One of the most enduring foundations of marketing is getting noticed. This maxim applies to small businesses, both B2B and B2C – even during a pandemic that is turning the norms and guard rails that define marketing and sales upside down.
Getting noticed is how you stand out from your competitors. By doing this, you are giving potential customers a reason to take a closer look at you. How to attract eyeballs, attention, and purses. But today, as entire economies adjust to new financial norms, few entrepreneurs have the resources to double their paid advertising.
At the same time, many would argue that this is not the time to cut advertising spending. It delivers results that are predictable and quantifiable. it gets people in the door. If you’ve already removed all sorts of inefficiencies from your ad budget, chances are you’re reluctant to risk jeopardizing your existing flow of new business by further reducing it now.
In this scenario, improving your public relations (PR) can be helpful. At the 50,000 foot level, PR takes more time and effort than dollars. However, a well planned and executed campaign can be used with your advertising dollars as a supplement to help develop new business areas. In some cases, especially with freelance professional services, strong PR can be your entire marketing effort.
Consider these ways to get noticed:
- Set up a social media presence. Make sure your company has accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Keep your business accounts completely separate from your personal accounts. As with Thanksgiving dinner, avoid politics and religion. Build a following by inviting customers, clients, suppliers, and others to join. And make sure you post to your accounts regularly. Use social media to raise awareness of your PR tactics. Read the answers often and carefully. Ask for feedback and encourage discussion and engagement.
- Be contrary. If you work for a competitive company and most of them are using one strategy, you are doing something else. If everyone else is offering free estimates, offer a different type of discount or premium. If everyone is selling low prices, you are selling high value instead.
- Be crazy. Think of a promotional event unusual enough to raise your eyebrows. Something a local news agency could pick up on. Think of a hot dog eating contest or other challenge where you can showcase your business while showcasing your winner. Send advance notice to newspapers and television stations that may be reporting on it. The more decent quality event material you can provide, the more attractive the story becomes to a news editor.
- Unusual signage. If you are a retailer, you likely have signage on your business location. But what about your vehicle? Employee vehicles? The sidewalk in front of your shop? While the signage should always contain your business contact information, it doesn’t have to look like a sign. It could be a trompe l’oeil painting on part of your building. Or at a local attraction. The goal is to get people’s attention and talk. Harness the attention on social media only with a cell phone camera and a clever, contemporary phrase.
- Become an SME (technical expert). Post articles about your industry to local news outlets, magazines, social media advocacy groups, and community websites. Choose a topic that is of interest to your prospect. One that answers basic questions in a way that invites inquiries. For example, a financial advisor might want to write an article about the 10 Smartest Steps You Can Take in Today’s Economy. Focus on a common dilemma or concern, not your business.
- Cultivate relationships with writers. Reporters and writers are underpaid and publications are understaffed. The more of their work you can do for them, the more value you bring into a relationship. Find out who’s covering your industry for local news and industry publications (including print and electronic). Then put yourself in their shoes and hold out your hand. Become a source of trends the author may want to cover. Be ready as a point of contact – not just for information and quotes, but also as someone who can point the reporter in the right direction. The more you are cited as an expert, the more credibility you will accumulate.
- Be a press release guru. Develop a skill in creating press material that you can send to media contacts. Use any excuse to create a release: a staff change. A new place. A new menu item. Positive results to show off with. A new process. A new customer. Always include a paragraph about your company at the end. And always include a name and contact information if the reader wants more information. Then send your approval to each contact on your list. For key contacts, especially if you’re promoting an upcoming event, get in touch with a call, text, or email.
A robust PR strategy can be a key element in your overall marketing efforts. It’s effective, inexpensive, and highly flexible to optimize your business. Contact our small business finance specialists for strategies to optimize your financing options. Call 1-855-WHY-PANGO (1-855-949-7264).
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