We live in an era of information overload.There are hundreds of channels on TV to watch, millions of web sites to visit, the ability to listen to radio stations not only in your own city but across the globe. To gain attention for your small business does not take millions of dollars in advertising buys. It takes savvy marketing acumen and an understanding of the media – both old and new.
Being highlighted by an influential blogger whose interests match what your business offers is often much more valuable than getting on a local TV newscast whose viewers may not be among your core customers. The convergence of media also means that if you do get covered by traditional media, you can repackage this coverage via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Below are five brand-building tips for small business owners:
- Establish your key point of relevant differentiation and build your brand upon itEvery business is superior or different in some way. Thomas DeGeest, a native of Belgium, quit his job as a consultant at IBM to become a street vendor. He founded Wafels & Dinges and began selling his authentic Belgian waffles on the streets of New York City and became a pioneer among the gourmet food trucks. His tasty products, European flair and self-professed quirkiness are an inherent part of his brand. This has enabled him to develop a large, almost cult-like following among “foodies” and among food writers and producers who have helped make Wafels & Dinges a national phenomenon – even though the company operated primarily in the New York metro area.
- Be a leaderBiz2Credit.com is the leading resource on the web for small business financing. The company’s CEO Rohit Arora has made himself available to reporters as a “go to” expert for commentary on topics related to small business lending, which has been a hot issue since the credit crunch that began during the last quarter of 2008. He has spoken at industry conferences, written columns on small business financing that are regularly published, and been quoted by reporters at top business outlets including Bloomberg, Reuters, Entrepreneur, American Banker, and Crain’s New York Business, among others. Arora is now a thought leader in his industry. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a solid long term strategy to build your business.
- Do onto othersBecoming involved in local community events and supporting charitable organizations through cause-marketing events are ways to “do well while doing good.” Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant, a top sports bar in Manhattan, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for foundations and other causes by naming menu items after famous players and donating a portion of sales to those causes. For instance, the “David Wright Sandwich” is a recipe given to Foley’s by the Mets’ third baseman. It is the top-selling item on the pub’s menu and a dollar from each one sold is donated to the David Wright Foundation. Additionally, Foley’s owner Shaun Clancy has enlisted celebrities such as Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Mets broadcaster Ron Darling to be guest bartenders and donated their “tips” and a substantial percentage of the evening’s sales to support prostate cancer research and domestic violence programs. Clancy says his customers love the excitement that the celebrities attract and feel good that they can have a good time while doing something that helps others.
- Do it yourselfIf traditional media outlets don’t tell your story, you can publish your own content and share it on your own blog, and on forums and chat rooms. Know what search terms people are using to find information about your industry or product category and then create content that will raise your profile on search engines. Comment upon articles relevant to your industry that appear online. Shoot short videos and put them up onto YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Post and tag photographs on Flickr, Facebook, and other vehicles including your company web site. Find podcasters who talk about your area of expertise and then book yourself on their shows. Then you can post the interviews on your web page and Facebook pages and promote with Twitter.
- Multi-taskWhen your small company attracts traditional media attention or becomes the subject of bloggers, don’t be shy about marketing the coverage. Share it on Facebook, tweet about it on Twitter, and post it on Facebook. Write into your industry trade magazine or college alumni publication to highlight your success. You may be able to parlay successful media coverage into additional stories about your company.
If you don’t think you can afford a p.r. firm to do these things for your company, think again. There are many p.r. practitioners with years of experience at major corporations or at large p.r. firms who have decided to go into business for themselves. You will find the awareness that they help build and the resulting business that is generated will quickly repay the investment you make.
Additionally, you may be an entrepreneur with a knack for promotion and the willingness to take matters into your own hands. If you enjoy it and have the time to devote building your brand through public relations efforts, take matters into your own hands. The key is to have a consistent message and a continuous flow of information. If you are unable to do it on your own, call in a p.r. pro.
John Mooney is founder and president of Over The Moon PR (www.overthemoonpr.com), a public relations and marketing firm that builds brands, grows businesses, and advances causes by creating communications programs that match business strategy, deliver key messages, reach target audiences and influence behavior.
This article was submitted by John Monney’s , Over The Moon PR. Biz2Credit is a small business marketplace that connects entrepreneurs with financing options and advice to grow their business. Send all questions to