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FORTUNE Small Business:

Jump-start your marketing

A new retailer needs to spread the word it's open for business. Ask FSB's experts weigh in with marketing tips.

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Get small-business intelligence from the experts. Here's a chance for YOU to ask your pressing small-business questions, and FSB editors will help you get answers from the appropriate experts.
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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: My business opened two months ago, I'm worried that I'm not getting the word out fast enough. What is the fastest way to get the word out that I'm here and now open?

- Rhonda Bernard, Roni's Lingerie, Redding, Calif.

Dear Rhonda: If you're challenged by cash flow, you'll need to get the word out quickly. Neil Schaffer, CEO of Princeton, N.J.-based Longview Consulting Group, recommends that you concentrate on differentiation. In Redding and the surrounding area, you have your fair share of competition with Victoria's Secret (LTD, Fortune 500) and other lingerie boutiques.

"Without the funds for a mass-market advertising campaign, take a hard look at your product line, pricing and service. What can you offer that your competitors can't?" Schaffer says. "Once you find your edge, figure out your target market and increase awareness through direct and guerilla marketing."

Lois Geller of Mason & Geller Direct Marketing in Hollywood, Fla., suggests evaluating your signage and window displays so that passersby will be drawn in. She also recommends guerilla marketing techniques. "Design promotions such as '10 percent off the first purchase' or a gift when a certain amount is spent in one visit," she suggests.

Schaffer suggests going to shoe and clothing boutiques, where potential customers are already shopping. Negotiate offers with the owners of those stores to swap coupons to put on checkout counters.

Still no luck? Schaffer recommends organizing Tupperware parties or a fashion show.

"If there's a university nearby, get students involved," he says. "Use them as both your models and your audience. Post ads around the campus. Even if only a small number shows up, you know that plenty more know about it - and awareness is the key to bringing in new customers."

For more information, check out our October 2006 story, "Taking on Victoria's Secret," and the update on that story in July 2007. To top of page

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