How to Generate Cheap Publicity for Your Small Business

Generating publicity is a major part of any small business marketing campaign. But when tight budgets meet up with lack of know how, many excellent opportunities can go to waste. Small business owners looking to expand their marketing tactics on a shoe string may want to consider these options: 

  • Send out a press release. Expanding your business, launching new products or services, gaining new clients, or sponsoring an event are all examples of newsworthy events that can be the focus of a press release. You can send out press releases to local newspapers, magazines, or radio stations, who attract the attention of people in your target market. Alternatively, for a small fee you could use the services of an online news release agency such as PR Web or Not only will this help to get your name out there, but it will also temporarily help your website’s Google ranking.
  • Sponsor and/or host an event. Associating your company with a special event, such as a workshop, a lecture series, or some form of entertainment may generate positive interest in your business and drum up sales. You should try, however, to be involved with events that are both relevant to your business and directed to your target audience. 
  • Book yourself for public speaking engagements. If you are comfortable speaking in front of others, offering to be a speaker on a topic within your area of expertise can generate a lot of good publicity for your business- even if you are doing it pro bono. If you are having trouble finding places to speak, there are even public speaker brokers who can help hook you up with groups in need of a speaker. 
  • Get involved in community service project. Your company’s involvement with local charity or community service organization, such as a shelter or a soup kitchen, can generate a tremendous amount of good will and build up a positive reputation for your company, not to mention help those in need.
  • Conduct promotional events. Promoting events, such as giveaways, theme nights, special “value” deals, can generate a buzz among your customers, increase brand awareness, and encourage people to use your products or services. Keep in mind that creativity and planning are central elements to running a successful promotion.
  • Hold a contest. Holding a contest is another easy and fun way to promote your business. Here are a few examples: Have customers send in videos using your products; hold a contest for the best customer-generated t-shirt or logo design. Conduct a lottery for all those who patron your business on a particular day.
  • Create a viral marketing campaign. With a little creativity and know how, a well executed viral promotion can greatly increase brand awareness and generate an increase in sales. Viral promotions typically involve short videos, interactive Flash games, ebooks, software, images, and sometimes email or text messages that are quickly spread among the users of various social networks. To see some examples of the most successful viral marketing campaigns over the last decade, check out this post at Ignite Social Media.
  • Build an engaging online presence. In 2010, developing a business’ online presence can mean more than just maintaining a website and getting listed in local online business directories. It may also involve producing an engaging blog and using social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook as well as social bookmarking sites, such as Digg , Delicious, and StumbleUpon. Learning how to effectively integrate these sites into your marketing campaign can generate a tremendous amount of interest in your company and make your business known to people you would be unable to contact otherwise.
  • Build a useful and informative online presence. Aside from being engaging, if you consistently offer useful and valuable information, products, and/or services to those who reach you online, you can also generate a great deal of publicity. Writing articles to e-zines, offering a free e-book or white paper, and posting to or moderating forums are all ways to spread your message and generate leads to your site.

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A Look at How Retailers Can Weather the Recession

According to recent research, retail sales have fallen over the last month even as the back-to-school shopping season gets into high gear, and industry forecasters claim that this does not bode well for the upcoming holiday season either.


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So the looming question for retailers big and small continues to be how to maintain or even increase sales in such a dismal economic environment.

A month ago I posted this article that briefly examined how some restauranteurs were managing to succeed despite the weak economy. In a similar vein, although the retail industry as a whole is suffering, there are several hot pockets of consumer spending that continue to draw brisk sales. A few big discount retailers, such as Wal-mart, have been able to capitalize on these trends and are focusing on several strategies to keep these consumer dollars rolling in.

Though small retailers may be more limited in their scope then the big discount chains, by studying their strategies, there are several valuable lessons that small businesses can learn and implement. Perhaps the most important of these strategies is that retailers are paying close attention to shifts in consumer attitudes and behavior and then adapting to them.

Here is a brief look at what some of the successful retailers are specifically doing:

1. Focusing on value. Today’s consumers are tech-savvy, bargain hunters looking for the best bang- i.e. value- for their buck. Retailers are concentrating their inventory on what people still need to buy, and then providing it at a low-cost or with some other added value, such as extensive customer support.

2. Promoting a unique brand. It has become increasingly important over the past two years for retailers to differentiate themselves and/or their products and services from those of their competitors.

3. Using aggressive, low-cost marketing tactics. The role that the Internet is playing in consumer decision-making and spending has not been overlooked by retailers, and it is all the more attractive given its low cost. Successful online marketing campaigns include: sending out emails, maintaining a website, offering online coupons, and registering with online directories and Point of Interest databases.

4. Offering promotions. The goal of a successful promotion is to get customers in the door where they will either spend money on other items or services or they will remember the experience and be more likely to frequent the business later on. Some promotion ideas include hosting or promoting events, offering a themed sale, or providing free products or services.

5. Focusing on customer convenience. Retailers are paying attention to how customers are choosing to make their purchases and then building up these areas. Are customers, for example, using cash as opposed to credit or shopping online as opposed to physically showing up at a brick and mortar location?

6. Initiating cost-cutting tactics and tight inventory management. Even the most profitable retailers out there these days are paying close attention to wasteful or redundant spending and are making sure that capital is not being tied up in unnecessary inventory supplies.

7. Forming partnerships. Some stores are forming partnerships with each other, whether banding together to pool resources or reduce overhead costs or offering discounts to each other’s customers.

A Look at How Some Restaurants are Weathering the Recession

A few weeks ago, I posted this article offering a few tips on how small business owners can grow their businesses during the recession. As I noted in the post, even in this dismal economy some businesses are thriving.

But for the majority of smaller businesses the focus has become just trying to hunker down and survive the economic storm while remaining somewhat intact.

One of the best examples of small business survival has been in the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry as a whole has seen both ups and downs over the past two years. Price increases in products and supplies, lower consumer confidence, changes in consumer behavior and demand, and less available credit have all had their impact on food services businesses. Yet many are proving to be surprisingly resilient and are successfully weathering the storm.

What’s their secret?

Successful restaurant owners are paying close attention to changes in the market and then adapting to them, they are also focused on developing and defining their brand..

So what specifically are some restaurants doing? Here’s a brief rundown:

Paying attention to quality:

Many restauranteurs are focused on the quality of the experience their customers have when they come to their eateries. This translates into the quality of the food, the service, and the overall level of hospitality. By providing an enjoyable experience, restaurant owners are giving their customers the opportunity to break away from all the dreariness and are in the processing cashing in.

Creating the perception of value:

These days as people look for ways to save money, they need a lot more incentive to spend it on eating out. Put simply, customers are looking to stretch their hard-earned dollars as far as they will go. One successful strategy used by restaurant owners is to focus on their customers’ perception of value. 

But communicating to customers that they are getting a good value (in terms of food quality, portioning, or ambiance) while at the same time not cheapening the perception of the business is actually a delicate balancing act.  It requires sound pricing strategy, menu planning, and marketing. Several restaurants have begun bundling meals, increasing portion size, or adding extras, like a free dessert, to add value while avoiding the appearance of discounting.

Using promotions to draw customers:

Many restaurant owners are also trying to draw customers with a variety of promotions and specials. Some examples include: having a night where kids eat for free or for a small charge, having a theme night, or setting aside slower times of the day or week for special value deals or unique events. Other restaurant owners are experimenting with cooking classes, dietary workshops, or birthday promotions.

Using the Internet to advertise:

The Internet can be an effective and often cheap means of advertising a small business, and this has not gone unnoticed by many restaurant owners. Many restauranteurs rely on a conscientious email marketing campaign, are making sure their business is listed on the popular online directories, and are a maintaining a website.

Emphasizing their unique brand:

All of the previous points are included in this one. The most successful restaurant owners understand the experience and the occasions that their business (i.e. their brand) is positioned for and are focused on building up these areas.

In short, whether you run a foodservice business, or another kind of small business, there are definitely a few lessons to be learned.

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