If you’re a start-up or small business with limited resources, it’s important to maximize every resource you have available, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining customers.
Marketing can be costly, but opportunities exist to grow your market without breaking the bank. So, the next time you’re preparing a marketing campaign, why not try out one of these three simple ways to help reach your audience before taking out an advertisement or preparing a major marketing strategy.
1. Be Your Own PR Agency
Paid advertising or hiring a public relations (PR) agency can be pricey, but securing these opportunities can be completely free of charge if you use the right tactics.
Newspapers, television, radio stations and blogs are constantly searching for relevant content for their audience. While contacting an editor or journalist may feel overwhelming, you’d be surprised to find out how willing they are to speak with start-ups and small business owners. They actually enjoy speaking to business owners or the manager of a company that is reaching out, so they can get the story directly and ask any follow-up questions they need. In most cases, you will be the interview subject in their story or post, this way they get the news straight from the source. However, be sure that you understand the basics of conducting a media interview before you jump in front of a camera or mic. There are many quick courses and articles to help you maximize your speaking time and formulate quick and direct answers that are perfect for quoting.
Another important tip to help secure media attention is to prepare a press release. As reinforced by James Stephenson and Courtney Thurman’s book, the Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide, a well-received and publicized press release can have the same pull or awareness benefit that an advertisement costing five figures has. For more information on preparing press releases, see the Media Communications Tool Kit or register for our seminar How to Get your Business Into the Media.
2. Enter Local Contests and Awards
Local awards competitions are a great way to spread awareness about your company, because they give you exposure to new audiences. They are also a great way to piggyback on the media attention that the contests attract. The media love a good success story and press releases about the awards provides them with valuable and relatable content throughout the entire contest. That can be a lot of exposure! For example, past Small Business BC Awards finalists have been featured on Global News, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail and Forbes Magazine, just to name a few. And don’t forget about social media, where tweets and Facebook updates from the hosts, sponsors, other contest participants, voters and media outlets are all possible social advocates for your business.
That exposure not only creates brand awareness for your target market, but also helps bring attention to your business from potential investors, and mentors to help your business grow.
If you don’t think your business is ready to compete for a province wide contest, enquire at your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade about their business awards. Every year these organizations bring together the residents, employees and business owners of their community to honour and celebrate business excellence.
3. Engage Your Community with Relevant Content
Relevant content generates conversation that naturally draws new audiences to your business. Many times, content that is personal and relevant can spark more engagement than branded content. By sharing content that is interesting to people’s lives outside of your services, your audience is more likely to share, like, or comment on your blog or social posts which organically boost their reach. There are many ways to further encourage engagement with your content; ending your post with a question, responding to users’ comments or questions and utilizing unique hashtags are all techniques you should be using.
Hashtags are also a great way to monitor trends. You can use them to research a topic or event and see if it is relevant to your target market. You can use them to monitor how well your content fares against the competition and if different types of content work better for that trend.
So, the next time you’re planning out your marketing budget, remember that there are always ways to save some of those precious dollars while still increasing your brand awareness. It might take some creative brainstorming or stepping out of your comfort zone, but staying on top of current opportunities can very well be what sets up your business for success.