…is a frequent question I hear from entrepreneurs, and it’s actually a good question. People must be aware of you before they can purchase from you. There is something to be said for simple exposure, especially if your product or service is not a high-frequency purchase. You may think you have a memorable business, but if you’re a business that people don’t need all the time, they have a tendency to forget. It’s not a slam against you, people just get busy with life.
But simple exposure, getting your name out there, does not guarantee customer interest. So the question is not simply, “How do I get my name out there?” The better question is “How do I get my name out there with some impact?” Let me give you a recipe, direct you to some channels, and provide some starter moves.
Exposure + Stickiness + Consistency
Exposure: Be available to be recalled.
A consumer will only consider purchasing from you if you are present in their thoughts during the decision process. While you may think about your business all the time, your customers don’t. And customers who have never done business with you before have no reason to think about you…unless they have been exposed to you. So you must expose your business name and service as much as you can. Don’t limit your thinking by looking for the best way to get exposure, rather look for the best ways (multiple) to get your brand name and product/service offerings exposed.
Stickiness: Be memorable.
I see a lot of businesses sponsoring events or local causes to get their name out there. They receive the obligatory name on the t-shirt and logo in the program. This just doesn’t cut it. If you’re going to put your name out there, make your exposure memorable. One way to do this is to create a rich context of extra information around your business name. This is called message elaboration.
For example, Conan O’Brien’s new show on TBS is giving away 20 pine tree air fresheners…in a Chevy Cruze carrying case. Chevrolet and Conan could have just announced something forgettable like the “Cruze Away in a Chevy Sweepstakes,” but instead made it more elaborate, and memorable, by adding the pine tree air fresheners. You don’t have to give away 20 cars to be memorable, but make your business exposure more elaborate. Follow this advice for your advertising as well. Create a rich context around your advertising message for impact.
Consistency: Be Active and Frequent
People don’t remember things very well. In fact, we forget most information we encounter within the first hour. If you’re going to be remembered when you get your name out there, you need to be consistent. This is the power of frequency: repeated exposure to your business will help people remember you. Don’t just sponsor one event a year. Don’t just send out one press release a year. One advertising campaign, one month out of the year? No. Be active and frequent in promoting your business. This doesn’t mean you need to advertise every where, but where you do advertise, be consistent.
Social Media: Easy Exposure
Studies show that social media is important in order for consumers to recall a brand when making a purchase decision. There is no reason (at least that I can think of) why your business should not be on Facebook. It’s easy exposure and it’s free. It’s also the accepted form of online communication by more than half of the American adult population, and up to 84% of adults under the age of 50. Once you have a Facebook page and gain followers, it’s easy to keep your name out there.
Advertising: Investing in Exposure
Social Media is free, but it can pay to invest in getting your name out there. The biggest benefit to advertising is that you are exposed to potential customers who have never heard of you before. Don’t listen to people who rail against advertising (usually social media consultants) because people want to learn about new businesses and products. The trick is choosing the right place to advertise. I have a couple of resources for that: The Complete (Thumbnail) Guide to Choosing the Right Media and Where to Promote: Use The Media Spotter Matrix.
PR: Unpaid Endorsements
A powerful, short-term way to get your name out there. Publicity in traditional media, and online, generates interest in your business and it’s like getting free advertising, but better. People don’t believe all the claims you make in your self-promotion, but they do believe news coverage about a business because it’s unbiased. But you also must have an interesting story to get the media’s attention.
Community Support: Be Choosy
The keys here are focus and importance. Don’t spread your donations around to too many causes. Rather than $50 to 10 little league teams, Spend $500 and get the big sign on the center field fence (remembering the stickiness rule above). $500 for a charity? Choose one where your contribution is important and one small enough where you will be noticed.
Your Starter Moves
Start Move #1: Get some impact
Give your exposure some impact. Not talking life-altering impact, but memory impact, message stickiness. Resolve right now to get your name out there in an interesting way. A local used car dealer didn’t sell used cars, he was Slaying the Used Car Dragons. A local IT services company doesn’t just manage your IT systems, they are the Productivity Doctors.
Start Move #2: Get Social
Create a Facebook Page and post at least twice a day (preferably four). More than half of all Facebook users log on to their account daily, you need to be there when they log on. Use a Facebook posting strategy that engages your fans and encourages them to share you status updates with others.
Starter Move #3: Advertise
Local businesses should have an advertising budget, even if it’s a tiny one. Whatever you budget is, get out there and be consistent. You can print and send 1000 direct mail postcards for under $700. Depending on your market size, radio ads and billboards are good ways to consistently advertise on a budget.
If you are Internet-based business, Facebook and LinkedIn have excellent advertising budgets that let you choose exactly how much exposure you want for your budget. Of course, the larger your budget, the greater your exposure, but you can consistently advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn for under $100 a month.
Starter Move #4: PR
Do something interesting, if you already do, get some publicity for it. At a recent conference, a golf course owner told me about his golf-club throwing contest. That makes for some great video, but he had never once sought local publicity. Don’t miss the opportunity to get free PR! Here’s how to do it: The Local Media PR Formula. The key to getting free PR is to be aggressive in seeking it out. Don’t just send out press releases, call the media and ask for coverage.
Starter Move #4: Community Involvement
Before you write a check, stoke some passion in your team. Pick a cause or local organization that gets your team excited, then get involved. Expose your entire team to the community and multiply the effect of your community involvement. The more people you have involved = more people getting your name out there. Don’t try to do it all yourself.
It’s time get your name out there. Experiment. Try one of the starter moves and let us know what happens. Ready to get exposed?