How to Promote Your Business Effectively, Both Online and Off

business directory infoWhether you think you know public relations and marketing or not, getting your business or product noticed is difficult. Even some of the best PR pros I know have a hard time marketing themselves. It just seems a bit precocious to put yourself out there. But one thing I know for sure: If you don’t market yourself, no one else will.

Identify your audience

It may seem like a no-brainer, but many businesses fail to identify just who to talk to. Once you know “who” then you can go about “how” to reach them.

Reaching out to local media

One of your audiences will invariably be the media. You can’t pitch all media outlets the same way. TV has different needs from print and radio and vice versa. But before you pitch ask yourself:

• Is your product or service the first, best or brand new?
• Is it award-winning or trendsetting?
• Does it solve a problem?
• Does it provide a unique service?
• Is it visual (TV and online mostly, but even print is getting into video)

If you don’t have anything that fits into the above categories, then you probably don’t have a news story. But you can still provide meaningful commentary by being an expert in your field.

Social media

Let’s be honest, there are a ton of different social media channels out there. My guidance is pick one or two that you think make sense for your business and master those first. You can spend hours venturing down the social media rabbit hole, but here are some general rules of thumb:

• The goal is to engage customers – be a part of the discussion in your industry and it will help you gain an audience or followers.
• Don’t be afraid to “friend” or “follow” reporters. Your ideas may spark stories for them.
• Ask for feedback from your followers. Again, engagement is the key you want them to “like” and “share” or “retweet” what you post.

Business directory listings

Be sure to claim your business in online directories such as Google Business, Yelp and Yahoo. If you are interested mainly in how to promote your business on the web, business directories are the perfect starting point.

There are also a ton of others, the Yellow Pages offers both free and paid listings. Claiming your business lets you know and respond when people have something nice or something bad to say. It will also allow you to dispute any negative comments. One of the most highly sought after business listing services is provided by DirectoryBug.com.

Your website

I’m assuming you already have one if you are reading this. But you need to make sure you are making the most of it. With the constant changes in search algorithms, you want to make sure your content is fresh. One of the best ways to do this is to have a blog. I see a lot of websites that were built a year or two ago and haven’t been touched since.

Become an expert

Let’s face it, if you are running your own your company, you are an expert in whatever that is. The same things that make your company newsworthy are the things that make you an expert. Start a blog and talk about what you know, what you are learning along the way – challenges and successes. You can also re-post articles from other people (make sure to give proper credit) or comment on them.

Get involved in your community

Look for groups and associations that align with your priorities and beliefs. Volunteerism is a great way to network as well.

Consistently brand your business

Chances are your company already has a logo and a name. It should be on everything – correctly formatted. Your name and logo are the image that says who you are and what you do. Make sure it properly reflects your business.

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