There are a number of tactics you can take to promote your business that won't hurt your bottom line.
Promoting your business can be tricky. Even more so, if you are in a startup making its first steps across the media landscape. How do you pick from the variety of media channels? How do you create a promotional strategy, especially being on a tight budget? Where to start, what to focus on, and what are the common pitfalls you should steer clear of?
Based on more than 12 years of experience in the field of PR, I've compiled this simple guide to help you build up a media image, as well as communicate to your target audience which benefits your product or services can bring them.
Analyze and prepare
1. Write a statement
The statement of your business' purpose, goals and values will help you stay on course, make the right decisions, motivate your team, and much more. It's always best to put it in text than just to keep it in your head: it will be extremely useful when you finish with the analysis and switch to action.
To do so, answer the following questions: What is your project about? What are your key values? What kind of product/service do you offer? How do they help your clients? Which of them are most important to you at the moment? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
2. Set the goals of promotion
What is your current goal? To increase brand awareness? Build up market presence? Showcase your expertise? Boost website traffic?
This step will help you understand what to focus on. For example, if the goal is to become an influencer in your field, one of the key tasks will be picking relevant industry media where you can be featured as an expert. Boosting website traffic may require more work on your website, including but not limited to advertising and SEO optimization – and so on.
4. Identify your customer
Study your target audience. Who are your clients? What age group do they belong to? How big is their income? Do they have a hobby? What is their marital status? Which websites do they visit most, and which social networks they use? What do they like to do in their spare time?
When you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of what kind of media they read. This way, you can focus on these media in your promotion and better reach your audience.
5. Study competitors
Make the list of your 3-5 closest competitors. First, study their websites: what information do they share, how do they position themselves? How do your strengths and weaknesses you listed in your statement correspond with their image? Second, analyze their media presence. Which media channels do they use to gain more visibility? Where do they publish promotional articles and ads?
The main idea of this audit is to find out what works for your competition, so you can use these tactics to your advantage, and, at the same time, create a unique image for your business which will make you stand out from the crowd.
Promote your business on social media
Choosing the networks
The first step in your own promotion is to develop social networks of your company. First, select the most relevant network for your business. If you offer consulting services or you are a lawyer, Facebook and Linkedin will be your best choice. If your business is related to goods and services – choose Instagram.
It's good to have a presence in all popular social networks, but choosing the one to focus on most will help you get the best of your social media promotion.
Building a good image
Pay attention to how and what you post on your personal page: you are the face of your company. When you will be working with media, journalists will be checking your social media account, as well as accounts of your top managers.
My advice is to suggest your employees keep their personal pages up-to-date with their current position listed, and connect them to your company's page. This will contribute to transparency, media and client trust.
Creating a Medium account
Medium is a social journalism platform, with 60 million active users posting articles on literally every topic. Anyone can create an account and publish their pieces absolutely for free. The best content gets selected by the curators and gets recommended to the users interested in your topic. This way, creating your company's Medium blog is another great way to reach a wider audience.
I recommend you create a Medium account for 2-3, or better, 6 months before entering public space. Start writing your story in advance. The goal is simple: when a journalist or editor searches for information about you, he will find your Medium. And it will already have a backstory, list of readers, comments – this all will create more trust for the project.
Keep the conversation going
Comment other people’s posts and always reply to the comments others leave to yours. Share your experience, ask and answer questions. It is an easy way to build and support native connections with your clients, partners and other professionals in your field.
Talk to your followers: engage them whenever possible, post polls and questions. If you are a bit lost on what to write about, don't be afraid to ask your audience them what kind of information they would like to see on your page. In other words, keep the conversation going. Tag others in your posts where relevant. This way their readers will likely see the post too.
Get promoted in analog and digital media
The next step is exploring one of the most important promotional mediums: general and specialized media, e.g. news websites, industry magazines, media platforms and so on. At the moment, there are hundreds of titles covering a wide variety of topics. In order to choose those most relevant for you, rely on your research of the target audience and competitors.
Is the media right for you?
How to determine if the media is right for your business? It is quite simple: examine it! Read the materials that have been published there previously.
Have you found any articles on your topic? Are there any important aspects or angles which haven't been explored yet? Who is the audience of the media, does it belong to your target group? Answer all these questions – and you will see if the media is a good fit for your project.
Evaluate your resources
And, at last, estimate your budget. How much money are you ready to spend on promotion right now? What will the scale of your campaign be?
Who will be in charge of it? Are you going to hire a PR manager, or give this task to any of your current employees? With a larger budget, you can outsource this task to a professional communication agency. Although, if the budget is a bit tight at the moment, you can start on your own.
There is no way I could cover all the aspects or PR or tell you about all promotional channels in a single article. However, this should be more than enough not just to get you started, but make you feel more comfortable about promoting your business.
There will always be more to learn and analyze. Be persistent, keep your finger on the pulse, and remember: your success is in your hands. Good luck!