The business world is competitive and marketing is everything. Promoting your store is crucial to drawing in consumers and developing your reputation. Advertising and marketing don’t always have to put a strain on your budget; there are cost efficient ways of promoting your store that can really make a difference in your consumer relations.

Here are some ways to affordably market your store:

Networking: Especially in this day and age, networking is key. With Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can talk about your store, describe popular products, advertise promotions and more. Who knows…customers might Tweet about how much they loved a product purchased in your shop!

Publicity: Try writing press releases about store events and sending them to local newspapers and news stations. Many mediums love to cover interesting local events.

Rewards programs: Satisfied customers will remain loyal and will recommend you to their friends and peers. You may choose to reward frequent customers, for example, by having a “make 10 purchases, get a $5 off coupon” deal. This could help ensure repeat purchases. Be sure to do it in a way, however, that doesn’t take much off your bottom line.

Product preview presentation: Have product manufacturers come in for a brief presentation of your newest products. Customers can try samples and, hopefully, encourage them to buy something new. Everyone loves freebies!

Tradeshows: Host a booth at a local health fair. Tell visitors about what your store has to offer, advertise upcoming events/seminars and hand out store flyers.

Ask your manufacturers for help: Run a contest and talk to your top manufacturers about donating products that can be used as prizes. You’ll be promoting product and encouraging customers to visit your store at the same time.

Word of mouth: This may seem obvious, but it is the cheapest way to advertise for your business. By making your store stand apart from the crowd, customers will tell friends and family about your store. WF

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2011