Smart Marketing Basics


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The following is a list of all entries from the press release writing 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.

 

 


Press Release Templates for your Small Business Promotional Campaign

Despite a tough economic climate, it is important that small business marketers continue to invest in promotional activities to create constant demand for their offerings. It is a proven fact that those companies that continue to market themselves while competitors fall to the wayside, do better once the economy recovers.

Launching a special promotion or community program is a great way to market your small business, and an excellent opportunity to issue a press release. Running a contest is also a great way to bring some fun and excitement to your brand. You can ask your customers to name your next product, or provide a new product idea, or submit a case study.

Any special promotion or community program “press release” should talk to who the promotion is targeted to and the value that your promotion provides. Your press release should also include specific details such as eligibility requirements if any, and timeframe for the offer. Always conclude your release by highlighting a compelling call-to-action, or “the next step” that your readers should take after reading your news announcement.

In the press release example below, we use the fictitious technology software company Dander-Mufflin, to create a press release promoting a free software training class to customers that purchase a new software license within the next 30 days. This is a good example of how a company can leverage an existing offering to create a compelling promotion that drives sales within a concentrated period of time.

See the image below for what this press release might look like.

 The Press Release headline clearly articulates the offer (a free training class) and the specific audience (law firms challenged with records management costs) that the promotion is targeted to. By mentioning the 30-day window in the subhead, you create a sense of urgency with your readers to act right away. Using quotes from company spokespersons also helps to reiterate key points. In this case, company executive, Scott Michael, highlights the retail value of Dander-Mufflin’s free class, which makes the promotional offer more compelling.

There are many free and low-cost press release templates available online that can help you to easily write a professional release to announce your promotional program. The Press Release Tutor online template series, from SMBmarketer.com, features 5 different types of press releases, including the “Special Promotion Press Release Template”. The Press Release Tutor templates reference example press release content for each type of release, and provide step-by-step instructions on how to put your press release messaging together, making it easy for you to follow along.

Remember that marketing your small business must be a continual investment to be effective, and press releases are an easy and affordable part of your ongoing small business marketing plan. For more information on small business marketing, check out our free Smart Marketing Playbook article series.


Writing Press Releases to Promote Your Small Business

Getting started marketing your small to medium-sized business can quickly become overwhelming.  Whether you are an entrepreneur or business principal, or an internal marketing manager, there are many tactical approaches to consider.  Recognize that the discipline of marketing is broad and deep, and best practices can vary based on your vertical market, and whether you sell B2B (a business that sells to other businesses, who in turn sell to another end-user) or B2C (a business selling directly to consumers).  After 20+ years as a marketing professional, I do recommend a couple of smart marketing basics, one of which is Public Relations and writing press releases to promote your successes and accomplishments.

Writing press releases to promote each of your business successes is a easy, actionable strategy that can fits any marketing budget.  What results can you expect you ask?  Issuing press releases regularly helps to keep your company top of mind with prospective customers; it builds awareness for what you do, and the value you provide; and it is a “smart marketing play” that can get your company known.

The press release has also evolved, from a simple news announcement sent only to journalists and media outlets, into a powerful marketing tool for organizations of all sizes.  With the Internet and social media venues as prominent communication vehicles for both business and consumer audiences, readers can come across your news in several places, and can take multiple actions after viewing your announcement.  For example:

  1. Press releases can be indexed by Yahoo and Google, and shown in search engine results. 
  2. Press releases can be posted to your company website and optimized with your keyword phrases to improve your search rankings. 
  3. Press releases can be re-tweeted by readers to their followers on Twitter, who share the same interests. 
  4. Press releases can be used by your sales teams as conversation starters on cold calls. 
  5. Press releases can be pushed out to mobile phones, through RSS feeds, and redistributed to news syndication and aggregator sites.
Small business owners and marketers should invest some time each month or each quarter to identify a pipeline of potential news announcements, such as a new customer win, product launch, case study release, speaking or training event, or even a special promotion or community program. 
 
While there are many things to you can talk about, creating the right messaging is essential to a well-written announcement.  You know your business best, but creating a clear and compelling message can be challenging, especially for “non-marketing” professionals.
 
The answer to this dilemma is to find some easy to use press release templates – there are many available, so be sure to do some research to find some tools that are right for your you.   At SMBmarketer.com, we provide a variety of templates to help small business marketers to get started marketing fast.  If you need more help or resources in this regard, you can:
  1. Check out our marketing templates downloads page
  2. Access our Press Release Tutor interactive templates, and
  3. Subscribe to the Smart Marketing Basics blog for continual marketing tips and help.
Please share your comments on how press releases, as well as other marketing efforts you have tried, have helped you to market your small business.
 
 

How to Distribute Press Releases

Do you know what to do with your press release once you have created it?  Investing in writing press releases to market your small business is an important investment that can yield high rewards for small businesses, for low dollars.  Once you have created your press release, it is important to develop an appropriate distribution strategy for sharing your news with key stakeholders.   Press releases can be posted on your website, emailed out to customers, and used by your sales team to cold call prospects. 

Where possible, you should also send your press releases to appropriate news media so that you can gain media exposure for your business and start building relationships with the reporters and journalists that follow your market space.  If you are just getting started with your journalist outreach, you should investigate using a newswire service, such as BusinessWire, Marketwire or PR Newswire. 

Yes, in our current environment of social media communication tools, newswires might seem out of date, but they do play a critical role, and provide significant value when if comes to helping you with your search rankings. 

For more tips on how to distribute press releases, download the Press Release Distribution Checklist, on the Marketing Plans and Templates page of SMBmarketer.com.  The Press Release Distribution Checklist is a low-cost, easy-to-follow marketing planning tool that walks you through what to do next after drafting your press release, including appropriate reviews and approvals, and a 10-step press release distribution strategy.


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


Small Business PR Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Small business marketers often make two common mistakes when it comes public relations.  The first one is not doing enough to promote or publicize your daily business wins and successes, and the second is not preparing for a press interview after you have issued some news.  Let’s talk about mistake number one first. 

Mistake #1 – Lack of regular public relations

Investing in some public relations activities is a smart marketing basic that all small businesses should engage in.  This can simply involve making a point to tell your story, and sharing your successes and accomplishments with the outside world by issuing press releases.  This doesn’t have to cost a lot.  By posting news announcements to your website on a regular basis, and giving these same press releases to your sales team to send out to their customers and prospects, you can quickly build credibility for your small business and generate a lot of interest in your products and services.

By simply planning a calendar of press release topics, and sticking to it, you can generate a steady stream of news.  Your news doesn’t have to be ‘earth shattering’.  Yes, you might feel you are competing against uber-big headlines, like Facebook finally planning to go IPO, but what you really need to focus on is news that shows the world how you are providing value to your customers, and solving key issues in your industry.

There are three basic press release types that apply to most small businesses:  1) announcing a new product or service, 2) announcing a new customer win, and 3) announcing a special event your organization is hosting or participating in.  Your event could be a local chamber of commerce event you are sponsoring, a tradeshow you are speaking at, or an online training event that you are offering.  If you develop a simple press release calendar around these three type of news annoucements, and plan to issue one per month, you can drive a lot of interest in your business, as well as improve your search rankings on your website because your content is fresh and updated regularly. 

For more insights on these three press release types, check out this previous blog post on Three Press Releases to Grow Your Small Business.

Mistake #2 – Not preparing for a press interview

Once you issue some news and generate interest from a reporter, say from an industry trade publication writer or a local business journalist, be sure to prepare for the interview.  Have your press release available with your key messages highlighted so you ensure that you reinforce those during your meeting.  Be sure you to ask up front how much time the journalist has to speak with you so that you use time wisely.  Be prepared to focus on only 1-2 things if your meeting needs to be cut short. 

Research previous articles that the reporter has written so that you can be familiar with her work, her writing style, and the topics that she covers the most.  And lastly, be prepared for the last question she will usually ask, which is “Is there anything else that you would like to add?”  This is a good opportunity to remind the journalist of how you are different from other competitive offerings or providers.

MarketingSherpa.com is a great resource for marketing research, and features quite a few blogs as well.  Daniel Burnstein wrote a great post on the topic of 5 interview mistakes that drive journalists crazy, so be sure to check out his tips at this link:

http://sherpablog.marketingsherpa.com/pr-fame-communications/avoid-pr-interview-mistakes/comment-page-1/#comment-75926

Subscribe to the Smart Marketing Basics blog for more tips on public relations, writing press releases, and small business marketing topics.


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.


10 Tips for Small Businesses Marketers – Keep Press Releases Top of Mind

Hello Small Business Marketers and Entrepreneurs! 

I came across a quick read article from Entrepreneur magazine with features some good basic “to do’s” for any small business trying to navigate through these tough times.  Be sure to check it out at:

A 10-Step Double-Dip Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/220205

I particularly endorse and recommend Tip #6, Ramp Up Your Marketing.  While other companies might be hunkering down during times of economic uncertainty, you stand to gain a lot by keeping marketing top of mind.  This doesn’t have to be expensive.  I always counsel the small businesses that I speak to that investing regularly in public relations, specifically writing and issuing your own press releases, can pay huge dividends. 

By promoting your daily business activities, including new products and services, special offers, new customer wins, training events, or open houses, you will be able to successfully build your brand and drive traffic to your website.  It’s important to stay active, while your competition sits on the sidelines!

If you would like more information on marketing your small business using press releases, check out this previous blog post, “Three Press Releases to Grown Your Small Business”, http://wp.me/pOYsX-5s


Helping Small Businesses Write Press Releases Quickly and Easily

I was asked recently to contribute to a business column on the one tip I could give to small businesses that struggle with creating press releases, and thought I would share that insight here in the Smart Marketing Basic blog.

I have been writing press releases for B2B companies for more than 20 years, and the best tip I have for writing press releases is to create a standard template that you can use over and over again.  Once you develop a successful recipe or format based on good writing fundamentals, you can crank out press releases pretty quickly.

Your template should include:
1) A boilerplate company message that is used consistently in every release
2) 1-2 Keyword phrases that you feature in every headline
3) A standard quote structure for developing customer or company executive quotes
4) A call-to-action that tells your readers where to get information
5) Contact information so readers know who to call for questions and interviews.

Strive to create specific templates for your most common releases, such as new products, customer wins, and events or seminars.  By always starting with your template, you can quickly create professional press releases that can effectively and inexpensively promote your small business.

If you would like more information on press release templates, simply Google “how to write a press release” and many search options will come up with free to low-cost templates. You can also check out our available templates on http://www.SMBmarketer.com, by going to: http://www.SMBmarketer.com/marketing-plans-and-templates


How Technology VARs and Resellers Can Benefit from PR

I attended the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference this summer, an annual event that convenes thousands of technology partners under one “convention center” roof.  It is quite a gathering of technology entrepreneurs and small business owners who are committed to building their business by learning more about the latest in Microsoft products and services.

While building out your technology solution strategy is a key component for any technology VAR or reseller organization, it is also important to consider other marketing investments that are essential to growing your business.  I have worked with many VAR organizations throughout my 20+ year career as a technology marketing professional, and a key area for investment that often gets overlooked is publicizing your own business. 

Investing in public relations and other marketing activities are keys to any successful organization.  Often times, business principals can become quickly overwhelmed by the deep discipline of marketing, and put off getting started.  It doesn’t have to be this way — by committing to a few smart marketing plays, a reseller organization can quickly get started.  Issuing regular press releases on your business wins and successes is a ‘ no-brainer’ tactic that doesn’t require a lot of time and dollars up front. 

I often coach small businesses to create a calendar on a quarterly basis that can highlight some news items to target, and then commit to creating press releases for each one.  For example, announcing a new service offering, a new customer win, or an upcoming training or webinar event you are hosting, are all opportunities to generate publicity for your organization.   You can use press releases to highlight the wonderful things your company does daily as part of its regular operations!  The goal to creating a steady stream of news is to keep your brand and company top of mind with your prospective customers, so that when they are ready to buy, they naturally think of you. 

The press release has really evolved over time, from being only a tool sent only to journalists and media outlets, to become a great way to create recent and relevant content about your business.  Creating and posting press releases helps your website content stay fresh and can improve your search engine rankings as a result.  Additionally, press releases are a great tool to provide your sales team with, to send out to their prospecting and customer lists.  They can also be great conversation starters during cold calling or business development campaigns.  Lastly, press releases can be sent to your customers and other external partners and stakeholders to show how you continue to innovate in your industry.

Writing your own professional press releases doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor.  There are several templates (both free and low-cost) that are available to walk you through this process, step-by-step.  If you simply Google “how to write press releases”, several resource options will come up for your consideration. 

If you would like more information on press release templates for small business marketing, you can check out these links on our website for more information:

Small Business Marketing Advice, free article downloads and blog from SMBmarketer.com
Marketing Plans and Templates, low-cost downloadable templates from SMBmarketer.com

Please feel free to post your small business marketing experiences and comments!  Thanks for reading.


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