Owners of small and medium businesses are often stuck looking for ways to market their products and services cheaply, yet effectively. While outdoor advertising and branding tend to take more traditional routes, they are also the more expensive ones. And, if you look at the impact they have on your audience, you will be surprised to see that most ads are only useful to generate awareness about a brand, but not necessarily in creating a sense of trust toward the brand. After all, advertising is a paid process to get your name out there.
So, what marketing tools are SMEs left with then?
Ding Ding Ding! Public Relations!
Public Relations or PR refers to strategic communication carried out to influence people’s perceptions about a certain brand and its products or services. PR certainly outshines other marketing techniques in many respects. Take a look at what a good public relations strategy can do for your small to medium-scale business.
1. Earn the audience’s trust
The distinguishing quality of PR is that it’s carried out organically. That means, thanks to your relationships with local journalists and reporters, they approach you to speak about matters related to your industry. Through word of mouth, client testimonials, and editorial media, your brand has a greater chance of being seen as a credible organization to interact with. As explained in detail in this Forbes article, PR trumps advertising as it places your brand’s content in the editorial section of media, suggesting that it has been verified by third parties and is not paid for by the brand itself, therefore, helping your clients to see your brand more favourably.
2. Improve digital visibility
Everyone and their mother relies on Google for reviews, suggestions, and rankings when deciding to purchase a product or service. SMEs that work on improving their digital visibility by incorporating SEO-friendly content pieces that place them on the first page of search engine searches have a higher margin of being picked by their customers. A few ways in which you can achieve this are through a dynamic website, up-to-date social media handles, writing blogs on trending topics, offering thought leadership articles, speaking engagements, and influencer collaborations.
3. Stand out from the crowd
We get that the competition is intense, which is why simply selling a superior product or service won’t help your business stand apart from the crowd. You need to be positioned in a certain way for customers to feel a sense of distinctiveness. What might initially seem like a lot of work such as getting in touch with your local magazines and other media outlets to make yourself known, will eventually pay off when writers and editors will reach out to you instead of approaching other brands in the market. Your competitors too will come to view you as an authoritative voice. Ultimately, your brand will be gifted with good relationships with media persons as well as your own customers.
4. More bang for your buck
If you compare the time and money you would invest in PR to advertising, it becomes crystal clear that PR definitely offers higher returns, which means more bang for your buck. Its ability to complement other marketing initiatives, be more cost-effective, and be viewed more favorably by the audiences make it a solid strategy to bank on. One key strength of PR is that having a good reputation can come in very handy during times of crisis mitigation. Your brand’s previous track records that are positive, can help you salvage your company’s reputation when things go wrong.
If you are a small or medium shop owner, we suggest that do not underestimate how PR can transform your company and thrust it into the limelight. After all, the best time to create a holistic PR strategy is now!