Wherever you are in the world, you’d have to have been hiding pretty well to escape all the news of economic gloom and doom. Markets are taking a rollercoaster ride as people speculate what will happen in both Europe and America, while the growth in the Far East that was supposed to be helping has so far not materialized.

This could not have been timed much worse if you are running a small business, with the peak time for many companies, Christmas, fast approaching. Many are  scratching their heads, wondering whether to invest in marketing and promotions or hold on to their cash and brace themselves for what might happen in the future.

So what promotional activities can you undertake in the lead up to the holiday season whilst keeping an eye on the dark clouds that are gathering on the horizon? The key is value for the money, so let’s take a look at where your efforts should lie.

Newspaper and magazine advertising has been perceived as a dying art for some time, but newspaper and media exposure can still be an important way of getting your name known. There is one problem with this however — cost.

Using a simple bit of PR and getting it seen by the right people can be one way in which to appear in publications without paying the high costs demanded by their advertising departments. Use a bit of imagination and come up with something newsworthy that your company can be involved in. For example, do something for charity or to help the local community to get some local press coverage.

Another tactic is to distribute questionnaires and quizzes to your customers  to find lots of interesting ideas on which to base your press release. UK company called Engraved Gift Ideas did this, found out that This one questionnaire led to a press release that captured valuable national press coverage in newspapers and on radio. Best of all, it cost next to nothing!

The days of ignoring online marketing are well and truly gone, and many businesses could not survive without the money brought in by traffic to their website. Using Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be quite expensive, but it shouldn’t cost you the earth to do some basic optimization on your site so that you appear higher in Google’s organic rankings.

Don’t be intimidated by the technical side of thing. If you’re running your site by yourself, now might be the time to invest in a little training to help you make the most of your online presence. Then, with a  few little tweaks, you could make a big difference to your online visibility. Take the time to research Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and see how you can drive new traffic to your site.

Promotional Gifts
Building and maintaining relationships with clients is an important part of running a business and with the festive season coming up, now is a good time to look at sending promotional gifts.

The days of giving holiday gifts to everyone in your database are long gone, but using promotional gifts to maintain relationships with your best clients can be an effective way of keeping their custom.

The headlines might make for gloomy reading but a little investment in the right places now could help you ride out the rough times that are to come. With the holiday season on the horizon, the opportunity is there to insulate yourself against the worst of the downturn. While it may seem a little scary to invest money now, the quality of how you spend on promotion,rather than the quantity, will help to put you in the best possible position should the worst case scenarios come true.

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AvatarAlan Grainger

Alan Grainger is an in-house B2B web marketer in the promotional gifts sector and manages SEO for The Promotional Gifts Company. He writes articles exploring the issues faced by the B2B web marketer, giving an “in the trenches” view from an in-house SEO department. Follow him @alanjgrainger.