It’s not just PR exposure that retailers care about when considering whether or not to place your product line in their stores, but your overall ability to build awareness and demand for your products. Creating demand and awareness of your brand helps drive foot traffic to retail stores and increased sales, which is ultimately what retailers care about most.
Many entrepreneurs don't have a PR budget, and need to implement a DIY PR program. If this sounds like you, make no mistake: PR requires strategy, creative thinking, research, patience and relationship building. It’s an art and a science, and results don't happen overnight.
Below are six DIY PR and marketing tips worth trying. However, if you know upfront this isn't your area of expertise, consider investing money in this area, with the goal that your sales will outpace the PR investment.
DIY PR Tips
1. Pitch a trend. The media is far more interested in a trend piece than they are in a specific product or service. Stay on top of trends by subscribing to industry-specific trade publications. When you pitch to writers and editors, weave in how your product relates to that trend. And use social media, like Twitter, to develop relationships with key media contacts. If you are following their tweets and learning more about what piques their interest, then your pitch is far more likely to be timely, targeted and featured.
2. Send a package that will surprise and delight. It’s not only the media pitch itself that must be fine-tuned, but it’s how the pitch is packaged—and it doesn’t need to be expensive. For example, Psi Bands landed a feature in Oprah’s O Magazine when they sent an editor a package in the mail that “delighted” with the element of surprise. It was delivered in a white gift box with a gift tag that said, “Wrap up your nausea." No one could resist opening it. Inside the gift box they included a few sets of Psi Bands and their brochure. When published, the magazine feature described Psi Bands as “Grace Under Pressure” and was included on Oprah’s favorites list. If you cannot send a physical product, send a photo or description of your product.
3. Apply for awards. Awards can put you or your product in the spotlight. Not only is the awardee going to promote the acknowledgement, but you should too, to your subscriber and social media base. Search trade publications and website-sponsored awards specific to your product category, such as SheKnows Parenting Awards and Huggies MomInspired Awards; or find entrepreneurial awards to apply for, such as Spark & Hustle’s Daring Doer.
DIY Marketing Tips
But what if you’re unable to make media contacts and win awards? It can be just as impactful to retailers if you supplement the aforementioned PR efforts with the following marketing techniques that build brand awareness and help retailers increase their foot traffic:
1. Use that customer list you have built over time. Send a direct-mail postcard or email announcing the launch of your product to your customers who live near that retailer.
2. Leverage social media. Direct people following you on Twitter or Facebook to specific retail stores. Combine it with a promotional offer, such as coupons or a free gift with purchase, to sweeten the deal and get people running to those stores.
3. Strike strategic partnership deals. Pick manufacturers who have complementary products to yours and the PR muscle to promote any partnership initiatives you execute. For example, consider co-branded packaging or marketing programs, or a cross-purchasing promotion.
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OPEN Cardmembers Romy Taormina and Vanessa Ting co-author the advice blog, “Both Sides of the Retail Table” to help small-businesses find retail success. Vanessa provides the viewpoint of a retail buyer and Romy represents the voice of the entrepreneur. Vanessa is a former Target buyer and now consultant and Romy is the CEO/Nausea Relief Chief of Psi Bands, which are sold at more than 12,000 national retail locations.