Bartering is an under-used concept that is used widely in the social environment (but rarely in business) and here’s a great example of it. TalkTalkbnb is a service where travellers can get free lodging and food in exchange for speaking to the hosts in their native language. The best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it, so what better way for a person or family wanting to learn the language you speak than letting you stay with them for a while – so they can talk to you in your own tongue. They get to speak to you in your language in exchange for putting you up in their house for a short time. For travellers, this is a great way to travel very cheaply and the cost of an extra mouth to feed is a cheap way for the host to get immersed in the language they seek.

Bartering is a grossly under-utilised way of doing business for SMEs and if you’re using a Sprint for Growth Blueprint then here’s a great tip on how you can use it effectively.

On your customer lifecycle it’s likely that you have Awareness as one of the early life cycle stages where you want to make as many people as possible aware of your business. Because nobody will ever buy from you if they don’t know you exist. You’d like the expertise of an agency that is good in developing awareness – but you probably can’t afford to engage one as they are quite costly. Well here’s an idea for you.

In the article When waste becomes profitable we mentioned the concept of spare capacity in your business. Well what if you were to casually exchange some of your spare-capacity services for some of a small, local agency’s thinking time? If you were a pizza parlour offer a week’s supply of pizza if they can come up with some ideas that you can use to grow your business. Or if you are a restaurant, invite six of their team round for a free meal after work – again on the principal that they supply you with some ideas for growth.

If you are a business where this isn’t practical, for example a painting and decorating business, offer to paint four rooms in their house and they can raffle off this as a prize – against you getting some good ideas. Think what you could offer a local agency that would represent relatively low cost to you but which would be perceived by the recipient at the agency as being of great value to them.

Remember, the agency do this as their normal business and so are likely to already have great experience (read ideas here) of what might / might not work for you to raise your awareness profile. It’ll also be fun for both of you too!

Your next steps…

Commit to finding new ways to grow the awareness among potential customers of your business in the next eight weeks.

  • Use the internet to find one (or more) small, local marketing / advertising agencies in your area.
  • Pick up the phone – say who you are and that you want to offer them free pizza / meal / haircut / house painting or whatever.
  • Explain why you are doing this and you want to see if they are willing to be innovative and different in the way they work with a small local business. Remember, all you want are a few ideas that they will already have in their heads – so you’ve nothing to lose!

Just do it…

Alternatively, just deliver a free pizza to their office with a message pinned to it with your name and company details on and ask them to give you a call. However you do it, just make it happen!