Economic times are very difficult and consumers are not willing to spend their discretionary income on something that they are not sure they will like. The same goes for businesses working with new businesses. They just are not willing to step out on a limb and try something new.
The answer to this problem is not rocket science. It is actually very simple. To the marketer it would be called "sampling", but to the consumer it is considered "free stuff." We all know that it is fair to say that just about everyone loves to get something for free. Companies such as ChickFilet, Starbucks, and Dunkin' Doughnuts are trying their hands at sampling to gain new customers.
Keep in mind, you do not have to be a large company to provide a sample of your work. If you are a caterer, create a sample tray and take it around to local businesses. If you are a consultant, offer a free seminar and pass out fliers for people to attend. If you are a hairstylist, offer free consultations and pictures of your work.
The key with sampling is to still provide your brands message, to make a positive impression, and to monitor each efforts success or failures. As a small business owner, you can set a goal to sample so many people per week. Remember, it is a numbers game. The more you feed in to your funnel, the more success you will have coming out of your efforts. You must constantly feed the pipeline.