When I speak to people about authority marketing—strategically establishing yourself as the expert in your field in order to grow your business—one of the tactics I encourage is creating and securing publicity and media.
The responses are generally that publicity is too time consuming or too unreliable.
They couldn’t be more misdirected.
Media is still one of the most effective ways of growing and securing your client base.
Take Dr. Darold Opp, a dentist who ran a practice in Aberdeen, South Dakota and wanted to attract more patients. He created a local event, the annual Smile Palooza Festival, that he knew the media would cover. “I became a celebrity in the community.” People outside of Aberdeen may not know who he is, but that doesn’t matter. When people in Aberdeen think ‘dentist,’ they think Dr. Opp and he has capitalized that into a multi-million-dollar practice.
Dr. Opp understood one thing. You don’t need to be wildly famous—just famous enough to the people who will pay for your service. And the first step to that is figuring out where to reach them.
I have a novel idea. Ask them. Talk to trusted clients about what papers they read, what blogs they follow, what radio they listen to. All the Facebook algorithms and marketing software in the world can’t replace a simple conversation.
Once you have that information comes the fun part. Here are a handful of ways to get your name in front of potential customers.
Respond to Breaking News
Is there something going on in the world—a trend, a news event—for which you can provide an expert opinion? Contact the local newspaper or radio and offer yourself as an expert commentator with advice and perspective their audience would find valuable.
Partner with Local Media
Reach out to your local media to offer your services free-of-charge to their audience. Ask for 15 minutes once a week on local radio to answer call-in questions from listeners or suggest a weekly column in the paper to keep readers up-to-date in your field.
Create an Open House or Community Event
Design an event for the community, whether it be a party like Dr. Opp or something closer to what you do—free dental check-ups, free tax filing. Offer a free hands-on workshop or seminar. Don’t forget to invite the press!
Get Involved with a Local Charity
Don’t just give cash. Give your time or product. Sponsor a 5K. Build a house with Habitat for Humanity. Clean up a local park. Do something different that will help a local charity. It’s even better if the charity is relevant to your business.
Create a Scholarship Program
Fund a college scholarship for students studying your field. A photo of you giving an oversized check to a student is as old as publicity itself, but it’s a tried-and-true winner.
Do a Stunt
Sure they’re silly, but they can work. The Miss America Pageant was created as a publicity stunt to attract tourists to Atlantic City. The 70-year-old Pillsbury Bake-Off was intended to be a one-time event. Be creative. Try to set a world record relevant to your business—the biggest, the most. It’s a publicity classic, but the media loves it.
Don’t wait until you want something from your local media before you approach them. Introduce yourself with no-strings-attached. Schedule a desk-side chat or a quick coffee. Send them a thank you if they mention you. Sincere outreach and civility goes a long way.
It’s been proven that publicity is actually a more effective business generator than advertising—by a factor of almost 90%, according to a study cited in Forbes. Your customer feels that if an objective third party—a newspaper, website, radio—is featuring your company, you must be doing something right. It’s a crucial part of creating your authority and growing your business. The best part is that it can be both fun and cheap, if not downright free!