• Hyper-Local Business Promotion (Part One)

    Hyper-Local Business Promotion (Part One)

    Promoting your business takes resources.  Whether you expend money, time or social capital, you need an intentional, consistent strategy to be effective.  Here are some of the tools and outlets you might consider as part of your local promotional efforts:
    Getting free print coverage is difficult.  Sometimes reporters will pick up a story about a business opening or some particular event or issue that is relevant to other causes.  Usually, the newspaper wants you to purchase advertising as that is how they receive the bulk of their revenue.

    • Wednesday Journal (locally-owned)
      • Print ad
      • Classified ad
      • Online ad
      • Editorial content (Small Business Super Heros)
      • Newspaper insert
      • Newspaper front page sticker
      • Ribbon Cutting (for Chamber members)
    • Oak Leaves (owned by the Chicago Tribune)
      • Print ad
      • Editorial content (article)
      • Ribbon Cutting or other photo - submit to paper, no guarantee
    Press Releases
    It is useful to create a press release when you open or have a big announcement.  However, often the press release is best used as a linked document on your website, social media or blog.  It is difficult to get newspapers to print them or for organizations to use them.  Sending an email with an attached press release to non-news organizations (e.g., Chamber) is less effective than it used to be because organizations no longer have the staff to open the attachment and reformat it to their needs.  And, they don’t have the space.
    • Send to newspapers
    • Chamber - members can post a press release through our self-serve website
    • Press release services - expensive.
    “Snail” Mail
    Old fashioned mail is more and more difficult due to expense.
    • Direct mail through post office - lots of ways to slice and dice the data
      • Be sure to weigh the costs of various sized postcards, letters, etc.
    • Customized Mailing lists (e.g. Chamber members have access to mailing labels for members)
    • Money Mailers and other fee-based models
    • Your own personal correspondence with customers and vendors will speak volumes.  Choose your stationery with intent.
    Ad Books / Mailers
    These are all fee-based.  You must purchase an ad / coupon
    • Answer Book
    • Money Mailer
    • Coupon books in Wednesday Journal
    • Other coupons / direct mail service. 
    Website / Internet
    No longer a “nice-to-have.”  You must have an online presence for professionalism, branding, information about your business and contact information.
    • Having a URL and a website is critical.  Even if you use a free or low-cost service (Wordpress, Squarespace), you want to have a place to direct people for information that you control and curate.
    • Blog - great way to promote yourself and record your message.  Getting it picked up and read is the difficult part.
    • Facebook page is not a replacement for a website.  However, sometimes a Pinterest Page or an Etsy page can work in lieu of your own website, if that is the kind of business you have.
    Email is an inexpensive way to reach potential clients and stakeholders.  Building the email list is the challenging and time-consuming part.  Associations, governments, nonprofits and other businesses only make their email lists available under very clear, controlled conditions for legal as well as business reasons.
    • Direct email to your own contacts
    • Mommail
    • eBlast through Chamber (members only)
    • eBlast through Visit Oak Park (members only)
    • eBlast through business districts (typically members only)
    • Use your own content marketing software, which means building up your own list of contacts
      • Constant Contact (monthly fee)
      • Vertical Response (free)
      • Mail Chimp (free)
    These are just a few ideas! In our next installment we'll discuss social media, associations and organizations and how calender events can be a useful tool in getting your brand out there.

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