Let me be really up-front and tell you that I am not a marketing guru. Any articles that appear here on marketing are from a totally logical point of view and are tips that have worked for me as a small business owner without a budget for marketing.

As small business owners we all think that we have the greatest product and/or service in the world. We are really passionate about what we do and we know, deep down inside of ourselves, that if only people knew about our product/service we would be so busy we would not know what to do with ourselves, and we would have pots and pots and oodles and oodles of money just flying into our bank accounts.

Now here’s the kicker. It’s the “if only” part. You see, the bottom line is that no matter how great our stock is or how fabulous our service is, if no-one knows about it or how it will make a difference in their lives, no-one is going to buy it and well, our bank accounts will remain empty.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can often be heard lamenting the lack of: the lack of finance to put a really good marketing strategy together, the lack of finance to use a really good PR agency, the lack of… well, I’m sure you get the picture.

Truth be told though, we are all capable of doing the whole thing ourselves and even, in some cases getting better results for ourselves than we might have gotten by hiring someone to do it for us. You see, good PR can be the greatest asset in a business but a bad publicist who fails to deliver can really do a great deal of harm.

So let’s have a look at some of the simple things that you can do as PR in your own company:
Take a good hard look at what happens in your company. Remember, your company is unique. What about your company is unique? What about your company is newsworthy? Do you have a monthly newsletter that goes out? Do you have an anniversary of your business coming up or is there a special holiday coming up, such as (but not limited to) “Workers Day” or “Women’s Day”? If you are not someone who looks at special promotions then perhaps it is time to start looking at something right now. It can be linked to a public holiday or to an event or even to a group of people (e.g. all members of Women In Finance will be eligible for a discount of 10% for the duration of the promotion). You see, you can only pitch a concept to the media if you have something interesting to promote.

Make sure that you have some really great photographs of your store and/or product and/or yourself (if you are selling your service), because some of the smaller publications of newspapers and/or magazines may not have the financial means to have a photographer running around all over the countryside to take photos and photos always, always, always can make a difference to whether your pitch is successful or not. Be prepared.

In fact, it is quite a good idea to have a Business Profile and/or Personal Profile written up and ready for distribution. It’s good to have your profile include whatever is being promoted together with a bit of the history of the business and yourself and of course it must include (but not be limited to) things like your contact details, address, web address etc, and it must be presented in a professional manner on your letterhead. This is something that you can write yourself, or if you are really not comfortable doing this hire a wordsmith on a “per word” basis to do it for you. Most freelance journalists will be able to assist you in this regard.

Once the profile is done, write a letter that is to-the-point that can be mailed or emailed to editors or producers with your profile attached, or better yet – see if you can get in to see them. The letter must be as short and as simple as possible, but it must include all of the promotions that are on offer.
All the Editors and Producers want to know is, “What’s going on?” and they are often looking for something different to report on. Once they have this information they can make their own decision as to whether or not they want to cover it.

Simple, hey? Simple and very effective! So go on, I dare you – try doing something like this for yourself and see how well it turns out.

About the author: Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Small Business Forum

The Small Business Forum is an independent network of entrpreneurs and small business owners established to encourage and support the creation, growth and development of small business in South Africa.

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