Some High-Profile Ways to Market on a Shoe String

Some High-Profile Ways to Market on a Shoe String

Small business often delay or decline to do much-needed marketing activities because they lack the financial resources to do them right. One solution to this dilemma may be the creative use of free samples, low-cost promotions and barter.

Raun R. Mastroberti offers a comforting example for such small businesses: Sometimes, you don’t have to pay cash for professional marketing help.

“The problem with word-of-mouth is that it takes too long,” Mr. Mastroberti, 53-year-old owner of Raun Hairdressers & Day Spa in Willoughby, Ohio, told the Dow Jones wire service. “You have to speed this up somehow.”

Mr. Mastroberti founded his business, a beauty parlor offering additional services, in 1968 and had long been successful. But when it came to marketing, he found himself facing the dilemma all small business people do. “It’s that old Catch-22,” he says. “You need to do it, but where do you get the money to do it?”

The answer, it turns out, was staring him in the face every day. Instead of spending money, he’d give away what he had.

Several years ago, Mr. Mastroberti began bartering his salon’s services for public relations help. And good help it was. To drum up interest, the shop gave away massages at high-profile charitable functions. And store personnel, who regularly travel to offices to perform on-site massages, started to pop up on local radio call-in shows.

The radio appearances got a local television station interested in Raun’s, and business increased even further–so much so that Mr. Mastroberti recently decided to budget $50,000 for six months of public relations and advertising.