In today’s fast passed online driven world, people place a huge emphasis on growing a loyal list of subscribers that can later be used as an audience for a business’s products and services. The idea is that if you deliver exceptional value to build trust and presumably, a certain percentage of your audience will purchase your offering. These methods are hard to dispute. However, growing a loyal following is time consuming and difficult. It frequently pays off in the future but what is a small business to do in the early days, when there is no audience and plenty of bills to pay?
IT FREQUENTLY PAYS OFF IN THE FUTURE BUT WHAT IS A SMALL BUSINESS TO DO IN THE EARLY DAYS, WHEN THERE IS NO AUDIENCE AND PLENTY OF BILLS TO PAY?
The key to selling your offering now and succeeding sooner rather than later is generating high quality publicity for your business. My company works with brilliant business owners who offer extraordinary products and services but have no budget to let the world know about these offerings. They struggle to attend every networking event under the sun to try and get connected with someone who has powerful connections. I’m not dismissing the value of in person networking, but most of the time, such events lead to a sale here and there. Selling one $16 product at a time will not keep the lights on.
If the same entrepreneurs used just a handful of the amazing resources available for free online, they would be featured in publications and attain a much greater reach. There is no quicker way to build trust, acquire fans, and sell!
A former client created a very innovative dog product. Everyone who touched it was instantly impressed but as a pet parent, one would never think to look for a similar product since nothing like it has ever existed. After spending over three years along with all of her investment in R&D, our client had no budget left over for marketing. We designed a promotional strategy and showed her how to use the internet to find relevant promotional opportunities in just minutes a day. This led to several lucrative opportunities. Most notably, one of Animal Planet’s head vets became a loyal fan and self-imposed brand ambassador for my client. All this cost her was a few hours of our consulting time along with 15 minutes of sweat equity each day. Who knows how many thousands of dollars it would have cost her to approach the same TV personality with an endorsement proposal.
Our PR generating service became so popular, we ended up documenting the entire process. The Definitive Guide to PR for Small Businesses is a step-by-step guide that teaches small business owners and bloggers how to use the internet to get revenue generating publicity. There are many amazing programs out around the web that teach people how to do a launch but the revenue potential is strictly tied to the size of the business owner’s mailing list. We want to show how we have successfully helped businesses launch a blog and sell products/ services without a mailing list.
You can start finding high quality free publicity for your business by following these basic steps:
Figure out Where Your Target Market is Spending Their Time Online
You want to get featured in publications that your target market finds to be influential. Figure out exactly who your target market is and where they spend their time online. What blogs and publications do they read? What social networks do they spend their time on? Many blogs and publications welcome high quality guest content. Do your research to find guest posting opportunities.
Get Familiar with Online Tools That Connect Journalists and Sources
Journalists and bloggers from all kinds of publications are always looking for qualified story sources. Two of my favorite, free online tools that connect sources to journalists are Help A Reporter and Source Bottle. Sign up for these tools and be sure to peruse their daily e-mails for opportunities. Learn how to craft compelling source applications.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Twitter has provided us and our clients with some of the most lucrative publicity opportunities. If you aren’t already on Twitter, join and invest some time into learning how to use it. There are plenty of free tutorials available online. Create lists following the people and publications that are relevant to your target market. Get to know influential people and publications on Twitter by engaging in quick conversations. Once a relationship is established, look for opportunities to pitch your expertise in a way that will be beneficial to the person you are approaching.
Focus on Quality and Consistency
Checking Twitter and Help a Reporter once a week isn’t effective. Start by learning how to use the tools then, dedicate 15 minutes a day, every day, to your marketing activities. Approach publicity strategically, getting featured a small town newspaper isn’t as beneficial as a story in an industry journal beloved by your target market.
Lyuba Ellingson is the co-founder of Red Elixir Business Solutions and co-author of The Definitive Guide to PR for Small Businesses. She is known for her creativity, passion for design, and tenacity for unique solutions. Lyuba has helped countless business owners expand their businesses, attract more clients and generate more income through the use of online interactive marketing and social media. Lyuba is obsessed with systemizing processes and using cool tools to work smarter so that Red Elixir Business Solutions and its’ clients can achieve greater results.