Making The Most Of Free Advertising

| Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 | No Comments »

It seems that everyone is after your money for one thing or another and they do say that nothing is truly free in this life, everything has strings attached. Whilst that may be right, those strings may not necessarily be financial. It is possible, even today, to get your message out completely free of charge and just as effective – sometimes more – than if you had paid for it. So how is this possible? We’ll explore some of the ways you can exploit services and opportunities to advertise your shop business for free.

Local Newspaper Coverage

As mentioned in a previous article on What Makes A Successful Shop Promotion, newspapers won’t generally be interested in promoting your local business for you unless you either pay for advertising or have a newsworthy story. A few years ago I was doing the PR for a national parenting website whose unique idea was to have local sites dedicated to offering local information as well as a national base. They had no budget for advertising so it was up to me to think of ways of getting into the press for free. At first of course, it was a breeze as the newspapers were interested in local mums setting up as editors for a parenting website in their area, but after the initial press interest it became harder to get a mention. So I made sure that the local editor became involved in community events and started offering to support local charities. The newspapers loved doing stories on local people running the 10k for charity or doing something unusual. Whatever you do, make sure you do it under your business name.

Community Spirited

There are always fundraising events and appeals taking place in every community. Perhaps you could sponsor a local charity event – useful if you are a sports shop. Or offer vouchers or a prize for a competition or raffle. Organisers of fundraising events will always pull out all the stops to make sure their event gets maximum publicity, so if you are involved that means you get the exposure too. This may sound like a cynical plan, but in that situation everyone gains, including the charity so there’s no harm in taking advantage of that situation.

Celebrity Promotion

Every local town has a local hero or celebrity. Perhaps that celebrity has a book to plug or new perfume to launch. So long as the celebrity is offering something that is relevant to your business, you can approach them to see if they are interested in plugging their product in your store. It’s  not such a great idea to get the latest X Factor finalist to plug their single in a pet shop, but if you own a trendy young clothes shop then it’s a great idea as the teenage fans who will flock to see their idol will be your ideal customer base! So long as it benefits the celebrity, you may well get these appearances for free. There’s no harm in asking!

Local Radio

Many local radio stations are keen to get people in to have a say in their community. You run a shop business in the heart of the community, so what you have to say matters. Perhaps you could comment on how the recession is affecting business, or offer tips on survival for new businesses? After all, you have started up shop in difficult times and have no doubt had to face a few low points as well as high points. Your experience and acquired knowledge makes you an ideal contributor for some talking points on the radio, so visit the local radio website and find out if there is any topic that you could contribute to. Be careful to stick to your topic though, don’t phone-in on anything controversial as that’s the best way to put potential customers off. The last thing you want to do is to appear aggressive and pushy.

Other Publications

Most towns and cities have a council newsletter that pops through the letterbox every couple of months. It’s worth contacting them to see if there is any subject you can contribute to and of course, don’t forget to let them know about your charitable work. Free newsletters like this are priceless as they go into every home in your local area so it’s a great way to reach out to people.

The best way to become a local ‘celebrity’ in your local area to is to get out there and meet the community. Don’t just sit in your shop all day hoping that your customers will come to you, sometimes you have to go out and announce yourself to them! Be a regular and known face on the community circuit. You’ll not only be benefitting your local community but you’ll also be getting to know your customers and turning them into loyal supporters.

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