President and Founder of Red Energy Public Relations, Advertising & Events, Amy Sufak, sheds light on some of her top tips for effectively marketing a small business. Red Energy is an award winning Public Relations and Marketing firm in Colorado.
Develop internal lead generators. Make everyone in your organization a representative of your services. Ensure the team has a short “key message” card that clearly describes what you do and what kind of support you need. Everyone down to your part-time assistant should have business cards to give to people in their church or neighborhood to spread the word about upcoming events. Establish goals for everyone on the board, staff and volunteers to seek out new donors and grants. Offer incentives for bringing in new donors or in-kind donors. Team up with local businesses to give staff appreciation gifts.
Be community-focused with a purpose. Team up with another charity or business and host a community event, benefit concert or unique public gathering that will draw media attention.
Volunteer. Partner with others in your industry to do a unique volunteer service project. Do an extreme makeover Colorado Springs edition and invite the media as you share your story!
Sponsor/support events. Many chamber or community events will help you gain exposure to hundreds of professionals and qualified donors. It can often be categorized as a marketing expense. Have the organization call you a community partner instead of a sponsor to avoid appearance of your donors’ contributions being given away. (Consult your accountant for rules on protecting your 501c 3 status).
Cross promote. If you are a charity, team up with organizations with similar, but not competing, missions who are experts in other areas to create a power team. You can use your ‘consortium’ to cross promote each other.
Strengthen your brand. It takes people approximately 7 times to see or hear your message before they will recall your brand. Ensure your image in the marketplace is professional, consistent and describes exactly what you do. Your website, brochure, business cards, even special events should look consistent and communicate exactly what you offer. Branding is not a task for a volunteer with a knack for design, it should be an investment using professionals. You wouldn’t have a volunteer do your taxes, nor should they be doing your branding and design.
Use an expert. Free up time to do your core services. Pay for an attorney, accountant, tax preparer, HR specialist, or marketing pro to help you get it right the first time. They can often do it faster than well-intentioned part-time volunteers.
Manage your online reputation. Ensure your descriptions on social media sites are consistent and professional. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn should all help people understand your business and how to refer people to use your services. Include a website, logo, location or special event for friends, family and online users to join in the cause!