bookmarks

  • gimmicks with your promo info

Are you planning to send just a filler?? A filler is any paper material that has your company contact information, plus other marketing lingo, such as:

  • a cute ad slogan

  • information about a particular product you want to highlight

  • a coupon code

  • a percentage off

  • announcing a new product

  • holiday themes etc.

Your fillers can be any number of shapes, sizes, and/or colors.? But all fillers should be taken as an important marketing tool that represents your business. Make sure that:

  • there are no typos

  • quality paper is used (even copy paper)

  • ink is not smudged

  • ink is not starting to bleed

  • ink is not starting to lose its print quality

  • there are no torn edges

  • pictures are clear, crisp, uncluttered, and not blurry

  • the cut looks professional, not like a child cut them

Once you receive the promotional materials from others, simply place them in clear bags and seal by stapling or tying with a nice ribbon. You can even add a nice label on the front of the packet, describing the group that you are promoting. Each of the above groups have nice logos that you are free to use when promoting the packs within their group.

Use fillers that compliment your business, but are not your direct competition.? Also keep filler packs to a maximum; fifteen per pack is a great number -- which guarantees that other businesses will not get overlooked, passed by, or even worse, not read.

Try to keep your costs down by shipping the cheapest way possible.? Also, try to send enough fillers that you are spending under 37 cents per person/ad.

Once the packets are put together you can distribute the packets throughout your area. In return, those who have received your information will distribute their packets throughout their local areas.

Distribution of packets can be as follows:

  • Sent out with customer orders

  • Local Family Support Center (such as those found on a military air base)

  • Moms and Tots Groups

  • Church Functions

  • Day Care Providers

  • Hospitals/Child Birth Classes

  • La Leche Groups

  • Sporting Events with your kids

  • Chamber of Commerce Members

  • Parent/ Teacher Associations

  • Craft shows

  • Home Party Businesses (at the shows)

  • Doctors offices - especially OB/GYN

  • Media Outlets with Press Releases

  • Enter a parade.? Prepare a float for your business and have your kids and their friends pass out packs to the on-lookers, while you advertise and drive your float in the parade.

  • Wherever you put up or hand out your flyers and information

If you choose to deliver the packets to an organization, it is always best to speak to someone ahead of time and get their permission to leave the packets.

Start with the first person you see, as they have more time to listen to your idea and will be able to help you pitch the idea to their boss. If the person in charge is unavailable to meet with you, leave a sample packet and a promotional letter for his or her review, then make an appointment to meet and discuss the benefits these packets have for their customers or clients.

But if the person in charge can spare a few moments to meet with you, simply introduce yourself and your business. Then state, "I am a member of a National Mothers Group that distributes promotional packs, for FREE, to local area moms and dads. Would you be interested in offering our packets, free of charge, to your clients (or customers)?"

While you are speaking with this person, hold your best packet in your hand, dangling it ever so carefully in front of the person you are speaking with.

Do not hand the packet to this person right away as you want her to be curious about contents of that packet. Also, by holding onto the packet, you are keeping her interest a bit longer. Once she asks to see the packet however, hand it over.

As she looks over the packet, say, "We try to include at least one sample or treat in each pack so that the packet is not just paper. The average packet has a minimum of one sample, but we strive to have at least three samples in each packet. (If you find that you do not have enough samples for one location, fill half the samples with hard candies and the other half with sample products.)

Once you have explained the contents of the packets and their purpose (savings and samples), offer to bring in a display that can be placed on a counter, the edge of a desk, or by the front door. The display can simply be an old shoebox decorated with nice wrapping paper and the logo of the group that you are helping to promote. The front of the display can simply say, "FREE. TAKE ONE." It can also have a second title tag that says, "Great discounts and samples for parents."

Once you get the okay to leave the packets, ask how many are needed, what is the best time to distribute the packets, and how often you can return with more packets. Finally, ask if she knows of any other programs or organizations that would benefit from the packets. (You want to ask for references whether she says yes or no to leaving the packets.)

On a final note, always work in what you do for a living and what product or service you are selling. You just never know when self-promotion can lead to something better. For instance, if you were Tracy of Tracy Trends, you could say, "I wrote a great book about potty training, which I have included information on, in this packet, everything else is from different businesses in our groups."

In closing, you will have a better chance of getting a "yes" because you are promoting a NATIONAL GROUP, not just your individual business, and you are offering something of value... samples, discounts, and an extra perk for visiting that company or organization.


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