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A lot of small business owners feel that there’s a cringe-factor associated with marketing; some resistance, avoidance and dread. It is possible, though, to create buzz-worthy promotional events around your business that not only get you in front of your target audience, but might even be fun to coordinate. Here are a few ideas for generating buzz for your business.
1. Run an interview series on your blog, video cast, or podcast.
It might seem counter-intuitive to provide promotion and publicity for others when you’re trying to provide it for yourself, but in reality, an interview series can actually accomplish both of those goals at the same time. Decide on a great topic that’s relevant to your target audience and that you’d love to get the perspectives of others on. For example, if you are a virtual assistant, you might run an interview series on the topic of getting things done.
Next step, set a target quantity of interviews. A good starting point would be 25, but you could go much higher (“100 Business Owners’ Tips for GTD”). You want to do at least 10 interviews, because the more interviewees you have, the more people there are who will promote the series and the more attractive it will be to readers, viewers, or listeners.
The setup doesn’t have to be very complicated either. You could ask 100 business owners, for instance, one question through Facebook and Twitter, like, “What’s your best tip for getting things done?”
2. Hold a free (and irresistible) tele-seminar.
Think of an in-demand topic, something that concerns or interests a lot of people (one idea could be “Take Control of Your Facebook Privacy”). Consider sending out “formal invitations” to 50-100 VIPs in your network (making sure to let them know they’re your VIPs) and ask them to “bring a date.” The setup for this can be simple, too. A free conference line will fit the bill.
3. Arrange a “coffee date” or informal luncheon around a favorite book.
Pick a book that’s relevant to your target audience and set up a discussion or “one-day book club.” A great idea would be to get local sponsors, too. One business owner I know coordinated a luncheon at a local farm to discuss her favorite book.
If you’re really nervy and live in a good market for it, you could even try to coordinate a book signing, especially if it’s for an up-and-coming author who would love the publicity (and on that note, why not call in local press to let them know about the event?).
4. Hold a dinner party.
Invite 10-15 special guests who are nearby, maybe people who run complementary businesses to yours. If you want to keep the cost down, make it a potluck and ask everyone to bring a dish. Get together to brainstorm joint venture possibilities for marketing and co-promotions. You might even put together package deals and steep discounts when customers purchase something from every vendor in the group.
5. Coordinate a group-sponsored contest.
Put together a really awesome “business start-up” package or something enticing to your ideal audience. Then run a week-long event where folks tweet for chances to win. Get creative (the more creative, the better), because that means more interest and buzz around the contest.
6. Host a blog carnival or content round-up.
7. Go on a “promotional tour.”
You know how actors heavily promote their new movies in the week of their release? Why not set up a promotional tour for your business? Decide on a topic that’s relevant to your audience, one on which you’re very knowledgeable. If you’re a child safety blogger, for instance, there’s your topic. Contact 10-20 related and complementary bloggers and offer an interview on the topic of choice (so, if you’re the child safety blogger, contact 10-20 parent bloggers to offer up an interview on the topic of child safety).
In the week before your “promotional tour” begins, start internal promotion of the tour, mentioning that you’re participating in upcoming interviews on the topic on your blog and on social networks. As you do the interviews, link back to them, and at the end of the tour, send out a “round-up” blog post or email newsletter with all the links.
Promoting a business doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore and can actually be a fun way to interact with your target audience and fellow business owners. Instead of having to worry about direct mailers and business cards hitting the trash can, email marketing pieces ending up reported as spam, or being turned away from disinterested prospects, wouldn’t it be great to have folks saying, “I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!”?
What’s the most creative, buzz-worthy marketing you’ve ever done for your business?