Small-business owners get marketing tips; Plattsburgh State event targets small businesses
PLATTSBURGH -- Marketing a small business need not be a backbreaking -- or bank-breaking -- task.

That was the message of Dr. Nancy Church, chair of the Marketing and Entrepreneurship Department at Plattsburgh State, as she presented a seminar on "25 Business-Boosting Marketing Methods."

The seminar was co-hosted by TD Banknorth and Plattsburgh State's Small-Business Development Center. About 30 people involved in small businesses attended.

Church taught advertising for many years at Plattsburgh State. She also used many of these practices in marketing Plattsburgh Motor Service, which her family sold in 2002.

"I also do a lot of volunteer work for non-profits. They have very little money, so you have to be resourceful," she said.


Church started off by displaying a variety of promotional items, such as coffee cups, storage tins, calendars, T-shirts and notepaper pads, all with company or product logos displayed. She said such items can cost anywhere from 10 cents to a few dollars, but, if used carefully, can bring a far greater return.

"Some of these are better than others. You want them to be related to your business or to be something someone will use every day," Church said.

Collectibles work well as a means of giving customers a reason to return to a business several times, she said.


Another suggestion was to target an audience, using niche-oriented media, such as cable-television channels or trade magazines, to reach those more likely to be interested in a company's wares or services. Locally, recommendations included Jill Magazine and Strictly Business.


For public relations, Church suggested putting together a background piece on the business, including company information, products and other aspects. The background information can then be easily plugged into any new press releases.


Bartering is a good way for young businesses, which often have a poor cash flow, to receive recognition. Examples include receiving recognition for services rendered, such as "clothing by" or "hairstyling by."
Another example is the recognition gained from participating in roadside cleanups, with a company's name placed on a roadside sign.


Many small-business people have expertise few others possess, Church said. They should take advantage of opportunities to put their expertise on display, through speaking engagements at service organizations or schools, public-service announcements, or newspaper or magazine articles.


As a final and bonus marketing strategy, Church said it was important to join Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce. It provides numerous networking opportunities, such as its monthly Business After Hours programs and semi-annual Biz Expo.

"Make sure you show up loaded with your business cards. You can meet tons of people," Church said.


Yankee Medical Manager and orthotist Judy Campbell said the company has its own newsletter. It features items about new developments in prosthetics and medical equipment, which are sent to people who might be interested in that issue's topics.

She said the company has also been successful with promotions such as Yankee Dollars, which can be used for 10 percent off a subsequent visit.

Campbell said the seminar was useful, as small-business people are always looking for new ways to attract business.

"I think marketing is the most difficult part of the job. I think efforts tend to get stale after a while," she said. "You have to find ways to get your name back out there, so people will know and remember it."


TD Banknorth Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer Thomas Koester said the bank was pleased with the chance to take part in the seminar.

"We are always interested in community service, especially when it is related to business development. If it's good for the community, ultimately it's good for the bank," Koester said. "Ultimately, we hope some of these people are successful and become customers of the bank."

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