If you own and operate a small business, you may wonder why some businesses seem to achieve success almost effortlessly, while others struggle, even if they are well–managed. This seems to be especially the case in tough economic times.
If your small business is finding it difficult to achieve its sales targets, it may seem tempting to invest more money in sales and marketing activities. However, these may also achieve limited success, especially at a time when many consumers have lower disposable incomes.
The good news is that there is a way in which you can increase awareness of your business and its products or services without spending any money at all. The way forward is through effective public relations (PR) work.
Many small businesses do not carry out any PR work. The most common reasons for this are a lack of expertise in this area or a lack of media contacts. Small business owners may also believe that they do not have the time to carry out PR work on top of all their other commitments.
However, if you do take some time to learn more about PR and to publicize your small business, you may start to notice several different benefits. First and foremost, if you are regularly interviewed in the media, you will come to be regarded as an expert in your industry.
This will enhance the reputation of your business and create awareness of its products or services amongst as many potential customers as possible. Readers of newspaper articles or blog posts may visit your store or website out of curiosity and this can have a positive impact on your sales.
Before starting to publicize your small business, it is important to identify your target market. This basically means answering the following questions: Is your typical customer male or female? To which age and socio-economic group(s) does he or she belong?
You will also need to find out which publications, websites, radio stations and other media people in your target market read or listen to regularly. In order to do this, you can ask several of your regular customers which websites they access frequently, which publications they read on a regular basis, and which radio shows they enjoy listening to.
For example, if you own a menswear store which sells smart clothing to middle-aged men, it is important to know which are the most popular newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs read by middle-aged men in the medium to high income brackets.
Once you have this information, you will know which media to target with a compelling press release. Your press release should contain unique and interesting information that is likely to capture the attention of as many journalists and bloggers as possible.
A good example of a subject for a compelling press release would be the results of a survey that point to a new or emerging trend. You could carry out such a survey amongst your customers and potential customers. It could be undertaken online or in-store. You could give each participant a small reward for taking part, such as a money-off coupon towards their next purchase.
Ensure that you write a well-crafted press release with the most interesting information in the title and first paragraph. Before sending out your press release, try and establish at least one personal contact with a journalist working at a relevant publication or radio station. Ask everyone you know both personally and professionally if they could introduce you to such a journalist.
If you can achieve a personal meeting with a journalist, it is likely to be much easier to achieve media coverage. If, however, it is not possible, you should still be able to gain some coverage if you send your press release to a large number of journalists at the publications that you have already identified.
Once you have gone through the process of seeking and achieving media coverage for your business, you will find that it easier to carry out PR work an on-going basis. After some time, you may find that journalists are contacting you and asking you for quotes on current issues in your industry.
If you take some time to begin the process of publicizing your small business, you are likely to reap the rewards on a longer-term basis. A larger group of potential customers will be aware of your business; past and current customers will be alerted to new products and trends; and you will be regarded as an expert in your field. These benefits are likely to have a positive, knock-on effect on your sales.