The basics of setting up a website should be relatively clear if you've been reading this blog. You hire a designer (or go it alone); get a cheap hosting plan (that's reliable) or find a cheap hosting with domain plan; set up a shopping cart; and start marketing. But, how do you gain brand publicity?
A website is only effective if it actually reaches some readers. For that matter, your brand is only effective if it reaches consumers. As a copywriter, journalist, and writer of all sorts, I've worked with a lot of small business owners. Some of them know how to market the heck out of their own brand. Others are great at grabbing attention. Take a look at these top tips.
1. No publicity is bad publicity. Even if you've made a major mistake, you can always work around it. Acknowledge that mistake, and let people know that you made it. You'll get a lot of respect if you stand behind everything you do – you'll also get a lot of attention.
2. Pull off a stunt or two. Creating a public spectacle still works. Just as magicians create crowds in Times Square, you can let the world know that your business is here to stay. Think outside of the Internet by setting up a publicity stunt in the real world.
3. Create something really odd. Have you seen Coca-Cola's new cans? These cans will have people talking (and buying) all summer long. How about the Coors cans that turn blue when cold? I bet that campaign grabbed your attention when it first arrived!
4. Get some values. I know a small business owner that refuses to lower his product rates to compete with big brands. Why? He stands behind his vow to manufacture solely in the Americas. This stance has gained a lot of positive attention. Get some values and stand behind them.
5. Believe in your brand. You might be laughing at this one (who doesn't believe in their own brand?), but picture this: I once interviewed the founder of a startup that stated “there's nothing original about my company.” That's not the way to go. If you don't love what you are selling, why would anyone else?
6. Comment on current news. You can set up a Google News alert to let you know when a keyword pops up. Choose keywords that are relevant to your brand. When those words show up in your inbox, contact local news stations to let them know that you are available for comment.
How does this work, brand publicity? Here's an example: a bank heist was just pulled off in town. The bags of money stolen were laced with GPS trackers. You run a GPS tracking company. You're now an expert on the topic. Everybody wins.
Publicity isn't a hard thing to pull off, but you have to get past the boring basics of any business (setting up a site, finding a cheap hosting company, comparing domain offers), and step out into the real world. Comments? Suggestions? Weigh in below.