by David Tandet

What if I told you there’s a way to get publicity for your business that’s super-effective, loads of fun, and . . . did I mention? Builds your reputation among local merchants for the cost of . . . absolutely nothing.

Got your attention?

Of course I do. Or we’re holding a bonfire, and your business cards are the fuel.

Here’s how it is:

I’d heard the Staples Stores sometime put on expos where local merchants exhibit. Set up their wares for a day and greet passing customers.

Now this sounded great. Great, but unbelievable. Getting to appear at an expo is the type of thing that normally costs money. So the chance for a copywriter to connect with business folks in his own community? “The sales power next door” sounded too good to be true.

I got in touch with Staples’ topflight event coordinator, and asked if I’d heard right. Or was this just another urban myth? No, I was told, I had indeed heard correctly. And guess what? There was an upcoming event happening a mile away from me the very next week. I explained that as a marketing copywriter I have a special interest in people that use Staples office supplies, and I’d love to exhibit.

Here’s the email I received that afternoon:

David: We’re very happy to have you participate in the Small Business Event at the Santa Monica Staples store on 4/13. It looks like your business will be a perfect fit for this event. I’ll put you down right now and let the store know you’ll be attending. On the day of the event, arrive around 10:30 a.m. and let the people at one of the two tables in the front of the store know you’re there. They will take you to a 2×4 table that you can decorate however you’d like at no charge.

The entire event was professionally run – top to bottom. In addition to community merchants, bank branch managers, and individuals from service organizations, representatives from national Staples suppliers were there. I made several new acquaintances. And I’ve since written marketing materials for two of my neighboring exhibitors.

Large business-to-business expos? They’ll remain some of the most lucrative venues for a businessperson to interact with potential clients. But for as long as I can interact with community vendors at a class act like Staples, the Staples event will stay on my list as well. That’s what I call a win/win situation.

Now that you know about the sales power next door, what are some other ways you can think of to promote your business? If you’re good at what you do, your community merchants need you. They’re looking for you right now. It’s up to you to let them know you’re out there. It’s up to you to develop your reputation power.

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Post filed under Marketing Communications.