The right marketing and PR can make your business boom, or get it wrong and profits could fizzle out. Our panel of experts have advice on how to shoot for the former
It's tricky to stand out among the noise of the competition. Photograph: Alamy
Adam Pollard is the co-founder of award winning 'book a month' gift service The Willoughby Book Club.
Name your target: I suggest trying to identify key journalists individually and approach them specifically. You'll stand a much greater chance of being heard that way. You might also want to consider sending free samples to key influencers within the industry in exchange for free coverage.
Also, consider entering business awards, collaborating with third parties for giveaways and putting your product forward for regular features and one-off guides, such as Christmas gift guides.
David Speed is a street artist and a director from Graffiti Life – a small business that has used graffiti art in marketing and outdoor advertising campaigns for big brands such as Nike, BMW and O2.
Go where the people are: You can build an amazing website but if nobody sees it, it's all for nothing. Have a look at where there are lots of people (online and real world) and get in front of them. For example - is there a Facebook page that has thousands of followers that in some way can be relevant to what you do? Try to get them to share your product. Find an event that lots of people will be attending. Contact the organisers and try to get yourself there in some capacity. Carry business cards wherever you go.
Stand out: Be tenacious. It's hard to be noticed and journalists are being bombarded with different products and services all the time, so you have to capture their imagination. No matter how amazing you know your product to be, try to be succinct in describing it.
Julia Bramble is the author of 9 Simple Secrets to Social Media Success and founder of social media agency, Bramble Buzz.
You can't get something for nothing: It is shortsighted to say that your budget for bringing in new customers is virtually zero. If you don't get customers through the door - and most importantly the right customers for you - then you have no business. It is a common misconception that the less you pay on marketing, the better. It costs money to get customers in, especially those who aren't buying on price alone. Unless you're prepared to put in time, thought, effort and usually some finance, then you're generally not going to see the growth you want.
Incentivise:Make sure that your website captures the details of people who visit by offering ways for the visitor to get something of value to them - a free guide, a phone consultation, a chapter of a book, for example - in return for giving you their details. These could be email, mobile or snail mail, so that all the effort you then put into driving people to your website isn't wasted.
Michelle Carvill is a marketing director at the Made Simple Group and founder of Carvill Creative, a marketing, social media and web agency founded in 2002.
Blogging brings attention:Integrate a blog into your website so that you have a vehicle which you can use to constantly update your site and a basis for your social media activity. Ensure that all your content includes sharing widgets, so that readers can easily share your content into their networks via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. This sends very positive signals to the search engines and assists with boosting your online visibility.
Failure to prepare:Don't simply dive in - my mantra is plan, listen, analyse before you engage. You can do quite a lot of research on Twitter. You can search for key clients you'd love to be working with and start to engage with them - not pushing sales messages, but rather providing them with educational, informative, useful and purposeful content.
Craig Bradshaw is a marketing expert at Mediaworks Online Marketing.
Join forces: One partnership saw coffee shops in Leeds joining together for a "disloyalty" card, whereby customers were free to visit any of the participating cafes and still get their card stamped. This worked fantastically well and garnered a lot of local press which in turn captured new customers for all the businesses involved.
Kritika Arora heads up marketing and PR for Zomato UK, a restaurant discovery platform with a global presence across 28 cities in eight countries.
Neighbourly recommendations are now online: Local search has come a long way when it comes to helping consumers decide on where to go. The whole experience of asking a friend for a dinner or cafe recommendation has moved to online and mobile.
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