It doesn’t matter how amazing your product or service is if nobody knows it exists. So while developing a unique offering is vital to the success of your business, so is planning and executing an effective marketing strategy.

The women on the 2015 PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs run some of the country’s most successful businesses. Recognizing the power of marketing to attract new customers, these inspiring businesswomen employ gimmicks and strategies both little and large, innovative and classic to advertise the strength of their companies’ offerings. You can measure the effectiveness of their tactics in the amazing growth rates that their companies have achieved.

Here are eleven attention-grabbing marketing ideas from Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.

• • • • •

“After every successful client engagement, we collect a reference letter that we then use to help us acquire new clients.  It’s been very successful. We pay our sales people $100 per reference letter to remind them to ask their clients for them!”
—Sonya Meloff (No. 31), Sales Talent Agency, Toronto

• • • • •

“We deliver random gifts of thanks to suppliers and customers. Today, we sent potted tulips to 60 people in the GTA. The tagline simply read, ‘Hello Spring. After such a long winter, we thought you deserved some sunshine.’”
—Julie Mitchell (No. 96), Parcel Design, Toronto

• • • • •

“We use our social media every day—weekends included. It’s important to have a team dedicated to your social media that really takes the responsibility on. People don’t just use Facebook Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 so you can’t only post during those times.”
—Tonia Jahshan (No. 8), Steeped Tea Inc., Ancaster, Ont.

• • • • •

Sassy marketing: TAG-branded BBQ sauce for the Calgary Stampede, with an accompanying Saucy Caesar recipe. TAG-branded vodka from an Oakville based distiller, because who doesn’t want to see you when you have vodka in your handbag?”
—Sheila Musgrove (No. 92), TAG Recruitment Group, Calgary

• • • • •

“Our uniforms are a major hit with our clients. All of our tradespeople wear white or navy overalls with the Freshco hammer logo, baseball hats and Freshco-branded vests and winter jackets.”
—Mandy Rennehan (No. 25), Freshco, Oakville, Ont.

• • • • •

“There is a degree of taboo around lawyer advertising. but we haven’t been deterred. We ran three hockey-themed television ads—I was on the ice, in hockey skates and a suit dress, talking about how our law firm ‘plays to win.’ When we started running this ad, the telephones went crazy. Our competitors were shocked.”
—Brenda Hollingsworth (No. 45), Auger Hollingsworth Professional Corp., Ottawa

• • • • •

“The day before Valentine’s Day this year was Friday the 13th, a traditionally unlucky day, so we invited local Victorians to come down to Hotel Zed to get lucky! The Valentines Day special was for a nooner—guests could check in at 11 am and check out at 2 pm. The buzz was huge! We made the national news, Fox News and newspapers, and Facebook went nuts. The hotel was sold out for the weekend and we were able to introduce lots of people to our fun concept.”
—Mandy Farmer (No. 26), Accents Inns & Hotel Zed, Victoria

• • • • •

The print catalogue is not dead—it is essential to our business. Girls devour our catalogue. They take them to school in their backpacks, read them on grandma’s lap, sleep with them under their pillow, take them when they visit Santa Claus, and pour over them until the pages fall apart.”
—Kathryn Gallagher Morton (No. 75), Maplelea, Newmarket, Ont.

• • • • •

“We have an environmentally-responsible, fully-branded vehicle for the use of the staff which is like a moving billboard. We aren’t afraid of guerrilla marketing, and promote our business shamelessly with every technique from old-fashioned sponsorships to our online presence and social media.”
—Sue Bennett (No. 19), Bennett Design Associates, Uxbridge, Ont.

• • • • •

“We became a major sponsor of the Saskatchewan Roughriders last year, so we had our logo on the turf and a major presence in the stadium at all home games. We were also very visible on the Roughriders website through advertising, and in their online and bricks-and-mortar stores through a merchandise partnership. Paired with other marketing efforts, this increased our in-store and online sales in Saskatchewan over 100%.”
—Rachel Mielke (No. 44), Hiillberg & Berk Accessories, Regina

• • • • •

“Our national best-selling cookbooks have been a great asset in bringing attention to our restaurants and brand. As a woman, and with a huge female fan base, writing the cookbooks and the media that follows it has allowed me to connect with our customers in their own kitchens, ultimately bringing them into the restaurants time and again. I have just completed my fifth cookbook, which will be out in September, by Penguin Books.”
—Ruth Tal (No. 22), Fresh Restaurants, Toronto

• • • • •

MORE ESSENTIAL ADVICE FROM THE PROFIT W100:

What’s the most effective marketing tactic you’ve ever used? Share your strategies and tips using the comments section below.

Loading comments, please wait.