In the first part of our two part self-employed special, we looked at some of the quick wins that you can implement when you’re working for yourself. Today, we go into more detail around new business awareness and the power of Marketing and PR.
One way of finding new customers for your products and services when working for yourself is by increasing awareness in your local area. You can do this by, for example, asking your customers to recommend you to their friends and colleagues and advertising in local media.
Direct marketing (contacting existing and potential customers to promote your products or services) is also well suited to small businesses.
It can be good value and a good at generating sales, so it’s ideal for small businesses, says marketingdonut.co.uk. And unlike media advertising, it allows you to target customers with a personalised message.
Of course, an increasing amount of marketing is online, including email newsletters, “search engine optimisation” (SEO) − techniques and tactics used to increase visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in search-engine results – company web sites and web apps.
“People do not buy goods and services” author Seth Godin is quoted as saying.” They buy relations, stories and magic.” Public relations (PR) can help you cast a spell and increase sales.
If money is tight when working for yourself, you can start by doing your own PR. Work out your objectives (increasing sales, releasing a new product/service, raising awareness of your brand) and your target audience (consumers, other businesses, the age and social profile of your ideal customer).
Then work out the best way to reach your audience (traditional media such as trade magazines, local and national newspapers, radio and TV) or newer mediums such as social media.
Then work out what your story is and why people will be interested in it. Try to reduce your story pitch to a couple of sentences (e.g. “we’re the first UK company to win a multi-million-pound contract to supply widgets to the Angolan government”) and don’t use jargon.
If you’re calling journalists or sending a press release (no more than two pages, contact details for press spokes people at end) try to think of a “news peg” – something topical in the story (e.g. the time of year, Christmas trading, school holiday season, a political/economic event, e.g. Brexit).
If you hire a PR agency, ask business friends for recommendations and ask the PR agencies what experience they have in your industry, their PR one-year plan for your business and how you can measure its success. Inventive use of social media (quirky comments on big national stories) have a big impact.