A well-respected businessman once said, “You can’t sell a secret.” In order to succeed in business someone must know that you exist. The art of promotion, one of the 4 P’s of the marketing mix, depends on how effective you are in developing communications that motivate prospects to become customers.
The marketing mix includes advertising, personal selling, sales promotions, and publicity. Often times, small business owners do not have the capital required to invest in a costly advertising campaign. Nonetheless, there are creative ways that they can promote their businesses with little or no budget. One such method is through publicity. Publicity is when information about your business is promoted free of charge through a medium (magazine, newspaper, radio, television or online) for which one usually pays.
Several years ago, I began attending various business workshops, seminars and conferences looking for opportunities to network and grow my business. Some of these sessions were so inspirational and resourceful that I felt the information should be shared with others; I started writing articles and submitting them to local print publications. The editorials that were published included a byline and a footnote with my name and contact information – much like the editorial that you’re reading now. From time to time I receive calls from individuals who have read one of my articles and are interested in my business services.
You can also implement a public relations campaign that includes submitting newsworthy information to the media. Keyword – newsworthy. The information must be interesting to the readers of the publication(s) to which you will be submitting your editorials, i.e. press releases, articles, reports, etc. Newsworthy information includes: charitable giving; a new product launch; employee promotions; receipt of an award; results of a survey or poll; or sponsoring an event. The information can be related to your business or your industry. The key is to find a tie-in to the products and services that you offer.
If you have specialized knowledge or skills, you may also consider creating a newsletter or writing a column that provides useful information to your target audience.
Unlike paid advertising, however, publicity is not guaranteed. Regarding print, whether or not your editorial is placed in a publication is at the discretion of the editor. You should determine the appropriate editor to forward your editorial prior to submission. Smaller publications may have one editor who handles all submissions; while larger publications often have several editors assigned according to the sections of the publication. While not all submissions will result in a hit, successful placements establish one’s credibility and expertise on a particular subject.
Sherice L. Bellamy, SLB Associates, provides business planning and development services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.