The days after a launch are often the most gut-wrenching days in any entrepreneurial journey. The launch offers a great boost to the ego, and not much else. But do not despair, as it does take time to build a following, and soon enough, word of mouth takes over.
After the launch of my first restaurant in Braamfontein, there was not a single customer in the store for the first couple of days. What had I got myself into? How did I end up here? Instead of wallowing in despair, I decided to call the Sunday Times. The lack of customers in those few days, despite a successful launch, had forced me to realise that the world needed to know the business existed.
I called a reporter and asked if he would be interested in hearing how we made it snow in an African summer during the launch. He was not really interested, so I decided to write the whole article for him. Twenty minutes later he called to ask me a few questions. At this point I was hoping that I would at least make it to page 189 of the newspaper.
Well, when Sunday came along, the shop had made it to the front page of the Sunday Times. Just four days after opening our doors we were on the front page of South Africa’s biggest weekend newspaper.
On The Map
This free PR certainly let the world know we existed. People started coming to the restaurant and our sales improved remarkably. As it turns out, most reporters report negative stories simply because they do not have to go looking for negative stories — bad news travels fast.
Interestingly, the newspaper article did another thing for our business: It put us in a media cycle. All of a sudden, other newspapers, magazines, TV channels and radio shows were running our story. PR turned out to be the best kind of marketing, as it was both free and authentic.
It gave us the opportunity to speak about our brand and product the way we wanted our customers to understand it. Traditional advertising is effective but expensive. PR, on the other hand, is for the most part free and extremely effective. When you are starting up a business, these are two important advantages.
As an entrepreneur you need to box smart — look for the gaps and take them. Much in the same way you found a gap in the market for your product, you need to always be looking for smart ways to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself.
The best tip I can give you in this: Take every available opportunity to market your business. Every chance you get, you must sell your product and brand.
The only thing that will make your business sustainable is cash flow, and to make money you need to sell. And in order to sell, you need people to first know that you exist and where they must go to purchase your product or service.
Tell Your Story
- Always be marketing
- For people to buy your product or service, they must first know you exist
- PR is free and effective
- Box smart and look for opportunities in all aspects of your business
- Take initiative. No one will tell your story as well as you do.