PR for small businesses generally involves getting the word out about what you do. You don’t need to spend money on PR as it is all about providing a story for people to write about. Hopefully your story will inspire them to write about you, and then before you know it you’ll be featured in all the best blogs, magazines and newspapers resulting in more sales.
What’s your story?
In order to entice the media to write about you, they will expect a great story that their readers will resonate with. Think about why these people should write about you. What is it that makes your business different?
Cultivate your media list
Once you know your story you can start to cultivate your own personal media list. Your media list will contain contact details of all the blogs, newspapers, magazines and radio stations that you wish to contact about your business.
Submit- the right way
Depending on who you are pitching to you will have to follow their submission guidelines. Most blogs now have submission information on their site and newspapers and magazines will also have the relevant information available so you need to follow their directions.
Monitor response and evaluate
Keep track of who you submit to, replies and outcome. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back immediately. Editors are busy people and won’t always be able to reply straight away. Instead focus on cultivating that list. You should always be adding to it and thinking of new places that may be interested in featuring your story.
It can take time to see results from your PR efforts and it is something that needs to be sustained over a period of time to get the best results.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about growing my business and how hard it is to find the time to market and promote myself the way I would like. I don’t like spamming and try very hard to come up with ways to market myself and my business without having to shout, “hey look at me, look at my shop!” Unfortunately, it seems this does work for some people and I was starting to get down because I felt as though I was being left by the wayside.
A quick rethink about my values and my hopes and dreams for this business made me realise that it is not a competition (despite them being called competitors!) and it’s not a sprint. I would prefer to grow slowly, organically and satisfy my customers instead of compromising who I am just to make a quick buck. Now, I’m not talking about anyone in particular but I thought I would get it out there because I have been contacted by a few people who feel the same.
There are lots of articles about success stories that worked their socks off to get a million followers on Twitter which has turned in to thousands of sales or six figure businesses. They usually end with a plan of how you can do the same. So people try and follow the strategy then get disheartened when it doesn’t work.
No business is the same. There’s no magic bullet or checklist for everyone to follow. If there was we’d all be millionaires.
So I’m going to tell you a secret.
You don’t HAVE to use Twitter. You don’t HAVE to have use Facebook, you don’t even HAVE to have a blog.
You need to do what is right for you and your business. If you don’t feel comfortable with certain marketing strategies don’t use them. Don’t let anyone make you feel as though your business will not succeed without Instagram or webinars, or whatever the latest marketing tool is because you still can. Many businesses did fine before these came about and many businesses will do fine without them.
My tops tips for deciding which marketing tools are for you:
Listen to your heart
If you are uncomfortable using social networking or any other types of promotion then it’s not for you. If your heart is not in it then you will not see the results you are looking for. Spend your time focusing on things you are comfortable with instead.
Decide your limits
Think about what you’re comfortable with and decide your own limits. Maybe you like Twitter but only want to use it to meet like minded artists who also work from home. That’s fine. You don’t have to use these methods to promote directly. People will find you through your profile if they’re interested in what you do. I personally follow people I am interested in. If you don’t follow me back I don’t unfollow you, what’s the point? I’m following you because your tweets interest me. Who decided these “rules” anyway? I also don’t randomly add lots of people in the hope they will follow me back and I have still managed to get my followers to over 1800. Okay so it’s not in the multiple thousands but I’m getting there slowly and I figure people will find me when they find me, I don’t have to force it.
Go back to basics
Try some more traditional marketing methods like gaining free publicity through writing press releases, giving out business cards to people that you meet, and networking at local business events. You can do these things at your own pace. Marketing is about people so the key is engaging with others, adding value to the relationship and connecting – you don’t need to do that in any one particular way. Try out different things and see what feels best for you.
Of course there is nothing wrong with people who want to grow their businesses quickly and who follow all those Twitter “rules” or sending out lots of links to their shop instead of actually communicating with others. If this works for you fine, but it isn’t for everyone and no-one should feel guilty that they’re not doing all these things.
So if you want to grow your business slowly, naturally and organically you can. Your business won’t suffer as long as you’re doing what feels right and truthful to you.
Remember Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare? Slow and steady wins the race.
Sharing your process is a great way to connect with your target audience. Much like telling your story, showing how you create can provide greater understanding about what you do and how you do it. It gives you the opportunity to show how you get from your intial inspiration to the finished product or why you have designed elements in a certain way.
By nature, most of us are visual people so actually showing your process, visually through photos, video or in person can be much more beneficial than just writing it down.
The aim is to give an overview of how you work, to inform and engage your audience and connect on a deeper level then just viewing your finished products in your shop.
So how can you show your process?
You can use a series of photos posted on your blog as a step by step. Husband and wife design studio This Paper Ship (see above) have used this method. It’s mesmerising looking at the intricate details and seeing the process broken down makes me appreciate their work even more!
Geninne’s Art Blog video series
You can use video to speed up a long process. Geninne’s Art Blog and Moxie Pear are great examples of how you can use video to speed up a long creative process whilst showing what you do. The videos are fascinating and show how talented these ladies are! Geninne’s video series shows her painting process and Lisa of Moxie Pear put a video on her About page showing her design process.
Mr Yen Paper cut art
You can include photos over the course of a project. If you are starting a new project, document your progress as you go along. Upload the photos to Flickr or share on your Facebook page or blog. People will feel a part of what you are doing, more involved and more invested in the final outcome. Mr Yen did this to great effect with his latest papercut art project.
As well as sharing your process on your blog or social networks you can put links in your product descriptions. Engaging with a potential customer at point of sale is a great way to encourage them to explore your work even further. You can link to a video showing how that piece was made or even how it can be used.
Have you used photos or videos to show your creative process? I’d love to see them. Link to them in the comments so we can take a look!
I’m going to let you into a secret that the marketing gurus don’t want you to know. Content marketing, community marketing, movement marketing, relationship marketing, tribes, insert latest marketing buzz word here…
They are all pretty much the same thing.
I’m going to let that sink in for a little bit. How can they be the same? I hear you ask. And if they are the same why are they all called different things?
To sell more books.
No-one wants you to know the truth, so they can keep selling you the same techniques but in a different package.
All these “different” types of marketing all focus on people. They all basically advise that building communities and relationships with like minded people can make great things happen. It’s true. It’s powerful stuff but like I said all the different terms basically boil down to the same thing.
Business is about people. Marketing is also about people. It’s people that buy things and it’s people who sell things. It has been this way for hundreds of years long before the word tribes (in the marketing sense) was thought up. The average person does not give a hoot about being a part of your tribe, that’s even if they know what it is.
They just want to know that you understand their needs as a person.
A few ways you can do this:
If you have a decent product or service and a clear target market- just talk to them. Communicate. In any way you know how.
If you can create great content that connects with your target market you will start to build a community of people interested in what you do.
If you can talk openly and passionately about things you and others are interested in, those people will be inspired.
If you can be helpful, personable, honest and real, the word will spread and more people will buy your stuff.
Marketing has not changed much over the years. The way we reach people has. Social media has allowed us to talk and connect with more people than ever before. So use it to help grow your business and make people the focus of your marketing efforts.
Your target market, your suppliers, your delivery person, your local post office, your family, your friends, your potential customers, your past customers, your competitors, your colleagues, your collaborators and your industry experts.
The way you conduct business impacts on all these relationships. All these people are part of your business story. Treat them all with respect and watch your business soar.
So save yourself some valuable time and instead of focusing on the latest fad; focus on the people.
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There are so many great business books that can educate us on how to run a business or show us how best to use the tools available to reach our target markets. If you have the time to read these then go for it! These books can be very beneficial to small business owners. Just beware of wasting time on marketing books that profess to the latest, new and improved, amazingly brilliant marketing movements that will make you a millionaire. Like I said they all pretty much say the same thing.
We’re almost at the end of another week and I’ve been thinking about what factors determine business success.
Is your business where you want it to be?
Do you feel like you’re not getting any traction and you just work, work, work without ever reaching your goals?
Before you go looking for a business coach or a magic bullet to solve all your problems, look inwards.
For the last seven years I’ve worked with creative business owners to help them grow their businesses. Some have gone on to build what they set out to, others haven’t.
The main difference between the two groups?
The group that believe they can do it have gone on to achieve what they wanted. They followed the strategies I created for them and it worked.
The other group, didn’t follow the strategies, at least not for very long and I think this was partly out of fear. Fear that the strategies are not going to work because they’re different to what other people are doing. Fear they they might work and then they have no excuse for being unhappy. Fear that it will be too much work or that they are somehow not cut out to be a business owner. Fear manifests in so many different ways but ultimately it holds people back no matter how irrational the fear is.
If you want a successful business, it starts with you.
The first step?
Believing you can do it.
Even though I believe in you, I can’t make you believe in yourself. Even though you may get the help of a business strategist or coach, it won’t make an impact on your business if you don’t follow through and do the work. You need to believe the strategies are going to work but more than that, believe that YOU are the right person to implement them.
No-one can solve your business woes except you.
Here are a few things that might work for you if you feel like you are lacking in self-belief:
+ Stop thinking about what other people think when you make a business decision. Your business needs to work for you, not your peers. Be proud and confident to do things your way.
+ Get rid of the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. If you start to say “I can’t do that” or “I’m not the type of person who…” reframe that in a positive way with “I can do it!”
+ Focus on your strengths. You are an amazing human being. You can do things no-one else can do. You have ideas, unique to you. Celebrate this. When you feel like you can’t do something, remember all the things you can do instead. Then use this as motivation to go out and learn what you need to move forwards.
+ See yourself doing it. Develop the vision of you doing whatever it is that you need to believe you can do or be. If you can see yourself doing it you are more likely to believe in it. If you feel like your business will never make a profit, imagine that it is. How would you act differently? How would your life be different? Would you make different choices?
What impact could believing in yourself have on your business?