You have a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a LinkedIn account, and a Pinterest account for you business. You feed them regularly. You are mindful about creating posts that are interesting and helpful to your customers. You respond to people who talk about your company online and reach out to people who might need your product or services.
What else could you be doing to create buzz about your business?
Jessica Ekstrom wrote a piece in Entrepreneur about the five things small business owners can do to increase their reach beyond social media. She's a business owner herself. What did she try?
1. Create an ambassador program.
Find people who can be ambassadors for your brand within their own communities. "An ambassador serves as representation for the brand and can help spread the word in his or her immediate community (in this case, campuses)," writes Ekstrom.
Ekstrom started her business while she was in college, so her ambassadors were also on campus. "We implemented a point-reward system where students can complete activities, such as giving a presentation on Headbands of Hope at a sorority chapter meeting, in exchange for points that they can cash in for headbands at the end of the month," she writes.
Among your customer base, are there people who would like to become ambassadors? Are they in communities that you'd like to reach? What kind of incentives might motivate them to help you and your small business?
"Figure out if there are particular communities that use your product (and will be vocal about it!) and create an ambassador program to help spread the word about your business," writes Ekstrom.
2. Attend conferences and trade shows.
Does your industry hosts any conferences or trade shows you can attend as an exhibitor? If the answer is yes, but they are very expensive, then just attend and network. "Introduce yourself to the show administration and see if there are any 'first timer' specials you can get as an exhibitor for next time" writes Ekstrom. At trade shows or conference you can meet representatives from stores who might want to carry your product.
"The biggest advantage to trade shows is relationships. It's one of the few scenarios where you can shake the hands of your consumers and also build relationships with other brands," writes Ekstorm.
3. Create relationships with bloggers.
"You could link blogging to social media, but I choose to separate them," writes Ekstrom. Figure out what your target audience is. What blogs are they already reading?
"Find blogs that match your audience and send them a pitch for a collaboration," writes Ekstrom. "Understand that you may have to give them a freebie of your product and/or a fee to be featured or reviewed. Take it a step further and ask the blogger if they'd be willing to host a giveaway on his or her site by collecting email entries you can add to your newsletter."
4. Contribute to a blog.
A lot of blogs out there will accept guest posts. What knowledge do you have to share related to your small business? Write it down and send it to blogs or website that are looking for content. "Ask them to include your bio and hyperlink it to your business site," writes Ekstrom.
What can sharing your knowledge get you? "Most of the time you'll have to contribute content for free, but if you gain at least one new customer from an article (but hopefully you'll get lots more), I'd say it's worth it. It will also help your credentials and SEO," writes Ekstrom.
5. Become a speaker.
If you have knowledge or passion that you want to share, not only can your write about it, you can speak about it. "Businesses, schools, conferences and organizations are always looking for speakers to energize and inspire their audiences," writes Ekstrom. "Don't make your whole talk a sales pitch, but you can talk about your business as an example of a greater lesson or motivation."
Think about where your possible customers might be to figure out where you should speak. How about your local chamber of commerce? A conference? A festival? A trade organization? A charity whose work is related to your product or service? "Don't forget to bring something with your business information on it that attendees can walk away with at the end of your program," writes Ekstrom. "Call me old fashioned, but any time you can get in front of people and build relationships around your business, it's always a good opportunity."