Need some ideas to jump-start your small business marketing in a slow economy? Here are a few ideas I have tried that have worked for my retail business:

Sampling ~ restaurants do it all the time. Give your product away to get customers. Be sure you are targeting an audience that would buy from you in the first place.

Create a preferred customer event and showcase your products. A local gift basket company has a gift basket open house each year and showcases her latest line

Try classified ads – they are cheaper than graphic ads and can sometimes generate more traffic. People are looking for opportunities in classifieds these days more than ever. If you have what someone needs your phone will ring. In fact, I have a list of classified ad media on WE Magazine for Women website. It is listed under the 100 resources category.

Wear Your Company on Your sleeve – or chest or purse or back…. Logo wear is coming back in style and if you are proud of your company wear it! You never know when you will be in the supermarket and someone will strike up a conversation and ask you about it. I have found my Shaklee distributor, my Mary Kay distributor, my dentist and my dog groomer this way….. Think of McDonalds – it is no accident that everyone in the company wears McDonalds attire. Its branding – brand recognition is especially important in a down economy because you want people to remember your name. I have had it happen over and over again where people have met me and forgotten the name of my company. So they called someone else. Don’t let that happen to you.

In one of my groups we have a person who sells promotional items – I will never forget her name or her company ~ Promo Girl because she wears her name on her sweater which is part of her 50’s attire – poodle skirt and all! When I need promotional items she is the first person to come to mind.

Take a class – something you enjoy and where you meet new people. When I took ballroom dancing a few years ago the instructor and every one in the class became a customer of mine. Many still are.

Cross promote – A few years ago, we partnered my retail florist with a New baby store and traded space in each others ezine and which we handed out to our customers and included in their bags at checkout. It was a great way to double our exposure and get in front of a new audience. New mothers get flowers when they have babies… and people need suggestions for gifts when the baby is born. A win-win!

Here are some helpful resources that I have used to grow my business:

Most of the resources I would recommend are books. And I suggest if you have not yet done so read some of the classics in business for motivation and inspiration. They include Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and The e-myth and emyth revisted by Michael Gerber. Nothing like a good refresher to get your motor running. They are classics for a reason, they are filled with best practices and stories nearly every business can use and apply to our own situations.

And two other books I recommend are:

Spin Selling by Neil Rackham and Selling Blue Elephants ~ how to make great products that people want before they even know they want them by Howard Moskowitz and Alex Gofman.

These are just a few of the offline marketing tips I have used in business. Feel free to share your offline marketing tips for your small business (in the comments below):