Whether you are launching a new product, running an event or simply want to share some exciting news in your company, an important part of your marketing is getting the word out, reaching people who don’t know you or your business. Sure you can send an email update, and everyone who is already on your list will get the news. Maybe a few of your readers will forward the email to an associate or two, but you can’t count on that, so you need to look for other ways to spread the word.
If you have an unlimited budget then the sky is the limit, TV, radio, billboards and direct mail are all possible. But if you are on a limited budget and let’s face it, many of us are, you need to look for affordable and even free ways to get the message out. Fortunately there are lots of ways to get free promotions. Here are just a few:
Free Event Listings
Most cites have a variety of community calendars where you can submit your event. Local newspapers, chambers of commerce and business associations will often be happy to include your events in a regularly scheduled list. In Indianapolis (our home base), like many cities, these community event listings have limited space and very specific submission requirements. So if you want to promote an event in a free listing, you need to plan ahead. Check with your local chamber of commerce or other associations you are a member of. Many of them will be willing to promote your event.
Don’t forget to ask your venue for publicity. I am teaching a series of classes at the local library and they have a giant bulletin board when you walk into the building. They were very gracious about letting me put up a few posters. I picked up some students as a result. Local coffee shops, grocery stores and community centers often have boards as well. Target the area within five miles of your venue. If the posters look like your online marketing, you will be subtly reinforcing your message over and over again in front of the people most likely to attend.
There are also quite a few online event listings. One of my favorites is EVENTUPON. I like it as both an event promoter and a user. A wide range of organizations share their events on this calendar around the country, but you can customize your profile based on where you are located and what your interests are. You can view the events online or receive a weekly email tailored just for you. Although this is a national listing you can adjust the specifications so it displays only events within a small geographic area. Most of the time mine is set for a radius of 5 miles from my office, but if I am traveling to another city, I can check out what is going on there.
If your event is less business and more playful, consider sites like Do317. There is something similar to this in almost every major city. This site and the APP put fun, pop culture events at the finger tips of your prospective attendees. Of course the grandfather of event listings here in Indy is AroundIndy.com with a daily podcast and featured tweets, this site has been covering what’s happening in Indianapolis for more than a decade.
While newspapers have shrunk their sections on small business and community news, press releases to announce changes in your business still have value. Obviously you can post the release on your website first, so it is the point of origin for the information, but don’t stop there. Many websites exist which will distribute your press release for free. For example you can try: PR.com, PRLog, Pr-inside.com, OnlinePRnews.com, Newswire.com, PressReleaser.org, TheOpenPress.com, OpenPR.com and MyPRGenie.com. It can be time consuming to set up a profile on each site, so if you have limited time, I prefer PR.com. And if you are sharing local Indianapolis news, be sure to check out Indy-Biz.com.
Should you still submit your press release to the newspaper? Absolutely! Maybe it will be a slow news day, maybe your story will land on an editor’s desk at just the right time. If that happens it will be wonderful, just don’t hold your breath waiting for the article to run. If you take advantage of some of these other free tools, the article in the newspaper will be simply a bonus.
Share the News
Finally, remember you are not operating in a vacuum. Reach out to friends and business associates and ask them to share the information with their communities, on and off line. Look for people who are active in your community, with a fairly wide network. Send them a link to the announcement or registration form. Send them a quick direct message on social media or offer them discounted tickets they can share with their clients.
The Bottom Line
If you have good news to share don’t wait for the media to find you. They won’t. Use your event or announcement to get people talking about your business. Go out there and spread the word!