Back to Basics #29: Getting the Most out of Facebook

So you’ve made your Facebook page. You’re doing your best to make sure people “like” you and share your content with their friends. But are you doing everything you can to get the most out of Facebook? If you feel like you’re not getting the results you want, then perhaps your strategy could use a little tweaking. Well, we’ve got some good news for you: There are some simple tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your Facebook page.

Read on to find out more!

facebook-profile-vs-page

Make a page, not a profile.

A common mistake many first-time Facebook businesses make is that they create a profile instead of a page. A profile is a personal way of connecting with others on Facebook. It’s what you use to connect with your family and friends—so chances are, you probably already have a personal profile, and you don’t want to use that same page for your business.

So for the purpose of marketing your business, you’ll need to make a page. You can verify your business’s location, and then invite friends and family to “like” it. Now anyone who likes you will be able to see your updates and be able to post on your wall, but they won’t have to send a friend request to connect with you. And that’s pretty important. Keeping your personal life separate from your business is essential to your success on Facebook.

Fill out all of your information.

This is similar to what we told you about getting the most out of your Twitter account, but the same goes for Facebook (and any other social media platform for that matter). An incomplete profile makes you look not only unprofessional, but it also sets people on edge—they become concerned that you may be a spammer or bot. Spare them the pain of having to figure out whether your page is the real deal or not by filling out all your information. You’ll be better off in the long run.

facebook-updateUpdate regularly.

If you don’t update regularly, fans won’t like your page. And even if they do, you’re not going to get much out of it: the purpose of Facebook is to be able to drive traffic to your website and get your statuses/articles/photos/etc shared with the wider community. Whether you decide to update three times a week or twice a day, you’ll be much better off if you choose to stick with a regular schedule.

Now, another important part of scheduling updates is making sure that you’re not scheduling too often. If you post ten times a day, people will quickly grow tired of your updates. Unless you run a news source (such as an online mag or newspaper), you can probably cool it and update at most two times a day.

Finally, you might have heard not to post the same content more than once—but we promise that it’s okay to repost your old updates every once in a while! The Facebook news feed moves quickly, so there’s a good chance your updates are only being seen by about 16% of your fans. Now, this isn’t to say you should post the same updates every day—you could try sharing a fresh blog post once right after it goes up, then once a week later, then maybe once a month after that. It’s all up to you how you choose to build your schedule, but keeping these key tips in mind should help give you some basic guidelines for resharing your content.

facebook-fansRespond to fans.

When you start building your fanbase, you’ll also begin to get interactions from fans. They’ll want to chime in on your updates, give opinions, or give your business a review. Some might send messages asking about your company’s products and services. It is your obligation as a business owner to respond to these fans.

Whether the feedback is positive or negative, taking the time to interact with your fans will only help make your company more appealing. If someone asks a question, answer. If someone comments on a photo, “like” the comment or respond. If someone has something negative to say about the business or leaves a bad review, politely respond and try to address the problem as if you received the complaint in your store. However, if someone is using inflammatory language, it’s wise to not engage with them. Getting rid of offensive language is something that many of your fans will appreciate, so feel free to hide or delete those types of comments. They don’t accomplish anything productive anyway.

Join groups

Joining groups on Facebook is something that a lot of professionals under-utilize. By joining a group, you can discuss things with other business owners or potential customers. It’s a great place to promote your work without feeling like you’re overdoing it or impinging on other peoples’ online space.

Additionally, you can create your own group and invite potential customers and other influential people to join. By doing this, you can showcase your products and expertise in your field or industry. Groups are an easy way for people to participate in discussions if they want—or, alternatively,they might just want to read what you have to say. That’s fine, too!

So how do you get people to join you in your own group? You can drive people to the group through your mailing list by placing a link in the emails, place links on your page, and post about it through your other social media accounts. Once the community starts growing, you can ask people to share and invite friends!

facebook-shareShare content from other pages

Part of the effectiveness of Facebook comes from connecting with other, like-minded companies. As with Twitter, you might think it’s strange to promote the content of a “competing” company, but it’s actually better to forge an alliance with them than it is to talk in an echo chamber about your own services.

What we mean by this is that by connecting with well-known and influential people in your industry, you can gain great insight into what works to engage fans and what doesn’t. If the company is adept with social media, you’ll find their updates to be helpful and positive to share on your page, too. Now you might be thinking that by placing their content on your page, you will drive traffic off your site, but here’s the key: By posting relevant, interesting content, people will enjoy what they’re reading, which will keep them coming back for more. Plus, they’ll still engage on your page too—there’s nothing stopping anyone from leaving a comment on anything you post, even if it’s an update from someone else’s page!

Use apps to redirect traffic

Did you know that you can install apps on Facebook to redirect visitors to your site? You can also install apps to allow your visitors to find you on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media platforms, as well as review sites such as Yelp. Whether you’re active on multiple social media sites or only a few, it’s nice to be able to show visitors that you are available to follow elsewhere. You can install the apps with a few clicks and they’ll appear along the side of your page where your information and photos are.

These are just a few ways to get more out of your Facebook page. Of course there are many more ways that you can enhance your experience: Pay for ads, link to your Facebook page across all platforms, include it in your email signature, place signs in your business asking people to “like” you on Facebook, and more.

If you have any other suggestions for us, leave them in the comments below! There are many ways to get more out of your social media—many creative ways and even risky, boundary-pushing ways to go about it. It’s all dependent on what’s right for you!

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Back to Basics #28: Getting the Most Out of Twitter

How many followers do you have on Twitter? Do you talk with other people on a daily basis? Do you get people clicking through to your website or your blog?

If you’re feeling a little lonely in the follower department and haven’t really seen any new traffic to your site, you’re probably feeling a little frustrated. But don’t despair–this doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to remain this way forever!

That’s because in this article, we’re going to show you a few simple things you can do to get more out of Twitter. None of these tips require a ton of your time and energy. In fact, many of these are simple little tricks that you can easily implement into your regular social media strategy, and you don’t have to spend a dime.

So let’s take a look at how you can get the most out of your Twitter account!

Fill out your profile completely.

twitter-profile-example

Image courtesy of http://instructionaltechtalk.com/how-to-join-twitter/

This might seem obvious, but it’s absolutely crucial that you fill out your profile and don’t leave anyone guessing at anything. Twitter gives you plenty of space to make your page unique, so take advantage of that! Create unique graphics to place in your profile picture and header, and make sure you’ve listed all your important information: Website, location, and a description of what services you provide. Finally, make sure your handle is descriptive of your company. For example, if you’re a plumber, choosing a name like plumber50432 probably isn’t helpful to your followers. But you could choose ChicagoPlumber or ThePlumbingKing or something like that—you get the picture.

For your convenience, here’s a checklist of your profile necessities:

  • Profile picture
  • Header image
  • Bio filled out
  • Website listed
  • Location, if possible
  • Descriptive handle

Find people in your industry to follow.

twitter-follow

A lot of new Twitter users don’t want to follow people in their industry or field because they think it’s pointless to follow their competition. But that’s not true at all!

Twitter allows you to peer directly into the marketing plans of other companies that provide the same services you do. If you really think about it, you’ll begin to see how wonderful this can be for your own marketing strategy. Back to our plumbing example: If you see other plumbers tweeting about a brand new kind of sump pump, retweet them or compose your own tweet about the topic. If you see a plumber who links to a creative contest on his or her website, you can use that as an opportunity to use that as a model for your own contest. Take a look at those with the most followers and see how they build their profiles and interact with others. Chances are, you’ll be able to learn something and you won’t even have to pay a cent!

Make lists of influential people.

This is a great way to make use of all those influential accounts mentioned above. An easy way to collate your most influential accounts is to add them to a list. To do this, go to the person’s profile, select the gear icon, and then click “Add or remove from lists”. You can then name and describe the list, and select whether you want it to be public or private. If you’re watching your competitors, you may want to change it to private. But sometimes adding people to a public list can be beneficial—they might add you back or other people might subscribe to your list so they can also follow your influential accounts! We’ve included some helpful (hopefully) screen captures to better illustrate this process:

example-list1

Select the gear icon, then click “add or remove from lists.”

example-list2

If you don’t have a list created, select the “create a list” option.

example-list3

Name your list, fill out a brief description, and choose whether you’d like it to be public or private. Save and you’re done!

Follow back relevant accounts.

follow-back

It’s not always going to be you who finds the best accounts to follow–sometimes people will find you, too. Keep track of your followers by using a tool such as Tweepi or ManageFlitter. If you find people who are relevant to your interests, go ahead and follow them back! If they’re not, then there is obviously no obligation to do so. We suggest taking the time to block bots as well. After all, they don’t add anything to the conversation, and they aren’t real fans.

Oh—and while we’re on that topic, never purchase fans. Even if you’re desperate to look like you have more than five friends (which, let’s be honest, we all would be!), don’t pay for followers. Just keep finding relevant accounts and following them, and soon you’ll get people following you back.

Use appropriate hashtags.

If you think hashtags are just words used as slang, you’re in for a surprise! Truthfully, it’s not very effective to use Twitter without them. Hashtags are a way for people to find important topics and conversations in real time. Whether you’re looking for information on roofing expos or you simply want to chat about the hottest new shade of nail polish, you can probably find hashtags that will appeal to people looking to follow that topic. You can use tools like BuzzSumo to help you find popular topics and coordinate your posts with current and relevant conversations.

Here are some helpful tips to get the most out of hashtags:

  • Don’t use too many in one tweet. Two, maybe three tops.
  • Hashtags tend to do better when included in a sentence or placed at the end of the tweet.
  • Don’t use any punctuation or spaces. Hashtags only support letters.
  • If the hashtag is long, try making it easier on the eyes by capitalizing the beginnings of words. I.e., #SocialMediaStrategy.

Use photos every once in a while.

twitter_sand_re
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosauraochoa/3939487692/

People will read interesting text tweets, especially ones with links or hashtags. But think about it: Which would you find more appealing—a plain ol’ string of text or something with a bright, beautiful photo by it? Of course your eyes will be drawn to the photo. So take the time to include a photo with your tweets on occasion. You could attach an inspirational quote, a picture of a project you just did, or a new product you’re offering in your store. Be aware that photos do count against your character quota, so you’ll have to plan for a shorter tweet if you want to use a picture!

Retweet others and ask for Retweets.retweeting

Finally, don’t exist in a vacuum on Twitter. No one wants to see a stream of self-promotional spam from a single account. Take the time to retweet others, or tweet interesting articles that you find on blogs and websites you enjoy. A general rule of thumb to follow is that you should stick to 80% tweeting about topics relevant to your business but not necessarily self-promotional; and then the other 20% of the time send out tweets promoting your own business.

You can also ask for retweets! Many people respond to a simple request for retweets—just don’t overuse this tactic with every tweet you send out. And be sure to retweet those that you follow who ask for shares as well!

Well, there you have it. With these tips, you’ll soon see your Twitter follower count growing and your engagement soaring! You can easily start doing these things on your own, without hiring any special assistance.

If you have any other great tips, leave them in the comments below!

Back to Basics #27: Keeping Up with Seasonal Demands

Every year, when the holiday season rolls around, businesses large and small alike scramble to keep up with the increased demand for products. Whether they have to hire new seasonal workers or they simply have to carry extra products to ensure they meet demand, small businesses are often stretched thin and the owners are stressed. It’s already December, so by some standards, this article is a little late (oops!), but there are still some good tips you can utilize over the next few weeks to make sure you’re adequately keeping up with seasonal demands for your small business.

Labor Costs

christmas-shopping

Spending even more money on labor is something that most small business owners shrink away from. It’s not a fun prospect—many small businesses already struggle to keep in the black. And while the holidays are a great time to spread the good word about your products and services, they’re also demanding. Customers want nearly immediate responses when they have questions, and they want fast product/service delivery. If you can’t greet and help all customers during the busiest shopping season of the year, you might find yourself at the receiving end of some pretty scathing reviews. Lots of companies choose to counter this by hiring more staff. For instance, in the retail industry, many businesses must hire greater numbers of workers during the Christmas season to handle the extra work that comes with holiday sales.

For last-minute tips, try:

  • Offering an incentive for workers to come in early or stay a bit late–but be sure to follow through! Coupons, bonuses, and prizes all work well as incentives.
  • Extending customer service hours–even if you take a few calls or answer a few emails on your personal time, your customers will appreciate it, and you don’t have to hire the extra help.
  • Setting up a comfortable area for customers to wait in your store. Providing free coffee, water, and tea can help ease tensions. And don’t forget to make sure customers understand where and how long to wait.

Putting All the Details in Place

christmas-tree

Many small business owners say that they prepare for the holiday rush months ahead of time. They double-check to make sure their websites are easily accessible, up-to-date, and properly linked to social media accounts; others go a step further and post coupons and holiday deals that can be redeemed online or in-store. Some focus mostly on PR campaigns and online contests to ensure their customers hear about holiday sales on the most popular social media channels; in turn, they hope that the customers will share information with friends to spread the word. Still others prepare written materials to hand out to customers for word-of-mouth marketing purposes.

While some companies choose to plan everything to a T, there are others who choose to do things more “organically”. They might opt for casual online events to save on the costs of printing or advertising, or they might try to prepare the best they can without actually crunching numbers or hiring anyone new.

Which method would be best for you? Well, it really depends on your industry and the flow of your holiday traffic. Retail stores might lean more heavily toward hiring staff, while a small, one-person business might simply stock up and hope for the best. Read this thread at The Guardian for some more advice from other business owners.

Stock Up

christmas-business

If you think you can handle the busy shopping season by simply stocking up on inventory and planting your feet firmly on the ground, so be it! If you’re more the kind who makes sure all holiday items are in stock well before the holidays and you’ve already hired all your seasonal workers, that’s great, too. Either way, you should always anticipate a higher demand for products and develop a plan to address that need:

  • Run through your numbers from the year. Which products sold best? Do you have enough in stock now? What if customers would like to have the items shipped?
  • Think about returns and refunds. Will you offer returns or refunds if customers decide they don’t want to keep your product? What about gift receipts?
  • Are there any special items you only carry during the holidays? How about services that will need to be provided no matter what time of year it is (e.g., plumbing, emergency electrical work)? How will you handle any extra inventory if you should have leftover products? If you provide services, how can you make sure you are available during busy or inconvenient times (say, the day before Christmas)?

Another tip you shouldn’t forget: Make sure your business is fully insured for special circumstances. If you have insurance but fail to update the cover for winter weather-related issues, you would essentially leave your business under-insured. For those who work from home, this can be even more dire: If you store your stock or products in a separate building, you might not be insured if the items are stolen or damaged. That means you’ll have to be extra careful in this rainy, cold, and snowy season! So be sure to take the extra steps to ensure you have adequate stock, and that it’s fully insured and protected as necessary. This is, after all, one of the worst times of the year to take a financial hit.

 

In the coming weeks, we hope you see a lot of success at your small business. The holidays are a great time of year—for family and friends, and for those of us who choose to serve the public through retail and skilled services. Let us know if you have any other tips that you think others should know about! It’s the season for sharing, after all 🙂

Back to Basics #26: Improving Decision-Making Skills

As part of our regular back to basics series, last week, we talked about problem-solving in the workplace. This week, we’d like to expand on that and talk a bit about decision-making skills that you’ll need as a small business owner.

Being able to make sound decisions for yourself and for your employees is a skill you can’t afford to neglect. Your company depends on you to make informed, sound decisions without a long delay. It’s a tough prospect to consider for some people, because while some thrive on confronting challenging issues regularly, there are many out there who don’t enjoy this kind of stress. In fact, they would prefer to run away from it as quickly as possible!

Unfortunately, though, there’s no way around tough decision making. You’ll have to do it at some point or another, so you might as well get used to it. While that might sound like tough love, we do have some good news: We guarantee that you can learn how to be a better decision maker and feel confident in your decision-making skills.


 

Taking the “ache” out of decision making

decision-making

When trying to make sound decisions, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind: you’ll want to be objective, think of multiple solutions, and figure out how you can delegate the decision making process.

Being objective

It’s easy to run into a stressful situation head-on, feeling furious, frustrated, or confused. But that’s no way to approach making major decisions. You’ll need to clear your head and focus on the task at hand before you tackle it. In this situation, you’d be making decisions based on subjective reasons (emotional), rather than objective (logical).

Objective reasoning considers everyone in the office (or at least everyone involved with or affected by the decision) before the decision is made. It is a choice made rationally, without heavy or negative emotions influencing the outcome. It’s easy to see why this would be important—it takes the team into consideration, rather than just the decision maker. If you try this method, but still find yourself unable to make an objective decision, you can always enlist the help of trusted colleagues, or you can try backing off for a while (time permitting) to see if your head clears up a bit. You might also try brainstorming or writing down scenarios that you would like to have come to fruition. Then you can choose the best option from these solutions.

To be objective, remember these tips:

  • Am I making this decision while feeling sad, angry, or frustrated?
  • Am I making this decision to benefit myself over others?
  • Am I making this decision to benefit some of my staff over others?
  • How would this reflect on me as a boss? Will my company employees respect me for this choice?

 

Thinking of Multiple Solutions

keep-calm-there-is-always-a-solution

Sometimes, it’s difficult to come up with the correct solution because of budget constraints or conflicting interest. Other times it seems like there might actually be more than one correct solution because of the complexity of the situation. In these cases, it might help to brainstorm a bit and come up with a few ways you could move forward. For example, could the problem be solved by asking multiple people to complete a difficult task? Would it be helpful to move people between departments? Perhaps it’s best if you hire an extra person to take care of loose ends. If it’s a temporary issue, you could always consider an intern or assistant. There are a number or ways you can approach an issue, and if you take the time to consider all of them (or at least as many as you can think of), you’ll be able to make the best decision possible.

Alternatively, if your problems are rooted in the motivation, attitude, or productivity department, you might want to try a survey. You can ask your employees what would make work better for them. Perhaps they’re sitting in a dreary spot in the office and could do with a bit more natural light. Perhaps they’re feeling unmotivated because the office never has any fun activities or a good break area. Simply by talking to them, you can come up with a few solutions and then ask your employees for feedback on your ideas. If you get a majority supporting one idea in particular, you’ll know which decision to make!

Remember these tips to help you think of multiple solutions:

  • Brainstorming doesn’t mean coming up with complete strategies. It means thinking of different ways of approaching a problem. You can do this, no matter how good or bad the ideas seem at the moment. Just get your brain thinking!
  • Are there ways to make your budget stretch further? For example, if you’re considering hiring another person but don’t know if you truly have the budget for it, are there other costs you could cut? By adding an extra sum of cash into the equation, you have more opportunity for more varied solutions.
  • Are there creative ways you can approach this problem?
  • Is this problem worth addressing quickly? Or is it something that can be implemented step-by-step?

 

Who can help you?

greeting-customers

Sometimes it’s tough to make a decision all on your own. It’s necessary at these times to find someone you trust—a creative partner, your assistant, another manager—who you can bounce ideas off of. Remember, when you make decisions, you can always ask for feedback before deciding on anything permanent. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, your decision might be improved upon when you take another point of view into consideration, and the results of your decision could be even be better than you would have anticipated otherwise.

To start, make a list of the people you can trust to advise you. After all, kings and queens of the past had advisers for a reason! The president has advisers for a reason! You, as a small business owner, can also improve your chances of success by having trusted advisers.

When you’re considering asking someone else for help, consider:

  • Is this a problem that involves a specific complaint, such as discrimination, harassment, etc? Is there someone I can talk to about this before making a decision based on my judgments?
  • Is this a problem that could be solved creatively? Is there someone who I can work with to come up with a solution I might not have thought of?
  • Is this a problem I can easily solve by asking my employees what they need? Can I design a quick survey or arrange a meeting to hear their thoughts and suggestions?

In summary, the most important and helpful tips for improving your decision-making skills are: remembering to remain objective about your decision, thinking of multiple solutions to a problem, and asking for help where it’s needed. If you practice these tips, you’ll soon see that you’re making better decisions faster and more easily. Good luck!

Can you think of any other ways to make better decisions? Let us know in the comments!

Oh, and here’s a good resource to check out on Slideshare: Problem Solving and Decision Making at the Workplace

Back to Basics #25: Improving Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

Part of owning a successful business is being able to make sound decisions–for the good of your employees as well as for the future of your company. Your business thrives in a positive, supportive atmosphere, and if you aren’t able to make the decisions necessary to get you to these goals, you’re going to suffer financially as well as emotionally.

But solving business-related problems is tough. We get it.

What if you’re inexperienced with workplace issues? What if the idea of “creative problem solving” sends you running? What if you feel like you just don’t understand your employees, your HR department–heck, anyone at all?

In this Back to Basics article, we’ll talk about ways that you can improve your problem-solving skills so that you can make business-related decisions with confidence. Let’s get started!

The Problem with Problem Solving

problem-solving

When asked about their problem solving skills, many people worry that they don’t measure up. If you’re the type of person who views their problem solving skills as sub-par, then you know just how much more difficult this can make owning–and running–a business.

But don’t worry, there are easy ways to boost your confidence when making decisions. One of the most helpful things you can do is identify one of three types of commonly-encountered workplace issues: communication problems, attitude problems, and productivity problems. By addressing these issues individually, you’ll find that the atmosphere overall will improve dramatically, letting you make more sound decisions with a clearer mind and more positive outlook.

communication

Communication problems:

Is there an issue with your messages being received in the wrong way? Have you sent out a memo, only to have people misinterpret what you’ve said? Do you feel like you can never get through to a certain department? These sorts of problems can be so severe that they can actually contribute to the downfall of fledgling small businesses and start-ups. Don’t let communication problems get in the way of your company’s overall happiness.

You might want to try:

Having someone edit your emails, documents, and presentations. If you’ve had that memo problem we mentioned above, this could be the solution. After having someone look over your written material, you can then make sure everyone has seen and understood the message during your next meeting. Listen to feedback and implement suggestions to make sure everyone continues to understand your messages.

Checking your emotions. If your messages are continually being received in the wrong way, you might want to check your emotions. Are you coming off too aggressively? Are you disregarding others’ opinions? Are you simply reacting emotionally to a problem rather than coming up with real solutions? We all experience frustration, confusion, and even anger in the workplace. But as a boss, you must set an example for your employees. By keeping your emotions in check, you’ll be able to communicate more clearly and effectively.

Listening to others. If you just can’t get through to someone, call them in to your office and speak with them honestly and openly. Maybe they have a reading difficulty, such as dyslexia, and simply can’t parse your memos. Maybe they struggle with verbal directions and need written or visual directions. Everyone’s learning style is different, and by speaking and listening to your employees, you can gain a better understanding of their needs to do their job to the best of their ability.

For more suggestions, try this article: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/common-communication-mistakes.htm

attitude

Attitude problems:

If you’ve been dealing with employees who just seem to have a bad attitude, then you have a completely different problem on your hands–and a tough one at that. While you could always terminate the employee if things are really bad, there are other ways to try to address the problem before you go overboard:

Take notes. Keep track of the problems the employee presents. When you have collected and notated a few instances, talk to them about their performance and address how their attitude has been affecting others. Many times, an employee will recognize that they have been acting in a negative way, and will try to correct it without you having to take further action.

Agree on a plan. Most of the time, the employee is acting out because they perceive there to be a significant problem (that may or may not exist). Whether it’s being interrupted on their breaks, sitting next to a disruptive colleague, family troubles, or general laziness, distractions and frustrations in the workplace can manifest from many different sources. The good news is that many people will try to change when confronted. Agree on a plan of action and ensure the employee follows through with it.

Dispense discipline where needed. If you never follow through with discipline, the problem will not go away. Never wait for it to simply disappear. It won’t. Instead, utilize written warnings in a progressive system—First warning, second warning, suspension, termination. Of course, you must make sure you operate within HR’s policies.

For more ideas, try these resources:

monkey-productivity

Productivity Problems:

Everyone must deal with the unproductive employee at some point or another. There’s just no way around it. Whether you’re a small business owner or you deal with large corporations, there will always be employees who just don’t want to meet your productivity standards. To solve this problem, you must address it head on. It will never go away by ignoring it. To start, try:

Remind the employee of their job and their importance to the company. Many employees get fed up, particularly in larger companies, where they feel their jobs don’t matter. Reminding them that they are indeed important, and stressing the importance of their duties, should help put them back on track again. Many times, they just need to feel appreciated.

Take a look at the job itself. Jobs change over time. Sometimes people end up having to learn skills they never expected to learn and become unhappy that their jobs have changed so much. Other jobs actually become outdated or become obsolete, even while you’re still employing the person who does them! Other times, the job itself is boring. Plain and simple. These employees will need a little bit of extra incentive or some creativity involved to keep them meeting productivity standards, and a little bit of motivation to keep them interested.

Managing your own small business can be tough. And of course, despite your best efforts, you’re going to run into some problems with things like productivity, bad attitudes, and poor communication. But with a little bit of effort, you’ll be able to improve on every one of these problems, and work your way toward a more positive, productive, and communicative work environment.

Can you think of any other problems that you’ve tackled in the workplace? What methods work for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Back to Basics #24: How to Find Your Writing Voice

If you’ve ever posted an update on a blog (or even thought of starting a blog!), then you’ve probably thought about how you would like to address your audience. Unless you’re writing your own personal diary, it’s absolutely necessary to figure out your writing voice—because how you appeal to your readers will have a direct effect on who chooses to come back to your blog, and who decides that it’s not for them and navigates elsewhere.

Whether you want to inform visitors about how to build and care for pools, or you’d like to provide tips on how to dress professionally for work, a blog can be a great place to start out. In this article, we’ll go over some of the basic things you’ll need to know to find your writing voice—and be well on your way to blogging success!

 

Define Your Audience

audience

This is probably another phrase you’ve heard before. But there’s a good reason for it: It’s the most important step to take before you begin publishing your posts. When you know who you’re writing for, coming up with post ideas and defining your goals becomes much easier.

To define your audience, ask yourself:

  • Am I selling a product or service to someone?
  • If yes, what makes my product unique?
  • If not, what am I offering my visitors instead?

Once you know this, then you should think about:

  • What are my audience’s interests?
  • What are their ages?
  • What is their education level?

And finally, you’ll want to know some important personal data:

  • Where do most of my customers or visitors come from?
  • Are they male or female?

So, let’s say you’re selling handmade soaps to your visitors. They tend to be casual shoppers who are looking for an alternative to soaps made with chemicals. They are interested in health, beauty, and natural living. Most are female, from the United States, and tend to be from wealthy metropolitan areas. They are educated, and between the ages of 35-50. So with this audience, you wouldn’t want to write in an ultra-casual manner like you would with, say, a vaping or e-cig store. That much should be obvious!

That’s a lot of information you’ve gathered! But now, after all that hard work, you also have an incredibly well-defined audience. Knowing these statistics will help you come up with effective advertisements and well-informed posts that your audience will love to share. Plus, you’ll easily be able to find topics popular with your audience and build your posts around those ideas. But first…

What is the Focus of Your Blog?

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Now that you know who you’re writing for, you need to know what you want to write about. In our example, you’ll be writing about health and beauty topics, particularly those linked to skin care—so you can really let your soaps be the star of the show. But even within this in mind, there are still a number of routes you could take. For example:

  • A how-to blog: How to make your own soaps, how to use natural soaps, etc.
  • A sales blog: Tips for better sales with natural products, or you can purchase a soap starter kit and be a part of the soap-selling team.
  • Better living blog: A guide on how to live frugally or lower your carbon footprint.
  • Beauty blog: A blog covering all kinds of new products, with the focus on your soaps and how they’ll fit into a beauty routine.

As you can see, it can be a tough decision to make. But once you’ve chosen a theme for your blog, you’ll want to stick with it. It can be confusing to readers to have a blog offering skincare advice in one post, and then how to make your own soaps in another. Chances are, these are two different audiences. (Although of course there could always be some overlap!)

What Purpose Does Your Blog Serve?

kitty-reading-a-book

Now, this might sound obvious, but you’ll have to remember why you’re writing a blog in the first place.

For many people, they want to start a blog to make an income. Others, however, want to add a blog feed to their existing website for a little extra information. Still others want to have a blog simply for search engine optimization purposes.

We’re not here to tell you why you should have a blog—but you should know why before you begin this project! If you’re aiming to make sales through your blog, you’re going to have a different approach than you would if you were just using it to post occasional how-to articles and company updates.

So before you get posting, be sure to figure out exactly how your blog fits into your business and marketing plan.

How Much Time Do You Have?

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If you don’t have a lot of time to update your blog, you’re going to want to keep your posts simple and short. On the other hand, if you have a lot of time to devote to crafting articles, then you may want to write in-depth pieces. You may even want to add beautiful photographs that your viewers will want to share! It all depends on your schedule.

The short, to-the-point articles work great for company updates, brief how-to’s, or making a “listicle” that is helpful to your visitors (For example, 3 ways to get snow off your roof without falling and hurting yourself!)

The longer articles work well for those who want to get really in-depth—like photos of those handmade soaps accompanying an in-depth article about the different uses of natural cleaners.

You might choose to mix and match, and that’s fine, too. But make sure to realistically look at your schedule before you begin posting. You’ll want to stick to the schedule you make, so if you think you’re pushing yourself too hard, err on the side of safety and cut back on your posts.

So Now What?

So now that we’ve talked your ear off about how you can get everything ready for your blog, you can finally take a look at everything you have figured out and decide how you want to write. Your writing voice will probably come naturally once you know who your audience is. Most of us already know what our customers like, and if we don’t, we can always ask for feedback to make sure we’re doing everything right. Your job now is to make sure that you deliver your own, original, fresh content to your readers when you say you will. Stick to your schedule. Don’t mix personal rants with your business updates. If you want to focus on how-to videos, don’t throw in an article about why one brand of snow-blower is better than another.

If you’re writing for mothers, don’t use abrasive language. If you’re writing for potential college students, appeal to their hopeful attitudes while assuaging fears of failure. If you’re writing for people who test the strength of rebar, don’t focus on the difficulties of the job—provide solid statistics and ways to interpret test results.

Finding your writing voice doesn’t have to be difficult. It just takes a bit of time and research. And you know what? Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you will find that you naturally fall into that mindset as you write. Plus, you’ll hear from your readers through blog comments, social media updates, or even emails, and they’ll give you helpful advice to follow.

The Long and Short of It

To summarize:

  • Learn who your audience is and what they like.
  • Decide which topics will be the most important to your readers.
  • Determine whether your blog will be used to drive sales, supplement your marketing strategy, or simply provide regular company updates to readers.
  • Create a realistic schedule for updates—and stick to it!Use language appropriate to your audience.

Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Back to Basics #23: Managing Your Brand

You’ve probably heard the phrases “personal brand” or “brand identity” before. But what exactly do they mean? How does someone put forth a brand identity or a personal brand, and how does it affect your business?

In this Back to Basics, we’ll talk a bit about managing your personal brand. With a few easy-to-understand tips, you’ll know exactly what these terms mean, and how you can leverage the concept of branding to increase your presence online.

Brand Identity

Brand identity is something that you probably already know about—you just aren’t aware of it. As an example of brand identity, let’s take a look at Coca-Cola.

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Coca Cola is a great example of a company with a strong brand image.

When you think of a company like Coca-Cola, what do you think of? You probably imagine the telltale red and white color scheme, the flowing font, and perhaps even their Christmas ads come to mind.

Well, all of these things are a strategic part of their brand identity. Coca-Cola has done a masterful job at creating an instantly recognizable brand image that people are quick to take notice of in any situation. The company wants to keep your attention, whether you’re looking for a vending machine between classes or deciding which sodas to purchase from the supermarket. When you see that red and white, you know it’s going to be Coca-Cola, and you’re instantly drawn to purchase the product (that is, assuming you’re not a Pepsi person!).

Now, all of this doesn’t necessarily mean that brand identity consists solely of a color scheme and unique fonts. Logos also play a big part in it. Your perceived company image as a whole is a big part of it, too. Your presence on the internet and in your community play enormous roles. Simply put, when people think of your brand, the images and feelings that pop up are how they perceive your brand identity. You want to create something solid, recognizable, simple, and memorable. You also want to be consistent across all your platforms. We’ll get to more of that in a minute. First, we’ll talk about your “personal brand.”

What does your personal brand say about you?
What does your personal brand say about you?

Personal Brand

The personal brand is something generally associated with an entrepreneur, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be so. Your personal brand can apply to how you manage your employees, as well as how you choose to interact with customers. Basically, your personal brand should prominently display your talents and downplay your weaknesses—customers and employees should feel that you’re capable and understanding, rather than unsure or defensive.

Managing your personal brand can be tough, however, especially in online spaces. It’s easy for people to slip up and say something they didn’t mean to while caught in the turmoil so often found on social media. Your employees might do the same. Why? Because your personal brand often takes a backseat to emotion, especially when things get tough—whether you’re responding to a poor review or you’re getting just a little too personal with hot-button issues, it’s important to remember to keep your cool. You don’t want to sacrifice all the hard work you’ve done on your personal brand only to be embarrassed at comment you made in a time of emotional strain! It’s important to keep an eye on how you’re coming across online, and to monitor how people are perceiving you. Even the most careful business owners can probably find an area that they need to work on.

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Your local community must also know and recognize your brand.

Managing Your Brand in the Community

So now that you know about brand identity and your personal brand, what are some good ways to manage them? We’ve mentioned the many places you need to include your brand—from your local presence in your community to social media online.

A good way to start is to make a list of your personal values. For example, what do you think is important for you as a business owner? Some examples might include:

  • Providing excellent customer service
  • Responding to customer concerns
  • Providing new and exciting products regularly
  • Delivering news and updates in a timely manner
  • Rewarding valued customers
  • Promoting employees and building workplace morale

There are so many things you could list here. It all depends on what you, as a business owner, feel is the most important thing to you.

You can also talk to your employees about their workplace. Many companies focus too much on the customer and don’t bother with assessing their internal company health. When the workplace is toxic or not well run, many people get angry about their jobs. Not only does this result in high turnover (and takes time to train and replace the employees), but the customers can easily end up with the short end of the stick: They might have to wait longer for service or get poor service from uninvested employees. You might think of asking:

  • Do you find your workplace to be comfortable?
  • Do you feel your duties are taken seriously?
  • Is the workplace friendly and accommodating?
  • Do you need help with further training?
  • How do you feel you are doing with your customer service skills?

Et cetera.

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Managing your brand across different online networks can be tough!

Managing Your Brand Online

Managing your image online is a bit more complex than it is to manage in person. Many times, words that you type online can be misinterpreted—whereas in person, it’s easier to clarify your intentions. You can also accidentally post to the wrong social media accounts. You might get too invested in a particularly heated conversation or debate and want to defend your views. You might get a poor review and feel inclined to respond to the reviewer angrily. The immediacy of the internet is what makes all of this so easy—but it’s so hard to erase. In fact, it’s nearly impossible.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I suited for social media management? If not, do I have the budget to hire someone for assistance?
  • Do I understand the implications of putting negative words and ideas into cyberspace?
  • Do I know how to defend myself without resorting to petty words?
  • Do I have a plan in place should there be a PR crisis?

If you think about these important things before you begin posting, you’ll be much more likely to manage your brand in a way that will make your customers happy.

Another aspect of managing your brand online is how you choose to present your business’s image. Just like the Coca-Cola example, you need to present an image of professionalism and attentiveness to detail. Here are a few questions you will want to consider if you want to have a healthy brand image:

  • Does my website look professional? If not, do I have it in my budget to redesign it?
  • Are customers easily navigating my website and finding the information they need?
  • Do my social media accounts match the name and color scheme my website?
  • Do I have the dedication to update my social media regularly, and to engage with my customers?
  • Am I using a consistent voice (i.e., serious, casual, technical, etc.) for all of my platforms?

Hopefully this clears up some of the mystery surrounding brand image and management. It’s an important thing for business owners to understand, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a local “mom-and-pop” store. We all need to present ourselves as professionally and openly as possible!

If you can think of any other tips for managing your brand, leave them in the comments below!

Back to Basics #22: Small Business Marketing for Local Storefronts

SMALL BUSINESSMARKETINGFOR LOCAL STORES

Here at Internet Local Listings, we focus on helping our small business clients with all of their online marketing needs—social media, websites, and managing local listings for a variety of business directories. This is an important part of your small business marketing plan, because being seen online is integral to your success as a business in the modern marketplace. And, as you know, it can be a bit confusing and time-consuming to handle all this on your own. Having help is a great asset in this case.

However, what we aren’t able to help with is the management of your storefront. That might sound obvious, but an important aspect of small business marketing that many people overlook is the effect that a storefront’s appearance can have on a customer. You already know that first impressions matter when you’re on a job interview or first date, and the same can be said of a customer’s first visit to your business—a store’s appearance can have tremendous influence over whether a person chooses to return or not. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about how appearance can affect a customer’s decision to purchase or leave, as well as how keeping your store beautiful can help create more online interactions and engagement.

A Storefront’s Appearance Matters.

According to a study done at Retail Customer Experience, more than two-thirds of the surveyed group had avoided a store simply because the storefront was unattractive, outdated, or dirty. Although it might be a bit difficult to make a building look newer than it is (particularly if you share the building with other offices and have no control over renovations), it’s always possible to keep the inside of your store looking neat and tidy.

pretty-store
Keeping your storefront neat and clean is one great way to impress customers.

Image from I Loved New York.com

Keep the Place Smelling Fresh.

Aside from keeping your store’s appearance tidy and clean, you’re going to want to make sure it smells okay. This might seem as obvious as keeping it clean, but if you’re, say, a car mechanic and you’re used to the smell of oil, you might not realize how off-putting it can be to some people. While you obviously can’t control the smell of the vehicles you’re working on in your shop, you can control the smells in the lobby. Brew some fresh coffee. Set up snacks. Keep everything wiped down and clean; keep the doors to the shop closed to prevent extra noise and smells sneaking in. Finally, you may want to use this as an opportunity to promote some great-smelling air fresheners!

This goes for any industry, however. Even if you run a bookstore (and many people love the smell of books), make sure that everything is clean without overdoing it on the “chemical” smell.

The “First Ten Feet” Rule.

According to Rick Segel, author of Retail Business Kit for Dummies, you must offer a price-sensitive incentive for customers to continue shopping within the first 10 feet of the door. For example, this could be a special offer you’re running, a promotion for your store’s top-selling product, or even a poster board offering information on local community events. Whether you’re in the business of selling auto parts or you offer home cleaning services, you can always find some related community events or classes that would appeal to your clientele. Don’t be afraid to get creative—have some of your customers asked questions about the availability of a specific product? Have they asked where you could learn more about your business? Maybe they just simply get lost on the way to the bathroom! Do whatever you can to help them feel welcome and at home in your store, and they’ll be likely to remain long enough to explore. Plus, you may just earn yourself a repeat customer!

clean-store
Clean stores with nicely-arranged displays entice customers to stay and shop!

Maintain Your Store’s Fixtures.

Sometimes your store is clean, your employees are welcoming, and the place is set up to draw the customers in—but people just aren’t staying. You’re confused and you’re wondering what could be going wrong.

  • Take a step back from your store. Walk into it again as if it were the first time you’d ever set foot in it. Now, you’re probably so used to it that this will be difficult for you, but try really hard to place yourself in your customers’ shoes. Here are some key things to look for:
  • Are your displays are neatly arranged? Do they look up-to-date? An old, faded poster or a messy stack of “clearance” products might make your store look disorganized.
  • Do the lights seem too dim or too bright? If they’re too dim, it might make your store look unwelcoming or shady—which is, naturally, off-putting to customers. If your lights are too bright, it can make customers feel uncomfortable, too, because who wants to feel like they need to wear sunglasses inside of a store?

Finally, make sure your staff is friendly and welcoming.

Make sure there’s always a manager or knowledgeable person available to answer your customer’s questions. And of course, ensure everyone looks his or her best to keep with the professional appearance you’ve worked so hard to instill in your store.

The wonderful part of keeping your storefront clean and inviting is that it will cross over into the online realm. People will be happy to leave you positive reviews. They’ll want to follow you on Facebook or Twitter to see what your new specials are. They’ll refer friends and family. Remember that this is all part of the bigger picture–getting the word out about your fantastic business!

welcoming-customers
Welcome your customers and make them feel at home! Maybe don’t dress as Dracula, though.

Small business marketing is complex. It’s a mixture of online finesse as well as a little bit of good, old-fashioned business skills. While the marketing experts at Internet Local Listings can help you with the internet marketing part of the equation, we can only offer tips for the local aspect of it! We hope you’ve found these helpful!

If you have any tips or suggestions, leave them in the comments below! And be sure to subscribe for regular updates from our small business marketing blog.

Back to Basics #21: Thinking Outside the Social Media Box

thinking-outside-the-social-media-box

While there are tried-and-true methods to growing your social media following and keeping your customers connected through social media, sometimes your efforts seem to stagnate. Maybe you hit a stride of nice growth, but then discovered that it plateaued. Or maybe you’ve been on a steady climb, and still see growth happening, but really want to push your social media presence to the next level. Whatever it is, you’re ready to try something a bit bolder, a bit louder, and a bit more… well, scary. It’s out of your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean that you have to avoid it. Let’s talk a bit about what you can do to start thinking outside the social media box and really getting into your stride as a business owner and marketer!

start-making-friends

Find A Few Friends.

No, we don’t mean find a few friends like the ones you’re already following back, or the ones who are related to you. (Even if your mom is always going to be your #1 fan… sorry, mom.)

What we mean is, find the big names in your industry and connect with them.

Take the time to do a little research around your type of company—who is active on social media? Is there a particularly interesting website or blog that you could start following? Whose name frequently gets brought up in the news? Once you’ve found these people, start paying attention to what they’re doing. They’re obviously a credible resource for a reason, and that’s more than likely because they interact with fans, provide valuable content, and frequently update their blog and/or social media sites. You’re probably trying to do all this already, but when you have a role model to emulate, things get that much easier.

Here are some more helpful tips to try once you’ve found a few new friends:

Do:

  • Retweet/share/pin their articles.
  • Leave a friendly compliment or start a helpful discussion on their blog posts.
  • Ask them for their opinion on something in your niche.

Don’t:

  • Engage with controversial topics with them.
  • Subtweet (that is, tweeting about someone else without actually tagging them) snarky comments or get upset if they don’t respond to you.
  • Blast anyone publicly if they don’t agree with you.

dummies-self-promotion

Advertise less.

We know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t the point of social media to help me with marketing and advertising? Why would I want to advertise less?”

Well, because without even being aware of it, you might actually be driving away people with constant self-promotion.

Basically, social media has its own set of etiquette and rules—in fact, each platform tends to have different etiquette standards and rules for connecting with fans. For instance, on Twitter, it’s acceptable to post many times in a day—it’s fast paced and the information is kept brief, as well as generally unobtrusive. Facebook, on the other hand, tends to show big posts with pictures and videos, and to see a stream of media from the same person or company is aggravating to many users. But if there’s one thing all platforms have in common, it’s this:

It’s a big no-no to constantly advertise your own services.

To keep people from getting irked with your updates, you should always follow the 80/20 rule: Post 80% other content—like industry news, other followers’ posts, etc.–and 20% your own content.

Here are some helpful ways you can implement this idea:

  • Don’t make your advertising posts hard pitches; i.e., “Click here to buy dog food now!” Instead, keep it light and craft an interesting title to entice click-throughs: “The #1 best thing you can feed your dog: It’s cheaper than you think.”
  • Link back to older blog articles. If you have a content marketing schedule, go ahead and tie that in with Twitter, Facebook, and whichever other sites you use. You worked hard on your old posts—so be sure to link them again! This doesn’t make it seem like you’re “selling” anything, but you’re still directing traffic back to your site.

good-job-note

Show off your reviews.

We’ve talked before about how important reviews are for ranking. But reviews aren’t only important for this reason—they’re also a leading influence on how customers perceive your business, as well as how customers choose which business to support. According to a 2013 survey from Bright Local, 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more. [Edit: Here is the updated 2014 survey!] That’s no small number—so it makes sense that you should promote the ones you have!

This should fall under the same guidelines of self-promotion, however. Constantly linking your reviews comes off as spammy and self-absorbed. When you’re on social media, you want to present an honest picture of who you are and what your business is about. Occasionally linking a new review and thanking the customer for their time is a good practice to get into—and it’s not going to make you look bad.

Try these helpful tips the next time you link your reviews:

  • Place a few testimonials on your site. If you can, take them directly from the source and link back. Testimonials without links seem fake to many visitors—so take that worry off their minds by citing your sources (just like you did in those pesky term papers!).
  • Publicly respond to any bad reviews you receive (unless they are abusive; then it’s best to just report or ignore them). By doing this, you show that you care about your customers’ experiences and are willing to listen to their complaints and concerns.

stay positive

And finally…

Whether you own a small home-based business or run a local chain of businesses, it’s in your best interest to keep a positive attitude. It can get discouraging to to run your own social media sites, and we get that. In fact, we wrote an article about how to handle these feelings of discouragement! But when everything stacks against you and it seems like nothing you’re doing is working, remind yourself that this all takes time. Brainstorm ways you can get your voice heard. Talk to friends, family, customers, and other business owners to see what they recommend. Be willing to learn from mistakes and go that extra mile. In the end, you will make progress if you keep trying, and keep an open mind while at it.

Got any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

Back to Basics #20: How to Build a PR Strategy as a Local Business

how-to-build-a-pr-strategy-as-a-small-business

 

An important part of running your small business is to make sure that you have a strong PR strategy in place. PR stands for public relations, and it is an integral part of defining your target market and reaching them in a positive and effective manner. It’s impossible nowadays to run a business and a marketing campaign without considering your approach to PR as well.

If you’re new to the idea of public relations, no worries! In this post, we’ll talk about some of the basics that you can do to help improve your presence and positive image in your community.

Define Your Audience.

There’s no use in trying to market to anyone if you can’t decide who to market to. Think about it: If you own a retirement community and you’re looking to appeal to new residents, sending out advertisements to college students isn’t going to help you very much. This is why you need to define your audience before you begin. Once you have that figured out, you can move on to planning your strategy.

To get started on this, you can take a look at who is already visiting your page using a Google Analytics account. You can find the basics of how to set up an account here. Once you have determined who is interested in your site, you can easily start sorting out your marketing methods to appeal to those demographics.

doing-online-research

Get Online.

With your new audience in mind, go to where they hang out. The easiest way will be to reach them online, although depending on your audience, you may still be able to reach people by cold calling or newspaper advertisements. But for many of us, our audience is online, just waiting to be found!

Consider your brand identity when going online, too. Your company will be associated with your positive image. How will you help your customers remember you? How will you stand out in the crowd? Work this into your campaign. When you’re updating social media, keep a clear and consistent voice. Don’t talk about personal things or your opinions on the latest political argument. Keep your words professional—nothing can ever be scrubbed completely from the internet. Don’t fall into the trap of getting confrontational or controversial!

Find Opportunities to be Seen in the Community.

For local businesses, an integral part of success is being seen in the community. Whether you’re a new business or you’ve been around for 40 years, you need to be active, visible, and a positive force in your community. People love connecting with local business owners. And if you leave a positive impression on them, you can bet that they’ll remember you the next time they’re looking for someone who provides your products and services!

A great way to do this is to look for ways to volunteer. Whether you want to donate food to a shelter or donate some money to a cause you believe in, any step toward charitable giving is a positive one. You can take part in local festivals and events by offering coupons to guests, or you can even set up raffles so you can get people excited about interacting with you. Or you could simply help out the community around the holidays, whether you’re involved with a parade or a school fundraiser. There are tons of ways to get involved, so get creative!

Find Speaking Opportunities.

Almost everyone hates public speaking. But if you get over your fears long enough to do get up in front of a crowd, you can generate some great exposure for your business. Is there a trade show or conference going on in your town? Look into becoming a speaker for the event—you could be on a panel or even nominate yourself to be the keynote speaker if you feel you have the chops!

Be forewarned, however, that these endeavors take a lot of preparation. Furthermore, you’ll have to plan for these events because many are scheduled months ahead of time. But if you do your research and come prepared, you’ll find that the results you get can be fantastic.

pressrelease

Pitch Your Story.

Did you know that journalists can be reached through social media? Before, you might have had to call them up, fax them, or email them. But today, journalists contribute to blogs, have social media accounts, and network with other journalists. This creates a number of free opportunities for you to reach out and contact them. Comment on their Facebook posts. Track them down on Twitter and engage them in conversation. Find blogs they contribute to so that you know and understand their work. If they’re looking for stories that you think they could use in a story, reach out and give them your ideas. It helps to have a kind of “press release” prepared beforehand so that you can give them what they need with little turnaround–you need to remember that they’re very busy and often get pitched to many times a day. Keep in contact with them and they’ll be more likely to remember you the next time they’re doing a story in a similar vein.

Decide On Your Best Approach.

Okay, maybe none of these things appealed to you. Maybe you’re more about writing things on your own. Or maybe you prefer radio to seminars. There are a number of ways that you can get in contact with the public, and the great thing is that they’re all still very effective ways of boosting your presence. You may want to try:

  • Writing your own press releases, articles, or even letters to your local newspaper editor.
  • Writing an ebook to appeal to your customers—“how to” tips tend to work well.
  • Volunteering at or sponsoring an event.
  • Signing up to speak at a seminar or convention—or you could even take part in an online webinar!
  • Do press conferences, offer to be on a radio program, or see if you can land a spot on your local evening news.
  • Put together testimonials, positive reviews, and success stories to keep on hand whenever you appear in public. People love inspiring stories and knowing that you’re reputable, too!

With these tips, you can decide how you want to approach your PR campaign and which options work the best for your vision. All of these tips are free or low-cost—it all depends on how much work you want to put into it on your own vs. hiring a PR consultant.

Do you have any other tips on how to build a PR strategy as a local business? Let us know in the comments!