Smart Marketing Basics


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Marketing templates category.

Add a “Call to Action” When Writing Your Small Business Press Release

Got News?  Then you better be sure to share it with your prospective customers by issuing a press release.  Using public relations and press releases is a smart marketing basic strategy for any small business that needs to increase exposure for its organization, products and services.

Don’t be shy about talking up your montly business wins, including new customers you have brought on board,  new product or service offerings, or special events or trainings you are doing.  There are some key basic ingredients you want to use when it comes to writing press releases – these include:

  • A compelling headline that provides the “so what” value of your news.
  • A clear, concise introductory paragraph that identifies who you are, and provides a quick summary of your news release.
  • A specific value statement or short sentence that states who do you help and how, and why are you better than alternative solutions.
  • A call to action or a next step – what do you want readers to do after reading your announcement.

Let’s focus on that last one – a “call to action”.  This is a critical component of any press release that you write.  Why?  Because the goal of your press release is to get readers interested in what you do, and then take the next step.  Think of it as dating. 

With a potential new prospect, your communications should focus on a specific piece of value.  If you try to tell your entire value proposition all at once, you risk losing your reader’s attention.  You want prospects to get to know you step-by-step.  Your press release content should be clear and concise, so that you get readers interested in knowing more.  Next, you incentivize them with a compelling call to action to keep the dialogue going.

Your call to action can take many forms and does not have cost a lot of money.  By offering up your expertise in a variety of formats, you can get readers to take the next step.  For press releases, some effective examples include:

  • Free webinar or demo – include a link in your press release to a 1-hour webinar to get deeper insights into your solution. 
  • Customer case studies – offer up a case study that readers can download that illustrates how organizations are utilizing your products and services.
  • Whitepaper or solution collateral – provide educational pieces such as whitepapers, brochures or research articles that help to educate your prospects on your offerings.  
  • Survey results – conduct a quick poll or short online survey of your customers on a particular topic, and then share the results for free.
  • Free consultation – schedule 30-minute consultation phone calls for prospects and your sales team or product experts to talk through preliminary questions.

These are just a few examples.  Take a few minutes to brainstorm potential call to action offers that support your business or sales cycle. We would love to hear your ideas in our comments section!

For more help on how to write professional press releases, you can visit our website at www.SMBmarketer.com to view our free smart marketing article series and our low-cost press release templates.

 

 

Advertisements

Growing Your Small Business with Public Relations

When I counsel small businesses on how to start marketing themselves, I make sure they build a plan around public relations.  Writing and issuing press releases that announce each of your business accomplishments is critical to building your brand, creating sales leads, and ultimately growing your business. 

Developing your own press release program does not have to be overwhelming or costly.  You can start out small, by writing your own releases, and focusing on three key types of news:

  1. New Product or Service Offering – Something new your company is offering for the first time.
  2. Customer Win or Success Announcement – A new deal, competitive win, or customer case study.
  3. Special Award or Recognition – An award, company ranking or other honor.

Each new product or service you offer, every new customer you win, and any award or special recognition you receive provides an opportunity to issue a press release.  You need a steady stream of news to ensure that you can keep your brand top of mind with your prospects and customers.

New Products/Services
Every new product or service you offer should have its own press release.  Having a robust roster of press releases on your website shows that your business is healthy and active, and  provides validation that you continually invest in your product portfolio.  Customers will be more inclined to work with organizations are constantly brining new value to the marketplace.  Even as you enhance or refresh your existing product line, take advantage of the opportunity to write a press release about it.

Customer Wins
Promoting customer wins, partnerships or other business successes are critical to building momentum for your organization, because they create credibility within your marketplace, and help you to establish a proven track record.   Having reference-able customers is also a must when it comes to smart marketing basics!  Additionally, you can use a press release to announce how existing customers have received value, or ROI from using your solution.  For example,  “ACME Company Reduces Shipping Costs by 50% Using [My Company’s Product]”.  Another strategy is to complete a customer case providing an indepth profile, and then issue a press release promoting the case study on your website.

Awards
Award programs can be a great way to garner exposure and free publicity for your organization, particularly if you have customers doing good things with your solutions, and are willing to talk about it. Don’t wait for awards or special recognition to come along, rather, research industry groups and publications within your key markets or local community to identify potential award opportunities.  Then, put together a calendar of submission deadlines and proactively submit ballots or applications. A well-written press release promoting your special honor can be used by your sales teams, emailed out to your prospect lists, and forwarded to local media outlets. 

Each these three essential press release announcements should follow good press release writing fundamentals, including consistent messaging relevant to your target audience, having a brief solution overview, and a call-to-action so that readers can take the next step.  As a small business marketer or owner, you know your business best, and it’s worth it to invest some time each month to highlight your news.  Be proactive by developing a calendar of potential press releases you can publish each month, or each quarter, to help keep you on track.

Writing press releases can seem challenging at first, especially if you are not sure how to create a good message.  There are several low-cost and no-cost templates and tools available on the Internet, and from press release distribution services that can get help you get started.

If you would like more help on writing press releases, consider the Press Release Primer tutorial guide available for puchase on our Marketing Plans and Templates webpage.  The Press Release Primer includes press release templates and writing tips for each of the 3 key releases recommended above:  A new product/service; a customer win; and an award or special recognition.

The Press Release Primer, a guide to writing press releases for your small business


Crafting the Perfect Company Boilerplate Description for Your Press Releases

Small business marketers often struggle to find the perfect words to describe their organization, mostly because they lack a proven recipe for putting one together.  Even the best product strategists tend to focus on developing a ‘catchy tagline’ or ‘pithy elevator pitch’ as their approach. However, this strategy often times falls short because you wind up with a meaningless phrase, instead of a clear, concise and compelling description of the specific value your company provides, and to whom.  

Using press releases to market your business is a smart marketing basic for any small business, and the key to writing effective press releases is to start with a solid message.  Your company boilerplate plays a key role in your message, and should always be the last paragraph of any press release you create.  By including your company boilerplate in every press release you issue, you ensure that you are communicating a clear, concise and compelling message about your organization.

To create a company boilerplate description, small business marketers need to ask themselves a few basic questions to identify who they are, what type of company are do they have, and what type of solutions to they provide and to whom.  The answers to these questions provide the inputs into creating a concise, compelling story about your firm.  

TEMPLATE:  Drafting up a company boilerpatle description does not have to be a daunting activity.  Below is a quick and easy template to follow.  Take a few minutes to think about how you would complete each field in brackets […], as it would apply to your small business:

[Company name] is [company type] specializing in [keyword phrase] for [target industry or customer]. Rather than using [alternative product/service], [Company name] enables [specific role, or end user] to [specific user benefit] without [a negative repercussion, such as adding staff, incurring extra costs]. Since [year founded], [Company name] has helped more than [total number of customers] successfully [key business value]. To learn more, please visit: [company website].

INGREDIENTS: A good boilerplate description features these key ingredients:

[company type] – what type of company are you, a technology provider, a law firm, a non-profit, etc.
[keyword phrase] – how might people search on Google for your type of company? What common terms would they use ( i.e. accounting software, family legal services, food banks).
[target industry or customer group] – who will benefit from your service, for example, law firms, or the construction companies.
[specific role/end user] – specific staff titles or roles within an organization that will use your product or service, such as an attorney or paralegal, a operations manager.
[negative repercussion] – a common objection or misperception a prospective customer might have about your offering, such as it is too hard to learn something new, or too costly.
[key business value] – what problem do you solve, or value do you provide?  Think of a short phrase that starts with a verb, such as ‘reduce costs in managing legal documents’, etc.

EXAMPLE:  Imagine a fictitious technology solutions company, named Dander-Mufflin that provides software to the legal industry.  Their products help law firms to manage and track the thousands of legal documents for each of its clients. They have been around since 2000, and have a proven track record of clients.  Using the template above, their company boilerplate would look something like this:

Dander-Mufflin is a technology solutions provider specializing in document management software for law firms and corporate legal departments. Rather than using manual, paper-based filing systems, Dander-Mufflin enables attorneys and paralegals to quickly categorize and locate legal documents without increasing client billing costs or adding administrative headcount.  Since 2000, Dander-Mufflin has helped more than 50 legal firms successfully reduce document storage costs by 50%. To learn more, please visit: http://www.dander-mufflin.com.

Try following this template to create your own boilerplate, and feel free to comment on how it worked for you in our comments section.  Remember, having a clear and concise description trumps a fancy slogan anytime!  It’s more important  that your reader take away from your press release a clear understanding of who you are and what you do. 

MORE TIPS & TEMPLATES:
For more templates and tips on creating professional press releases, check out the Press Release Primer – a small business guide to writing professional press releases.  This 23-page guide details how to build your own release, describes how to create your company boilerplate description, and provides 3 different press release templates for announcing: 1) a new product or service; 2) a new customer win; and 3) an award or special recognition.


What is Hot with Small Business Marketers – Our Top Posts

With the 3rd quarter of the 2011 calendar year recently wrapped up, SMBmarketer.com decided to look back over the last three months to see which blog posts resonated the most with small business marketers.  Site statistics are a great way to monitor the marketplace to identify current marketing trends, and to better understand which issues are top of mind for small business marketers.  

Here are the top 5 posts by views, followed by a quick summary of each post:

1. Press Releases – How to Convince Your Colleagues to Use Press Release Marketing – While writing press releases to promote your small business is a “no brainer” strategy to many professional marketers, they often times have to influence their corporate peers to support this activity.

2. Press Release Distribution Strategies for Small Business – Some quick thoughts on the importance of developing an appropriate distribution strategy for sharing your news with key stakeholders for your business. 

3. Pitching Your Small Business for Speaking Events – Speaking at local business or community events, or seeking out presenter slots is a great way to get exposure for your company’s expertise, as well as generate some potential sales leads.

4. 10 Tips for Small Business Marketers – A quick-read article from Entrepreneur magazine that features some “to do’s” for any small business trying to navigate through these tough times.

5. Email Messaging Templates for Small Business Marketers – Email marketing provides a cost-effective approach to targeting your markets, either by industry, organization type, specific user profile, or by geography.

It is amazing that many of these tops post are older, some dating back to last year, which goes to show that some topics are consistently important to our readers- a helpful gauge as to what we should cover on a regular basis.  Our Smart Marketing Basics blog will make a point to track this hot list each quarter.  Please feel free to comment if you don’t see your hot marketing issue represented here, and we will try to address it in a new post in Q4.


Three Press Releases to Grow Your Small Business

When I counsel small businesses on how to start marketing themselves, I make sure they build a plan around public relations.  Writing and issuing press releases that announce each of your business accomplishments is critical to building your brand, creating sales leads, and ultimately growing your business. 

Developing your own press release program does not have to be overwhelming or costly.  You can start out small, by writing your own releases, and focusing on three key types of news:

  1. New Product or Service Offering – Something new your company is offering for the first time.
  2. Customer Win or Success Announcement – A new deal, competitive win, or customer case study.
  3. Special Award or Recognition – An award, company ranking or other honor.

Each new product or service you offer, every new customer you win, and any award or special recognition you receive provides an opportunity to issue a press release.  You need a steady stream of news to ensure that you can keep your brand top of mind with your prospects and customers.

New Products/Services
Every new product or service you offer should have its own press release.  Having a robust roster of press releases on your website shows that your business is healthy and active, and  provides validation that you continually invest in your product portfolio.  Customers will be more inclined to work with organizations are constantly brining new value to the marketplace.  Even as you enhance or refresh your existing product line, take advantage of the opportunity to write a press release about it.

Customer Wins
Promoting customer wins, partnerships or other business successes are critical to building momentum for your organization, because they create credibility within your marketplace, and help you to establish a proven track record.   Having reference-able customers is also a must when it comes to smart marketing basics!  Additionally, you can use a press release to announce how existing customers have received value, or ROI from using your solution.  For example,  “ACME Company Reduces Shipping Costs by 50% Using [My Company’s Product]”.  Another strategy is to complete a customer case providing an indepth profile, and then issue a press release promoting the case study on your website.

Awards
Award programs can be a great way to garner exposure and free publicity for your organization, particularly if you have customers doing good things with your solutions, and are willing to talk about it. Don’t wait for awards or special recognition to come along, rather, research industry groups and publications within your key markets or local community to identify potential award opportunities.  Then, put together a calendar of submission deadlines and proactively submit ballots or applications. A well-written press release promoting your special honor can be used by your sales teams, emailed out to your prospect lists, and forwarded to local media outlets. 

Each these three essential press release announcements should follow good press release writing fundamentals, including consistent messaging relevant to your target audience, having a brief solution overview, and a call-to-action so that readers can take the next step.  As a small business marketer or owner, you know your business best, and it’s worth it to invest some time each month to highlight your news.  Be proactive by developing a calendar of potential press releases you can publish each month, or each quarter, to help keep you on track.

Writing press releases can seem challenging at first, especially if you are not sure how to create a good message.  There are several low-cost and no-cost templates and tools available on the Internet, and from press release distribution services that can get help you get started.

If you would like more help on writing press releases, consider the new Press Release Primer tutorial guide available for puchase on our Marketing Plans and Templates webpage.  The latest template from SMBmarketer.com, the Press Release Primer includes press release templates and writing tips for each of the 3 key releases recommended above:  A new product/service; a customer win; and an award or special recognition.

The Press Release Primer, a guide to writing press releases for your small business


How Press Releases and Case Studies Create Leads for your Small Business

I was a guest contributor in an article on lead generation tips for small businesses.  Along with other small business marketing experts, I contributed a tip to create a very nice article, and quick read, with some good nuggets any small business marketer would appreciate.  Be sure to check out the complete article, Lead Generation for Small Business: Experts Weigh In.

For easy reference, here is the tip I contributed:

“Two key tactics I found to be successful are to use PR and to develop case studies. In fact, using these two tactics together creates a powerful combination. Issue press releases on a regular basis, whether it’s once a month, or once a week, that highlight your business accomplishments, including winning a new customer, hitting a revenue or growth milestone, offering a free webinar or seminar. These are great opportunities to keep your brand top of mind in your market place. They also provide sales tools for your sales teams to use for prospecting, etc. Creating case studies is a great way to highlight your expertise and show how your customers are benefitting from your solution.”

It is important that small and medium-size businesses regularly plan, write and issue press releases.  This is a low-cost tactic that will get you a lot of bang for your marketing buck.  Highlighting your successful customers is also key, because it can pay dividends on an ongoing basis.  Your customer sales cycle doesn’t end with the completion of a successful project or sale, rather, you want to ask the customer for a case study that highlights their original business challenge or pain, how they went about selecting your solution, and the value or benefits they now enjoy as a result. 

Creating a customer case study is a low-cost investment.  You simply need to ask for it.  You will be surprised at how your customers will want to highlight their success with your product, because it gives them good exposure as well.  Your customer will come off looking like a superstar when you publicize how they solved a particular business problem with your solution.  It is a win-win situation. 

The process is not complex, rather develop some questions in advance, and then schedule a phone interview to go through them with your customer.  Or email them the questions, and have them email back their responses if scheduling a phone interview is difficult.  You can take the raw data and create a draft, or hire a writer at an hourly rate to create a draft for you.  Once your case study is complete, feature it on your website, give it to your sales team, and issue a press release announcing that it is available!

Writing press releases to highlight your business and customer successes is a no brainer for small business marketers.  If you struggle with how to write a professional release, there are several tools (both free and low-cost) that are available that can make the process easy!  For more information on this, check our marketing templates page, and our Press Release Tutor templates page for help.

Using Press Releases and Case Studies to Generate Leads

Using Press Releases and Case Studies to Generate Leads


Press Releases – How to Convince Your Colleagues to use Press Release Marketing

The goal of SMBmarketer.com is to provide simple marketing plans and templates to small business marketers and entrepreneurs who need simple, actionable tools to help them get started in marketing.  Smart Marketing Basics, our blog discusses simple strategies to help small business owners grow their business, while our featured articles provide more insight into the ten smart marketing plays that can help make your business successful.

Previously, our we featured a post called “Press Release Tips for Small Business Marketers” which recommended some free articles on the subjects of common “do’s and don’ts” of pitching your small business to a reporter, and how to use press releases to market your small business.  These are great resources available at no cost to you.  Be sure to check out this post if you have not seen it yet.

I have heard from other marketing professionals that often times they need help convincing their colleagues, business partners, value-added resellers and other key stakeholders they work with, of the importance of Press Release marketing.  While writing press releases to promote your small business is a “no brainer” strategy to many professional marketers, they often times have to influence their corporate peers to support this activity.

To address this request, SMBmarketer.com has introduced a new, low -cost marketing template, a ready-to-use presentation slide deck available today for only $4.95 from our Marketing Templates Library:

Using Press Releases to Market Your Small Business – A PowerPoint Presentation

Using Press Releases to Market Your Small Business - PowerPoint Presentation

Using Press Releases to Market Your Small Business

Download this 15-slide presentation on how to use press releases to promote your small business. It talks about how the press release has evolved from being a simple news communication device, to a broader tool that supports your marketing, sales, and search engine optimization efforts.  It illustrates when to use press releases and how they can be used in a variety of ways, in an easy to follow format. 

Get your partners and stakeholders on board immediately to support your press release marketing efforts by downloading and presenting this presentation at your next sales meeting, or online marketing event.  Visit our Marketing Templates Page at: https://www.smbmarketer.com/marketing-plans-and-templates/


Email Messaging Templates for Small Business Marketers

Most small businesses are created to solve a specific customer problem, fill a gap in the marketplace, or to turn a passionate hobby into a commercial business.  However, it’s simply not enough to get your product ‘production-ready’ for shipping, and ‘sales-ready’ for customers. You must generate demand for your offerings with your target customer.  See below for more insights, as well as a link to more information on some new templates that can help you.
 
For small business marketers, email marketing provides a cost-effective approach to targeting your markets, either by industry, organization type, specific user profile, or by geography.  Additionally, email marketing is extremely measurable, allowing you to course-correct if you are not getting the results you want.  Email marketing also allows you to test out new product ideas, marketing messages, and promotional offers to test groups, before launching them in full force to the mass market.  It’s easy to see why email marketing can give you a lot bang for your ‘small business marketing’ buck.
 
Developing a program that incorporates email best practices and effective messaging concepts is critical to your small business success.  Not only will you need to invest in some email system infrastructure, you must invest time into developing a solid marketing message that incorporates the three C’s.  Successful email campaigns require clear, concise and compelling messages that articulate who you are and the value you provide. In order to pass the ‘so what?’ test with your readers, your email message must: 1) quickly identify with the reader and their particular pain or need, 2) promise sufficient value or a compelling benefit, and 3) provide a follow-up step or a call to action for the reader to take. 
 
Creating successful emails messages is a lot like cooking – it’s important to use the right recipe of ingredients for the end result to turn out well.  For email campaigns, your recipe should include an attention-grabbing headline that commands your readers’ attention, followed by a subhead that helps begin your conversation and persuades them to read the introductory paragraph.   This first paragraph must identify with their pains or challenges, and offer up a value promise that will appeal to them.  Use quotes or industry research to help build credibility for your offering and to validate your message.  Featuring a “call-to-action” is critical in any email you send out, because you want to give your readers to take a “next step” to take to get more information.
 
Don’t worry if you aren’t a good cook!  Low cost email templates are available that can make this task easy for any small business looking to promote new products, new services, special events or promotions.  SMBmarketer.com recently announced a new series of Email Templates that can help small business marketers to easily structure effective email messages (read press release). Rather than using “trial and error” tactics, small business marketers can now quickly create professional emails using easy-to-use, low-cost templates. 
 
SMBmarketer.com Email Templates can be used to promote a new product or service, customer win, special event, and special promotion. For example, the New Product email template walks users through creating each message component, such as the headline, introductory paragraph and the call to action. An illustrative example is included with each template.  These Email Messaging Templates are now available for only $6.95 each, and can be downloaded by going to: SMBmarketer.com. Remember, in this era of SPAM, your message must resonate in seconds with your reader!  Keep your content short and simple, with the goal of getting your reader interested in learning more about what you do.   When it comes to email performance, a clear and compelling message will always trump fancy design or graphics. 

 


Small Business Marketing Should Include Speaking at Events

Small business marketing encompasses a variety of campaign tactics, but one that often gets overlooked by small business owners and marketers is speaking or presenting at local events or industry shows.  Don’t panic – this doesn’t mean you have to get on the major speaking circuit and travel cross-country like Dr. Phil.  Rather it can be as simple as reaching out to local business chambers of commerce, rotary clubs and industry associations to present a case study, or share a best practice.

SMBmarketer just tweeted a link to a great article from Inc. magazine called “10 Tips to giving an important speech” that talks about the value of speaking to your business, and some simple methods you can incorporate to become a better speaker.  You can view it on our SMB_Marketer twitter profile, or by going directly to the specific tweet.

When you participate in an event on behalf of your small business, whether as a sponsor, or as a speaker, be sure to promote your participation.  Using press releases to announce your trade show event, is a smart marketing basic that should not be overlooked.  If you are speaking at a conference, or even just participating  on a panel discussion with other speakers, it is important to get the word out in advance to your database of prospects, your customers, and to show attendees.

Often times the local new media and industry journalists will cover these events, and sending them your press release only helps to call attention to your session, as well as establish your name in their minds as prospective interviewee for a follow up news story.  Your sales team can you also use your press release to stimulate interest in your company, and to drive potential meeting appointments while at the show.

Writing press releases that promote your trade shows and speaking events are a great opportunity to create news for your small business.  Writing press releases can be challenging when you are not sure how to create the right message.  If you are a small business owner trying to get started marketing your business, be sure to subscribe to our blog and download our free “Smart Marketing Playbook” article series. Our blog discusses simple strategies to help small business owners grow their business, while our featured articles provide more insight into the ten smart marketing plays that can help make your business successful.



%d bloggers like this: