One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is getting attention. That's often because small businesses have no brand to leverage.
When Coca Cola, DELL or Apple releases a new product, it will instantaneously receive attention because people are familiar with their brand, trust their reputation and there is deep consumer interest.
But as a small business, you need to drum up some initial attention before you can build your brand to leverage it in the future. Remember that every website visitor can be turned into a loyal customer who can help you market your brand for no additional cost.
Here are five ways to stand out from the crowd, get the attention you deserve, and build a follower base you're proud of:
David Meerman Scott, a Boston resident and author, blogged about a water main break back in 2010 before the Boston Globe even had a chance to. When a Globe reporter was searching for people to interview online, they came across David's blog post and immediately interviewed him for a cover story. By writing about breaking news on a blog, it makes you a good media source.
The media wants to interview experts because it gives their stories more credibility in the eyes of the public. By becoming an expert in something that relates to your business, and building a website to reflect that expertise, you can be contacted by the media to comment on stories. When you comment on a story, you can plug your company. For instance, if you own an independent financial firm in Chicago, then you will want to position yourself as a "personal finance expert in Chicago." This way, you can stand out in search engines using a specific and targeted keyword string, allowing the Chicago media to find you.
A great way to attract attention and get covered is to design an infographic (example) based on research you uncover or purchase. The media loves covering fun, interesting and provocative research and an infographic lays the information out in something the everyday person can consume. Contact a local graphic design consultant and partner with a local research firm to come up with a campaign that will benefit all three of you.
A creative way to reach the press is by targeting them directly. Conduct research to learn about what journalists and producers cover your industry and make a list of their names and publications. Then, use Facebook Social Ads and Google AdWords to target them as best as you can. When creating an advertisement on Facebook, you need to put their publication name in the "Workplaces" section. When anyone who works at that publication is on Facebook, they will see that advertisement, and if it's good, it will draw them in. On Google AdWords, you should buy the journalists names as keywords. This way, when they google themselves, like many people do now, your advertisement will come up. Make your advertisement appealing and link it to a promotion you're running on your website.
Another creative tactic I've seen is to package your product in a way that entices the press to read or review it. For instance, I received a book, written by the CEO of Girls Scouts of America, which came with a box of thin mints. I immediately took a picture of it and shared it online because I thought it was creative. Another example is what Martin Lindstrom did with the packaging of his book "Brandwashed." In the packaging, he includes three playable videos on a video card and a bottle, making the point that you've been marketed to since the womb.
Follow Dan Schawbel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danschawbel