In the world of small business marketing, consumers tend choose one product over another solely because of how recognizable a brand is. While an off-brand product will usually be less expensive, many would rather spend the extra cents (or dollars) for a better known product. So how can you get your own brand to stand up to the competition?
It’ll take much more than a bold logo and pretty packaging, as building a brand is essentially developing an identity– one that is not like anyone else’s. In order for a brand to succeed, you need to convey experience, engage with your customers, have a solid marketing plan and a whole mess of other things. A brand will ultimately rely on the loyalty of their customers, which will be the primary contributor of profit and success.
That being said, a great brand is only as good as the publicity it gets. Journalists give start-up companies an edge; without the right marketing strategies, small businesses will stay small. But the question now is: how do you get these journalists and reporters to fall in love with your brand in the first place?
Making first contact
Rather than play the waiting game, the best way to get in touch with some good publicity is to make first contact with a reporter, and it’s probably much simpler than you think. Most news outlets (in print and online) list the reporters’ contact information with every publication– it really can’t get any easier than that. However, you shouldn’t just be contacting any reporter; find someone who covers the same niche as your business and contact them. It may be easiest to start with small publications that share a target audience with the business.
Additionally, if your business is attending a trade show or event, it’s highly likely that there will be at least a handful of journalists there doing their best to get “the scoop.” An environment such as this provides you with a great opportunity to introduce yourself and your brand. Instead of monopolizing your time trying to sell your products or services to these individuals, take the time to make a proper introduction and offer them your own contact information. Doing so should make it clear that you are making yourself available for future reporting opportunities, but if not, make sure to follow-up with that contact if you don’t hear back within a week or so.
Hook, Line, & Sinker
Once a business owner has made contact with a journalist and publication, it is important to hook them on the small business. Reporters want to write about news and business-savvy people will give it to them.
As a business owner, you are essentially the cheerleader of your brand. No one really wants to hear duplicate information, especially if the said information can easily be found on your company’s site. Reporters want to share news about new products, upcoming events and changes in company marketing and management. However, if you don’t necessarily have anything new to share, you can still utilize reporters to fulfill your publicity needs.
For example, what makes your company stand out from the competitors? Why should consumers choose your brand over others? What do you have to offer that your competitors don’t? Reporters offer the perfect opportunity for a business owner to advocate for their company.
Build a relationship
Think of a reporter as one of your very own customers. After a customer purchases something from your store or following a service, how do you keep them coming back? By maintaining a good relationship, of course.
It’s vital to maintain a relationship with a journalist once they’ve shown interest in your company, especially after they’ve covered a story about their experience. If you are at all the smart business owner that you believe yourself to be, you should already know that having a positive relationship with a reporter typically results in endless opportunities for even more positive press.
But building a respectful relationship with a journalist requires a lot more than simply being “nice.” As a business owner, you likely have plenty of deadlines, but keep in mind that reporters have deadlines as well. By returning the reporter’s calls and answering their questions, you are not only helping them out; you’re helping yourself in return. Loyalty runs on a two-way street.
Having a good relationship with a reporter can be very valuable and in numerous ways, even when your business takes a turn for the worst. In today’s world, it’s incredibly simple to tarnish a business’s reputation. Therefore, you’ll want to do your best to preserve not only your brand’s name, but yours as well, and a reporter would be beneficial to have on your side.
Ivan Serrano is an online entrepreneur with a background in business marketing, branding and globalization. His blog, 1800NumberNow.com, also covers customer retention, business communications and the tech industry. How do you utilize reporters for your business? Share your comments below!