There’s no doubt that marketing has changed a lot in the last decade or so now that we have all this fancy-dancy Internet stuff. Some of the coolest and most vital marketing strategies, like web sites and email newsletters, were barely a blip on the radar at the beginning of the 2000s. On the other hand, there are some older, “traditional” strategies that just don’t cut the mustard anymore.
And then, there are the old-school marketing methods that have gone ahead and kept up with the times. One example is the press release. We encourage just about all of our clients to develop press releases because of the way they’ve been integrated into our modern marketing landscape.
Here are three advantages of using press releases to market your small business:
- Get Picked Up by Traditional Media – Ah, yes. The original intention of the press release. You would write it up and (*gasp*) fax it to all of the media outlets you could find in hopes that one or more of them would find it compelling enough to devote page space to your product or service. While there are less and less print resources out there, the idea is still a sound one. You need to target which publications you send it to, but there are lots of web-based tools that will also send it out nationally for you.
- Build Links to Your Site – This is arguably an even more important aspect of the modern press release. When you submit it to various sites online, you are able to use links within the press release to point back to your own web site. Sure, the goal is to get people to click on them and come buy your stuff, but there’s also the added benefit of just having those links out there. The more (quality) links that point to your site, the more Google and other search engines take note of it. This has the potential to raise your ranking in search engine results. The effect can be temporary, though, so don’t lose sight of the importance of having your press releases picked up by sites that will also post your links.
- You Control the Information – Sending out a press release means that you are taking charge of what information is out there about your business. For example, we had a client who used a press release to announce his political aspirations. The document was the public’s first introduction to him, and he got to have great control over how his image was portrayed in those first few days and weeks.
There are plenty of advantages to press releases, not the least of which is the potential of bang for your buck. They can be fairly inexpensive and can lead to some great free PR.
05 02, 2013
Sometimes people confuse public relations with marketing. Of course, people also confuse marketing with advertising and advertising with public relations and networking with…Ah, gee. I just confused myself. All of these things are certainly inter-related, but they all have various differences. Today, we’re going to talk about public relations, which many think of as the “holy grail” of marketing.
What’s So Great About Public Relations?
Well, to be honest, the very best thing about it is probably that it’s free. Who doesn’t like free, right? But, there are other cool aspects, too, which I’ll get to in a minute.
First, a brief explanation: Public relations refers to the attention you get from the things you do, and that attention is usually through the media. You don’t pay for public relations, rather it tends to grow fairly organically. You do something awesome, people notice, the press gets involved, they start telling your story, and things get busier for you (in the good way).
Helping Things Along
That’s not to say that you can’t help pique the media’s interest. You can create events knowing full well that you’re doing so in order to develop public relations. In fact, you’ll likely want to alert the media yourself about some of these things. That’s where press releases come into play.
The big deal with public relations and the media is that what you’re doing has to actually be worth their time. Sending out a press release to talk about your new product seems like a good idea (and it can be for various other reasons), but there’s a good chance it’s not going to get a local reporter knocking on your door with a microphone asking for a quote.
If your new product happens to be tied to an event that is already newsworthy, however, you might have a good shot at getting some public relations mileage out of your launch. Tying your business to something that the press was already going to cover makes for a great angle and can get the attention of a journalist who was looking for some sort of unique take on his or her story.
While being featured on the local news isn’t probably going to create the “Oprah Effect” for your business, it does have the potential to send some customers your way. It also has the long-term benefit of lending credibility to what you’re doing. After all, who would you trust more, the company that paid to have an ad in a magazine, or the one being featured in the actual article on that same page?
04 29, 2013
I’m not really sure where this phrase got started, but it’s such a good descriptor for one of the biggest obstacles in the way for so many small business owners. Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that we end up doing to ourselves, which makes it that much more frustrating. So, let’s talk about analysis paralysis and what to do to get past it.
What is Analysis Paralysis?
Sometimes running a small business just feels really, ridiculously complicated. Like, there are just so many angles that need to be considered, not to mention different variables that can change an outcome, buy-in from other people, and probably even funding considerations. And that’s just deciding which kind of toilet paper to put in the employee bathroom. Imagine how complex actual business decisions can be?!
Any situation, when examined too closely, can suddenly become very, very intimidating. If you throw in many small business owners’ desire to do everything “just right,” what you end up with is someone who just can’t make a decision. You are so busy continually analyzing the situation, that you become paralyzed in terms of actually making any progress on it.
Why It's Dangerous
Analysis paralysis is dangerous in a lot of ways. For one thing, all of that “analysis” makes you feel like you’re really busy. You’re working really hard on your business, right? Well, no. You’re actually just thinking a lot about it and not making any tangible progress.
Analysis paralysis can also be really comfortable. Like, “wrap yourself up in it and drink a cup of cocoa” comfortable. When you’re all deep in the midst of analysis, you CAN’T make the wrong decision. For that reason, we’ve had plenty of clients who would have stayed in their little paralysis bubble forever. It’s nice in there where you have the appearance of doing things without any of the risk of actually..well…doing things.
Of course, the truth is that if you continue to let yourself obsess over the details, you’re never going to reap the rewards of moving forward. What have you been putting off because you’ve let yourself get totally distracted by planning rather than doing?
- So, maybe you wanted pictures to go with your blog posts. But if you keep waiting until you can hire a photographer, choose the right photos, upload them to each post, etc…the next thing you know, it will be five months later, and you’ll still not have blogged when you could have posted dozens of great posts (without photos) in that same amount of time.
- Been considering launching a new product but can’t quite choose the right target audience, the right manufacturer, or maybe the right color? Sure, you do need to decide on those things, but putting off those decisions isn’t going to get you any closer to your launch, now is it?
- Still reeling from doing something wrong in the past? Ah, perhaps you are over-analyzing now because you weren’t cautious enough in the past. This makes sense on one level, but remember that if you don’t move forward…you won’t move forward.
04 26, 2013
There are plenty of “buzzwords” when it comes to marketing, but one of the most important terms is USP. USP is the “unique selling proposition,” and it more or less gives your potential customers the reason they need to buy from you. If you don’t know what your USP is yet, it’s time to stop everything and define it.
Why? Because your unique selling proposition is what sets you apart from everyone else who is doing something similar to what you’re doing. It tells the customer why they need your product or service instead of getting the same thing from someone else.
To help narrow down your USP, let’s talk about what it (probably) isn’t:
- A competitive price
- A quality product
- Customer service
You can find examples of companies where any of these do make up their USP, but generally speaking, these are things that your customers already expect. They make your product or service worth buying, sure, but they don’t set you apart from the competition.
Now Focus More!
Instead, you need to dig down to figure out what makes you and what you offer better than the other guys. It’s not about why they should buy your product or service; it’s about why they should buy it from you!
Think about things that can be observed and that can be observed the same by everyone:
- I’m faster – If you or someone else timed you, they could prove this to be true.
- I provide extra services for the same cost – Again, this is observable and no one can argue the validity of the statement.
On the other hand:
- Mine is prettier – This is subjective. You might think it’s prettier, but your competitor doesn’t.
- Mine is better – Again, you might think so, but there are people out there who won’t.
USPs can be a lot of fun. Take a look at what you’re doing, and uncover what is unique about it. For example, my company provides marketing service ONLY to (very) small businesses. Our clients all have 25 or fewer employees. We don’t compete for the larger clients, because they’re not who we want to serve. This means that we also have the opportunity for a really thorough understanding of what small businesses need. (Yes, I just managed to sneak a little “niche” evangelism into a post that was supposed to be about something else. They don’t call me the Niche B*#%& for nothin’!)
So, what’s special about how you do things? If you’re not sure, try asking other people. After all, your USP should be pretty obvious to those who are already buying from you, even if you’re currently overlooking it. And, if you can’t identify it, then it’s time to either pack it up or make a better commitment to your business.
01 03, 2013
Happy New Year from Friends Old and New
Are you excited about everything that 2013 has in store for your small business? We can’t wait to help you set and reach all of your goals. We’ve got some great goals of our own in mind, not to mention some really cool new additions.
First of all, we’ve added two new faces to the family. If you made it to our pajama party then you likely already met our energetic new Operations Director, Teri Dykeman. She was the one in the rain cloud pajamas with the great big smile. Oh, wait. That describes all of us! Teri has been in Marketing and communications for 13 years, and she’s already been wowing clients with her can-do attitude and ability to keep the rest of us on track.
Rainmaker is also excited about the addition of Heather DeCamp, Executive Assistant Extraordinaire! Heather is hard at work assisting Billie with everything from client communication to making sure there are fresh cookies on rainy days. Heather has tons of industry experience, as well, and it certainly shows! Faces aren’t the only things that are new around here. Keep reading to hear our latest. Better, faster, and way cooler.
We are thrilled to announce that RainPress is up and running!
Now, when our clients need something printed, we will have so much more say in every aspect. Rainmaker now has our own printing division to bring your awesome brochures, business cards, and other print materials to life. We’re sort of picky about quality, as you may have noticed, and being able to do this work means we can be as finicky as we want to be.
RainPress is full-service for bigger print runs, too. So, whether you have something incredible that was designed in the RainLab or something that you need for an event, let us know. We’ll get it onto the presses and into your hands.
Now that we’ve cut out the middle folk (sorry, middle people), we’re able to offer even better pricing and excellent specials. Check these out!
- 1000 full color brochures for $279.00
- 1000 full color, two sided business cards for $69.00
- 1000 full color, two sided post cards for $89.00
It will be a while before the RainPress website is active. Our clients always come first and our production board is busting at the seams with all of your very cool projects, so for now, please submit your printing needs here and we'll get back to you right away.
It’s All About Chemistry
You may have noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about the RainLab. After a whole lot of work (we did mention the part about being finicky, right?) on the part of the “mad scientists” who bring you your awesome designs, we have officially launched our new site at TheRainLab.com. The site gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the Design Department. Peek in to see what kind of storm is being brewed up as well as to check out some of our favorite designs in our online portfolio.
We think it’s super-cool and suspect you will, too.
Rainmaker Pajama Bash – Anything but a Snoozefest!
We’re just gonna’ say it. Out of all the winter parties in the last couple of months, ours was totally the best! Hundreds of Rainmaker clients and friends donned their favorite nightwear for a client-appreciation extravaganza at the Lincoln Center. While we’re patting ourselves on the back, we want to let you all know that YOU are what made that night go down in party history!
You all showed up in your favorite jammies while jamming out to DJ Jeff Keen of Keen Music. You slid across the dance floor in your slippered feet. You partied like rock stars! From delectable treats from Decadent Dreams to massages and paraffin dips by Brickhouse Massage, we did our best to pamper you all night long. Oh, and the swag bags were pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. Thanks DryFly and Anemone!
The event was so much fun that we’re already planning next year’s pajama party. There will be some new twists (oh, did we mention that you all were awesome playing Twister and Jenga at the party?), and our goal is to top this year’s shindig! Keep an eye on Facebook for announcements and teasers.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of our clients who make our jobs such a dream-come-true. There’s no one we’d rather do the Electric Slide with than you.
11 01, 2012
Pantone. Nope, not for hair.
Pantone is THE name in color. Almost 40 years ago, Pantone’s founder created a revolutionary system of identifying, matching and communicating colors to produce accurate color matches in the graphic arts community. Using the pantone system, you are guaranteed that that gorgeous blue logo on your business cards exactly matches the blue used on your website. The ability to provide your marketing company with your Pantone number can mean the difference between a corporate logo that looks like a baby shower invitation and a Fortune 500 company. Don’t believe us? Check out PMS 2707 and PMS 289…you’ll see the difference a few numbers can make.