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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Fortney

DIY PR - Tips for Starting Out

Small business owners ask me this same thing almost on a regular basis - "I can't afford to hire a professional to manage public relations for me. What can I do on my own to market my business?" My first response is always that you haven't met a PR/marketing professional who focuses on small businesses and even smaller budgets. When it comes to marketing small businesses you must think outside of the box. Yes, that term has been used ad nauseum since the 1980’s, but it's true. Some of the most unique and creative marketing campaigns come from small businesses, people who know their business, know their market, and understand how to attract customers through inexpensive means.

marketing tips for small business and startups I top public relations firm tips

One of my former clients specialized in massage. They would often take their massage chairs to office buildings, and other places, to offer complimentary 15-minute massages and communicate their company's messages. After all, who can turn down a free massage? In the past 10 years, I’ve had clients use real estate signs, car/vehicle wraps, coordinating promotions with neighboring businesses, throw complimentary pizza parties, free giveaways, scored mentions on radio by giving away product, and generating other public relations opportunities, and more to attract local attention. And, they created lots of social content. The key is that you have to be where your customer is and this is what these small businesses considered in marketing their companies. They understood exactly who their audience was. Some steps to start you towards thinking of creative and cost-effective ways to market your business: 1. Who is your audience? What do they do? Where do they go?, etc. (i.e. Can you speak at an event? Hand out coupon’s at a football game? Do they read the shopping section of the paper every week?) 2. What is your absolute budget? Do you have more product than cash to utilize? 3. How does your product or service fit into the customer’s lifestyle? Does it enhance, make things easier? 4. How can you create need by consumers for your product or service (i.e. communicating the brand)? 5. How can you generate trial? 6. What tools can you put in place to capture those who try your product and service, and how can you communicate with them to encourage adoption of your business? 7. How long can you afford to give time towards ongoing marketing, like this, and is it worth hiring someone part time to manage it on your behalf? 8. Have a variety of target specific marketing tools you can use and intersperse them to keep things fresh.

9. Social media is free so be sure to share photos, video and more to encourage engagement and interest in your business.

10. Never give up, never turn down a potential opportunity and always continue to generate new ideas.

Once you answer these questions you will be able to create unique ways to catch customers' attention, you'll know the best time of day and where to catch your customer, encourage trial and begin to brand your business.

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