Generate publicity without breaking the bank

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Know your target market

The challenge in getting attention for your business is that there are so many media options now with social media, the Internet and printed media vying for viewers and readers. Part of the solution is to know your target market. You need to understand the mind of your prospect. You need to know their media habits, where they look for information when making buying decisions.

Slice through the firestorm with your USP

To slice through the firestorm of media you must have a clear USP (unique selling proposition) before you start publicising your business or products. Analyse your business and offer, and determine what you provide that other businesses don’t offer. Keep your positioning simple and easy to understand. Your USP should include your “wow” factor. What could make you stand out among your customers? For example, Ideaaccelerator.co.za, a website that encourages creating ideas for profit, has the following USP:

We help anyone to turn their ideas into profit with honest and uncomplicated (no mumbo jumbo) information even if they’ve always been too afraid to take the first step.

You need to select media in your community that will reach your prospects, whether through the local newspaper, coffee talk publications, community websites and Facebook pages. Start by finding out where your customers get their information. If you cater to other small businesses, they may find reliable business information at their local business chamber. Promoting your business at one of their events or even giving a talk on your specialty may be effective. 

Small business owners are more innovative

Small businesses owners have an opportunity to experiment more than their large business counterparts. They can be more innovative. In fact, they have to be more agile because they don’t have the truckloads of cash that larger companies have to spend on publicity. Experiment with publicity methods. Test to see which tools works best for you.

How to run your publicity brainstorm

Start by generating a list of ideas that you can use to gain publicity for yourself or your business. You can do this on your own or with a trusted group. Try write down as many ideas as you can think of. Give yourself a time limit of, say, 30 minutes. Your first ideas may not be unusual. But as you write down your ideas as quickly as you can, you will find unusual ideas popping out from seemingly nowhere. An idea such as a humourous photo competition may strike you as silly at first but when you later consider it you may realise how much awareness it could create for your business. Resist the temptation to strike ideas out as too wild or whacky. Don’t censor your ideas in the creation phase. Your unconscious mind does not like change and will fight ideas that it considers outlandish. You can let your list cool down and come back to it at a later stage. For now, you want to get down as many ideas as you can, and as quickly as possible.

Determine what method works best for you

The ideas and tools you use to promote your business will depend on your personality. You may feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a group such as at your local chamber of business. On the other hand, written communication such as news briefs may be what you enjoy doing. Try out publicity techniques you enjoy and feel comfortable with. Play to your strengths.

Forgive losing money but never reputation

Some business owners may enjoy generating publicity for their business. Others may prefer to stick to the knitting and focus on the areas they know. This situation can be similar to fixing your own car. Some car owners may want to do their own oil change but others realize that if you get it wrong you can cause serious damage to your car. In certain circumstances it makes sense to hire an experienced publicist with specialized skills and know-how who can help you avoid the costly pitfalls without endangering your personal and business reputation. As Warren Buffet says, “We can afford to lose money – even a lot of money. But we can’t afford to lose reputation – even a shred of reputation.”

Grab a free copy of my new e-book “Secrets of Generating Publicity for Profit” (see link on the right hand panel). The book, published by Bell & Cray Business Books in association with ideaaccelerator.co.za, is valued at $14.50. Use it to spur publicity ideas in your business without having to break the bank. 

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