Small Business Marketing Tools to Get You Free Publicity

As far as small business marketing goes, free publicity is gold. It’s not just that you’re getting your company name to the public without having to pay for it; it’s that the news publicity – whether it’s in a magazine, newspaper, or online, weighs more heavily in your prospective customers minds. Even as skepticism reigns, people see information printed by news-type sources (whether in print or online) as being more truthful, more objective, than information that’s paid for by the company (advertising).

But simply sending out a press kit to your local news media won’t guarantee you that free publicity. The cardinal rule you have to follow is that your information must be newsworthy. One of the ways that news media keep their reputation as objective sources of information is that they are – they’re not going to print a thinly-veiled ad for your product or service as a news piece. But if you write a release that accomplishes both goals – offering the news media an interesting, informational story and letting potential customers get to know your product or service – that’s where free publicity really pays off.

To start, you need to develop a press kit as a standard component of your small business marketing materials. Your press kit should include:

Small business marketing press kit component 1: A letter to the editor of the newspaper (or magazine, or internet site) pitching your press release as a story idea. Many components of your press kit can be recycled, but the letter to the editor should change every time to send out a new press release.

Small business marketing press kit component 2: The press release. Your press release is where the journalist will look to find most of the information for her story. In the release, you should describe the news item (the launch of a new product that will revolutionize consumer’s lives, for example). Feel free to quote yourself and others in the press release expounding on the issue (that way the journalist won’t have to contact you or others for quotes when she’s writing the story).

Small business marketing press kit component 3: Your business card. Make it easy for the journalist to contact you.

Small business marketing press kit component 4: Your corporate bio. Journalists often like to add background information into their stories; make it easy by including a corporate bio that offers the important information about your business, including who founded it and when, location, and other interesting tidbits.

Small business marketing press kit component 5: Relevant photos. The keyword here is relevant: include photos of the topic your press release is about. If it’s a new product, offer some interesting photos. If it’s a new day care service, offer some pictures of the employees with the kids. Use photos that will make your story more compelling.

Small business marketing press kit component 6: Testimonials. It can be a great strategy to build quotations from current and past customers right into your press release. But even when you do that, don’t be shy about adding more.

Small business marketing press kit component 7: A data sheet for the relevant product or service. A data sheet with give the details about your product or service (that’s being covered in the press release). Relevant details include pricing, components, materials, size, weight, and part number – if applicable.

You should put all seven small business marketing components of your press kit into a folder – ideally one with your logo on the front to finish off the presentation.

Once you’ve created an appropriate small business marketing press kit, you can think about the kind of media outlets that you want to target. That small business marketing decision should be based on where your customers are – are they online, reading the local daily, or a national newsmagazine? Free publicity won’t mean much if it’s not picked up by your target audience – your prospective customers.

Once you’ve decided the media outlet that you want to target, find out who the managing editor is and send a personalized press kit to her. Or, if the publication is very large, send a personalized press kit to the journalist in charge of your area (for example, the Food journalist if your product is gourmet brownies or the Technology journalist if your product is computer software). You can also send out a press release for mass distribution using one of many online press release wires.

Characteristics of a Good Small Business Website

Having a website has become very essential to every business today because of the growing popularity of the Web technologies. Under these circumstances to survive competition, a small business should have a good website. A good website is one that helps you realize the object of doing business without compromising on quality and standards. A good website helps your small business attract the targeted traffic, and ultimately helps you grow in business.

Following are some of the major things to be taken care of while creating a website for your small business.

• Structure of a website

Structure of the website needs to be well organized and designed. A website with good structure increases the usability of the website to the users.

Pleasant theme, good colors and relevant images must be used and should be appealing to the users.

All the content must be placed according to the categories and name them with short and apt names.

Internal linking must be easy and sequence of hierarchy must be followed in placing the content of the webpages.

• Content of a website

Content in the website is the king. In other words, content is more important than any other aspect while considering usability of the site. It shouldn’t be too short or too big and should convey useful information to the user.

Content posted on the website should be informative and free from errors. The content should convey all the useful information about products, services, the company and the brand.

Content should be fresh (updated regularly) with genuine and relevant information.

In short, content of an ideal website needs to be informative, authoritative and persuasive.

• Relevant images

Images of the products or any relevant images will help the visitor understand the product well, that gives the customer a visual knowledge of the products/services.

In situations, where a visitor doesn’t want to spend much time reading the description of the products, images are helpful.

Posting irrelevant images for attracting the visitors is a bad idea. Visitors come to your website to find useful information on the products/services, the company, etc. Visitors’ attention gets distracted by irrelevant images.

• Easy navigation

Easy navigation would make browsing easy to the users of any category.

Navigating your website should be simple and easy to execute for your audiences.

Navigation should be clear and it should guide the visitor through the internal webpages properly to access the information that he/she is willing to browse.

• Theme of a website

Theme of a website must be simple yet, attractive.

Theme of a website should be pleasant, clear and should not be so bright to obstruct user reading.

Theme should be consistent throughout the internal webpages.

A good website should enable the small business owner to promote the business online effectively, to reach the target audience and convert them into loyal customers. From users’ perspective, it should enhance user experience and thus should keep them engaged.

Four Common Misconceptions on Social Media Marketing Among Small Business Owners

Marketing through Social media websites like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. is called social media marketing (SMM). It is gaining popularity these days and for many businesses, it has become a part of their marketing strategy. Despite the popularity, there are some misconceptions among small business owners on SMM and for this reason, many of them have not adopted it. In this article, we will discuss four common misconceptions on SMM among small business owners.

Misconception #1: Social media networking is only for teens
Most small business owners have a misconception that Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are meant for fun and entertainment and mostly used by teenagers only. It is true that when these websites started, initially they were mostly used by teens. But slowly, the scenario changed. People of all age groups are using social media websites today. According to State of Search, users aged 45 to 54 years are the fastest growing segment. 55% of the Internet users in this age group have an account on at least one social media website.

Misconception #2: SMM is easy
Registering on websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. is easy. But, it takes time and effort to maintain profiles and be active. You need to invest time and effort in
• Creating and updating content, videos, graphics, inform developments in industry/products/services, etc.
• Interacting with customers and providing solutions whenever there are queries from customers

Misconception #3: SMM delivers immediate results
Having a good profile in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and posting blogs regularly doesn’t mean you will get immediate results in the form of sales/leads. It may take few months before you see the results. For that, you have to be patient and interested in building relationship with customers by effective SMM campaign. Over time, you will see the results.

Misconception #4: Social media is meant only for marketing
Another misconception in some small business owners on SMM is that it is meant only for marketing products/services. Though broadly the purpose is the same, it is more than just marketing. Social media also helps small businesses in following ways
• Acquire new customer and retain existing customers – It is one of the best methods to reach out large number of target audiences with less efforts and within less time. By posting informational content, you can attract and acquire new customers and by updating the developments in business and products/services, you can keep your existing customers informed. This helps in building relationship with customers.
• Finding hires and partners for your business – Small businesses can also find people to hire for their businesses on social media sites. For example, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B businesses to find candidates and business partners.
• Search engine ranking – It is believed that Google and Bing search engines consider social signals – shares, retweets, G+ posts, etc. while ranking websites. Businesses that are active on social media websites have chances of ranking on search engine result pages.
• Customer service – According to Social Media Today, 53% of small businesses are using SMM as a two-way communication tool to serve their customers. It enables one-to-one dialogue/conversation with the customers. This leads to building customer loyalty and trust with your service.

It is a good time to have the presence on social media websites and leverage the benefits they offer. We suggest you to hire professionals for monitoring and maintaining profiles on these websites as it is not that easy as it looks.