Telling the truth about SME life today

Low-cost marketing tactics

Try these:

Media releases: These are a popular method of increasing your visibility and can be used in a variety of ways. While results are not guaranteed, there are steps you can take to improve your hit rate. Take time to get to know your target media (particularly who exactly is responsible for what) and what their ideal content and priorities are; offer to help them with anything they have coming up and send them well-written, short and interesting pieces. Try to plan your releases for slow news days and public holidays as this increases your chances of being used. And don’t forget all the “new” types of media (internet-based publications, internet news sources and industry sites) are all key to getting the message out there.  Photos: Have a good quality digital camera with you and take pictures wherever you go – a photo makes a story so much more appealing to everyone.

Expert articles: Offer to write articles or regular columns about your area of expertise. Persuading editors to publish these submissions can be challenging but, once they realise that you really do know what you’re talking about, you will start to be useful to them. Just make sure that you follow the criteria given to you – number of words for example – so you make life easier for the editors.  The key is to offer to help. Expect to give before you receive!

Email marketing: Use your releases (whether they get published or not!) to send to customers and prospects. Invest in an email marketing system that means you can send things easily and professionally to a large number of people. Systems like Constant Contact are cheap, easy to use and look great.Newsletters: These low-cost systems have made newsletters very inexpensive to deliver. Use them to demonstrate the value you can bring to your customers through your expertise, rather than just as an advert for your business. Become an industry expert – use your spare time to get really up to speed with what’s happening in your sector and be prepared to help others by sharing your knowledge and expertise. (It’s that “giving before receiving” thing again – business is a long game)

There are lots of other low-cost ways of marketing but, whatever you do, don’t do nothing!  When things are difficult, we all need to do more to make sure that our existing and potential customers know we are here and ready to do business.Jo Clarkson is operations director of The Alternative Board.

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