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Hannah Connor gives some advice on how to market your business.
For a small business owner, launching a new product can be a difficult task after dedicating so much time developing and refining it for sale. Will it capture the imagination of your target audience? Will it sell well with suppliers? Will your company sink or swim? It’s certainly not easy to really get your business out there despite technological advancements and social media due to the competition.
Here we provide some useful tips for small businesses that are about to launch their business and new product range:
Before launching all guns blazing, make sure everything is in place so you don’t waste funds reaching out to potential customers only to find your branding is off key and you aren’t properly established with a strongly designed and branded website and social media outlets in place which inform customers who you are and what your business offers. Your branding must be identifiable and connect with your target customer and, of course, memorable.
You might have a fantastic product but those who are successful usually are so due to successful brand identity and a well executed marketing campaign. You must emulate and compete with this.
If you can budget for professional PR assistance it is something that will be hugely beneficial for your business, you will gain well needed exposure and opportunities which are tailored and personalised to your business. Your PR agency will assist you on developing your business brand and gain you media exposure and, where appropriate, celebrity endorsements.
Research agencies and make sure you know exactly what you are gaining for their fee. PR can really help launch a brand and they have prestigious industry and press contacts which can propel you forward; however, monthly fees can start from around £700 for a good agency which is often out of reach from many small businesses to begin with.
Some PR companies can offer you more affordable pay as you go assistance on tasks such as writing press releases or they can allocate you with a certain set time per month which fits more in line with your budget. While not all PR companies operate on this basis, professional advice can be extremely valuable and give you fresh perspective so even small snippets of your budget spent as and when you can afford is recommended. Ask any agencies you contact if this is something they offer clients.
Press releases can be incredible, powerful tools which can help you build up that much-needed buzz. The golden rule when writing a press release is to make it sound like a piece of journalism: give it an angle that will appeal to readers, pair it with some interesting (related) information and leave your contact details. Make it extremely easy for journalists to pick up your story and run it so when reaching out there is little excuse for them to ignore you or refuse your press release. Remember journalists are busy: the easier you make it, the more chance you have at success.
For those with limited time who are attempting to do their own PR, once you have created a press release, one option is to sign up to web tools such as HARO (Help a Reporter Out), news4media.com and 4media. HARO allows you to reach out to a wide range of journalists from top publications, including Grazia Magazine and ABC News, in one place.
The basic package costs $19 (£12 approximately) which is an affordable option for small businesses who are struggling to gain exposure for their business. You will find a range of journalists and will have the access to pitch your stories to them, which will hopefully lead to magazine and blog publications. This basic package allows you to set up a profile which is very attractive for journalists; it generally allows them to assess your business and background upon pitching for opportunities which helps you create a strong first impression, and allows you to sell yourself and your business. You will also be sent filtered emails and displayed industry specific journalists with this particular package so you can target publications relative to your business which saves you time trying to find suitable journalists because the hard work is done for you.
The news4media.com group is similar to HARO. However, it is more industry specific which gives you more of chance to reach journalists who are directly seeking stories which relate to your sector. You will also receive regular emails to tell you when a journalist has posted a request for content for their magazine or blog, products for photo shoots or is seeking a prize giveaway to feature.
The 4media site directly relates to what your business offers. Some of the available sites include fashion4media.com, kids4media.com, sport4media.com and wedding4media.com etc. Once you find your niche site, you will be able to network with your industry’s press professionals.
While the fees start from £800 per month, you can access journalists' contact details and submit press releases easily which are regularly picked up by blogs and journalists. Another bonus is you can sign up for a free monthly trial to assess if it would work for you and your business and whether the fee really is worth considering.
The best product launches come with a sense of anticipation of an event unfurling that the consumer simply has to be a part of. Obviously, the job of your marketing department is to create that buzz, but if you’re just starting out you may not able to afford such luxuries as marketing personnel. In that case, it’s up to you to stir up some hype. Take to twitter, get all over Facebook – turn social media into your personal tool for getting your business known; network, get yourself heard and tell the world about your products and business.
You can launch competitions and interact with others to improve your following. The technology is there to make your product a success, and best of all it is free. Some brands now choose to pay for advertising on some social media outlets such as Facebook. This is a great way to increase followers and it can be affordable.
Utilise free web tools
There are countless free web tools out there to aid the small businesses of today. It can be quite overwhelming when starting out. However, there are the firm favourites most companies turn to, purely because of their potential.
Mailchimp is an example of a fantastic free web tool. It allows you to send out HTML emails to your contacts to notify them of your new products and launch. You can easily manage your contacts, design email campaigns and monitor the success of these email campaigns.
Other web tools include Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic, Survey Monkey, Doodle and Alexa. Use these tools to aid you with all the various tasks your business demands.
As with everything when running your business, trial and error applies. Something which may work for one person might not work for you; free trials allow you to assess if a service might help you develop your business and push your products. If it doesn’t, move on. Good luck!
*Hannah Connor works for vouchercloud.net. Her role is to launch new voucher campaigns for the various brands they represent. While the technology available to us is fantastic, it can be difficult to stand out and get marketing campaigns to gain momentum. However, the top tip is to really persist in order to see success.