According to a new Yelp.com survey, despite the unstable economy, rising minimum wages, and an upcoming presidential election, 92% of small business owners expect their revenue to increase in the coming year. Young Business owners and restaurants led the optimistic charge. With the outlook so great, it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur. That said, one of the top challenges identified in Yelp’s survey was managing marketing on a limited budget. So what can your business do to shine in 2016, without the deep pockets of a large corporation? PR doesn’t have to be insanely expensive to be effective and help grow and maintain a satisfied consumer base. Here are three core PR strategies that will help you accomplish your New Year’s Resolutions for business growth without breaking the bank:
- Manage Your Online Reputation: Survey sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google Reviews, along with a myriad of industry specific online review platforms can make or break your marketing strategy. While you can spend hours monitoring your reputation online yourself, your time is valuable and probably better spent elsewhere. However, ignoring these sites is simply no longer an option. One negative review, even if it is untruthful, can go viral in a matter of hours and send your profits into a tailspin. At the very least, take the time to set up Google Alerts for your company, the CEO, and any other keywords that might be related to your company. You can also hire a third party to manage your reputation for you, usually at a reasonable cost. This option can free you up to deal with the day-to-day operations and goals of your business, but make sure that you are still in the loop on both negative and positive reviews – this is one of the ways your customers communicate with you. You can use the information they provide to reinforce what you’re doing, or to make adjustments as needed.
- Create And Distribute Unique Content: If you’re starting to feel like all you hear any more is “content, content, content,” there’s a reason for it. Creating useful, unique content and publishing it to a variety of platforms is one of the most effective and potentially inexpensive ways to put your brand’s name in front of new audiences. It’s not as simple as writing cookie-cutter articles and adding a “blog” tab to your website – much like traditional networking, content marketing is about making connections and reaching out to new people. Think about what you’re an expert in, the write about it. With information about virtually any topic available at the click of a button, there’s no point in keeping your knowledge to yourself. Once you have an idea for a superior article, ask popular platforms within your industry if they’re interested in publishing original content. Most bloggers or online magazines will allow a link to your website in your bio, so in addition to bragging about your brand on a new site, you’re getting a high-quality link back to your site, which not only leads visitors to you, it helps improve your SEO.
- Go After Local and Specialty Media: Some business owners these days are discounting the value of media relations, but the truth is – press coverage is still one of the best ways for your company to become known and validated. For small business owners, one of the best places to be featured is in local publications, which, after all, target the population most likely to generate foot traffic for your store. News still matters. A blurb on the local news station gives your brand a kind of credibility that no paid advertisement can do. For B2B companies, the same principle applies to industry specific publications. A highly rated tech or healthcare magazine with a targeted readership is likely a better source of leads than many national publications with a higher circulation.
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