Here’s part two of my conversation with Jim DeMicco, director of marketing for Skye Communication, a Connecticut firm that offers e-marketing, public relations and Web site design. Skye recently presented a timely talk to the Connecticut Songwriters Association. They basically rattled off (in a creative and animated way, of course) their top five marketing tips for small businesses in a shaky economy. I’m thinking their tips are useful in any economy. And yes, they fall under the marketing umbrella, but each supports a solid PR plan as well.
Leslie: How can companies successfully mine their local media?
Jim: Local media can support you. Draft and send out your own press release. If you don’t know whom to send it to, try the managing editor. They will distribute it to the appropriate staff member for you. Advertise locally with the newspapers and radio stations that support your business or hometown. Ask what kind of advertorial packages the media has for local businesses. Create a program on your local access TV station. Do whatever it takes to get your business out there in this economy.
Leslie: How about spreading the word? What’s a good way to get the word out in the local community?
Jim: There’s strength in numbers. Join trade organizations, networking groups, chambers of commerce, and independent business owner groups. Try social networking groups like LinkedIn and Plaxo. You need to connect with other professionals in your industry. It doesn’t matter what you do; just get out there. This is not just for networking; it’s a morale boosting activity that will keep you positive when you realize that you’re not alone. Share your struggles, and ask what does or doesn’t work for others in your field. Hand out your business card, offer to help others, meet for coffee. Volunteer your time with a non-profit group. Offer your services for a good cause, gratis, and you will not only feel fulfilled as a person, but you’ll start thinking out of the box and meeting new and interesting people.
Leslie: Right now, a lot of people are worried about staying in business and, ironically, they may neglect their customers. Any thoughts on that?
Jim: Top notch customer service counts right now. Offer deals, special rates for referrals, and tailored packages for special requests. Whether you have a customer who’s looking for a great meeting venue, caterer, or website designer, take the time to make recommendations to other people in your network. Giving referrals to your business associates is just good business karma. Lending a helping hand to others has a boomerang effect. Besides, we all get by, with a little help from our friends.