By Susan Osborne
You’ve launched your business, printed business cards and put up a website. Now what? How do you get potential customers to take notice?
This is often the biggest challenge women entrepreneurs face when starting a new business.
Thankfully, with the ever-growing world of social media, it’s getting easier to generate buzz quickly about your new venture. But chaining yourself in front of your computer isn’t always the best way to get exposure for your business.
Sometimes it requires some good, old-fashioned face to face interaction.
So how do you get exposure for your company that will generate some quick interest without hiring an expensive PR firm?
Here are some effective strategies to jump-start your PR efforts, even if you are on a bootstrapping budget:
1. Contact the local media with a good story angle.
When I launched a line of women’s golf journals a few years back, I had no choice but to take the PR efforts into my own hands. I went to the website of the local NBC affiliate in my city, found the contact information for the morning sportscaster (who happens to be a woman) and emailed her an introduction and short pitch about my journals.
She emailed back the next day and scheduled me to do on-air interview the following week. The segment got my little company great exposure and about 100 orders that same day.
Even if you have a service business, find a unique spin on your service or a community-helping angle and start contacting the local news stations with your pitch. The producers are always looking for stories to fill the lifestyle and business segments.
Trust me, it was a bit scary to do a morning segment on the air, but you have to step outside your comfort zone to get big results. It turned out to be a really fun experience, especially when I got home to an inbox full of orders before 8am.
2. Sponsor a local event.
Another way to get great exposure for your business is to find an event that your target audience would attend and sign your company up as a sponsor. A sponsorship may include a table at the event displaying your products or brochures or it could be signage or advertising at the event.
A table or booth is a great way to talk one on one with potential customers in your target market.
Some sponsorships can be quite pricey, especially if it’s a large event. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the fee. Not every event will negotiate, but my motto is, it never hurts to ask.
I sponsored a couple of women’s golf events at a discounted rate by offering to give away several journals as door prizes. You could also consider offering a free hour of your service as a door prize. Get creative!
3. Hold a workshop.
I have a friend who produces corporate videos for small businesses. She’s always trying to get exposure for her business to gain new clients. She finally decided to hold a free workshop for small businesses owners on how to shoot effective videos for their website. She gained new clients and contacts from that workshop.
Whether you are a consultant, an accountant or a website designer, there are creative ways to get your target audience in a room with their undivided attention. Teach a workshop on bookkeeping tips for busy entrepreneurs or DIY tricks for setting up a website quickly. Find a problem that your audience has and give them tips that will make their lives better.
If teaching isn’t your thing, then consider hosting a networking mixer.
The goal is to get you and your business in front of potential customers so you can start building that relationship with them. Don’t waste their time … give them something of value so they’ll want to come back for more.
4. Be a Guest Speaker
Okay, I know the thought of this one might make you wake up in a cold sweat, but it really is an effective way to get exposure for your business quickly. And if you’re not comfortable with public speaking, then try easing it into it with a small group like a networking mixer or luncheon.
Contact a local women’s group, or a group appropriate for your business, and ask if you can speak at one of their smaller functions. Be sure and have a topic in mind. We’ll use my producer friend as an example. She started speaking at small entrepreneur groups. Her topic was “10 Tips for Making A Web Video That Sells”. She created an outline of her tips and spoke about them to targeted audiences.
What happened? She became an expert in the eyes of her audience. When they had a video production need, she is who they called.
5. Get in front of your audience and become an expert
Try not to let the fear of speaking, networking and positioning yourself as an expert in your field, scare you.
These are all things that will help you excel in your business, get you exposure and gain trust from your target audience.
When you’re talking about something you know and are passionate about, public speaking and networking isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s actually quite exhilarating!
As an entrepreneur, you need to jump off the computer and get in front of people now and then to really move forward in your business. It will only help improve your products or services by talking to the people who want and need what you are offering while gaining that oh-so-important exposure.
Susan Osborne, Founder www.EnterprisingGals.com Susan is a serial entrepreneur, mom and small business consultant. She founded EnterprisingGals.com as one-stop shop for women who are going from “Idea to Launch”.