Learning Center

A Creative List of Marketing Tools

From branding to promotions to paid media, there are countless channels you can use in marketing and advertising your business. Many of the articles and podcasts in our Learning Center focus on a specific tool in-depth (we’ll provide hotlinks for more reading), but the goal of today’s podcast is to help you think of new and different things to try in your marketing.

A downloadable worksheet is available as part of this podcast. Go through the list, mark which channels you’re using well, which you could be using better, and which you’re not using now but might want to consider — it’s a great tool to help in your yearly marketing planning, and in prioritizing your next marketing initiatives.

Download the worksheet



Branding is more than just visuals. It’s also your brand promise – that is, the promise you make to your customers – and how that promise is communicated throughout your entire business and its corporate culture. The key to branding is consistency.

Specific things to think of in terms of branding are:

  • Merchandise displays
  • Package design
  • Pricing (where are you in terms of your competitors?)
  • Product placements
  • Reputation
  • Slogan/tagline
  • Voicemail/on hold messages
  • What employees say to customers

Stationery package

Your stationery package is an important part of how you communicate your brand identity. It will include:

  • Logo
  • Letterhead
  • Business cards
  • Thank-you cards
  • Forms


How are you promoting your products and services? Are there promotional opportunities you’re not taking advantage of, beyond a basic sale? These promotions can be digital (enter a code to get a discount in e-commerce) or in-person. The list of potential promotions is enormous, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Co-op marketing opportunities with vendors
  • One-on-one personal contacts
  • Seasonal promotions
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Endorsements
  • Rebates
  • Coupons and special offers (buy one, get one etc.)
  • Referral and loyalty programs


Digital marketing is everything online or mobile. Your website must be mobile-friendly — if it’s not, getting a new, responsive site should be your first priority — as well as user-friendly. Beyond your website, there are many additional opportunities available in digital promotion. The great advantage of digital marketing is that it’s by far the easiest to track your results — most digital media includes built-in analytics of some kind.


  • Email newsletter
  • Email signature line


  • Website
  • Virtual tours
  • Videos (including animations, how-tos, promotional)
  • Client portals
  • Landing pages associated with a particular promotion
  • E-commerce (an online store)

Digital ads

  • Pay-per-click advertising (which is exactly what it sounds like — ads that come up in search engine results, but you only pay if the viewer clicks on the ad)
  • Remarketing ads (ads that follow a user around the web)
  • Mobile ads/geotargeting (ads that appear on your mobile phone while you’re using certain apps, based on where you are)
  • Social media advertising
  • Video ads
  • Banner ads on specific, industry-relevant sites

Content Marketing

Anything you do that is informational in character, rather than directly promotional, is a form of content marketing.

  • Blogging
  • Informational brochures
  • White papers
  • Podcasts
  • Memes
  • Free downloads
  • Informational videos
  • Checklists and how-to guides


As in all paid media, the key is careful selection of what you buy, and finding a competent media buyer who can help you get the best bang for your buck.

  • Community/public service announcements
  • Radio ads/underwriting
  • Live radio remotes
  • Television ads
  • Cable ads

Print Ads

Print advertising can be placed in a wide variety of publications.

  • Advertorials
  • Advertisements in trade/association publications
  • Advertisements in newspapers
  • Ads in alternative newsweeklies or community papers/shoppers
  • Classified ads
  • Magazine ads
  • Ads in directories of professionals, association members, chamber members, etc.


Print collateral is anything you print and distribute. Generally, the cost of these is the design and printing; this is not paid media placement, except in the case of direct mail.

  • Direct mail
  • Flyers
  • Handouts/one-sheets
  • Pocket folders
  • Preprinted inserts
  • Product catalogs
  • Reprints of articles
  • Booklets
  • Brochures
  • Coupons
  • Print newsletters


Outdoor advertising is anything that is a form of signage, whether you pay to have it placed or it’s part of your physical location or equipment.

  • Billboards
  • Electronic billboards
  • Door hangers
  • Exterior signage (including window or door clings)
  • Transit advertising
  • Branded company fleet or equipment
  • Yard signs
  • Sandwich-board signs
  • Vinyl banners
  • Bumper stickers
  • Posters
  • T-shirts or other branded items of clothing

Trade shows

Trade shows are not relevant to all businesses, but very important to some.

  • Trade show display materials and banners
  • Desktop displays


Be sure to consider what you’re trying to achieve. What you choose as a giveaway will vary depending on your purpose, your budget, and who you’re trying to reward.

  • Branded tchotchkes (magnets, keychains, coffee mugs, fans, balloons, T-shirts, frisbees, etc.)
  • Calendars
  • Holiday gifts
  • Trade show giveaway items


How can you get your name out there and generate positive publicity for your business? Sharing expertise, being civic-minded, or sponsoring worthwhile things are a start. What are you doing that’s newsworthy?

  • Participating in career fairs
  • Demonstrations
  • Event sponsorships
  • In-kind sponsorships: donating your expertise to a civic project, worthy non-profit or charity initiative
  • Memberships in local civic organizations: tourism bureaus, chambers of commerce
  • Networking events (as host or attendee)
  • Participating in or presenting workshops, seminars and speaking events
  • Press releases to generate media coverage: TV, radio, print
  • Speaking engagements
  • Testimonials
  • Webinars
  • Volunteerism: service on local boards of directors, for example

Social Media

Choose your social media channels wisely for what’s most important to your business. Don’t overlook business websites like Yelp and Manta. Most of these include opportunities for paid promotion, as well as organic reach.

Innovative Tomato

Looking for a fresh take on digital and video marketing?

Innovative Tomato


Check out INNOVATIVE TOMATO, our sister company that specializes in digital advertising, mobile app development, and video & motion graphics.

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