Running a small business is no easy task. You wear multiple hats and work with limited resources. And while you know advertising is essential to your growth, you may not have the budget to make the impact you desire. That’s why having a solid Public Relations (PR) plan makes sense for small business owners like you.
Many people think PR is only for national and international companies with substantial marketing budgets – that’s not the case. PR is about earning trust, all while gaining free publicity as a result of your efforts. In many cases, PR helps small businesses grow in unanticipated ways and can be more effective than paid advertising.
Consider these seven proven PR strategies for your business:
- Tell your story to the press. Why did you start your company? How long have you been serving customers? Keep your local media informed about what you’re doing and why — it’s a great way to get the word out for free. And take the time to develop a good rapport with local reporters so they’ll be more likely to report your successes and other milestones when applicable.
- Work closely with local non-profits and charities. Find a cause you believe in and align your business with it. People in your community (especially the younger generation) are more likely to align themselves with you if you share a common belief system.
- Look for opportunities to serve others in your community. We live in a time where many people are in need — whether due to natural disasters, COVID-related issues, or other reasons. And because people need help, you should be a part of the solution (and encourage your employees to do the same). Visit sites like JustServe.org or VolunteerMatch.org to find local service opportunities to get started.
- Give incentives for referrals. Your existing customers are your best source for growth. Develop a customer appreciation program where you pay them in some way to refer people to your company. People are more likely to use your products and services as a result of word-of-mouth advertising.
- Sponsor a local group or event. Whether it’s a youth baseball team or a contribution to a holiday event, sponsorship creates goodwill in your community. But be authentic with your support — don’t just do it because it’s a good PR move (that may backfire). Be committed, creative and believe in what you sponsor.
- Network, network, network. Take advantage of the local business organizations in your community – Chamber of Commerce, business leagues, etc. Participate regularly in their events, or even sponsor one or two of them.
- Reach out to influencers in your industry. Public relations isn’t just about media coverage; ultimately, it’s about building relationships. Reach out to bloggers, YouTubers, media outlets, and reporters covering your industry, niche, or market about your company. Stay in touch with these influencers, so you’re top-of-mind when they’re looking for stories to share.
Hopefully, the list above has generated some ideas you can incorporate into your marketing plan. It’s always a good idea to find ways to grow without paying for advertising. Remember, a little PR goes a long way to building your brand.