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It’s Q4—is it time to check in on your marketing budget?

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Yes, it’s here—the last quarter of 2017. The last three whooshed by quickly, didn’t they? As we head into Q4, it can be a good time for small businesses to take stock of where their marketing budgets were spent.

Statistics show that while businesses are cutting back on traditional print and broadcast advertising, spending on digital marketing continues to increase. 66 percent of small businesses are maintaining or increasing their spend on digital marketing[i]. Makes sense, as more and more buyers turn to online sources to gather information and make purchases.

As spending on digital marketing increases, so does spending on social media, content creation and public relations[ii]. But, other statistics reveal that many small businesses still don’t have a social media presence. According to a survey, 67 of small business owners are new to social media, while another 18 percent don’t have a social media presence at all[iii].

Why don’t small businesses see the value in social media? One reason may be that they don’t know what to post. I often hear this from business owners I speak with. “I know I should be on social media–but what should I post?” Of course, if you have your own content, you’ll want to share that. Curating others’ content is also important. (For more ideas on how to curate content, see this piece, “The small business owner’s answer to, ‘What Should I Post on Social Media?’”)

Does your marketing budget include PR?

And, how can public relations help? PR can generate earned media in the form of articles that can be used as content on your site and shared via social media. A focused PR effort can also help you land opportunities for contributed articles in vertical industry publications that can then be shared on your social media channels and on your site.

And what about a company blog? Do you have one? If so, you need content for that blog. Many PR pros are also skilled writers who can help craft content. And, you can then repurpose those blog posts by self-publishing that content via platforms like Linkedin Pulse and Medium.

Another way to create content is to look to your customers for ideas. Are there customer stories you could share? Testimonials? Photos of customers using your product or service? These are all great content for social media and can also be plugged into your PR and marketing efforts in various ways.

So, as you consider your Q4 marketing budget, don’t discount the value of PR in feeding the content creation and social media machine.

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[i] http://localvox.com/resources/marketing-statistics/#small-business

[ii] http://www.webstrategiesinc.com/blog/how-much-budget-for-online-marketing-in-2014

[iii] http://www.inc.com/john-brandon/new-survey-59-of-entrepreneurs-dont-view-social-media-as-essential.html#515

Budget Leftovers? Why Not Spend Them on a Helping of PR?

Leftovers are part of the holidays…after those big dinners, there are bound to be some goodies left to gobble up. But what about your budget leftovers? December is the time to spend any of your remaining budget, but what’s the best way to allocate those dollars? If you’re thinking about how to get the most bang for your buck, consider PR. Here are some PR-related ideas to help you:

  • Write and issue a press release: For many businesses, press releases are an afterthought. They may fail to see the value—or maybe they’ve never tried a press release at all. I recently listened in on a webinar where content marketing experts discussed the value of press releases, even beyond the typical product or executive announcement. You can use press releases to talk about research you’ve done, a trend your company is leveraging, or maybe a white paper you’ve written. Use the press release to point back to the piece of original content on your site. Issue the release using a paid wire service, like PR Newswire or PRWeb, to increase the SEO value. The cost can range between $99 up to $1,000+, depending on your goals, plus the time to write the release (which you can do in-house). Wire service costs vary depending on the length of the release, whether you opt to use a photo and so on. It can be a very cost-effective way to get the word out. They are even free services, if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Hire some writing help: Want to try writing a contributed article or a customer success story but don’t have the time or expertise? Try hiring some writing help. You can find a writer who’ll work by the hour, word or project. Depending on the length and complexity of the piece, the price could range between a couple of hundred and up. Once you have the piece, you can use it on your site/blog, post it on social media, publish it via LinkedIn, try placing it in an industry publication and so on.
  • Hire a designer to update your logo, site or look, or to create an infographic: Maybe you realize your look needs some freshening up, but you’ve neglected to do anything about it. Now can be a great time to get that project started. Another worthwhile project, if you have research to tout, can be an infographic. These are increasingly popular and are great content to post to social media.
  • Pay for some research: Looking for a way to build credibility? Hire a researcher or research firm to conduct a study for you. You can publish the results in a press release, blog post, contributed article and so on. This can be used via social media, of course.
  • Find a photographer: Pay a photographer to take some high-quality shots of your product, your offices and/or your staff to include on your site. Again, you can use them on social media (are you seeing a theme here?!) and if reporters ask for high-resolution photos, you’ll be ready.

All of these will support any PR efforts you may decide to pursue, now or in the new year. How are you planning to spend your budget leftovers?

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