You don’t need to break the bank to garner good publicity for your business. If you’re willing to commit a little time and ingenuity, you can promote your company effectively and build your reputation as a business leader.
- Write an advice article. This is a great way to promote your expertise and your business, while providing added value for local newspapers. A car dealer could write a feature titled “5 Ways to Conserve Gas even if You Don’t Own a Hybrid.” A flooring storeowner might educate readers about new, renewable options such as bamboo. The owner of a closet organizing company could discuss the growing trend in home wine cellars. Real Estate people could write “8 Essential Home Repairs to do Before You list your Home.” Remember that your knowledge is valuable to others. Share it and gain visability.
- Run contests or sweepstakes. Here’s a way to bring in new customers, and the prizes don’t need to be expensive. Doctors might provide free cholesterol screenings during heart health month. A floral shop owner might consider a June Bridal Bouquet sweepstakes or giveaway. A personal consultation from a life coach or a resume coach is sure to attract attention now. A bakery might give away a dozen cookes a month for a year. You don’t have to give away a free meal on Oprah to create buzz for your business in your community. People hear about your business and sample your product through contests and giveaways. Winners can become your best brand evangelists, telling countless others about you.
- Create a sale or promotion with a twist: The Ben & Jerry’s in Gainesville won a national award, and free publicity in local newspapers, for it’s “BJs in Your PJs” promotion: Every Sunday night for four hours they offered discounted ice cream sundaes and shakes to anyone who came in wearing pajamas. All those people standing outside their store in their PJs was a great attention-getter.
- Sponsor events: Let a local charity use your business location for an event or offer your products or services as fund-raising prizes. Sponsor or host a walk, a race, a bake sale, a food and wine tasting, a lecture by a well-known speaker–all of these could garner press attention. Having your company name and logo front and center in community events will build awareness and engender positive feelings about you and your business.
- Speak Out: Organizations ranging from the Rotary Club to local businesses, colleges, charities and professional men and women’s groups are looking for interesting speakers. Volunteer a few times and soon you could develop a reputation as the “go-to” person for entertaining talks on subjects such as “five things we can do right now to protect our environment,” (a great way to promote a lawn service company’s chemical-free care package) or “how to stage a house for a quick sale” (Realtors, you know these tips by heart) or “using social media to connect with customers” (on trend and invaluable to any customer-centric business).
- Serve as an expert: The media is always looking for people who can speak knowledgably on issues. If you’re an expert in your field, let the radio stations and newspapers know. Write an opinion page (Op Ed) feature on a topic that can educate people and submit it to your local paper, magazine or website. Write letters to the editors when you have something to add to a conversation in the news. Tax preparers can talk about the tax benefits of installing solar equipment. A doctor can interpret the latest scientific study for the lay person. Make yourself known. Become a thought leader in your community.
- Be prolific. The key to inexpensive publicity is to engage with your community. You can promote yourself and your business by being caring, knowledgeable and accessible. By sharing your expertise, you’ll develop a passionate base of customers who will refer you to their friends. After all, word-of-mouth is really the Holy Grail of publicity and promotion.
*I originally published the majority of this essay in The North Central Florida Business Report. Thanks to Kevin Ireland for permission to reissue here.