Small business marketing is frequently the responsibility of the owner or manager. I have just finished my first ever time to run promotions for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc. We have had them before. I just wasn’t in charge of them. I am not at all sure I did it well. But I did it and that is a thing to be proud of.
Being a business leader means I have to do things I am not 100% comfortable doing. I remember the first time I got in front of a tv camera. I was SWEATING! But it was free publicity for my business and they wanted to talk to someone with skin in the game. I was very excited that they called me. I had been courting the station to some degree for a few months. Watching as many news shows as I could and sending in email comments about news items that related to my business. I had a childcare center in downtown, so it wasn’t hard to find things that were relevant. Anything that had to do with downtown, children or families was liable to get a quick note from me. This was well over a decade ago, so they weren’t as swamped by email as they are now. I stood out, so I got a call and people heard about my business.
How do we stand out in today’s market? Sending an email is unlikely to do it. We all get far too many to count now. We need clients to know we are here and are relevant. We can advertise. Lord knows, I do. Everybody does. How much do you believe in the ad copy you read or hear every day? 10%? You may be conveying 100% true information, but people filter it out. Marketing is more than buying a well executed google ad. It is getting in front of people in different settings, so your customers start to know like and trust you.
How do you position your self as a knowledgable and likable person? Getting on the local news might still be a good way to get noticed, but how do you get the news to notice you? I have had some success with hand written notes. They are the rarity now that email was back in the dark ages. Tweeting images also has some traction. You have to engage with them, build a relationship.
I help a lot of my clients get into the paper. Local papers need local content to stay relevant. Having a great event that highlights a worthy cause or brings in dignitaries, is the key strategy there. The images you send also play a central role. Make sure you send both portrait and landscape pictures, because you never know what space they need to fill. Your write up of the event should be as close to newspaper copy as you can make it. The less work the editor or beat reporter has to do, the more likely you are to get in the paper.
The other time-tested way to get in front of your audience in a marketing capacity to build rapport is public speaking. Half of you are shaking your head right now. That is OK. If there isn’t anything related to what you do that you can speak passionately about for 15 minutes you are excused. Everyone else is still in this. If you would rather poke your own eye out than talk to people you don’t know, then don’t talk to people you don’t know. Talk to people you do know. Do you have a book club, mother’s group, gaggle of gals you eat cheese cake with? Those are your public. Talk to them about your passion for your work. Get comfortable with it. Eventually one of those friends will say, “Hey, my friend Suzie was just talking about her problems in that area. I need to put you in touch with each other.” Voila. Your marketing just worked! Once you have done that a few times you might be ready to move on to networking events. I wrote about those on my other blog, TexasDirectorblog.com.
This type of marketing is much more in my comfort zone than running advertising campaigns. That is why it was my turn to run one. I had to stretch my wings. It may take a while, but I will get the hang of it. I may never like it, but it is important that I know how it is done so that I can talk intelligently with my team who focus on that area and with clients who have marketing challenges. Let me know about something new you have tried and how it worked. I look forward to hearing from you!