There are over millions of businesses in this country vying for your clients' and customers' attention. Yet, the marketplace is more discriminating and skeptical than ever.
As a small business, you need to get the greatest return on your marketing efforts. You need to rise above the crowd. You need an edge over the competition. In short, you need to be seen as an expert--and there are several good reasons for doing so:
- Cultivating an expert reputation creates "top of the mind" awareness. You become so well known in the right circles that when someone needs what you have to offer, your name will immediately come to mind.
- Experts are sought after get more business with less effort. They also possess credibility that makes it easier to sell themselves and command higher fees.
- Experts leverage their reputations to spread outward in new directions, packaging their expertise into articles, books, speeches, seminars and workshops and information products.
Establishing an expert reputation distinguishes you as the right person to address your clients' and customers' needs. And, unlike most businesses that are virtually unknown, expertise lifts you from anonymity and positions you as the authority in your field.
Publishing articles, columns and books are powerful techniques to establish your expertise. Publishing pre-sells others of your abilities and exposes you to thousands of prospects. And reprints of published articles make excellent, low cost sales literature, easily replacing expensive brochures, mailers, and newsletters.
One day last year I wrote an article for a small business magazine about self-publishing as a marketing tool for businesses. The article only took a few hours to write. A few months later it was published. Almost immediately my phone began to ring and my email box filled up with inquires.
As a result of "The Publishing Goldmine" I landed two clients, submitted several proposals, and added dozens of names to my mailing list. Additionally I used the article in my email newsletter, made glossy reprints for my marketing materials, and republished the article in other magazines with only minor revisions (including the article you are reading right now!).
There are endless opportunities to publish your expertise. Thousands of business, trade and Internet publications covering every imaginable industry and audience are fairly easy to break into, even for beginners. If you have a good idea, tailored to a specific readership, there are thousands of publications hungry for articles from business professionals.
Publishing articles is a way to expand your business--even a small, local business can establish a regional or national presence.
Publishing exposes you to new prospects, solidifies your reputation among existing clients, and introduces you to new vendors and suppliers. There may be a limit to your physical availability, but publishing enables you to reach thousands of valuable contacts without leaving your desk.
Developing Ideas for Articles
Even though you are probably not an experienced journalist, coming up with ideas for articles is not hard.
The best place to begin is with what you already know. Most "expert" articles are how-to pieces aimed at educating readers on a particular topic related to the author¹s industry. Another strategy involves case histories or application stories-- showing readers how the author solved a client problem or addressed a need.
The key to publishing expert articles is to package your ideas as news rather than sales pieces. It is important to avoid "puffery": publications are bound by an ethic of impartiality and are not there to praise your company¹s products or services.
Construct articles in a benefit-oriented fashion. Tell prospects how to think about or apply your business solution. It is important to give readers information they can use whether or not they buy from you.
Consistency--The Secret of Success
You wouldn¹t expect a massive return on a monetary investment overnight. The same goes with publishing. Huge dividends come to those who persist. Like all marketing activities, publishing articles should be considered a long-term commitment that will yield long-term rewards.
Is it worth the time? Remember that just a few clients landed as a result of a published article can pay for all your marketing costs for the next year. If you don't give article publishing a chance, you'll never know what it can do for you. Establishing your reputation in print takes time. But if you are committed, an inevitable "snowball effect" could give you all the business you can handle!
Steven Van Yoder is President of GET THE WORD OUT! Communications, a marketing and firm specializing in getting clients in the news. His company develops, writes, and places feature stories in targeted publications and identifies strategies to convert media exposure into closed business. To learn more about writing & placing expert articles or to order a copy of the book "Get The Word Out! Promote Your Business, Career or Cause by Writing & Publishing" visit http://www.getthewordout.net.