- as a promotional tool (NOT as a substitute for the meat-and-potatoes of your marketing strategy)
- for small businesses with a creative slant (fashion, beauty, crafts, photography, wedding, etc.)
- for small businesses with strong graphic identity and visually appealing products
- for anyone who is especially interested in connecting with a female market
Assuming the business is a good fit with Pinterest, the most effective promotions are those that force consumers to closely examine the brand/products and reinterpret them in a highly personal way.
I like the idea of Pinterest contests because they create a sense of community--users feel more closely linked with your brand and enjoy the idea of publicly championing its values. For example, Victoria's Secret recently sponsored a Pinterest promotion for its PINK line. Fans were challenged to create and share boards that embodied the PINK aesthetic/lifestyle for the chance to win merchandise. All of a sudden the target market is flocking to the VS website to scrutinize anything and everything PINK. Even now that the contest has ended, the boards remain. It's perfect. (Of course, VS could hardly be called a small business but the idea works for companies of all sizes).
Another option is to create boards that highlight images and links that are most appealing to your target market. For example, you might create a location-specific board with items of interest to that area (events, visuals, blogs). The key here is to avoid pinning anything that reeks of marketing or might direct users to your competitors' products and services.
If you have the time/manpower to closely monitor all social media activities, you might consider hosting a board for your company's followers. On your blog or website, direct customers to the board and encourage them to request permission to post to that board. Your typical Pinterest junkie loves to be seen as an influencer, making them more likely to promote the board (and thus your company).
Again, I can't overemphasize the importance of investing in Pinterest marketing ONLY if it's a viable fit for your client's specific line of business.