Ensuring that you’re constantly attracting new customers and gaining their loyalty is one of the most important things you can do to expand your business. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through public relations, the process of earning free advertising through building trusted relationships.
While you may think that only the biggest corporations with huge marketing budgets can afford such a strategy, the truth is you can and should use public relations to boost your small business. Publicity is less expensive and more effective than advertising because instead of paying for the privilege of explaining how great your business is, you allow others to do it for you.
Define your business’ personality
In order to interest anyone in hearing about your business, you need to make it interesting. Develop a clear brand for your business, one that sets you apart from the competition. Your brand should be to your company as your personality is to you. Use your brand to connect with your audience by exuding authenticity and enthusiasm. Just as you’re more likely to build a friendship with a person who seems genuine and warm, the public is more likely to build trust with your business when it’s perceived as earnest and reliable.
Some small business owners hire consultants to help design, test, and finalize the components of their brands. If your financing options are a barrier to this additional business expense, consider taking out a secured credit card, which can help boost your credit score and financing options in the future.
Once you’ve crafted a clear brand for your business, find ways to tell its story persuasively. If the way your business began is compelling, capitalize on it by putting that story at the center of your communications. Customers who have had transformative experiences with your products or services are especially effective storytellers for your brand. Whatever the specifics of the story, make sure it is short, sweet, and memorable.
Perfect the pitch
Even the most interesting story is ineffective without an audience. Pitching yours to the right audience is key to getting the publicity you need but remember that influencers are inundated with requests on a regular basis. Your pitch will be most effective if it’s personalized and creative. Draft the pitch, then edit it multiple times for clarity and effectiveness. If you’re sending an email, create a forceful subject line that won’t be filtered out as spam. Do your research about the outlet you’re pitching to, as there may be a specific person most likely to be interested in your story.
Before you put your company’s name out there, though, you need to make sure your product is impeccable. Publicizing your business before it’s truly ready can lead to an onslaught of negative customer reviews, exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. Consider convening a focus group. Gather a small group of people you trust. Have them thoroughly review your products, then ask probing questions about what could be improved. Only when you’re certain you’ve attained the highest quality possible should you pursue publicity.
Position yourself as the expert
Become a voracious researcher and reader of everything related to your industry. Use your website to publish interesting and helpful content that sets you apart as an expert in your field. Leverage the power of the internet by collecting articles that contain relevant keywords and use them to keep up with what the competition is doing. You should also follow the top influencers in your industry and pay attention to what they’re focused on. When you join in on any industry conversation, you want your contribution to be valuable and helpful to others, so staying informed is key.
Once you’ve identified and are following the top reporters in your field, work on developing a relationship with them. Comment thoughtfully on their work and engage in other ways that demonstrate your desire to connect. These connections will go a long way in establishing a powerful public relations strategy for your small business.