Tuesday, March 3, 2015
As a business owner, you want to publicize your business without breaking the bank. In fact, few small business owners have much of an advertising budget, or a public relations manager. That’s okay. There are plenty of ways to attract customers online, if you know where to look.
Of course, who has time to sift through websites looking for publicity options? Certainly not a small business owner with 101 items on his or her to-do list. To help, we've put together a list of seven free online tools that you can use to publicize your business.
This free online tool is a great place to connect with reporters looking for sources. When a reporter needs a source for a particular article, he or she puts out a query asking for people with certain knowledge or experience to respond. If a reporter likes your response, you could land an interview for a story. Usually that means you’ll be quoted in the story with a link back to your website.
Collin Jarman, a digital analyst for marketing agency, COCG, uses the site and says it’s his go-to spot for free publicity.
“It’s a great tool that allows experts to share their knowledge with those it might help,” he says.
With EzineArticles you can write a high quality blog post and share it on EzineArticles.com. Email newsletter publishers scroll through these articles looking for fresh content to mail out and could include your article in their next newsletter. These publishers often have large email lists, so if your article is selected your content could be seen by a sizable audience.
You can also include a resource box at the end of your article with links back to your website. The site does set quality expectations, so plan to turn in your best stuff.
3. Online directories
Gone are the days of searching for a business in the phone book. Now, people turn to search engines for answers. You want to make sure that your business is “findable” online. To help people find your business, make sure it’s listed in several online directories. These directories house pertinent information like your location and phone number. Yellow Pages, MerchantCircle and SuperPages.com are great places to start.
For a full list of online directories, check out “The Top 20 Places Your Business Needs to be Listed Online.”
4. Google My Business
If you haven’t checked out Google My Business, it’s worth your time. It’s similar to an online directory, but it has more bells and whistles. Through this tool, you set up a business profile page. You put in your vital business information like location, store hours, contact information and photos. When someone Google’s your business, they’ll see something like this:
It’s a nice digital ad for your business. Plus, Google My Business works with Google+ so you can integrate your social media page with it. Customers can also leave and read reviews. Like we said, lots of bells and whistles. Overall, a handy tool.
5. Local calendar of events
Have an event coming up that could use some publicity? Visit the websites of your local TV stations and newspapers. A lot of news organizations have a free community calendar. You can submit the details through an online form like this and your event is added to a regional calendar.
Getting a celebrity endorsement for your product would be a huge coup. Believe it or not, there’s actually a website out there that can help you contact celebrities. There’s a free seven-day trial for Contact Any Celebrity. You get access to a database of 60,000 celebrities. Typically, the contact information is to a celebrity’s agent or publicist, but it’s still valuable information.
Some celebrities participate in a “gift program” too. You send a celebrity your product as a free gift, and in return you could get a review that you can use to market your product.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll hear back from the A-list star, but you do have access to a long Rolodex. After the seven-day trial period, there is a monthly membership charge, so use the free trial to your advantage.
7. Your company blog
One of the best strategies to gain free publicity is to invest time in a company blog. By writing articles that your customers can learn from, you’ll start to gain traction with customers and other industry leaders.
It’s more of a long term publicity strategy, but one that will pay off as you grow your audience, Jarman says.
“Figure out what kind of questions you can answer for your customers and turn those questions into blog topics,” he suggests. “The more help you can offer people, the more trust you’ll build.”
You can share your content via email and social media.
Bonus publicity tool: PRWeb
There’s one other publicity tool that’s worth a look: PRWeb. We’ve listed it as a bonus tool because it’s not free.
PRWeb is a press release distribution channel. When something new and exciting happens at your business, write a press release and share it on PRWeb. This site hosts your press release, and distributes it to news outlets and search engines.
When your business rolls out a new product, wins an award, partners with a big name client or gives back to the community, you can create a press release on the site and track its progress. Analyticstell you how many people saw it, how many links were clicked and how often it was shared on social media.
You pay for each press release that you want distributed. Plans start at $99/press release.
Do you know of another publicity tool you like use? Tell us about it in the comment section below.