- Old school: Unlimited marketing budgets.
- New School: Smart and cost-effective ways to get noticed — despite an over-crowded market.
It’s no secret that when there is an economic downturn, advertising and marketing budgets — even in big businesses — take a knock. Most SMEs have much smaller advertising and marketing budgets, and we need to constantly find creative ways to build trust and credibility with potential clients, as well as increase our share of voice in our industries.
One way to do this is to build credibility with the media and generate exposure for the business to increase visibility, which in turn can translate into sales.
Where would you start?
1Follow and listen
Seeing your company’s name grace the glossy pages of your favourite magazine or your spokesperson appearing on your favourite business show can be very rewarding and lead to more opportunities.
The reality is that media outlets, editors, journalists and producers are bombarded with more stories than they can work on and most of those stories are irrelevant.
The key to increasing the likelihood of your business story being featured starts with understanding your chosen media. This includes drilling down to a specific journalist and the editor on whose platform you would like get coverage.
Do your homework, find out who their audience is, what sort of features they publish, and who they view as thought leaders. Start by investigating what the chosen platform is likely to focus on to ascertain whether or not what you have to share will be relevant and appealing to it.
Just as you researched your market before you tried to sell to it, learn who their target market is.
Editors and producers balance audience interests around their platforms, which is critical to their growth, and they also need to remain relevant in a crowded marketplace to increase advertising in an era of dwindling advertising spend. Aside from being featured by the media, listening to existing conversations and following target platforms is significant if you and your business story are to be relevant.
2Share industry changes and stories
The advantage of living in this era of information and content overload is that information and data are everywhere. But, most of it is not well organised. The ability to organise information in ways that make for interesting and insightful reading can turn media attention towards your business.
How often have you read a story and found comments from people who are industry experts? Sharing knowledge and becoming the go-to industry voice builds credibility and positions your business as a team of experts, and most people would rather buy from companies that are specialists in their field.
3Share your progress
Part of the challenge of starting and building credibility with the media is the lack of ‘story’ behind the business and the new idea. A silver lining that emerges from the sad finding that nine out of ten start-ups fail is that when small businesses make progress, it is worth celebrating.
This may not always be a cover story or sought after article, but making contact with key media about progress in a year or two sometimes leads to mentions and these can attract more coverage.
4Review a relevant event
Industry and business events tend to have interesting nuggets of information that sometimes go unnoticed and if you attend these events, there could be interest in a post-event write-up. One of the stories that we shared which garnered solid traction was about various speaker’s insights from an overseas conference that we attended.
The African continent is becoming more interested in local voices, in developing what the continent has to offer as solutions. Some of these solutions emerge at events that are not attended by media, which can give you the opportunity to write a publishable opinion piece.
5Share an industry success story
It’s tempting to write a press release that focuses on your business and hope that the spotlight lands on you. It’s like putting up your selfie in a public domain, but with the potential to be seen on TV or in print. Avoid at all costs.
Similar to sharing your progress, talking about an industry colleague — without overly marketing them or the competition — can make you the source of relevant industry information. Most industry commentators whose insights are sought after, are perceived to have relevant industry information and this also leads to more coverage linked to your business. Position yourself as the insiders with insights to share.
6Make it newsworthy
For your story to attract attention, it should interest the editor or the journalist and must be newsworthy. Unless you are someone important, and can offer an audience a new perspective, a personal story without a newsworthy angle increases the probability of your email address being redirected to the spam folder.
The notion of what makes news varies from one title to the next, from one show to another and listening to what is important in a handful of chosen platforms increases the chances of becoming a story that is worth telling.
As you build your credibility in the marketplace, foster relationships that will be valuable over time and build them by offering useful content that separates you from industry peers. After all the people with whom your business interacts and builds value can be its greatest asset.