You're the Expert
Think about your business for just a moment. Most likely you are quite knowledgeable about your service or product. You know your professional knowledge adds value to your clients. But value is a perception. Do your clients perceive you as well-informed? Or valuable?
If you answered no then there are low cost ways you can implement to: 1) establish you as a content expert, and 2) increase your professional visibility.
The short answer is public relations (PR). Traditionally, public relations is broken down into two manageable parts: corporate PR and self promotion.
Corporate PR involves feeding the public information about the company--corporate news, product releases, new services, anything that reflects company activities. Self promotion is how you establish yourself as the content expert. Increasingly, the lines between these two areas are blurred. Companies are realizing the value and effectiveness in producing content. For example, instead of a press release on a company's new product, the company will announce the publication of a white paper or guide that the public can use to educate themselves on the value of a particular service or product.
It's here where many small businesses fail to take full advantage of this powerful marketing strategy.
Simple Steps for Self Promotion
How do you self-promote? Here is a list of six methods you can use to get the word out about your area of expertise. They are:
1. Print Articles-Write an article for the newspaper, a trade journal, or a newsletter looking for submissions.
2. Online Articles-Check out online trade journals. Or keep it easy and post articles to your Web site. Cast the "net" further, by referring to your articles on your social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
3. Newsletters-Pick your target group and find out if you can get your name in front of them by contributing to a newsletter they may read. Or, create your own and offer useful information. There are two ways to approach newsletters: you can write the articles yourself or purchase them from a provider such as ezinearticles.com. In both cases you are providing information for you readers, however, if you can be the source of the information...all the better.
4. Speaking Engagements-Volunteer to speak at your networking group, chamber of commerce, or at a professional organization.
5. White Papers-this is a six to twelve page document that builds an objective and compelling case as why the service or product you provide is valuable and necessary. A good white paper is an educational piece not an advertisement so it's completely appropriate to distribute at speaking appointments. White papers are also commonly known as reports, or guides.
6. Awards-Look for opportunities to nominate your company for an award or other form of recognition. The third-party validation and award offers a form of social proof of your credibility.
"Collectively, these methods are part of the nurturing process that will turn you into the 'go-to person,'" says Karin Glazier of Pinpoint Positioning, a marketing firm specializing in conceiving and implementing corporate marketing strategies. "And remember that corporate PR and self promotion are general concepts that are relevant to every business, regardless of size," explains Glazier.
Professionals may wonder what benefits self promotion has over a traditional advertising campaign. A successful business is a visible one and advertising will accomplish this. Consistent exposure is critical to effective advertising but finding the sweet spot for your return on investment makes this a costly strategy to pursue.
Alternatively, the self promotion methods described above will give you what an expensive advertising campaign can't: credibility. While these strategies are financially low-cost, they do require time and energy. Your presentation must be solid and offer useful information and your articles should reflect you as a well-articulated professional.
Implement some of these suggestions and know you are reaching a larger audience not by advertising your company's name, but by providing helpful, valuable information.
by Karen Marley
Karen Marley is an independent business writer who helps companies use content to communicate their value to prospects and customers. She can be reached at http://www.kmwordsmith.com
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