Archive for the ‘Publicity’ Category

Don’t boil the ocean

Boil The OceanIts such an exciting time to be a small business! We can do big things, on a budget that would have been laughable not that long ago.

If you aren’t already reading Seth Godin’s blog, well, you should be, you’ll find lots of inspiring ideas about marketing your small business. Seth’s writing is masterful and concise. His most recent post One, a few, most or all provides a brilliant framework to look at a small business marketing strategy.

When I read Seth’s post, it made me think of the saying “Don’t Boil The Ocean”. Its a bit of a cliche, but so often marketing efforts can get lost by attempting to do too much. Thinking about your market in terms of one-few-most-all helps you get clear what you are after.

As a small business, what would happen if you focussed your efforts on the ONE or the FEW customers?

ONE: You’re a needle, the market is a haystack … A FEW: Being exceptional matters most. Stand out, don’t fit in. Shun the non-believers.

Lets leave it to the bigger (richer) companies to focus on the ideas that need the ‘most’ and ‘all’ markets. They can try and boil the ocean. We don’t need to. A small business focussed on the one or the few is in a powerful position.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

New Rules of Marketing and PRBuilding your business through the power of positive publicity is a big theme for us over at PublicityShip, our main online venture. David Meerman Scott has now published The New Rules of Marketing and PR. If you are interested in how to publicise and market your business online, then you must read it. The idea that new rules apply is an important one, its not just hyperbole. The ‘old’ marketing industry is going to get a massive wake up call over the next few years, and if you read this book you’ll not only understand why it is happening, you’ll have ideas on how to take advantage of the new rules.

The new rules represent an incredible opportunity for small business, much more so than big business.

To get an idea of David’s early thoughts on how public relations has changed, you can read The New Rules of PR, a free ebook that David published last year. A great read in its own right, it will get you to ‘Think Like a Publisher’.

David publishes a great blog, and has generously acknowledged the people who had something to say about his new book while he wrote it. That includes me, and thanks to David’s generosity and the democracy that is the Internet, I crack a mention on the same page as Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. Hmm, I wish my readership bore some relation to theirs. Well David, I appreciate the link out, as I’m sure everyone who is included does. The New Rules of PR was extremely successful in getting attention from bloggers all around the world, and I think the launch of this book will be even more so.

Our posting frequency has dropped in recent weeks, as we are gearing up for the launch of two new ventures. The first is an online marketing service for small tourism operators, that makes it easy for them to get up and running with content marketing, search marketing and email marketing. The second is an online platform for change management, a tool to enable personal and conversational communications during a major change process. Not really for small business, so you won’t read about it much here.

As you can see, the interest in small business inspiration isn’t just theoretical, I get inspired by new opportunities for online business all the time. If you are running a business on the Internet, attention management is one of the most important skills you can have 🙂

Marketing is easy …

… or is it?

Looking from the outside in, it seems easy. All you have to do is make your product or service look appealing, advertise in the right places and there you have it.

At least, so I thought a few months ago. But I have to admit to being wrong.

Marketing is hard.

Take online marketing – something I’ve been trying to get my head around over the past few weeks.

My expertise lies in producing effective content and publishing, or getting it published. This works fine when I’m talking to editors, journalists, and face to face with potential clients.

Our website is starting to look pretty sharp and our blog’s going pretty well, attracting links and comments.

Site visitors and blog subscribers are on the up.

But it ain’t that simple. Window-shoppers are one thing – converted customers come much harder.

Taking those window-shoppers by the hand, drawing them through your site on a journey of discovery and convincing them to click that order button – now that’s the art of online marketing.

Then there’s SEO and a whole world of analytics to help you optimise these opportunities – that’s the science of online marketing.

From there you might move into pay-per-click advertising, managing databases and auto-response emailing (we use, e-newsletters, reciprocal linking, online referral programs, creating and distributing effective offers.

Then you remember that there’s a real world out there too – working with the media remains important, as do opportunities for networking, joint marketing initiatives, giving presentations.

You can do it all yourself. Here’s one lady who is – and this is one of many blogs that can help you do it.

But if you’re exhausted by just reading this, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

A good story isn’t enough – it’s how you tell it.

Third time lucky

CloverIt’s well known in psychology circles that you need to say something three times for the other person to get it.

So when you’re marketing your wares, telling someone once isn’t going to be enough. Telling them twice might not be enough either (although it can work). But tell them three times and you have a pretty good chance.

This doesn’t mean saying exactly the same things three times in a row. You need to communicate your message three times in a different way each time.

So the first contact with a prospect might be during a presentation you’re giving on “How to …”

The second time would be a follow-up email to your presentation participants offering a special deal on your services.

The third time could be any number of things – another special offer, or a news story about you which you can copy and distribute to your list, or a competition for your prospects to enter and win, or a newsletter with a discount for referrals.

We saw this in action recently when we received an enquiry from a potential client who had first experienced our workshop for small business – then received our special offer – and finally seen information on our new Awards for tourism operators.
However you decide to do it – saying something three times in different ways to the same person will bring results. Twice might do it but three times increases your chances exponentially.

The message is, don’t give up.

How fast is Internet commerce growing?

According to The Australian (Oct 28, Jeni Harvie, “Why Sellling Onlie is Taking Off”), its the “age of ecommerce and its booming”.

She reports ACNielsen estimates that the Australian online shopping market totalled over $7B, growing at 40% per annum and with Australia in the top 15 countries in the world for online buying.

Her report quotes instances of Australians buying a 36m motor yacht for $37million and luxury world cruises for $253,000.

Food for thought … are you looking at eCommerce?

Four sources of traffic for your blogsite

For those businesses that use a blogsite or website to derive revenue, looking at different sources of web traffic – and how to build build it profitably – is worth analysing.

Small business websites don’t need lots of traffic for it to be profitable. If you are selling a real product or service and not just worried about flashing as many ads at people as possible, you are probably interested in attracting quality rather than quantity. Buyers rather than tyre kickers. New clients rather than just ‘eyeballs’.

So, lets have a look at four sources of traffic for your product/service oriented website, and see if this triggers ideas for you in how to make your own blogsite/website more profitable. By the way, a blogsite is an integrated blog/website. The blog component is useful for acquiring new prospects, and for building trust to maximise conversion to clients. The website is for describing your products/services, providing testimonials and letting your clients buy from you.

Publicity (in the real world). This is easy to understand – get your web address out to people in the real world. If you established a new store or service delivery centre, you would make sure you publicised it. So think of your web presence the same way. Get the web address out to people on your business cards, in letters, on postcards, and in directories (ever think of the Yellow Pages as just a big list of links, sorted by category?).

Better still, get publicity for your website wherever you can. Have you officially launched your website? Does your website do something unique? Let your local newspapers know, at the very least. If your website doesn’t currently act as an additional sales outlet, why not figure out how to adapt your product/service so you can open a new storefront for all of Australia?

Advertising. There are no doubt very many different ways to advertise on the Internet. But only one that matters for small business. Google AdWords. Just go to, sign up, and start advertising. There is a useful guide to help you understand the concepts at Perry Marshall’s website (sign up for the 5 day guide). While I’m not a big fan of advertising overall, there is no doubt AdWords give you a quick and inexpensive way to find out whether Internet advertising will drive effective traffic for you. In terms of serious magazine/broadcast advertising – if you’ve got the budget for it, no problems, go knock yourself out. But typically small business finds it hard to benefit from branding style advertising, as it requires such a major investment.

Search Engines. Someone is searching for widgets .. you sell widgets … they find you on Google … and click through to your site! Fantastic dream, not always feasible for small business. But nevertheless, there are a range of things you can do to help get your share of search engine traffic. There are a lot of people who can advise you on SEO (or Search Engine Optimization … and I use the American spelling because … they usually are!). You will of course make up your own mind. A good site to get a feel for what the SEO crew do is the Wikipedia/seo page.

Personally, I am a believer in 80:20. That is, 80% of search engine results will come from focussing on 20% of the right things … namely, produce good content (blogs are ideal for this) and make sure you are talking about the right topics (aka keywords). Think about this for a moment, as the ‘right topics’ for you aren’t necessarily just the most popular ones. If you select keywords that everyone else uses … that is good, but you have tough competition before the search engines find you. If you find more precise topics, you have less competition, but possibly find that the people who do find you (less of them) are more valuable to you (because they are more relevant to you). I like placing a bet each way here, and developing a strategy based on the popular keywords for your product/service, as well as some very specific/unique keywords that may appeal to a very select audience. Maybe you can pay an SEO consultant to find a better approach than this .. if you do, please let me know. Until then, I think there is a reasonable body of evidence to support this 80:20 approach to SEO.

Links. This is quite possibly the hardest category to crack, but the most rewarding. If you create good, relevant content, you will start to interest other bloggers and website authors, and they will link to you. This is a powerful way for people to find out about you. Easy to say, hard to do for small business. Particularly as its quality, not quantity that matters. Building a strong base of quality inbound links is a substantial task.

Because the rules of the game here aren’t to build traffic or build page rank. If all you do is try to make money via ads, that might make sense. But if you are in the business of selling products/services, you need quality links that have a high chance of converting into new clients. So think carefully about what sites you would like to link to you. If you are regularly focussing on developing a small number of high quality links that are designed to bring you revenue, then you will be way ahead.

So there it is. Four sources of traffic to think about – are they relevant for your business? I’m sure there are more you have thought of, so drop me an email, I’m interested in your opinion!

How the Internet lets you jump ship

Plunge into the blueStarting up a new business often means compromising for a while in order the fund the start-up phase.

You, as business owner, may need to keep up your day job until it’s safe to jump ship.

So now your small business is going well, maybe even turning over a small profit – and perhaps reaching the stage where you need to grow. And yet you’re still living with one foot in the corporate world and the other in your dream enterprise.

What’s stopping you from jumping?

At the risk of sounding sexist, if you’re male, you’re most likely suffering from a fear of failure. If you’re female, you’re probably more afraid of success. (There’s another blog post in this – watch this space!)

At a more pragmatic level, ask yourself if you’re optimising use of the Internet to leverage your distribution, sales, marketing and overall efficiency.

9 new ideas that may sway on-the-fence entrepreneurs is an inspirational article that discusses the ease with which an Internet-based business can run and succeed without huge risk to the owner.

There’s lots of food for thought here – especially for hesitant entrepreneurs who are too busy to read it.

Building trust in your business

Connected HandsIn our company blog, we recently posted about the growth of our business and how we had made a few mistakes when first starting out. Our fabulous marketing consultant naturally questioned the wisdom of this approach, but we stuck to our guns.

Foolish? Perhaps, but if new media blogs and articles are anything to go by, we can only win trust through our honesty.
While traditional marketing techniques taught us to focus on the positive and play down the negative, the new media are confronting us with the need for honesty in building trust.

Today’s consumers – especially the Y generation – aren’t so easily fooled by trite sound-bites. They’re healthily suspicious of businesses that claim perfection – to be all things to all people, totally impervious to human error.

It seems trust is more likely to be generated by a business with a human face – one that admits it’s shortcomings and explains how it plans to, or has, overcome them.

Transparent Marketing goes into great detail about the benefits of employing honesty in your promotional materials in order to build trust. It’s worth reading the whole article, but in brief, the advice comes down to the following:

1. Tell (only) the (verifiable) truth – today’s consumer will reject anything that can’t be verified.
2. Purge all vague modifers (such as ‘finest’, ‘consistently’, ‘superior’) – if you’re left with little of substance, you need to start again.
3. Let someone else do your bragging – customers, peers, reviewers, or I would add, credible journalists.
4. Substitute general descriptions with specific facts.
5. Admit your weaknesses – not only does this help to engender trust but it sets you apart from your competitors in an engaging way.

Blogs are an ideal vehicle for building trust, as they give your business a human face – something consumers are longing for in the virtual world of today’s business platforms. Readers are savvy enough to suss you pretty quickly if you’re not being honest, or you’re just spinning a line. They read your blog because they like you and detect the seeds of trust.

Expert blogger, Robert Scoble, has eulogised the blog as the ideal trust-building tool in How the Blog Trust Network Works.

Building on this model, our PublicityShip website explains how small businesses can nurture growth by using blogging strategically, as well as harnessing the effects good old-fashioned publicity (someone else doing your bragging).

Why your business needs a blog

TypingOnce the preserve of computer geeks in shadowy back bedrooms, blogs are now out in the light of day – and to prove it, blogging has just gone totally mainstream with the Australian Idol website pushing its own blog platform.Small businesses should take note. There are many reasons to be blogging regularly – not just to be seen out there in the blogosphere, but because there are many strategies for increasing traffic, and therefore sales, by intelligent business blogging.

For starters, take a look at Why Does Your Business Need a Blog?

The general objective of a business blog is to encourage your target audience to subscribe to your blog once they have discovered it. Then, as long as you are posting regularly, they will receive regular news of your business in their newsreader, keeping you top of mind, prompting repeat business and referrals, and increasing traffic to your site.

And if you’ve spotted the weak link in this process – ‘once they have discovered it’ – there are strategies to get past that too.

True, blogging gives you a better chance of being found via search engines. But a cleverer way to get noticed is to deliberately and continually link to high-ranking sites that are blogging in the same subject areas.

Those bloggers will eventually take notice of the newbie who keeps linking to them – and are likely to go to your blog and start linking to you – provided you have consistently high quality content in your blog of course. This shouldn’t be hard if you are blogging about the thing you know best – your business specialism.

Once the big guys link to you – hey presto! Your target audience begins to see links to your content appearing in the high-ranking blogs they already subscribe to.

For some quick tips on how to blog, have a look at The Corporate Blogging Book Release and for a longer bedtime read, The Beginner’s Guide to Business Blogging can be downloaded as a pdf.

10 steps to effective publicity without paying to advertise

Rolled magazineSmall businesses often work on a limited budget with limited human resources. So how can you market your wares without crippling your bottom line?

1. Think very carefully before paying for advertising space. Editorial space or air time can be far more valuable to you due to its authenticity, and can be achieved at low cost by employing intelligent strategies.

2. Don’t be intimidated by the media. PR agencies are simply agents between you and the journalists or researchers who may be interested in your story. Communicating with your target media outlets isn’t rocket science. You can do it without buying PR services, which can be expensive.

3. Make sure you have a story to tell that will captivate your audience. If you’re a new enterprise, your first story will be along the lines of, hey, here we are offering a brand new product/service … If you’re an existing business, you need to find ongoing news stories. These could relate to new innovations, but if you’re stuck for news, talk to your customers – each of them will have a story about how your product/service helped them. Take a look at What’s Your Backstory? for more ideas.

4. You may need to engage the services of a professional journalist to write your news release, or you may be able to write your own. If you’re doing it yourself, be sure to precis the essential story in the first paragraph so busy editors or researchers can make a quick decision about whether to read on. And keep the release to no more than two pages. See Tips for Kick-Butt News Releases.

5. Always supply good quality, compelling photos with lots of impact, which tell the story in a way that will engage your target audience. This may take some thought, time and advice from a photographer – but the time and cost investment will pay off, and you’ll have a set of images for your website and other publicity material. For more advice on this, see How to Get Publicity Photos in Newspapers and Magazines, and on TV.

6. Target your media contacts intelligently. Decide which papers, magazines, radio programs are likely to reach your audience most effectively, and pitch directly to them. Show them that you have an understanding of their requirements – the types of stories they like to run and any relevance in terms of timing.

7. Go for it! Send out your release with clear contact details for those who want further information and images. If possible send thumbnails of your photos with your press release and ask them to let you know which images they would like to receive in print resolution (usually 300 dpi, size as).

8. Call each outlet the following day to make sure the release reached the right person and to check whether any further information or images are needed. Keep the call short and sweet – unless they want to engage you in a longer conversation. This will help to bring you to their attention. Keep a note of any contact names that come up for future use. See How to Follow up a News Release

9. Don’t lose confidence if you don’t get too many bites first time around. Keep brainstorming new stories, keep an eye on the kinds of stories that your target media outlets are publishing or airing, and look for a fit. A one-off release won’t be enough – keep the stories coming, but make sure they’re damn good stories or your targets will begin to tune out.

10. When you do get coverage, make quality copies of the article to use as publicity material. Or upload it onto your website. The media outlet may be willing to supply you with a pdf of the article, which will give you better quality than scanning. And don’t forget to celebrate!