Get Free Advertising for Your Business

If your business involves selling a service, such as consultancy, you might find blatant advertising is counter-productive - no-one really wants to hire a professional who is so obviously hungry for work. But you can't just sit back, waiting for business to come to you; it simply doesn't work like that. So you'll be pleased to know about several ways for you to market your business, or service, which are not only effective but, best of all, almost free of charge.

1 Networking

Networking is essentially about building a client list, including people who might want to use your services and those who are in a position to recommend you to others.

Networking means making and using contacts from all areas of your life: colleagues and workmates, neighbours, family and friends, past clients, people in a similar business to yours, former or current employers, fellow members of business and professional groups and social acquaintances.

The whole things is about keeping yourself in the public eye - unobtrusively. Ways to do this include:

* Telephone just to say 'hello' whenever possible, but not too often - you might arouse suspicion

* Find out when their birthdays are. Send a card, or invite them out for a drink

2 Get Listed in Directories and Similar Publications

This includes being listed in professional directories as well as trade and business directories and yearbooks. It also means having your details included in telephone and other advertising publications, including 'Yellow Pages' and other popular advertising directories.

3 Attend Meetings

Attend as many meetings as possible where referral sources, and actual or potential clients are likely to be. Suitable gatherings might include association meetings, professional seminars, trade meetings, and so on.

Always make a point of being seen but and not by monopolising the proceedings. If you are an expert on some topic currently being discussed, make this known by contributing a few main points or by putting forward your own views on the subject.

4 Making Speeches and Presentations

Offering your services as a speaker or to present awards increases your visibility and establishes you as an authority. Appropriate contacts include trade and professional associations, civic groups, business clubs, large companies, and other high profile organisations.

5 Letters to the Editor

When your letters and most importantly, your name, are published in appropriate places, you increase your visibility and establish yourself as an authority on your chosen subject. Potential clients and referral sources will notice that your ideas and views are of sufficient value to be communicated by editors. The more often your name appears, the more credibility you'll achieve.

Letters to the editor are the easiest place to start your writing 'career'. The best letters - namely those most likely to be printed - are generally topical and relevant, and almost always controversial.

Letters should be short and to the point. If you intend to be a regular contributor, make a point of studying the style of published letters, including length, style, viewpoint, whether letters are captioned, and so on. Model your own on these.

Key Points:

* Send letters to editors of trade and professional publications as well as national and regional newspapers and magazines

* Always use your professional letterheading with your qualifications and specialty included

6 Donating Your Services

Consider donating some time to a non-profitmaking organisation as a gesture of goodwill. Make sure the commitment don't impinge too heavily on your normal, income-earning hours.

Most importantly, make sure the organisation is worthwhile and promotes you in a good light.

7 Radio and Television Exposure

Here you might look for regular slots having something in common with your specialty. Alternatively, think about something on which you have expert knowledge, not necessarily related to your profession, which might be of interest to viewers or listeners.

Locate the appropriate contact person and explain what you have to offer. This might be particularly beneficial if your contribution is broadcast just before something special you are organising, in which case you should emphasise that the interviewer gives out information during or after the broadcast.

8 Referrals

Another excellent source of business is recommendation from past satisfied clients or anyone else in a position of power or authority. This type of recommendation is achieved through the image and professionalism you display. It means being reliable, enthusiastic, doing your best for the client, and seeing to it that everything the client wants, the client gets!

9 Announcement Columns

Announcement columns are sections in newspapers, magazines and other publications, usually set aside for information about members and readers. Make a point of sending details about any awards you receive or any seminars and workshops you organise. Keep the editor updated on your range of services and point out any additions or expansions.

Remember to give yourself enough lead time if your announcement relates to a specific time or period.

10 Press Releases

A press release, as the name implies, means 'releasing' information to the press in the hope that it will be published. It could be about a book you have written or a newsletter you have published. It might be about a new business or expansion to an existing business.

Press releases can be sent to all kinds of publication, including trade and business journals, national and regional newspapers, professional journals, the business and financial press, and so on.

Key Points:

* A press release should never be longer than two or three pages of double-spaced typing, preferably much shorter

* Start with a compelling headline and introduction and include a photograph where possible. Your headline and opening paragraph are the most important features of the press release and will almost certainly make or break your chances of having it published

* Always include a contact name, address and telephone number.

* Unless the publication indicates to the contrary, send your press release to the editor. Address the person by name where possible. The name can usually be found in writers' books and directories available in most main reference libraries.

Alternatively, the editor's name is usually included in the newspaper or magazine itself. If not, or if it's hard to spot, telephone the publication's switchboard for the information you require.

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