You don’t have to spend a fortune to get the word out that your business is awesome. In fact, you can often garner high levels of community goodwill, press mention and peer recognition with inexpensive tactics.
How you get attention should be closely aligned with your small business’ purpose. Not only will you make people notice, you’ll solidify your brand position with the following techniques.
Be a Reliable Source for Reporters
Many business owners are eager for media coverage. But some behave as if anything short of a feature article in a major publication is not worth their time. Or, they seem fearful that their words are not polished or proven enough to warrant repeating. Meanwhile, journalists are often desperate for reliable sources with real voices.
Certainly, you need to vet opportunities to avoid wasting time on a blog post that will seen by a handful of people. But very often, reporters with large audiences need just one or two sterling pieces of insight from a business owner just like you.
Rather than seeking a big win or psyching yourself out of a chance to be noticed, offer to serve as a source (the online service HARO makes this easy) and respond to inquiries promptly and precisely. A few on-topic sentences can be godsend to a journalist and lead to great coverage for your company.
Your business can be the hub of a community project without spending any money at all. Organize people with whom you already have a relationship, such as current customers and professional contacts. You can raise awareness among this core group plus enjoy the possibility of reaching a broader audience.
For example, a grocery store coordinates and supports food drives to solicit donations from its patrons. A gift shop hosts a holiday party and invites customers to purchase and wrap presents for underprivileged families. Hosting these activities not only drives traffic to brick-and-mortar sites, but also embeds product and brand messages in the minds of current and prospective customers.
But you don’t have to own or lease commercial real estate to organize people. Your business can serve as a central point of online communication and collaboration. For example, a Certified Financial Professional (CFP) mobilizes personal finance bloggers to build awareness of specific financial topics such as the value of a Roth IRA.
Consumers and professionals alike are often eager for connection and grateful if you offer them a way to work with like-minded people for a common cause. By spearheading an initiative that serves others, you can become known for your altruism and your professional savvy locally, regionally and even nationally.
Sponsor a Team
You don’t have to own a professional sports team to be the center of attention on the playing field. A company-sponsored team for a charity athletic event can be a cheap form of advertisement and publicity. Any event can get your name in front of people but, ideally, the charity should be closely tied to your business.
For example, a local walk for Alzheimer’s features area organizations that serve those affected by this disease. They include a biotech company engaged in research to discover drug treatment that may slow disease progression and a firm that provides home healthcare.
Your company’s presence won’t necessarily become known far and wide with a local event. However, those with whom you come into contact will likely be potential customers, referrers or partners in reaching your target population.
Sharing your knowledge can position you as a go-to person in your industry. This tactic may involve periodically fielding phone calls, speaking at conferences, answering questions via e-mail and participating in online discussions.
Being a free resource can be a time zapper so focus on being the source for a niche need, not any imaginable request. Set boundaries for providing assistance, such as allotting a certain number of hours or designating times for dispensing advice.
A byproduct of sharing is that you will be attuned to common concerns and challenges of your peers, and become adept at applying your knowledge to specific situations and insightful regarding industry needs. As a niche expert, you’ll sharpen your brand positioning and become known and respected among colleagues.
Start with the mindset that you will be strategically accessible. Those who are worth your time will find you approachable, generous, and true to your vision. Practically free approaches matched with the right opportunities will get you noticed and elevate your brand.
Julie Rains is a senior writer at Wise Bread, a leading personal finance community dedicated to helping people get the most out of their money. Get daily money tips by following Wise Bread on Facebook or Twitter.
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