5 Ways to Get Good Attention for Your Business

Do's and don’ts of promoting your business

By Zeke Jennings |

As a writer that formerly covered business, entertainment and sports, at one time or another, for one of the largest news media outlets in Michigan, I have encountered more than a few people seeking “positive” press on behalf of their business or organization.

I put “positive” in quotes, because that’s how things were usually pitched (i.e. “I thought it would be nice to have a positive story for a change”). News reporters and editors don’t think in terms of positive or negative, only in newsworthy or not newsworthy, which is something anyone looking for press should keep in mind.

When promoting your store or in-house events, keep these points in mind for a successful campaign:

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. I started with this because it’s the most important and a theme that will continue throughout this list. Empathy goes a long way when dealing with customers, the media or anyone else. Don’t think in terms of, “I need to get people to shop at my store,” think about why you would want to shop there if it was someone else's store. It sounds simple, but it’s a perspective easily lost when you’re on the opposite end day after day.

Host events. How-to sessions with a Certified Balloon Artist, in-store clown appearances and party-planning sessions are among the many things stores can do beyond just being open during normal business hours. Another idea is to have periodic customer-appreciation parties. Inviting everyone part of your rewards program — you should have one, if you don’t already — to an in-store gathering two or three times a year, where they can mingle, enjoy treats and coffee and maybe cash in on a special deal. If your store is located on a parade route, invite the public in for free hot chocolate or lemonade.

Let people know. There is no point of hosting events if people don’t know about them. Social media, email blasts, fliers in-store and around the neighborhood and alerting the chamber of commerce (or any other organization you may be a part of) should be on your event-planning to-do list. Don’t just post once on Facebook and call it good. Multiple postings and emails are often necessary to get through to any significant percentage of your target audience. Another hint: mix up the time of day you’re posting. If you post the morning once, try doing it in the evening the next time and vice versa.

Let the media know. A common mistake people make when reaching out to media organizations is treating them as just another email address or Facebook page. If you really want them to take interest, take time to craft a message to the newspaper editor or television station manager highlighting why an event might be of interest to their readers or viewers. A personalized email can be just as effective as an official-looking press release (see example below). Accentuate what is out of the ordinary about that particular event. Is the event also serving as a benefit for someone in the community? If you’re bringing someone in, a clown or CBA, for example, what sort of interesting stories might they have to share with the community? Every store has sales events, but it’s those below-the-surface stories that draw the interest of the newspaper or TV station. Oh, and one more important thing about the media — let them know at least a week in advance, if not more. If you call or email the day before the event looking for coverage, you’re probably not going to get it.

Avoid gimmicks. People are naturally skeptical of a sales pitch. People in the media are even more skeptical. If you’re offering a promotion, make it easy to understand and follow through on your promise. When people feel misled, it hurts your credibility and that’s something no independent retailer cannot afford to do.

Promotion is a big part of running a retail business. However, it’s just as important that your message gets the right kind of attention from your audience. 

Originally posted Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016

Tags: management, operations