Over the next several months, Gloria Flanagan, our Assistant Director, will be writing several posts based on information that she learned at the America’s SBDC Conference in September of this year. This is the second post in this series.
In a previous blogpost, we discussed identifying your “perfect” or typical customer as the first step in developing a marketing strategy. There are many platforms for marketing your business, but today we will focus on traditional advertising and editorial mentions in publications.
It is first important to look at your customer and think about what he or she is regularly reading. Most small businesses cannot afford to pay for advertising in major publications such as The Washington Post or Washingtonian Magazine. However, remember that publications such as The Post and the Washington Business Journal have many print and online readers in the area who would notice an editorial mention of your business in those publications.
Make it a habit to look for articles in those publications that relate to the subject matter of your business, and note the name of the reporter. That reporter is likely to write future articles and may be looking for story ideas and subject matter. It takes a bit of digging, but contact information is often available on the editorial page or the website of the publication.
While it’s not always possible to make one-on-one connections with reporters, make it easy to gain the reporter’s interest by sending timely and well-written information about new or innovative happenings in the subject area, and how you can be a resource for the reporter. Many small businesses who get regular mention in regional publications have taken the time to cultivate these relationships, either directly or by working with a public relations or media firm.
It is also helpful to familiarize yourself with the editorial calendar of the publications that you are targeting. Does your business relate to weddings, and do they have a wedding issue? How about food issues, and who are the reporters who typically write about food? How about an issue focused on pets, or on “back to school”? The publications are preparing for these issues months in advance, and welcome both editorial content and advertising that is geared to the particular topic of that issue.
Rather than advertise in every issue of Washingtonian Magazine, for example, check out their editorial calendar for the year and focus both your public relations editorial efforts and your advertising on those issues that will be appealing to your target market. We’ve included a copy of the Washingtonian Magazine’s editorial calendar for 2016 – use this helpful information to your advantage! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kristen Anderson, the Virginia Account Manager for the magazine.
Local papers such as The Alexandria Gazette-Packet and The Alexandria Times also have editorial calendars and themed issues throughout the year, and they publicize these in the papers. Particularly if your target customers are local residents, an ad in a local paper will often get you “more bang for your buck”. They also generally like to include information about local businesses in their articles. These reporters live here and work here – get to know them! Local subject-matter experts are a welcome resource for these reporters, particularly if you have made a point of giving them reliable information and can be available for a timely comment when they are on deadline.
It only takes a few minutes of your time to peruse these publications, but it is time well-spent to gain familiarity with the subject matter, regular reporters, and writing style – then to be a part of the “local story”. Soon we will all be reading about your small business!