If it’s free is it worth it? Ideas for small businesses to take advantage of free publicity

An earlier blogpost (click here) described a process to follow to “get the word out” about a business. Today I focus on a beautician’s business needs, and follow the process to provide examples of free opportunities for communication.

1. Who needs to hear the information? For my beautician, it is older, 45+ ladies in the Tunbridge Wells area.

2. What would be their preferred format? Probably not electronic media. Traditional word of mouth recommendation is free and enormously valuable. Start by identifying where you might find ‘influencers’ or opinion formers in your target group. For Lesley, I would suggest the WI and perhaps Rotary groupsand NADFAS in Tunbridge Wells, Southborough and Pembury. Start to forge links with these key groups. Rotary may provide a route to husbands who might like to treat their wives to a beauty pamper.

Cover the basics first: free listings in local directories are key yell.com and keep it in kent.co.uk both offer free listings in directories.

If you have a story to tell with an angle, local press may include a short item. Develop relationships with local news providers, which provide authority to the message. Consider using other communication tools such as a church newsletter.

And although your targets may not be tech-savvy, do not discount the power and reach of a good website alongside social media. A website can be created for free, though web hosting  costs a little and potential clients may well be assisted by their husband or daughter to source information, so make the google experience easy for them to find you. Without it you may well miss out.

Other routes worth pursuing are school PTAs, often on the look out for raffle prizes and able to provide publicity in return and a good way to reach influencers, too.

Be prepared to respond quickly should an opportunity arise. Free advertising comes about largely thanks to canny exploitation of unplanned events. It is important to be nimble and responsive and focus on mutual benefits to avoid taking advantage of others.

Lesley’s salon is located within a hairdresser, why not  ask the hairdresser to suggest a beauty booking when the clients ask about their next hair appointment? Free, timely and targeted; free and invaluable too.


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