You don’t need a giant advertising budget, or any ad budget, to make a big splash online.
In the almost 20 years since I’ve been dispensing advice on how small businesses can generate publicity, I’ve collected several favorite ideas. All of these have produced mountains of publicity for thousands of business owners.
Here’s the best part. Every idea is free.
1. Create your own holiday or your own day, week or month of the year.
Use it as a springboard to promote your business. You can pitch related story ideas to the media, write guest blog posts for high-traffic blogs, or create short videos that tie into the topic.
Super-smart business owners will choose an entire month and plan their special week or holiday within that month.
Create your holiday right now, for free, at Chase’s Calendar of Events, the bible of worldwide events and days, weeks and months of the year.
2. Ask your local or state government for a proclamation.
Once you’ve created your special holiday, or if you have any other news to share, contact a local or state politician, your governor’s office or even the White House, and ask for a proclamation.
Give them enough information so they don’t have to write it from scratch. (Smart Publicity Hounds write it for them.) Let them know about things like major awards, big events you are sponsoring, special visitors, or company milestones.
3. Let your college’s alumni publication know about your success.
It might be a small piece of news that warrants only a short press release.
Or you might pitch a larger feature story about you and a few other graduates who have something in common. For example, they might want to know that you and four other grads all have popular blogs that are attracting big followings in your respective niches.
You might have to do a little research, but it could be worth it. One of the best places to search is on LinkedIn.
4. Create a Pinterest board of how-to tips.
If you have a topic that’s academic, boring, yucky, or difficult to illustrate, you can attract a huge following on Pinterest, and get good search ranking with simple images created in PowerPoint. Each is a how-to tip that leads back to a related blog post or a YouTube video.
My Pinterest board 50 Tips for Free Publicity consistently ranks in the top three positions on Google for the phrase “free publicity.” The secret? Use the maximum number of characters Pinterest allows for your board and pin descriptions.
5. Include your phone number, mailing address, email address and links to social media profiles on the homepage of your website.
This sounds like a no-brainer, right? Yet you’d be astonished at how many business owners don’t make it easy for journalists, customers or other visitors to contact them.
Ideally, this information will be along the top or bottom of your site, or in one of the side margins. Don’t wimp out by offering only a “Contact Us” form at your website. Many people won’t take the time to complete it.
6. Have an opt-in box at your website that offers a valuable cheat sheet, checklist or video in exchange for the visitor’s name and email address.
If you aren’t collecting email addresses and using them to stay in touch by sharing valuable information that your target market craves, you’re leaving money on the table.
Follow the 80-20 rule. About 80 percent of your emails should offer free tips and advice, and the other 20 percent can be promotional.
Don’t buy or rent email lists. You don’t have permission to email those people, and there’s no guarantee the email addresses are still valid.
7. Share helpful social media content from influential people in your niche who reach the same target market as you do.
Sharing their content lets them know you care about them and that you’re willing to do them a favor before you ask them to do something for you. This includes journalists and bloggers who cover your area of expertise.
If this seems overwhelming, make your job easier by choosing just one item from this list. Do it this week. Next week, choose another, and so on. In less than two months, you will have done more to build the buzz for your business than most business owners accomplish in a year.
This is a guest post written by Joan Stewart.
Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, emails helpful snack-size tips like these twice a week. Sign up for “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week” at PublicityHound.com and receive free her helpful cheat sheet, “89 Reasons to Write a Press Release” and her Top 10 Tips for Free Publicity.7 Creative Ways to Build Buzz For Your Business Guest Blogger