The Challenge

The day you set up shop, hang out the shingle or mortgage the house to set up in business you may figure large in your own mind but be invisible to most people. You’ll lack a media profile and potential customers may never have heard of you.

Becoming known in order to promote your business is vital – and difficult. It’s possible to become well known by advertising if you can afford it. Earning a profile by being interesting enough to feature in news reports and by supplying interesting copy (content) to publishers is another, cheaper way to start. It will cost you only time and you should have a fair bit of that on your hands until you attract some customers.

Of course, your services and products need to be pretty good too but no matter their quality, you need to get your message and name out to people so they can see the quality for themselves.

There are several ways to gaining exposure in the media and become known in the public’s mind. The goal is to become familiar and trusted. There is no time scale – it should be ongoing. There will never be a point at which you can relax and feel you’ve done it because once you’ve earned it, you have to hold on to it. Not many papers rush to quote Jim Bolger any more unless it’s to enquire after his health. It happens to former prime ministers and it will happen to you unless you continually stir the publicity pot.

You can buy your way into the local or national scene but it takes a lot of money. The ‘Vince Martin’ character that advertises a tyre repair and sales shop is nationally recognised in New Zealand but it costs his employers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to keep him up there. When they stop, he’ll fade from memory. Politicians are known nationally because they pop up on radio and television news programmes, in editorial copy in newspapers and on billboards around election time. Most New Zealanders have never met the prime minister  but they’d probably know the person instantly if they did happen to bump into him or her at the local supermarket.

While it’s nice to set goals for your own public profile so that you may promote your business in the media, you should accept now that prime ministers and Vince Martin are way up there and you are earth bound. Your challenge is to use the media to let people know who you are and what you do so that they will remember you when they seek the services or goods that you sell. Set your sites first on your local area, the throwaway newspaper, the local radio station and the like where you can contribute articles or comment. Get in some practice, absorb a few brickbats, impress some clients and win some new ones. Getting on the national stage is a longer-term goal.

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