Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’


Product marketing – how a micro business achieved local publicity worth thousands

If you’re developing a small business around a new product, one of the most daunting tasks is likely to be marketing. Where do you start? What can you afford? How can you compete?

Even home-based and micro businesses can achieve success without spending a fortune on branding, advertising, glossy brochures and so on.

Here’s how one micro businesses achieved publicity and increased sales:

Tim OldhamTim Oldham runs a home-based business, Call Sign 7. He has created a board game based on the Battle of Britain, and initial feedback from friends and colleagues gave him the confidence to pursue publicity.

Getting publicity for products is notoriously difficult, and the board game industry is vast, with a number of large companies producing and retailing board games.

How could Tim, based at home on the west coast of Australia, possibly hope to compete?

Our approach was to dig deeper than the product. We got to know Tim and found he had an interesting back story. We then looked at the demand for board games and found that a resurgence had occurred in the past 10 years. We also discovered that Tim attends a massive games convention in Europe every year and had already caught the eye of a UK wholesaler.

By presenting Tim to the newspapers in his region as a local entrepreneur whose business is backed by an interesting market demand, we caught their attention, and Tim achieved two fantastic feature articles. One of the papers will be following up with Tim later in the year and is considering a front-page feature.

For Tim to have placed ads of the same size, the cost would have been prohibitive. More importantly, the editorial carried more authority and credibility than an ad.

And the success didn’t stop there. As a direct result of the features, Tim has been asked to set up a display in a city shopping mall. The usual cost to a retailer for this is $1,000, but the manager was so impressed by Tim’s story that he is offering him the space for free.

With articles like this under his belt, Tim has a good chance of getting further and more wide-ranging publicity as his business grows. Just as important, he has leverage for getting retailers interested in stocking the game, which is competitively priced with a proportion of the profit going to the RSL (Returned and Services League).

We would love to get Tim blogging too – capturing an online audience to bring in more direct orders to his site. The stories he has to tell are captivating. And it’s stories that enchant an audience – not hard-sell promotion.


Publicising your Festival or Event

Rosalie Writers FestivalInvolved in a festival or event and looking for a low cost way to publicise it?

Creating an event site based on a blog is a simple and effective way of doing this. Our local primary school is running the bi-annual Rosalie Writers Festival.

Jane and I helped set up the blog being used the festival. Now while we know what we are doing, keep in mind that a blog can be set up for free by anyone. And that includes web site pages to provide information about the event.

The blog being used by Rosalie allows different members of the organising committee, participating writers and students to contribute to the site. While it isn’t trying to promote the festival – as in selling tickets or anything like that – it easily could be.

A blog is a useful – and enduring – way of getting information about your festival or event out there. And that is what publicity is all about.


A model for small business publicity ideas

Fingers on keyboardGetting publicity depends on having something to offer that’s different and can’t be had anywhere else. This in turn relies on a unique blend of personality, innovation and expertise. In fact all the qualities that form the foundation of a successful enterprise.

So what are you waiting for?

Many businesses find it hard to go past first base when it comes to publicity for many reasons. Planning and running a press release campaign takes time, creative energy, and lots of perseverance.

Knowing what you want to achieve with a campaign is the easy part. Even defining your target audience isn’t too much of a challenge for businesses who understand their clientele. But brainstorming to come up with a newsworthy message that the media will want to run is a big hurdle.

Here’s a publicity planning model that will work for any small business.

Instead of getting stuck at the hurdle, try removing it – at least for the time being.

What if you didn’t have to get the media hooked at all?
What if you could put your messages out directly to your audience?
What if you could harness your enthusiasm and expertise – and that of your staff – to communicate directly to each prospective client one-on-one?

This is the kind of publicity that is now possible through blogging on a search-optimised site. Commenting on Undara.com.au, a blog-enabled website set up by OM4Tourism, Undara’s Marcus Brady said:

What we love about it is the ability to have a two-way conversation with our target audience. We can talk to them whenever we need to communicate anything.

How do you know they’re listening? Because you can measure sign-ups to your blog, and you can use integrated analytics to see how many visitors come to which pages on your site and how long they stay – this includes your blog posts. Marcus reported:

Last week we broke our daily visitor record with 174 in one day, and over 70 per cent of our visitors are finding us for the first time, which is great. The more visitors we get, the more opportunities we have to sell.

Yet this isn’t marketing – this is telling your story, in the same way that an editorial or broadcast tells a story. Marcus again:

Instead of talking like a marketer, I’m appreciating the value of presenting authentic personalities, which reflect what we do so much more effectively.

The long-term effect is to build your authority in your niche area, so not only are you more likely to convert visitors to clients, but when a journalist is researching a story, or a relevant news issue arises, they are more likely to turn to you for additional story content.

Business blogging is therefore an excellent publicity strategy in its own right. But this is only part of the publicity model.

Your blog is a new source of publicity ideas.

Once you get into the swing of blogging about your news, new products and services, industry issues, innovations and the story behind your business, media messages will begin to jump out of the screen at you. Your blog becomes a natural springboard for media campaigns.

When you realise you’ve blogged a message that the media will want to hear, turn it into a press release and shoot it out to your media contacts. Do this regularly and they’ll start to sit up, take notice and come to your site to find out more.

So take some of the creative energy you’ve been expending on brainstorming publicity ideas, and channel it into blogging about your business in your own voice conveying your contagious passion for what you do.

Not only will you attract attention online, but creating media messages will become much easier, and the hurdle won’t seem insurmountable after all.


Getting publicity for your products

AusPen SiteGetting the media interested in products is hard, because editors and producers are looking for stories, and generating a story around a product can be quite a challenge.

Even when you have a great story, there’s a good chance your press release will be passed to the advertising department who will try to sell you ad space or advertorial.

Look at it from their point of view: why would a publication or program devote valuable space or airtime to promoting a product for free?

So what are the alternatives?

Think laterally

  • Send free samples to journalists and offer more for readers – editors find it hard to resist giving their readers something for free.
  • Generate quirky or appealing photo opportunities – animals and children always go down well.
  • Run a competition with your products as prizes – surf magazine SurfWest achieved great results by running a photographic competition just before launching their first issue.
  • If your product solves a problem, address this as an issue and ask the journo to print your web address at the end so that readers will then be led to your product online.

A great example of a product getting publicity by raising an issue is the Dove promotions that challenge our view of real beauty as a backlash against anorexic models.

Blog about it

In our experience, publicising products online is more effective than traditional press release campaigns. Here’s your chance to get the word out by blogging about your product.

Beware though – simply using your blog to promote your product will switch readers off almost instantly.

Tell stories and engage readers in a genuine conversation. Reckon you don’t have much to say about your product? Take a look at the AusPen site: these guys have been live for just a few months and have a Google PageRank of 3 thanks mainly to their regular posting of authoritative content about … whiteboard markers.

And guess what happens when you do a Google search for whiteboard markers in Australia – Auspen comes in just below Faber-Castell. Pretty good going.

As well as telling stories, encourage your readers to contribute ideas that you then take on board and run with, such as a label design or a product name (think McDonald’s Backyard Burger). Ask for genuine feedback – both positive and negative – and respond with genuine solutions.

There are huge opportunities here for businesses working with social (interactive) media.

User-generated reviews

It’s also vital for businesses to understand how peer reviews are becoming the most powerful marketing tool.

Computer World published this article about user-generated product reviews, showing the power of peer reviews in the marketing process.

Encourage satisfied customers to post reviews on user-generated product review sites such as ProductReview and CNET Reviews. To find the sites most relevant to your products, simply go to Google and search. Choose the sites that are easy to navigate and have a high PageRank.

There’s no trickery in this. If a customer genuinely likes your product enough to write you a testimonial, they’ll be happy to tap their review into a product forum.

Ads and advertorial will get you print coverage, but peer reviews are likely to knock these into a cocked hat in terms of results.