Is Sponsorship a SMART Idea For Your Small Business

"Sponsored by Sphere"
In today’s economy it is imperative that you think “SMART” when it comes to spending money to promote your business. By Smart I mean – Strategic, Methodical, Authentic, Realistic, and Targeted.

Strategic marketing can take many forms. For instance you might consider a sponsorship program to market your small business offline. Sponsorships are an excellent way to increase your visibility in the community and endear you with your target audience. People like to do business with companies that support a good cause, organization, event or goal.

Methodical marketing is simply having a step-by-step plan to implement your marketing strategies.

Authentic marketing is being true to your company’s mission, your own overall goals, and transparent to your customer/audience/prospects. People prefer to do business with companies that they can relate to, and when you are authentic and true to your brand, people know.

Realistic marketing is knowing what you are capable of doing, what you can afford and what is in your best interests. Your marketing should support your mission and have a high probability of success. Hedging your marketing bets means you do your homework, consider the pros and cons of any type of potential sponsorship opportunities and make wise choices.

And targeted marketing simply means you are staying within your niche or at least serving the niche with your sponsorship dollars (unless you plan to go after or create a new niche for your business).  If you plan to spend any amount of money on sponsorships, the more targeted your approach and your audience, the higher levels of success will be realized. It is important to try and make your advertising budget go as far as you can. In doing this, you have to consider every possible angle. Spending money without breaking the bank marketing your small business offline is not only important, it is critical to your ultimate success. You have to be able to justify your marketing by creating a realistic budget and anticipate how many “qualified” people your sponsorship will touch or affect.

Three tips to sponsorship success:

Make a list of the organizations that align with your mission. And start contacting them to see what their needs are and if your company can fulfill those needs.

Work with the orgazination you are sponsoring to come up with a win-win promotion. Think about bartering your services for a piece of the “advertising pie.” What will you gain from the “exposure?” What extras can you gain from supporting them, such as a list of their clients/supporters/and partners? In-kind sponsorship is often just as important (or more important) to the organization’s goals. If you are printer for instance and the group needs printing for an event, become a sponsor.

Social networking begins at home. I am not talking online networking. I am talking about face-to-face events where you can meet stakeholders and other supporters of the organization or cause.  Get to know the leaders, the movers and shakers. Be a mover and shaker. S.M.A.R.T. Sponsorship can add greatly to your bottom line. It can give you an excellent return on investment of time, talent and treasure.

Check out what one company did with the Sunkist “Take a Stand for Kids Charity.” A perfect example of a cause-related marketing program in action.

How to Give a Great Print Media Interview

"Celebritize yourself Book Cover"
Five Tips You Don’t Want to Miss by Marsha Freedman

Sometimes I cringe when I hear people talk about “the media.” It sounds as if everyone in TV, radio, print and online press is a member of one fraternity that thinks and acts the same. There is a vast gulf between the daily life of a print journalist and the daily life of a radio show host. And there are many differences between radio hosts and TV producers.

They really shouldn’t be treated the same. That’s why I’ve written a booklet called 50 Tips to Make You A Great Radio Guest and a similar piece for TV. Now I am compiling interview tips for working with print and online journalists (which in many cases can be the same thing).

Here are the first five tips:

• Be Responsive – In TV and radio, interview times are pre-arranged. However, print and online journalists typically have daily and weekly deadlines. When they call you, they need you right then! In many cases, journalists will reach out to several experts on a news item and then choose the one who is the better interview or whoever responded quickest (or a combination of the two). The more reliably you respond, the more likely they will call on you again.

• It’s Not About You – Most journalists are not interested in you, but rather the expert commentary you can provide. The more you use the words “I” and “my” the less likely they will use you as a source. When speaking to a reporter, keep in mind you are speaking to their audience, so keep your remarks centered on what their audience cares about and you’ll be quoted early and often.

• Read Before You Talk – If you get a call from a publication, take five minutes to go online and read a few of their stories. Look for their tone and approach, so your tone and approach will match. Also look for articles they wrote on your topic, so you can avoid duplicating what someone else said. Finally, read articles written by the journalist you’ll be speaking with. There is no better way to prepare for a print or online interview than to read the writings of the reporter interviewing you. You can discover his or her focus, audience and philosophy. The reporter can tell if you’ve read his or her articles through your comments and will respect you for having made the effort to prepare for them.

• Don’t Empty Your Notebook – Beat reporters – journalists who cover a particular topic or industry – tend to be experts in that field from their time covering it for their respective publications. They don’t need, nor do they want, your soup-to-nuts take on that topic. They need only a few quotes and opinions to round out their stories. Answer direct questions with direct answers, and get to the point quickly. There’s no need to tell the reporter everything you know, emptying your notebook of all your collected knowledge, in order to have a good interview. Allowing an interview to devolve into you talking about your total philosophy on a particular topic or business will result in your interview landing in the discard pile, and the reporter will likely seek a comment from your competitor instead.

• Be Professional – Reporters don’t call you to talk about the weather, last night’s TV, your kids, etc. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve come across people who think a little friendly chit chat can “grease the wheels.” If they engage you, that’s one thing. It’s entirely another if you waste their time with unwanted “schmoozing.” Most have deadlines to meet and their time is valuable. Many outlets are working with significantly smaller writing staff than a year ago. Respect their time and they’ll respect you.

There’s more to a good print interview and in the next two weeks I will share more tips. If you follow this advice, you’ll discover your interviewers will respond better to you, use more of the interview in their actual articles and maybe even call you back for more quotes when they work on other stories. At the end of the day, these tips will help you be prepared so that when your name is mentioned in the media, readers will know they are getting advice from someone who truly knows what he or she is talking about.

Marsha Friedman is a 21-year veteran of the public relations industry and a sought after national public speaker on the power of publicity. She is the founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations, a national firm that provides PR strategy, promotion and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is also the author of the book, Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business. When she is not running her business, she has Cherish the Children, a non-profit foundation that helps under-privileged local foster children.

Note: this is the first in a series of guest posts by various experts on marketing your small business offline. If  you would like to submit an article for consideration on a topic related to offline marketing, or offline marketing tips, use our article submitter form or send an email to heidi (at) redheadmarketinginc.com today!

Brainstorming Marketing Ideas

"ideas through brainstorming"
Last week I attended the South Florida Business Owners Group. It is a bi-monthly local networking group founded by Christina Rowe of Stand Out Media Group. It is filled with positive, uplifting  men and women in many different industries.  What I like about it is comraderie and willingness to share among the members. That and the valuable resources shared by Christina and several members of the group. In fact on many occasions, Christina will invite me to share a tip of the week or resource of the week.

Getting back to last week’s meeting – toward the end of every meeting Christina has us get into smaller groups of six or eight people and do a brainstorming session on a topic she has chosen.  Our task was to share the best marketing ideas ever used that produced the most dramatic results.  Here are the ideas our group came up with:

Luis said his best marketing is going to meetings and doing business showcases.

Connie, Melvin, Orit, Heidi, Luis, MaryAnn, Kathy and Pedro

Orit said her best idea so far has been calling on salons and businesses that would benefit from carrying her jewelry line. Orit also mentioned a new ad network she is involved in called YEXT which shows promise and I will be writing about on one of my other blogs as soon as I have had time to do some research.

Melvin (he’s a building contractor) said he finds potential clients on LinkedIn and then connects with them to set up a time to get together for a one-on-one. He also finds that giving referrals leads to getting more referrals.

Connie said worth-of-mouth is her best source to drive prospects to her Interior Design company.

Maryann said wearing her custom made jewelry and raffle give-aways were her best source of new business.

I talked about what I do in my retail business which is giving away roses everywhere I do. I wrap them,  tie a business card to the rose and hand them out at meetings, toll booths, grocery stores and more.  Great return on my investment.

Pedro (Lending) talked about using focus groups and masterminds to drive more business.

And Kathy talked about using Public Speaking to promote her business. And also joining associations.

With this list of ideas you could create a strategic marketing plan and have enough ideas and business to keep you in the black for as long as the ideas work.

At the end of the brainstorming the “team leaders” were asked to get up and share the group ideas. It is very powerful and the ideas the 30+ members came up with are enough to keep us all busy marketing our businesses offline (and online) for several years to come.

Brainstorming can be an essential part of any idea generating activity. If you need help with your small business, need to come up with specific ideas and strategies to market your small business offline, I suggest you give it a try.  Take your clients to lunch, ask people who’s opinion you trust and admire and come up with your own list of marketing ideas.

The possibilities are endless…

Note: if you are in South Florida and would like to attend the South Florida Business Owners Networking Group, visit: www.southfloridabusinessowners.com/ for more information. 

Becoming A Familiar Face In The Community

"Does your face stand out in the crowd"
Remember the saying, “out of sight is out of mind”?  It is especially true in business. With so much competition vying for the same audience, it is important to make yourself noticed. In fact, in order to be effective and efficient, the majority of offline marketing should be done in the local market, closest to home or your business to maximize your opportunities for exposure.

To be successful in your offline marketing for your small business, people need to see your face often.  By being a familiar face, you stand out. People take notice. You get asked opinions. People in the crowd might even mistake you for the leader or one of the leaders of an organization. And staying top of mind is even more important. When you get noticed, you get attention… and business.

When  you attend the same community events on a regular basis, not only do the participants and “members” become familiar with seeing you, so does the venue staff.

In fact, becoming a familiar face in the community isn’t that difficult to do.   However just showing up is not the only thing to do to get noticed.  You must “participate.” By participate I mean, mingle with people. Offer your services. Act like a host.  Make others feel welcome. Especially when you see a newcomer to the group.  Nothing warms the heart to another more than showing some compassion and genuine interest in another human being.

Taking the role of a helpful, interested citizen can pay off in big dividends. It can get you referrals, and more importantly get you business. People gravitate towards other people when they know that they are positive, that they are not just “out for themselves.

If you are not a familiar face in YOUR Community, what’s holding you back?  If you answered nothing, then pick up a community calendar and look for events where you know your target audience is likely to hang out… and start becoming that familiar face in YOUR industry. Go ahead. Give it a try! Its a great way to market your small business offline without really trying.

Types of Business Leads and How to Manage Them

"Follow Up Fortune Cookie"
Managing Leads to Market Your Small Business Offline and Increase Your Closing Ratio

The most important leads are those that are Hot, Hot, Hot should be given  first priority.

I schedule at least two hours a week to follow up on leads, and begin with the hot leads. A hot lead is anyone who has an immediate or near future need for my products and services. If someone says to me, we have an event coming up in the next 2-4 weeks, that is a HOT LEAD for my flower shop. A hot lead could also be someone in the planning or budgeting stage and needs to know how much something will cost in order to plug it in to their budget for the year. If it is a sizzling hot lead, I follow up immediately (before I even go to sleep!).

A warm lead could be a referral from one of my champions or fans who knows someone who needs my products and services. A champion is one who would make the introduction for me and a fan is someone who would give me the lead to follow up.

A “cool lead” is perhaps someone I heard may need my product or service but has not been referred by anyone and I have to take the initiative to contact.

And of course a “cold lead” would be a sales call to someone whom you do not even know needs your product or service but perhaps you purchased a list of those most likely to buy (they fit the demographics you create about your ideal customer). I rarely, if ever do this. There are plenty of the hot, warm and cool leads that I have not had time to do this. This would only be done if I found idle time on my hands – something that has not been the case in years.

You can follow up with a three-prong marketing message by first calling those hot leads, then sending a post card to them and finally emailing them. Hot, Warm and Cool Leads can all be followed up with a postcard or direct mail campaign.  The cold leads should only be used as a last resort when you have exhausted all avenues with the above.  Don’t discard them, just keep them at the ready in case you might need them. You never know when a Cold lead can turn into a Warm or event Hot Lead!

A good way to keep track of your leads is with  an excel file. I keep mine on my desktop and enter when and how I make a contact… and the outcomes. This is a great exercise to see the effectiveness (or lack of) of your follow-up.