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How will you cultivate your raving fan base in 2021?
I asked a few dozen public relations and marketing professionals for their best tips for small business owners. Across America--and the globe--small business owners were among the hardest hit during the pandemic.
I put together this series to help you succeed this year. Read on to see what folks had to say--and how it can help you going into this crucial year.
This is the second installment in the Public Relations Tips for Small Business Owners series, so be sure to check out part 1, Connect: How To Bond With Your Target Fans This Year.
Learn what 25 of the best Public Relations tips for small business owners below. These folks really have some excellent ideas! Enjoy.
"Small business owners should focus on enhancing and strengthening their social media presence as a way to increase brand awareness of their businesses.. Focusing on engaging with their followers online can help them reach their target audience, grow their following, and convert their followers into paying customers."
— Johana Caba
PR Professional, JM Integrated Marketing
"The best thing you can invest into right now is the online customer experience. Improve your website, grow your audience on social media, engage your customers through valuable email marketing, and develop automated personalized messaging. Your customers love your small business because of the personal touch you bring. All you need to do is incorporate that personal touch online and your current and future customers will follow."
— Karina Bulate
Owner, Live Buz Media
"There's never been a more important time to rank at the top of Google for your products or services. Nowadays, even senior citizens are getting familiar with technology and searching Google for their needs. By being a business that shows up when people search for what you sell, your revenue will soar post pandemic."
— Brian Robben
CEO, Robben Media
"One of the things most businesses will likely forget post-pandemic is that people will still be handling more stress compared to when things were ‘normal’. This is a sensitive time that requires even more sensitivity and social awareness from the PR and Marketing teams of any company. It’s important for small businesses to find the right tone in their campaigns. A tone that still markets your brand/service but also acknowledges the struggles your customers are going through. In simpler terms, when it comes to post-COVID campaigns, businesses need to be more in touch, sensitive, and humane."
— Simon Elkjær
"Be consistent and be regular. One and done ain't going to get it. You have to keep reminding people who you are, what you do and what you offer. Say the same thing over and over. The world's biggest and most successful companies spend billions just telling the general public, 'Hey! We're here.' This is what we do."
— Ben Baker
CFO, Baker Brother PR
"Successfully handling your PR and marketing post-pandemic as a small business solely relies on your transparency and consistency. Be honest with your audience about how you're operating, still staying safe, and communicate any other relevant details your consumers would need to know to feel safe when buying from you. If you've shifted to online, be adamant about reminding your clients and consumers that you're still available, but operating safely and strictly. Be transparent with how you've adapted to the times, and this will resonate and go so far with your clients/consumers."
— Elizabeth Weatherby
SEO Specialist, Xtractor Depot
Get Your Brand Noticed.
"To best handle [my] clients during the pandemic, I have successfully tied in their product, service or cause to what is currently resonating with the public. As an example, I signed on an athlete, author and activist during the first lockdown. She had a new exercise book that she wanted to promote. What we did is tie in her information to make it more suitable to these changing times, and climate. I focused the press release on her ability to teach people how to properly exercise in-doors, during a quarantine, and how to also practice safe and healthy life-style habits. This PR campaign was a great success, garnering lots of media coverage in print, online, radio and TV."
— Rhonda Rees
Owner, Rhonda Rees PR
"Be well aware of the way the public views your brand or company and tailor your ad messaging to correspond with the way your audience views your company or brand. There is a usual conflict between PPC and SEO, you can make a marketing mix of it for more efficient results. To survive post pandemic marketing, SEO and content marketing is the new trend. Taking a chill pill during the pandemic would only mean endangering your company's image and giving yourself as a marketer extra work post pandemic."
— Scott Keever
Founder/CEO, Scott Keever SEO
"Many consumers will come out of the pandemic with lingering health and safety concerns as well as a tighter budget due to waves of layoffs--meaning consumers will be choosier about who gets their patronage. Small businesses should focus on demonstrating that they're focused on their customers' safety first and foremost. Business owners can work this into their PR and marketing efforts by promoting new (or even existing) safety-related policies. For instance, they could highlight that they're sanitizing returned items before restocking, continuing to offer curbside pickup, providing PPE for in-store shoppers, and similar strategies."
— Janeesa Hollingshead
Co-Founder, JJ Studio
"It is so important from a strategic communications standpoint that companies remain consistent in their values and support of their clientele by sharing exactly what they are doing with their audiences. Think of the phrase, If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?. If no one knows what you're doing center stage or even behind the scenes, are you really doing anything at all? As a business owner or an organization, brand visibility and online presence is very important to remain relevant to a diverse audience."
— Brandi Sims
Owner/CEO, Brandinc PR
"During the pandemic, many people found themselves with more time on their hands, and we noticed this as we experienced an inflow of business from marketers and small businesses looking for digital marketing training. One of the smartest things we've seen is small businesses taking advantage of this time to level up their skills, learn digital marketing strategy, and build an action plan for marketing. My best advice for small businesses is to create a short and long term marketing plan now, to create short term cash flow as well as a sustainable plan that will help the business grow over time. This can greatly set a small business up for success so that events like a pandemic have a lesser impact on the overall business."
— Allison Chaney
Chief Digital Training Officer, Boot Camp Digital
"If you are striving to bring in new clients, try concentrating more on the people you already have or who are still with you despite the economic downturn. In extension to designing services and ad campaigns to target their new demands, you may also need to allow refunds to customers who had prepaid memberships while this could damage your cash flow for the short term, the capital you give back will most likely come back to you tenfold when the economy restabilizes."
— Damien Martin
Marketing Executive, Shufti Pro
"After the pandemic, small businesses should focus on the sense of community that the current situation has instilled. They should emphasize any community outreach and support that they offer, and at the same time highlight their local presence and support in any adverts and marketing funnels they create."
— Hannah Stevenson
Content Marketing Manager, UK Linkology
"Post pandemic PR should spread joy and optimism. The world has been pushing through one of the most challenging periods in recent history, therefore, we all need something to feel good about. As a result, campaigns should give more value than ever before, every campaign should be super relevant and not just a way to increase sales but instead to educate, inform or entertain the audience. Lastly, why not give more away post pandemic? Discounts and great deals will go down a treat given the financial uncertainty everybody has been facing and will still face until economies fully recover."
— James Dyble
Managing Director, Global Sound Group
"The best strategy will be to exhibit empathy without making your audience relive the pain. Show how deeply you value their time. This can be achieved by cutting the noise and taking great pains in understanding their pain-points. That way, you can work with your customers to fight the gloom or dejection by helping them achieving something you both can be proud of."
— Mayank Batavia
Head, Marketing and Partnerships, QuickEmailVerification
"Brand field trips should be back again. It won't just highlight awesome
places in the world, it is also a celebration of life, camaraderie and PR.
I can see it now. All the cancelled parties will be levelled up once COVID
— Daisy Jing
"When the cultural framework changes dramatically, as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of great importance that brands approach this problem with tactful, compassionate, and aware marketing.
After these times of crisis and depression, promote optimism, hope, and humanity. On the other hand, we are certain of a financial crisis. It is certain that the abstinence period after the pandemic will bring us a lot of smart content because brands will have to give more in that segment.
Once this is over, we will be even more aware than ever of how precious every moment is and we won’t even think of spending it on content that has no value to us. It is certain that companies will be even smarter to plan their appearance on these channels, and from which end users should benefit."
— Bryan Stoddard
Director, Homewares Insider
"The pandemic has pushed us to diversify our marketing channels, moving from a focus on in-person events and word of mouth to investing in online efforts. I'd recommend that any small business continue to invest in SEO, content, and other digital marketing strategies in addition to making sure their website is fully optimized. These investments will continue to reap rewards long after the world has gone back to normal."
— Ricardo Mello
Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Manhattan Miami Real Estate
"With marketing, you can never please everybody. This becomes even more true when it comes to a pandemic, both during and after. Customers will have varying opinions post COVID-19, and there is a fine line to be walked to please the most amount of clients. For example, during COVID-19, many of our clients took different precautionary actions such as plexiglass shields around their counters, pick up and drop off of vehicles, and sanitation of keys and high-touch surfaces. These measures were advertised throughout the shop and on social media. A lot of these shops plan on keeping the same measures in place after the pandemic. But, due to the differing opinions in their large customer bases they won't continue to advertise their measures. In this way we avoid potentially turning some customers off, but are pleasing clients who appreciate the extra measures remaining in place."
— Kirsten Selvage
Marketing Director, ShopPros
"I think we’ve all seen the power of running with a more genuine, authentic message during this pandemic. We’ve used more personalized text in marketing and PR strategies, and we’ve seen an increase in engagement from just about every channel. Even when the pandemic ends, I think the marketing strategies that include a more personal perspective will do better than those that do not. People have become a little tired of – almost immune – to ‘marketing talk’ and we should all focus on being genuine."
— Sean Chaudhary
CEO, Alchemy Leads
"My best PR and marketing advice for small businesses post-pandemic? Focus on digital. Haven't gotten active on social media yet? Do it now. Be where your audience is. That doesn't mean you need to be active on every platform, but choose the top one or two (for B2B companies, that could be LinkedIn and Twitter) and start engaging there. Not just posting, but actually having conversations and responding to those who try to connect with you."
— Michelle Garrett
Public Relations Consultant, Garrett Public Relations
"People need to be on LinkedIn so that they can be found too. It adds credibility and transparency when you know the people you are meeting or working with know people in common. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume or rolodex, it is the foundation for building trusted relationships in the digital economy. You do not need to blog or be on all social media platforms but make sure you are active on the ones where you are. If your customers do not use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find you then you do not need to make them a priority. For many professional service businesses like mine, LinkedIn matters the most.
Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of likeminded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up. When your articles or talks become available online, make sure to send them out via social media to all your friends, followers and contacts. Start small and build as you go."
— Paige Arnof-Fenn
Founder/CEO, Mavens & Moguls
"If small businesses haven't engaged with influencers as part of their PR and Marketing plans yet, then this is the right time to have them join the team as soon as possible. Look for the right social media influencer, who can effectively reach the perfect audience, and in turn, raise awareness, credibility, and sales.
Influencers are experts in highlighting specific areas and amenities, along with any discounts and promotions. It's very cost-efficient and any business can afford it. As most of the influencers don't charge for promoting businesses, as it also helps them in building a personal brand and get more followers.
Introducing influencers as part of your marketing strategies can be a good step in bringing more customers in, and establishing brand awareness and credibility. And in the end, making a significant profit."
"People during the pandemic have already adapted to shopping and spending their time online. Therefore, it might be best to pursue an online-first approach and double down on your digital presence. When it comes to small businesses, the more you can stretch a small budget the better.
To do this, take all your existing content and try to repurpose it as social media posts. Next, make sure that your (weekly) newsletter produces actual value instead of just automated discounts. To enhance your results even more, create content for Instagram TV (IGTV), YouTube videos, podcasts, etc. Then, redistribute the content by making bite size content for social media and your blog. Google loves this and that's why you see more and more big businesses adding an audio option to their blog posts."
"Marketing communication or PR is a very important aspect of any company's brand image. But this communication is not random as there are specially designed marketing communication strategies to deal with customers. Some important tips for PR and marketing are listed below. First of all, in the post-pandemic world, understanding the customers and targeted consumers is important. You need to focus on them and their needs in such an environment. Secondly, it is better to use the communication channels that are already being used by your niche audience. Lastly, you have to shift your whole business online. Digital transformation was always important but after the pandemic, this has become a necessity."
— Jennifer Will
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