Get yourself a name with a publicity campaign that gets your store noticed. Amy Lanning offers these ingenious ideas.

1. Capture the attention of motorists by advertising on a local roundabout. Traffic site advertising company Marketing Force says the annual cost can range from £2,000 to £4,000, and 75% of its advertisers renew the sponsorship year after year. Call Marketing Force on 01394 672467 for more information.

2. Londis retailer Terry Caton’s customers couldn’t forget his store last year. Terry’s local radio station Peak FM produced a calendar featuring a bevy of scantily clad men and women in aid of a cancer charity (see picture, right). As long as the local ladies could draw their eyes away from Mr February, who wore nothing but a guitar to protect his modesty, they would have seen Terry’s advert. He also sold the calendar in his store.

3. The Costcutter store on a Shell forecourt in Snowhill, West Sussex, appears in every edition of the owner’s local newspaper during the football season by sponsoring Crawley Down FC’s Man of the Match. And businesses close to Crawley Down FC can advertise at the ground itself, too. Ads on ground boards cost £175 a season; it’s £25-£100 for programme ads; £100-£150 for website advertising; £125 for the home dugout; and £100 for the away shelter.

4. Raj Chandegra is giving Jamie Oliver’s recipe cards at Sainsbury’s a run for their money with some recipe cards of his own at the Londis store in Barnes, London. The recipes were created by Londis tasting team’s Suzanne Thorpe. “All the ingredients are available in Raj’s store and hopefully it will encourage customers to buy other lines as well,” she says.

5. Jonathan James, who runs four Budgens stores in Cambridgeshire, wasn’t content with exposure for his shops during the football season alone, so now he sponsors a cricket team as well for year-round marketing. Jonathan also recently paid for the children who play in the four football teams he sponsors to travel to Ipswich Town FC for a training day. All top stuff to generate goodwill.

6. Football-related marketing is certainly a crowd-puller. Footie-mad Martin Sanger, who runs a Nisa store in Southampton, has held football signings with Southampton FC players. In the past, former Saints favourites Matt le Tissier, James Beattie and Wayne Bridge have all helped to give Martin’s store a higher profile – one signing saw a queue of 100 people winding out of the store and up the street. The activity also provides the store with radio and newspaper coverage.

7. Send special offer coupons straight to your customers’ mobiles with the Shop Scan Save text messaging loyalty scheme from The Light Agency. The software slots into any standard epos system and, once installed, operational costs are 4p a text. The scheme is being trialled by Sainsbury’s at Jacksons c-stores and the retailer says it already has more than 11,000 members. You can either employ The Light Agency to recruit members for you, or you can sign them up yourself. For more information, go to or call 0207 349 4942.

8. If you think cinema advertising is out of your league, think again. To advertise in your local cinema can cost about £100 a week, plus a one-off production cost of as little as £300, according to Philip Rendle, local sales manager for cinema advertising company Pearl and Dean. Your ad will appear on the big screen just before the performance. Pearl and Dean takes bookings on a one- or two-year basis. Call 07831 680547 for details.

9. It’s British Food Fortnight, you’re launching a new range of locally produced foods including ice cream from a local farm, so what do you do to generate some interest? Enlist the daughters of two members of your staff to dress up as a pantomime cow and herd shoppers into your store, of course. That’s what Londis retailer Atul Sodha did. “We encouraged customers to take advantage of a buy-two-for-£3 offer and sold more ice cream in September than we did in the whole of the rest of the summer,” he says, demonstrating that you should milk every sales opportunity for all it is worth.

10. Press coverage costs nothing, so get friendly with the local press, and if ever a story comes up that requires a comment from a trader, you could be their first port of call and get some invaluable free publicity. The FWD offers independents free advice on how to handle the local media as part of its My Shop is Your Shop campaign. Londis retailer Terry Caton can prove it works. He invited his local paper to a regional golf day he hosted for Londis members. In return, he got a great feature in the newspaper.

11. A re-opening after a refurbishment or store development requires a launch party. Create some excitement in the community with competitions, giveaways, special offers and plenty of razzmatazz to let customers know that you and your store are back in business.

12. Doing something special for locals will do no harm in winning their loyalty. The Simon Smith Group, which operates six c-stores on forecourts, delivered a welcome pack including money-off vouchers to people moving into the new housing development next to the store in Monmouth. Company partner Susie Hawkins says it seemed to do the trick because most of the coupons made their way back to the store.

13. Advertising in local publications such as residents’ association newsletters, fête programmes and parish magazines will get your business message in front of the local community. And it’s cheap, too. Abbotts Ann Parish Magazine, for example, charges between £50 and £130 a year for adverts in its publication, depending on the size and colour of the ad.

14. Shout about promotions on an A-board outside the store – it could be the difference between a potential customer coming into your store or walking straight pass.

15. A promotional leaflet drop is a standard marketing tool, but Andrew Newton, who runs a Nisa Extra store in the West Midlands, has jazzed up his leaflet drop by including one of his store’s other services in the offer as an added incentive. Every few weeks, local residents could receive anything from a free video membership to a complimentary sausage roll.

16. If you think your business would benefit from a web presence, Webstarter should be your first port of call. Recommended by the Association of Convenience Stores, Webstarter offers a range of cost-effective solutions for all types of website, starting from template up to bespoke and database-driven websites. Go to for more information.

17. Susie Hawkins used fuel promotions to boost the average basket spend at her Budgens store in Barnwood, Gloucestershire. Her ‘Countdown to Christmas’ marketing campaign ran over eight weeks. In the first two weeks customers received 1p off every litre of fuel when they spent £10 in-store; the following two weeks 2p per litre on spending £20; 3p off every litre for every £30 shop spend in weeks five and six; and 4p off per litre for £40 in the final two weeks. A teaser banner on the roadside simply saying ‘Countdown to Christmas’ generated interest.

18. If you’re investing in advertising and want to make sure your ad won’t be ignored, radio may be your best bet. According to research by the Radio Advertising Bureau, radio attracts very low levels of ad avoidance and has a higher net outreach than TV. If advertising on local radio, you’ll need to research the market, the type of audience and cost per listener – ask the local station for details. Your local station will often produce the commercial for you, too.

19. Sampling activity is a sure way of getting new product ranges in front of customers. Many licensees hold wine tastings to raise awareness, but Budgens retailers Michael and Marcia Paterson applied the same principle to sausages. Shoppers were invited to taste The Black Farmer premium sausages in the presence of The Black Farmer himself – Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, who was also the subject of a recent Channel 4 documentary.

20. The Patersons, who have just opened their Budgens store in North Finchley, London, also have a cunning plan up their sleeves to encourage loyalty from local families. Their ‘free fruit for every child’ scheme run in conjunction with a local school is due to kick off in the near future.