Those who run small businesses are often kept busy by any number of daily tasks, from processing orders or setting up meetings with customers or clients, to keeping the books updated and liaising with suppliers. Often marketing is the last thing on the to do list. However, promoting and marketing a business is an important part of securing future business and in ensures you are perceived well by potential customers.
There’s more to promoting a small business than paying for advertising space in the local paper. Increasingly, small businesses are looking to digital media as well as more traditional channels like broadcast and print.
Print media continues to be a popular choice for advertisers and generally covers advertising in magazines and newspapers. Advertising using print media means you can be very targeted about the kinds of audiences you want to reach, whether on a local or national scale. You might look to advertise in trade publications, or focus on those targeted at a particular age group or area of interest. One of the drawbacks is that advertising in print can be expensive, plus you need to advertise regularly to ensure you remain visible to your target audience.
Broadcast media is effective because the mediums of radio and TV cast your message very broadly across vast swathes of people. You might decide to promote your sales message locally using commercial radio stations, or perhaps further afield. You might choose to pay for TV slots that are targeted at audiences who are likely to be watching at a certain time of day. As with print media, broadcast media is also expensive, not only to produce but for the air time too. You have to be very confident that your message is communicated in the right way and targeted at the right audience in order to get a good return on your investment.
Digital media is a more recent, though well-established, form of media coverage that allows you to reach potentially very large and targeted audiences for a fraction of the cost of print or broadcast media. Using some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) knowledge, effective visual and written content, and some media spend to increase the visibility of your content, you can access your audience in a very controlled way that can yield some good returns on sometimes relatively modest investments.
Launching a small business is one thing, maintaining the visibility of your business is quite another. Regular and considered attention to your marketing strategy will keep your business or organisation visible, when and where it matters, and it will help business to remain healthy during quieter periods. Nowadays, businesses combine online and offline media coverage by using the digital world to promote experiential events, activities, promotions, stalls or shopfronts that take place in the real world alongside more traditional approaches.
Online competitions, blogs, e-newsletters, and the strategic use of social channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all work hard together to create an integrated presence for small businesses and brands. Small businesses wondering how to get ‘earned’ media coverage using their online presence would do well to train in some basic online marketing skills, or simply spend some time browsing the many tutorials out there for free online .
Alongside an effective online presence and ‘real world’ presence, it’s a good idea to secure positive press coverage too. How to get media coverage can be a challenge. Journalists are busy and are often bombarded with information they have to wade through to find the material that is most topical, relevant to their publication and timely. One of the best ways to get your desired press interested in what you’re up to is to dispense a well-crafted press release.
A press release is an official statement from your business that gives information about something current that is newsworthy. Writing a press release is a skill that balances being economical with supplying information compelling enough for a journalist to want to find out more. There are all sorts of tutorials available to help you write an effective press release, many of which are free and written by professional writers – a quick online search will help you access some useful insights.
In short, you need to make sure that the information you release is topical, timely and targeted. It’s often worth investing in the help of a freelance copywriter to help you compose an effective press release that’s hardworking, or you can teach yourself some basic skills using the free online resources at your disposal.
It’s important not to waste time sending your press release off to as many publications as you can think of, it’s far better to invest the cost in a professional press release dispensing agency who will target your press release for you strategically, cost effectively, and in a way that’s more likely to yield results. If you are interested in the reach of your press release then you might also consider paying a press cuttings agency to undertake research to see where your press release has been picked up and published. There are, of course, costs attached to using both of these services but they can save you a great deal of time.
The main thing is that you have something newsworthy to report when preparing a press release. While it might be great that you’ve made a fantastic profit this year, it’s far more interesting to discuss your collaboration with an exciting influencer, your recent work with a charity, the launch of a new product or service that is likely to impact the local community, how your work has changed the landscape of your industry or field, or you might consider publishing your research or findings about an industry-specific topic.
Local media can be hungry for content, particularly if it publishes daily. You can find out how to increase business exposure in local press by seeing what people are interested in locally and submitting press releases that might be relevant to that audience. Paid advertising can raise your visibility, which might take the form of regular advertising space, or you can pay for leaflets to be inserted into the newspaper pages. Getting onto local radio can be helpful if you are running an event of interest to the community. Be sure to involve your business in local community or cultural events, and look into sponsoring activities too. Often you can become more visible by involving your business in a charity fundraiser through sponsorship, which not only raises your profile, but generates a positive image for you too.
Which media type is most appropriate or effective for your business depends very much on the nature of your organisation. It’s worth spending time creating a strategic marketing plan. Your plan should be revisited at intervals and a budget set aside to implement the actions you make, because keeping your business visible ensures you keep your business going.
So, your marketing and advertising efforts have succeeded in getting some positive media coverage. That’s great! But it’s only the first step. Be sure to capture that positive media attention on your website, make reference to the coverage in your electronic communications with customers, and promote the activity using your social channels. Build positive relationships with the journalists and publications that cover you and keep your marketing strategy and plan up to date to make the most of new opportunities. Be sure to celebrate your successes, your staff, your customers and your learnings whenever possible and work hard to reinforce the positive perception your business or organisation already possesses to yield the best advertising of all: positive word of mouth.
There’s a lot to think about when you run a small business, and there’s a great deal invested in its continued success, which is why it’s important to make sure you have the right insurance in place. Find out more about the right business insurance for your enterprise .