Earned Media Techniques for Small Businesses
Earned media refers to the publicity your business receives, that does not relate to a direct marketing or advertising campaign you have run. A common example of earned media is publicity gained from a press release or a positive editorial in a newspaper about your company. In contrast, direct marketing and advertising would include social media marketing and print advertisements.
Earned media can be extremely powerful as it is perceived as third party validation for your business. So how can you get this working for you? The following are a few earned media techniques to get you started.
Offer Free Products: To the Right People
Although giving free products away can dent your revenue, they can be a great way of expanding your business and gaining the attention of new customers. You just need to offer them to the right people. Contact radio broadcasters and personalities, television broadcasters, bloggers and article writers who review products or would be willing to talk about your products publicly after giving them a try.
The best way to do this is to contact them personally and offer your products or services for free. In return, they will (hopefully) spread the word about your business. Be sure however, that you don't ask for a review, as this can put them into an awkward ethical dilemma. To your customers, their word will mean a lot, especially if they have a fan base and people who listen to them or read their articles on a regular basis.
Another earned media technique is to offer coupons on social media websites or in print ads. This can generate a great deal of positive energy as friends share with other friends about the great deal they've discovered.
Offer coupons on your Facebook and Twitter pages, and encourage consumers to pass the coupons along to friends. In doing so, the consumers are spreading the word because they want their friends, your new customers, to enjoy the coupons and deals as well. Not only are your customers spreading the word about the coupons, they are also providing free advertising for your business, helping you find new regular customers.
Often you will run into a customer who is crazy about your products and services. Partner with them and encourage them to share the love. This individual will have direct experience with you and their peers will be much more likely to trust their opinion. Even if you don't get a direct sale, lots of new people get exposed to your brand.
Get involved in your community and sponsor an event. This is an excellent way to build rapport locally and can garner massive positive energy for your brand. The key is to get involved in an area of the community that either is of high importance or relates to your brand clearly. For example, you may have a large problem with homelessness in your area, so you may sponsor a job-training event. If you own a music store, you could sponsor an event designed to put instruments into the hands of troubled teens.
There are many imaginative ways to gain earned media. The key is to be intentional with your approach and strategy. Pick at least one strategy and commit. See what works for you and build on that approach.
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers marketing brochures, business cards, flyers, posters, postcards, full color booklets, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.