Small Business - Age old marketing strategies but still gold

These age old but still relevant marketing strategies if used wisely could greatly benefit your small business. The following may be old but you can still mine gold.

Promotional gifts

Want to get a little extra bang for your buck at the tradeshow? Giving away promotional gifts is a great way to do so.

Tradeshows

The power of tradeshows should never be underestimated. As mentioned above, many people don’t know how to network in person anymore, which puts them at a huge disadvantage.

If you can network, you’ve got a leg up.

The best way to get coverage by the media is to attend tradeshows. Media professionals are likely to be there, and if you can use that opportunity to become friends with someone influential—from your industry, from the media, or from somewhere else—then you’ll start to see doors opening up that never would have otherwise.

Events

One way to get coverage in a paper is to throw some kind of event. That could be a launch party or an announcement, and if you can make the event exciting enough, then it will almost guarantee that you get some exposure.

Unfortunately, not every company has an announcement exciting enough to warrant regular conferences. Likewise, not every company can afford to repeatedly hire out venues and entertainment.

But there are other types of events that you can get coverage for, too. An example of this might be a competition—run a competition with an interesting prize and it will become newsworthy thanks to the value that it provides for the readers/viewers of that media.

Even hiring can be spun into an “event” if you get creative.

Media coverage

Better yet though, why not try to get free media coverage? If you can get an article into a local paper or an industry/niche magazine, that could be priceless exposure that brings in a lot of new customers.

But how do you go about doing that?

Well again, you should go traditional if you really want to be effective, and try building a relationship with a journalist or editor. Networking is a forgotten art and it works best if you can do it in person—try visiting some tradeshows or seeing if any of your existing contacts can put you in touch with someone who will listen.

You also need to think of ways to create a story around your business that will be newsworthy for the publication/outlet you’re targeting. For a local paper, telling your story might be enough (this is good for alumni publications too), but for an industry magazine you’re going to have to find some way to put a ‘new’ spin on the existing niche.

Don’t worry if the magazines aren’t directly related to you or your business, either—you could get into a magazine about sustainability, for example, if you can find a novel way to cut emissions. Everything is news to someone!

Paid-for advertising

Back in the day, we would reach out to a publisher and offer to pay a one-off or monthly fee for the right to have our advertisement in their publication/on their channel.

And this is a strategy that still works!

Television advertising is still a very viable option, even for entirely web-based companies. Likewise you can get advertising in newspapers and magazines, or on radio stations. It’s relatively rare to find an advertisement for a website in a magazine, so if you can create a compelling image and get it into a relevant publication you might have found a perfect route to market. Local radio stations and newspapers, meanwhile, are a perfect fit for local businesses (and just as targeted as Facebook ads!).

Even if you want to advertise online, this is good strategy to take. Lots of bloggers use Google AdSense and other large programs to find ads for their sites, but if you approach them yourself and offer to pay for a banner on their site, they’ll be glad for the guaranteed sale and will probably give you much more prominence on the page as a result. This will help you to improve awareness for your brand and will help to set you apart from the competition—and you’ll often actually get a better rate as a result.

Small Business - PR Strategies that HURT more than they Benefit

Any PR can do wonders for your startup or small business, but not all strategies have proven to be effective. This article enumerates what according to each of the following entrepreneurs isn't worth the effort and could possible hurt a small business than they would benefit.

Self-Service Newswire Services

These can be useful for SEO, but that’s about it. You won’t make much of a ripple with “news” stories you wrote about yourself. To get truly powerful exposure, you’ll need to pitch your story to reporters who will write candidly about your business. Ultimately, you need to cultivate those relationships. – Gideon Kimbrell, InList Inc

Mass Emails

If you think you can copy and paste an email to thousands of PR professionals, you’re going to get about the same result as the effort you put into it. Writers for big publications get pitched daily. You have to stand out above the crowd and be personable. Get to know the person you’re writing to before you pitch them. Be part of their community and you’ll be much more likely to get a story. – John Rampton, Host

Premature Stories

Think about defensibility. When there are ten competitors in the market, you don’t want to let them in on how you’ve reached profitability or success. Keep your brand under the radar until you’re ready to tell the world what you do. – George Bousis, Raise Marketplace Inc.

One-Time Boosts

Press can drive traffic and perhaps even convert customers, but its typically a one-time boost. Entrepreneurs need to view PR as part of a holistic strategy and leverage it past the initial story. Take distribution into your own hands and advertise press to your target customers through channels like Facebook. Make sure to use quotes and logos from noteworthy sources for social proof on your site. – Carlo Cisco, SELECT

Narrow Focus on ‘Big Outlets Only’

The notion that only big outlets matter needs to go for three reasons. First, it helps to have a mix of occasional, high-impact coverage, as well as having saturated coverage in more niche communities. Second, this initial media coverage will help you build credibility and obtain high-exposure placements. Third, it helps your SEO to have a lot of people mentioning you, not just the ‘big guys.’ – Basha Rubin, Priori Legal

Cookie-Cutter Strategies

People think it’s just about putting together one press release and submitting it through PR Newswire. You have to get out there and connect with the journalists directly over social media or through their media websites. When you pitch, make sure your story is customized to them and is something they personally would be interested in writing about. Research before you pitch. – Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey

Self-Promotion

Talking about yourself is one of the most ineffective PR strategies. Effective PR should be focused on helping your clients and communicating how you’re solving their problems. What are you doing to help clients overcome complicated problems? – Brock Stechman, DivvyHQ

Content for Link-Sharing

Guest blogging is an awesome strategy to grow your brand — you introduce your product to new people, while also linking directly to your site. Unfortunately, a lot of startups look to write on other people’s blogs solely for the link. They’re not bringing useful information to a new audience. Taking such a short-sighted approach is offputting, and may make more relevant sites ignore your requests. – Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Press Release Wires

Traditional distribution services no longer work. Journalists dig for stories they want to find, which usually aren’t available on the public domain, and use the rest of their time to cover news they receive inbound. No respectable writer references wires for publish-worthy news. Stop spending money on aggregation services that, at best, syndicate your content without driving any real eyeballs. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

Expensive Agencies

A marketing/PR agency may have a flashy portfolio that impresses you with their big name clients, but for a startup or small business, paying thousands each month to such an agency isn’t going to be good bang for your (limited) buck. You’re better off working with an experienced freelance PR professional who can put out a press release, blog posts and get you local media coverage at a lower cost. – Grant Gordon, Solomon Consulting Group

LinkedIn and Google+ Groups

Honestly, I’ve done this myself, but group posting is a total waste of time unless you are willing to invest an hour per day interacting with the group and commenting on everyone else’s posts. At that point, someone might like or comment on what you have to say. Otherwise, the hours you spend posting about your product, service or even general advice will yield little to no fruit. – Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

Press Release Avalanches

First, let me state that I do recommend the use of press releases when they are warranted. The problem is that companies tend to overuse them. They think the more, the better, so they’ll trumpet just about anything. But if you keep doing that, people will stop listening to you. So by all means, make press releases a part of your efforts, but only use them when you have real news to announce. – Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

Insensitive or Self-Promotional Facebook Comments

I have no problem with one promoting their business on Facebook, but what is almost always a bad idea is promoting one’s business under someone else’s posts. I have seen it get so bad that people have promoted their businesses under posts regarding the death of a family member or a very personal subject. And it’s usually someone you barely know or someone collecting Facebook “friends” as leads. – Steven Le Vine, Grapevine PR

One Big Launch

There is a big trend among startups that you need to put everything into an enormous launch. True, a great launch can occasionally make a company, but that is more the exception than the rule. Instead, go for a drumbeat approach. Create a key set of messages and spread your PR across multiple months with a “drumbeat” of new features, events and data that reinforce the message. – Charlie Graham, Shop It To Me, Inc.

Limited, Egotistical Content

Constantly keeping yourself in the spotlight. Establishing a startup is extremely exciting, but only pitching content that revolves around yourself can make your new business look greedy and egotistical. Not to mention, sharing information only related to your individual key performance indicators and successes, segments the content to a very narrow audience, thus decreasing SEO value, engagement and exposure. – Tolga Tanriseven, GirlsAskGuys

Over-the-Top Self-Promotion

Press releases are a tool for getting your company’s name out there — one that should be used strategically. Writing releases for non-events or releases that are blatantly self-promotional, backfires. Stick to providing relevant, timely and interesting information that will be useful to your audience. – David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services