Right out of the gate, most small to medium-sized businesses never have big marketing budgets. All of them know they must market, but when push comes to shove, there never seems to be enough money to do it or do it right. Try the following "old" ideas on for size. Yes, they DO translate to taking up some of your time. Yes, your time equals money. But if you don't have the change in your pocket, these will cost you little but time.
VolunteerDon't have time for that? Think again. Link up with organizations in which your targeted customers are involved. Volunteer to donate your expertise and "show off" your skills to those potential clients. Here's how it can pay off. I volunteered to do some writing for an organization. One of my targeted clients liked what he saw and called me three months later with a proposal. He's been my client for the past four years. Nice, huh?
When industry trade shows send out a Call for Speakers, send in a topic proposal. Look for speaking opportunities within the industries where you want to earn a market share. It will get you in front of prospective clients. Don't be afraid to share your secrets! I've got news for you. There are no secrets, just better recipes. Sharing your expertise will make others think of you as an expert. Just be sure that what you address is original and has a fresh twist. It will get your name and that of your company's in your targeted public's eyes. Think of all the big names in the events industry - they all speak at targeted industry and association conferences.
Be sure to contact industry publications and offer to write articles in your area of expertise. In marketing, it's exposure, exposure, exposure. What? You're afraid editors will say "no" to you? Don't let that stop you. I've had more rejections than acceptances, and I was a magazine editor/publisher! The key is to read the publications that you wish to target and understand what they cover. Then, check out the publications' editorial calendars for the year, determine which issues will cover themes for which you can address and then come up with something fresh and interesting to propose.
Offer yourself up as an interview on any subject to which you are connected. And always offer up pictures you might have that support the subject. Publishers want great photographs and quotes.
Do you have a blog? Why not? You can set up a blog site for next to nothing. Attach it to your Web site. Offer up helpful, insightful information (like Extraordinary Events does). This has the same effect as speaking engagements. Yes, I know that there are a ton of blogs out there. And, I'll tell you what differentiates them. I probably get about 50 blogs a week. But the ones that truly offer me sound information and don't link me up to some ploy to "buy" a product or service are the ones that I read. And when I need their type of products or service, they are the ones I call.
Do Press Releases
I can't stress this one simple fact enough. Don't send out a press release unless it is newsworthy. Don't send out promotional information disguised as a press release to the media. I remember when I was the publisher of Special Events magazine, and I would sit at my desk with a stack of press releases and my trash can next to me. It would take me about 5 seconds or less to figure out if it was newsworthy or going in my circular file. What does newsworthy mean? Click here for an article detailing it. For trade publications, add in the factor of industry relevancy.
A number of pros send out weekly newsletters. I particularly like the ones that have nothing promotional in them for the most part but offer up great information. Certain ones just make me "feel good." A sterling example is the Good News-Letter that comes out every Friday. It's all about the feel-good stuff that is happening in the world, and absolutely no promotional information is allowed in it. So, find your angle. EventWorks focuses on music, Design Dawgs on innovative design. What's yours?
Write a Book
I'm seeing more of these in our industry. They're needed, and what a wonderful way to establish expertise. With CreateSpace, self-publishing is inexpensive and easy. When you write your book, take copies to your speaking engagements and offer a discount for it at the end of your talk. Some authors I know link a free eBook copy of their books through their Web sites in exchange for email addresses (which allows them to build solid contact lists of people interested in their expertise.)
The key is to keep your name in the public eye. Remember: exposure, exposure, exposure. People will forget abut you if you don't. You may or may not get immediate responses, but if you aren't in front of people when they are looking, you've missed an opportunity!
Carol McKibben began in the events industry 30 years ago as the launching publisher and director of Special Events Magazine and The Special Event respectively. Currently she provides writing/editorial/marketing services to a variety of clients and is the author of three books. To learn more about her, visit http://www.carolmckibben.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.