You have heard the axiom "use your powers for good" and financial ambitions aside, many of us went into small business for ourselves specifically with this goal in mind. It is possible to apply your virtues to promote your business and reap both financial rewards and a few extra points with karma.
Be neighborly: Leverage the store-next-door to create partner incentive programs for your customers. The wedding industry has mastered this with limousine companies, florists, invitation printers and reception halls working together to capture business with coordinated offers. This creates the opportunity for cross marketing and doubling your visibility, not to mention stretching your advertising dollar.
In addition to creating opportunities for your customers to enjoy these incentives, business owners can buddy up to companion vendors to create a direct line of revenue. Graphic designers often coordinate with printers, outsourcing work to one another.
Be charitable: Seek out a need and fill it while creating opportunities for visibility. Donate private-labeled water bottles or snacks to a local road race (Check out this website for local area road races in and around Boston.) Photographs of participants holding the water bottles will likely appear in newspapers or future brochures and advertisements. U Day Spa on the North Shore has promoted business by giving away private labeled water bottles at event tables at their local Boston Sports Club branch.
Alternatively, aim your good will effort at children. Many small businesses sponsor sports teams and spring for the kids' uniform T-shirts, complete with a silkscreen company logo.
Be honest: Share your successes and your failures. Small businesses owners know that like life, business is often a roller coaster full of ups and downs. But if you're marketing for small business, each event provides an opportunity for enhancing visibility. Publicize your growth in press releases. Announce new products and services in email or direct mail campaigns.
Lastly, don't overlook the opportunity to communicate your expertise through publishing case studies of failed ventures. Lessons learned are invaluable and can be well positioned in online newsletters and white papers.