PR is not the amount of money you pay for favourable reports, contract or publicity. It is the activities that build the level of trust and loyalty with your target market stakeholders. As start-ups, entrepreneurs and marketers we wear a lot of hats and you need to balance your activities as the chief producer and manufacturer with that of chief promoter. Getting other to promote your business may be costing money but often times we neglect the simple opportunities available to us to promote it ourselves.
Spending your time looking for free publicity is a lot of work and it costs something – time and effort. However, the results last longer and across several situations. The more effort you put in, the better your chances of success will be; especially if you have a plan in place and are able to stick to it. While this list may be endless, here are my quick ideas to guide you;
There are chances that you already have a competition in the market. In a generation where the competition is stiff and severe, you need to ensure your product is unique. Viable business ideas are generated when your product or service is more productive, faster, cheaper or simpler, you need to get that advantage in front of your target market. Even when your product is common, you still need to highlight a difference to remain a viable option in the market.
Community and industry events
It does not matter how big or virtual your business may become, you still need your community to boost your business. Online, participating in websites like Nairaland and solving other people’s problems will bring you a lot of benefits. Imagine if you sell and repair computers. If you spend some amount of time participating, discussing and solving other people’s petty problems online, people are more likely to trust you as against others harshly advertising. Online trust and credibility will have them emailing and calling you for further discussions and consultations.
Offline, if you own a local store or business, you can leverage local community events, associations, to participate in a community event if you’re savvy enough. From Landlord, Parents’ association events to major industry exhibitions, there are free opportunities that may not be entirely about money but about a lot of work.
Free online directories and listings
If your business is not new, there is a good chance that the business is already listed with the company name and address on some online local diretories but not claimed. It is important to claim you listing on such websites and supply the missing information such as a website address, phone number, contact or email address. Since these local directories are highly ranked for local search, it helps to promote you business. It also prevents unauthorised persons from deleting or laying claim to your listings.
Common and popular local directories include Nigeria Galleria, Vconnect , Nigerianbusinessguide, Business list Nigeria
Guest blogging is a common traffic pulling tactic. You simply look for other blogs or websites within your niche or locality and offer to create a thorough and valuable article, image, research or report as a guest feature on their websites. It allows your business to tap into the audience of the other website thereby driving them towards your product, business or competence. You can also get talking with bloggers in your niche so as to get them do a review of your product or write about your business.
Social media is now the most common way for showing off. Why not show off your business and expertise? Why not tell people how awesome your business it. Why now show-off your latest client and product. In addition to that, online contests and trivia are ideal for gaining community attention, and they don’t have to cost you anything more than perhaps free products or services. People will easily share the opportunity with others when there’s a benefit attached to it.
Befriend reporters and bloggers
Reporters and bloggers are essentially called gatekeepers in Public Relations; they are the ones you need to go through when you want to access their platforms – TV, newspapers, magazines, online blogs and websites. While you may need to pay to advertise, they are always looking for content. Your leverage here is that you understand your subject matter than they do. A Shoe maker or designer who is interviewed on TV or writes an article in newspaper or blog about how to identify original shoes is more likely to be contacted about the shoes he sells than the one who complains advertising is becoming more expensive.
Since they are always looking for content especially about topical and timely issues and ongoing events, you may need to stay close to them. Get access to any TV, Radio, magazine or newspaper you know, offer you expertise and opining and you are sure to be contacted when the need arises. How much you pay? Ensure you show up and make a lot of sense.
No, advertising is not becoming more expensive, the ways to promote your business is just changing. These tactics are commonplace as people already use them in various degrees, its time you get on the train and drive value for your business.