Tag Archives: publicity

HOW TO MARKET A SMALL BUSINESS IN TOUGH TIMES

SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING ON A SHOESTRING

Word of mouth can be your best spokesperson. This post is a four-step outline for building your small business without an advertising budget.

 1. BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION FIRST

• Know who your clients or customers are and what they want; create a profile of the ideal client/customer.  This definition becomes your target audience.

• Perfect your professional profile and photo. It all starts with YOU!

• Figure out what makes you different and how to say it in a “sound bite” or “tag line.” These words become your key message. Create your “elevator speech,” a 60-second summary of whom you help and how.

• Get your house in order so that you won’t fail to deliver on your promises.

• Sketch out a plan with a tentative timeline and budget, including:

1)  Website – This is your online brochure and list builder. It must have educational value and continually fresh content as well as good design.
2)  Blog – Regularly demonstrate your knowledge and industry expertise; posts can later become an ebook.
3)  Brochure–Goes beyond the business card for trade shows, luncheons, etc.
4)  Create desirable incentives, freebies, special discounts and rewards for your target audience, and offer finder’s fees for referrals.
5)  Newsletter marketing can reach current and prospective clients/customers via your website or directly through email.

2. LEARN and PRACTICE PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING SKILLS

The best way to get new clients or customers, far and away, is by being recommended.

Networking is not selling. It’s making business connections, seeking and giving referrals.

• Become a connector who facilitates business introductions.

• Join your local chapter of Business Networking International and other groups.

• Take on pro bono activity and make known your involvement.

• Choose and engage in appropriate social media.

3. DON’T HIDE YOUR LIGHT UNDER A BUSHEL

Small firm visibility can be increased through publicity, which is more credible than advertising. Understand what the media considers news and what editors want.

• Event marketing can be used to obtain publicity.

• Surveys and case studies can also generate publicity.

• Trend articles can demonstrate your expertise and be recycled.

• Speaking platforms let you reach beyond the captive audience.

4. GET THE HELP YOU NEED

Marketing is not something you do with your left hand. Don’t think you can go it alone or expect your existing staff somehow to do double duty.

• Look for experienced marketing counsel with some knowledge of your industry.

• Use your network to find professional marketing help at a price you can afford.

Nine Well Tips for Business Righting

(MUCH BETTER: Nine Good Tips for Business Writing)

Why nine?  Ten is overdone.

You are a businessman or businesswoman, probably an expert in your field.  It’s likely you would not have gotten where you are without first knowing the basic rules of grammar and how to put words on paper.  You know what makes writing good or bad, right?

Why then might you hire a freelance business writer?  Ask yourself whether you just want to blow bubbles or you want to blow bubbles with kittens inside them.

Tip #1:  Your press releases should follow an accepted journalistic style; and it also helps to learn what reporters and editors consider newsworthy so you don’t waste your time and theirs.

Writing is an essential part of all business communication.  It’s how you get your message across.  For example, if you’re starting a business in the Fort Lauderdale area, you may rely on publicity in local newspapers to help get the word out.  Do you know how to get someone to write about your business?  Do you need to hire a local free lance publicist?

Tip #2:  Strive for web content that does three things:  keeps visitors coming back, converts them into customers or clients and attracts search engines. 

If you have a website, or need a website, you need to know that content is king. Business writers and web content writers always write for the reader. But what is it about writing that persuades or engages visitors?  What does it mean to write in pictures?  Your web content should be educational and informative and at the same time colorful and interesting.

Tip #3For your blog, or for the one you don’t yet have, you’ll need copy that’s crafted for blogging and includes keywords that search engines more likely will find.

Do you know what gives words power and which words create more compelling copy?  Does your blog copy hold your reader’s attention? How personal should it be?  When should you add a “call to action?”  Time is money. Do you have time to keep your blog fresh?  Most writers will admit they find writing hard work but thoroughly enjoy having written! Ah, there’s the rub!

Tip #4:  Business writing, unlike creative writing, is best kept short

Since busy people more and more access Facebook, Twitter and e-mail from their small-screen cell phones, it’s important for your message to grab the reader and be concise so there’s less scrolling involved.  Put the key message upfront.  Don’t lead into it.

Do you know which words can safely be left out without risk of distorting your meaning? Example:  It isn’t necessary to use the word “that” after “say” or “think.” What’s the best way to present complex information?  When there’s a lot to say, condense it to three bullet points.  Paraphrase.  Summarize.  Use examples.  Pick one important statistic.  Don’t be boring.

Tip #5:   When creating copy for your e-marketing campaign, use words to motivate, but be credible; and avoid headlines that are spam triggers.

Don’t turn away your prospects with copy that isn’t believable.   I cut my teeth in the advertising industry where a word can make or break a product.  Words like “new” and “improved” were powerful in product advertising because research tipped off advertisers that consumers wanted better and better products.  Those two words could motivate a consumer to buy.  In today’s world, certain words can dump your message right into the spam can.

Tip #6: It’s always safer to choose the word you know.  Don’t take a chance on one that may not mean what you think it does.  When in doubt, rewrite the sentence.  And choose the one-syllable word.  

Much like football, communication requires a sender, a receiver and a message.  It also requires listening or reading.  Communication is not complete until the intended receiver is holding the ball. Fumbles with words – choosing the wrong one and using it incorrectly — can be costly and embarrassing to say the least.

Here’s a bit of advice.  I would advise you to be sure you know the meaning and proper use of common words like these:

  • Podium.  It’s the platform, not the lectern.
  • Disinterested.  It means neutral, unbiased.  Not interested?  No!
  • Peruse is a careful review, not a casual review.
  • Hone means to sharpen; home refers to pinpointing a target.
  • Nonplussed  means bewildered, not unimpressed
  • Discrete means separate unless you spell it “discreet,” in which case it means allowing for privacy.
  •  If it is complementary, it completes, unlike a compliment, which flatters.
  • To each “their” own is just wrong!  It’s to each his own.
  • That or which? – If the clause cannot be omitted without changing the meaning of the sentence, use “that.”  If the clause is parenthetical, use “which.”

Tip #7:  Ask someone to read what you’ve written to look for red flags before you hit “send.

My long-time favorite saying on communications is this:  “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Perspective, tone and style contribute to your message. Do you bring the right perspective to the subject?  (Are you talkin’ ta me?)  Is the tone friendly, or not so much?   Writing style can be verbose, descriptive, detailed, terse, bold or flippant.  A word can be redundant, politically incorrect or convey bias.  Varying the pace or rhythm of the piece can help to hold readers.

Tip #8Try to stay on top of things.  (I know, right?) 

For example, Oxford Dictionaries Online has added a ton of new abbreviations related to the Web.  Did you get that memo?  Twittersphere and unfollow are words now.  Of course, a sheeple would never unfollow anyone.

Tip #9:  Allow me to hammer in the importance of proofreading – again and again — with fresh eyes and on a different day if possible.  Fact check! 

Whatever else it may be, business writing should always strive to be accurate and clear.  I’ve heard it said that writing is re-writing, which makes proofreading and editing vital to the process.  A writer’s first draft is rarely the best.  Don’t rely on spell check totally.  Spell check helps, but it won’t alert you if you’ve used “there” when you should have used “their” or “they’re.”

When it comes to shoes, although we may not know our Manolo Blahniks from our Christian Louboutins, we ought to do our best to spell the words right.

As Congressman Weiner recently learned, it’s not what you say, it’s how you type it.  A typo in a tweet address apparently turned a private photo message into a public one.

Words matter.  Make them work for you!

Your Best ROI

Advertise Or Publicize for a Better ROI

You are a small business owner looking to find new customers.  Perhaps you’re a professional services provider and need new clients.  Or you’re heading a non-profit development department and need new donors.   You know that marketing is necessary, but how do you really know where to put your dollars for the best return on investment?

Marketing is the umbrella term that covers a number of options to reach the same destination – get new customers/donors/clients — but each option takes a slightly different road.   This blog contrasts advertising and publicity.  Both can be part of a marketing plan to help raise visibility, get your message across and help to establish and build your reputation.  A reputation for good quality and service eventually leads to a sale,  donation or new assignment.  Other marketing techniques include creating events, seeking speaking opportunities, using direct mail and promotions.

Advertising 101

Advertising is paid for by the advertiser.  Readers, viewers, visitors and followers know that.  Thus, the advertising message has less credibility than publicity.  Advertising often has broader reach and definitely greater frequency if it runs as part of an ongoing campaign.

Good advertising is professionally designed to 1) attract attention quickly amidst the clutter of messages seeking attention and then 2) to communicate and repeat a clear message to motivate action.

Publicity 101

The term “free” publicity is a misnomer because, to be effective, publicity-seeking is done in a professional manner by trained professionals who specialize in media relations.  Keep in mind that a company or firm does not obtain publicity simply by sending news releases to media personnel.  The process is more circuitous than direct, and it is not instantaneous.

The art of obtaining favorable publicity involves knowing:

  1. what makes news
  2. which medium will be receptive to a story idea
  3. what will appeal to a particular editor, reporter, columnist or TV producer, and
  4. how to approach that person in the way he or she prefers to be approached.

Media relations professionals cultivate relationships with journalists in order to increase the odds of placing a story on behalf of a client.

Publicity is not controlled by the seeker, not paid for directly, but instead must be obtained by persuading the editor or reporter that the message is one that his/her readers, viewers, visitors or followers want to know about.  Because we have a free press, publicity is never guaranteed.  Traditionally, the “persuasion” is done via a professionally-written news release or “pitch” in the form of a letter, text or phone call.

Publicity is sometimes actually perceived to be the opinion of the medium in which it is seen or heard.  Thus, publicity creates a valuable third-party endorsement.  Publicity coverage can also be “merchandised” to increase its reach by, for example, distributing an article that contains a quote to a target audience via e-mail and calling attention to the quote.

It’s important to know that “hard news” from the point of view of the media is not about selling a product or service.  The media covers changes, human interest, controversy, noble gestures, recognition, et al.  They also selectively cover “soft” or “created” news, which can be achieved by staging an event.   Many times the primary purpose of an event is to create an opportunity for publicity that would not otherwise exist.

Last but not least, the more prestigious the medium, the more difficult it is to obtain publicity.  In other words, if your goal is to be in Business Week, and your business is a start-up, you may have to advertise.