One thing the Bradford Group is known for is helping entrepreneurs get the positive attention they deserve. In addition to representing many entrepreneurial companies – such as Bernard Health, bytes of knowledge, Concept Technology, DSi, Medalogix, Metova and Petra – we also represent two organizations that are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs: EO Nashville and LaunchTN.
One: Embrace Change. Entrepreneurs are distinguished by their willingness to buck the status quo, and this should be reflected in how they are marketed. Get ahead of the marketing bandwagon by continually seeking out and trying out new methods. One way to do this is to read the blogs of people who are pushing the marketing envelope, like Guy Kawaskai, Chris Brogan, Ann Handley and Brian Solis. You should also stay on top of the people who stay on top of the startup/entrepreneurial ecosystem, like Sarah Lacy. (News Flash for Southern entrepreneurs: Sarah will be in Nashville next week for LaunchTN’s Southland conference for entrepreneurs and tech startups, June 12-13.)
Two: Establish Thought Leadership. Entrepreneurs are successful because they have a better idea. So, share your better ideas with a public hungry for something other than the corporate pabulum on which they now, barely, subsist. Seek out opportunities to contribute bylined columns to your local newspaper or trade mags that cover your industry. Create a Media Resource Guide that alerts journalists to the topics on which you can expertly comment. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free sample Media Resource Guide.) Offer yourself as a speaker to professional and civic organizations. Produce webinars. There are many companies, like Nashville-based Avant Resources that are in the business of providing webinars and they are always looking for talent. Will they make a buck off of your presentation? Yes. Will you establish your bona fides as an expert in your field? Hell yes.
Three: Be Agile. Perhaps the greatest advantage entrepreneurial enterprises have over larger, more established companies is their ability to move quickly, unencumbered as they are by bureaucracy, the inertia of the status quo and the quagmire of a many-layered approval process. So, use it to your advantage. Respond to journalists’ inquiries the same day, preferably within an hour of the call. Comment immediately on industry developments via social media. Send out an email blast the day you learn of important news, such as the granting of a patent, the acquisition of a significant client or the hiring of a key employee. Agility also extends to your ability to provide a personal touch, like mailing handwritten thank you notes the same day you meet with new business prospects.
Four: Seek Official Recognition. There is an amazing array of business awards just waiting for someone to claim them. Your local media, particularly business journals like the national chain of American City Business Journals, most likely sponsors several business awards. There are also several national business awards, such as The Stevie Awards, that are worth looking into. And, of course, there is the Inc 500/5000, the gold standard of small business awards. Plus, your industry association probably also sponsors several awards. The fact is that many, if not most businesses are unwilling to commit the hour or two it requires to apply for these awards, or they are afraid to divulge information like annual revenues – so any business who applies has a better than even chance of winning. So apply! Nothing provides bragging rights, and legitimacy, like an award.
Five: Tie It All Together. The best marketing efforts are those that are coordinated to reinforce one another and create a consistent message across all media. When potential clients see your business name in social media, blogs, publicity, advertising and another media, the perception is that you are “everywhere.” Use technology to make this task easier. For example, a social media management tool like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Sprout Social makes it easier to create a significant, coordinated presence across all social media platforms. (“Easier,” but still not “Easy.” A well-run social media program requires a solid time commitment – or hiring a social media savvy marketing firm – hint, hint – to run it for you.) And you might look into an inbound marketing integration program, like Hubspot, to tie together your blog, social media, website calls to action, case studies, white papers and email campaigns for ultimate online synergy.