Ten Timely Tips To Pitch, Promote & Publicize Your Small Business On A Shoestring Budget
By Lori Anne Oliwa
IFEL Public Relations Manager
Being a small business owner can be daunting; everyone has an opinion about what you should or shouldn't do. The good news? It’s not always about the money you have to spend to market successfully. Promotion is about time and effort and most importantly, the relevance your communications have for your current and future customers. The simple tips below are designed to help you put into practice a strategic marketing mix that will position you on a path to greater visibility in your community and beyond.
1) Be Sincere But Be Closing: Craft An Elevator Pitch
The average attention span these days is short, seconds in fact. You need to be able to capture the ‘sizzle’ of your business in one or two sentences to capture your target’s interest. Here is a great resource to assist you in designing a killer pitch. The return on your investment of time will pay off!
2) Get Involved In The Community
Life is local! Opportunities to get involved in local organizations and events are usually plentiful. Think about where your target markets spend time and what is important to them in the community….libraries, schools, Little League, police & fire events, festivals & fairs? Event sponsorships can help you become more visible and get your message out. Research shows people like to stay local….give them every reason to choose your business.
3) Collaboration & Cooperation Is An Extension Of Your Message
Forming a synergistic, non-competitive alliance of businesses is a great way to promote. Members of the group become an extension of your marketing efforts and key advocates for your business. The alliance can host showcase events, run bundled promotions and use social media platforms to reach new people.
4) Work ON Your Business By Getting OUT In The World: NETWORK
Networking is one of the biggest buzzwords meaning different things to different people, but one thing is true. It works! There is no shortage of opportunities to meet others whether that is in a business setting such as a chamber of commerce meeting,
Industry event, a purely social outing, political rallies or hundreds of other possibilities. Again, knowing where your audience spends time is key. A strong network is a huge asset in business.
5) Establish Yourself As An Expert
If you have never thought of taking your knowledge public, think again! Giving a presentation whether it’s informal to a small group or more formal to a large group is a great way to become known and respected. Many organizations and groups eagerly seek qualified, subject-matter experts. Often organizations promote speakers through the traditional media, website, and social media platforms, so this is excellent visibility.
Remember the talk should be educational and of value to the audience, not promotional.
6) Create Buzz Through The Media
The local media is a fantastic way to get the word out about your products and services. You should take note of your local print and online newspapers, magazines and digital news outlets in addition to any bloggers who cover community news. The media can be
a free source of communication and will often cover stories about new businesses or write features based on human interest. Don’t be left out! Pick up the phone and introduce yourself or send an email to the editor or reporter who cover your area. They
want to hear about local businesses. If you aren’t already familiar with a press release,
a very effective marketing tool to communicate your brand story, an excellent tutorial is available here.
7) Volunteer For A Cause Or To An Effort Complementing Your Business
Donating time is altruistic in nature and shows you care about more than just the
business bottom line. It’s a win-win, and often media publicity follows from the
organization, town or entity involved. Finding a cause-related or complementary to your
business is even better. For example, a landscaper or flower farm might get involved in
‘Adopt-A-Jughandle,’ a grassroots initiative designed to improve the appearance of bland jughandles with colorful plantings.
8) Just ASK!
You cannot be shy as a business owner, so start asking for referrals. If you have
heeded the prior tip about networking, you should be building an audience and
leveraging that audience to find more new customers. People are more than
willing to help, but the problem is that businesses don’t always take initiative to ask for
referrals. On the flip side, you may want to create a referral program to reward
those who support you.
9) Build & Nurture Relationships
One way to build relationships with current customers is to communicate consistently.
Capture email addresses when they visit your brick and mortar or website, then
provide news about products or services, special sales, events, new hires, etc., by
email marketing. It’s easy and impactful. Relevant educational content is also effective
as it will be informative and helpful to your customers. For example, a produce store might provide tried-and-true recipes involving their fruits & vegetables, and better yet,
offer samples in the store to kickstart sales.
10) Special Ways And Special Days
There are endless ways to offer special sales and promotions, however, discounts and
coupons are only a minuscule part. Be creative! Perhaps the town that you are located
in would set aside a special day for a townwide sale or event to attract people into the
business district. Small towns and large cities alike run events to promote themselves
as destinations. This is how the now popular #FirstFriday celebrations came to be. It all starts with YOU, the big bold business owner!