Advertising in the media can be a high-end expense, especially if you are still in the growth phase of your business. Radio and TV spots, magazine ads, commercial marketing can all be quite costly. The question becomes how to increase your exposure and demand for a fraction of the typical cost. It is possible – and quite simple once you have the secrets: there exists several opportunities for FREE publicity if you are willing to write, network, and – yes – speak. The ten tips (11) below will show you how to increase your bottom line without breaking your budget. First, choose a ‘gotcha’ topic related to your industry. For example, if you are a diversity trainer and offer seminars to that regard, find a current HOT topic and center your article or interview around it. The more up-to-date and controversial the speaker can be the more publicity you will get. The media eats up controversy. Also, stay updated with what day it is … is it a holiday,celebration or observance of some kind? There are thousands of observances you wouldn’t even believe some of them today, some are fun, crazy, goofy, real, and really strange but they do exit and if you stay on top of it you can get your foot in the door. Research and build your article, video or interview around these observances and celebrations.
1. Write a Column in a publication targeted to your audience. You have within this target audience a ready-made market sector of peers. No matter what industry you serve, this is already – by its very readership – a fairly ‘warm’ audience. Google publications in your target market. Find current information as to submission guidelines and editor/submission reviewer; be sure to address any calls and correspondence to the correct individual.
2. Send Press Releases – The gold mine for free advertising! Again, choose a HOT topic. Market your services and products in light of that product. Be sure, always, to title your press release with an attention-grabbing headline. Holding a seminar soon on EEO rights and your company’s domestic partner coverage? “Diversity Workshop to be Held December 15th: There are a variety of websites where you can – for free or very inexpensively – place your press release yourself. For newspaper and printed media, be prepared to follow-up on your submission with calls and emails (“Did you receive my press release?”). Always head your press releases with the words “For Immediate Release” in bold.
3. Radio and TV Interviews – This is not as difficult as one would think. From the interviewers perspective, they have hours of air time to fill and are always looking for an interesting, and hopefully catchy topic. Your bottom line may be in dollars and cents; their success is based upon ratings. Help them help you. Target local and/or national stations and programs that cater to your market sector. Contact their producers by phone, email, fax, or letter. Convince them as to why you’d be a ratings-grabbing guest on their show (see above re: controversial, current topic). They will, most likely, want to follow up with you, learn a bit more about who you are and what you offer.
4. Write a book, eBook or eZine – What better way to establish yourself as an expert in your field – and get free market exposure at the same time?! Make your content catchy and useful to your intended audience. Advertise your published works with the other options on this list. For books and eBooks, consider having an industry peer review your writing or hiring a freelance editor with reasonable rates. The small expense for the latter may be well-worth it when it comes to making your content as captivating and user-friendly as possible. As with press releases, be sure that your author bio is both interesting and informative. Set yourself apart from the pack by drafting an intriguing bio. List your credentials briefly. Add in a few things that are out of the norm, e.g. sky diving gave you an appreciation for the stock market; you are fluent in German, which facilitates networking with international banks, etc. List a favorite hero or two. You should also have a longer bio for books and eBooks and a shorter, abridged version for your eZine, blog, article submissions.
5. Write Sidebar articles and submit them to targeted publications and directories. What is a sidebar article? Sidebars usually include snippets of information such as short explanations, lists, quotes, polls, etc. They came into being as advertising spots! Now, common on web pages, magazines, and trade publications and the like, they offer an economical way for you to get noticed – with minimum effort and little to no cost.
6. Write blog posts and web articles – Link to your ancillary marketing information. Offer useful tips of the trade. Publicize your other writing (e.g. have a link to your eBook; offer links to your eZine, etc.). Always, always try to offer something for free to your audience – if they sign up for your newsletter, mailing list, etc. Read: target market capture – for FREE!
7. Send emails and design newsletter campaigns – A brief weekly email – perhaps with a HOT tip or three and/or a monthly newsletters to your existing clients and those who sign up after viewing your web site, blog, eZine or mail in a reply form from one of your target mailers (see below) WILL result in increased sales.
8. Target mailers – postcards, emails, newsletters, brochures – Again, offer a freebie for those who reply. Monthly newsletters and targeted emails offer great exposure to ‘already warm’ potential clients and customers. If you need printed advertising media and are just starting your business or are on a low budget, visit Vista Print online. They offer some amazing deals and very good discounts.
9. Attend local Chamber of Commerce meetings/breakfasts, etc., professional associations if applicable, i.e. Realtors, etc., community groups – Lions, Jaycees, Elks, etc., and related seminars where you can network. Network. Always bring a handful of business cards – and brochures/flyers if you have them (and you should!)
10. Warm up to Journalists – Complimenting a journalist on a column he or she has written is the best way to start warming up to a journalist. Find a targeted publication; read through it; find an article you can relate to, then email or call the journalist and give them a compliment. From that, you build a rapport and slide into your pitch. Having a seasoned journalist on your list of resources is a true boon. Imagine someone who writes for the AP citing you as an expert in your field and naming your company in an article: instant national exposure.
Ok we have 11!
11. Social Media: I know you hear it time and time again but I can’t stress the importance of being very active on social media platforms! Be everywhere and be helpful. Start with Facebook and Twitter and move on to Linkedin, Pinterest and Instagram and don’t forget Google + This is the best way to get in front of your audience, producers, journalists, etc and its free, with a billion + users on social media platforms today why wouldn’t you want to be active and involved? Start today!
Additionally, and these are so important they should each have their own number above: a) ask pleased customers for testimonials; cite them on your web site, in your mailings, in your eZine, as a sidebar in your newsletter, and/or the back cover of your book; and b) always, always ask your existing clients for referrals. The latter is a wonderful source of ‘warm’ potential sales.
Consider having a sign-up form, similar to the one you will use for newsletters and email captures with a field or two for existing readers and customers to add names and addresses (email, too) of people they know who might be interested in all you have to offer.
Lastly, track your leads. See which areas seem to pull the most potential clients, which result in the most sales. Your marketing results will vary according to your chosen industry. Proportion the time you expend on any or all of the above accordingly. ~ Happy marketing!