What’s unique about your company? What makes your company stand out from the competition? Is it the quality of the products you offer or your painstaking manufacturing process? Perhaps. Is it your prices? At times, pricing can be a distinguishing feature.
More often than not, however, it’s the attention you pay to your customers that keeps them coming back to you. It’s the people you work with and the relationships you develop in and around your business location.
As small and medium-sized businesses, part of what makes you unique is that you and your employees are a part of the community. Your kids go to the same schools as your customers; you attend the same functions, churches, fundraisers, and meetings together.
As a part of the community, you need to stay in front of your customers. While the easiest way is through word of mouth, the best way to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time is with publicity.
Publicity is a different form of communications than advertising. Sure, you can put an ad in your local paper or post a special on Facebook, but those forms of communications have a short shelf life. Typically, advertisements don’t focus on topics that inspire conversations, which then arouse curiosity about your business. Publicity, however, is about getting targeted segments of the public’s attention focused on your business. The greatest thing about it is that it doesn’t have to cost a dime.
All you have to do is get the attention of the media.
Accomplishing this objective is easier than you think. Here are just a few topics that are sure to garner you some press.
- Company moves: Expanding the company or moving to a new location? Now is the time to write a short press release (I’ll teach you how to do this in an upcoming post). Take a picture of the new building or your existing building (picture taking tips will also be coming in a separate post) with your complete staff out front next to a great big sign. People love to look at pictures. They want to see if they know someone who works there and pictures like these are always a winner.
- New hires and advancements: Whenever you bring on a new person, promote someone, or celebrate a milestone (e.g., an employee’s 20th anniversary with the company), whether it’s a C-level executive or the cashier, promote the news. Take a picture and write a two-paragraph press release stating the person’s name, position, and what they will be doing. Including the town or city that your employee lives in adds to that local feel.
- Charitable events: Doing something nice in your business community is always a winner with the media. Invite the press to come see you dish out dinner at the local haven. Participating as a group at an event? Get a picture of your entire team. Show your support for a coworker who is doing a good deed by taking a picture and sending it to the local paper.
- Community service projects: Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, Department of Natural Resources, or school to see if there are projects to which your business can lend a helping hand. Helping to build a playground, plant gardens, or clean up a park is not only a wonderful and press-worthy deed for your community, but it’s also a terrific team-building opportunity for your business.
- Contest winners: Have you ever held a contest for your customers as a promotion? Publicize the winning entry by personally going to your contest winner’s business and getting a picture of your executives or managers with the winner and the prize.
- Scholarships and giveaways: Just a few hundred dollars goes a long way when you’re talking scholarships. Hold a local contest, choosing an area that’s important to your community. For example, if you live near the beach, offer a scholarship to a graduating high school student who will be studying oceanography. Or, if you are in a town known for its music scene, hold a contest and award a grant to a promising young talent for music lessons at another local business. The possibilities are endless and the publicity opportunity is huge.
Each of these publicity efforts can be enhanced using social media like Facebook. Through a company page, you can post all of the pictures you take. By tagging the location and the people in the pictures, you have the ability to reach thousands of potential customers. Be creative, be inspiring, and be a community leader.
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