“Successful people are not just those
who are good at what they do,
but those who are good at
selling the idea that
they are good at what they do.”
– Jack Gordon
[This article first appeared in Corporate Report Wisconsin.]
As an SBO, my marketing budget ranges somewhere between non-existent and who-are-you-kidding? One space ad, no matter how strategically placed, could set me back way more than I could ever expect to generate in sales. That’s why my marketing is strictly “non-traditional,” built around networking, charm and common sense.
Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:
1. Cultivate Media Relations. Local newspaper reporters, radio station managers, internet bloggers and specialty magazine and website editors are the greatest source of free publicity. They’re always looking for good stories. It’s a constant challenge to fill copy space or airtime.
If you have a new product, interesting event or situation or anything that stands out, try to generate some media time or space. A single mention in the media can punch up your reputation as a big-dog player, not to mention give your sales a kick in the right direction. I know small business owners who never spend a dime on advertising, but you see their names splashed all over the local media.
What to do: Contact local editors and business reporters. Tell them what you do that is unique: awards and special honors, a new product coming out, know somebody famous, have done something offbeat, etc.
2. Learn How to Write a Press Release. The mechanics of a passable release are not all that difficult to master, and editors love drop-in copy. Keep in mind that most newspapers are grossly understaffed these days. They love a good press release.
Also keep in mind that most local business stories are press releases. Some SBOs generate one or two a month as part of their working routine.
What to do: If you have reasonable communication skills and an ear for journalism, you can quickly learn to crank out publishable copy. Or hire someone to write a series of three or four press releases for you and distribute them, one each month or quarter. (Need help with this, let me know. It’s one of the things I do. Email me at john@TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.)
Don’t want to spend the money? Then take photos of your last big event and submit them with captions; or write up short-blurb announcements about special events or sponsorship.
3. Share What You Know. Write articles or teach classes. If you own a cookware store, teach cooking classes at the local technical college, or put on demonstrations at the YMCA. This not only builds credibility and reputation, but a loyal band of potential customers.
4. Leverage the Internet. It’s the cheapest publicity you can create for yourself. You can even market globally, and it’s almost totally free. As many of you well know, years ago I started sending out “Daily Biz Quotes” to clients, prospects and others who I hoped might find them interesting. Though the topics vary, they consist of a single business tip (“Smile when you answer the phone. People can ‘hear’ that smile in your voice.”) I never sell myself directly, it is amazing how many replies I get from prospects with messages similar to “Give me a call when you get a chance about that project we were discussing last winter.”
What to do: If you don’t have a website, the time has come to step into the 21st century and create one. (While you are at it, buy a cell phone, too.) Your site doesn’t have to be fancy. These days they’re inexpensive and easy. Put the basic info on it, along with those press releases you’re writing. Most of all, keep it updated; a dusty, out-of-date website is worse than none at all. And then invest a few hours a week to keep it current. Also, visit other sites and make positive comments. It’s called networking, and it works.
There are a thousand and one ways to promote and market yourself and your business effectively on a shoestring budget. Start with the ideas I’ve offered above. Then modify and adjust them over time.
Work hard. Make money. Have fun.
– John R. Ingrisano, The Freestyle Entrepreneur
* * *
Popularity: 6% [?]