Can I help you promote your business?
I don’t claim to be an expert on businesses or promoting businesses but, over the years, I have learned a lot and can now put some of my experience into practice.
Around 15 years ago, when I was Mayor of Fairford, someone asked me about setting up a Chamber of Commerce for businesses in the town. One helpful person scorned the idea saying: “We’ve done that and it didn’t work. No one was interested!” This was like a red rag to a bull and I was determined to show her that she was wrong. I have been told that I can make things happen and so I was definitely going to make this happen!
As Fairford is relatively small, I decided to gauge the level of interest not just in Fairford, but also the neighbouring town of Lechlade. The two Cotswold market towns are very similar in size and have a lot of things in common in relation to planning, transport, highways problems and infrastructure.
After putting a notice in the local paper inviting business people to a public meeting, I was gobsmacked when over 80 business owners turned up to the first meeting! It was quite a squash in the back room of The Bull Hotel in Fairford!
A lot of these businesses were SMEs and not in the retail sector. So I decided to change the description of the new business forum from Chamber of Commerce to Business Club.
Running the Business Club for 15 years enabled me to find out what makes businesses tick. What they want from customers, suppliers, advertising, marketing and promotion. And what works best for business owners to get the most favourable promotion for them.
After a couple of years of running the Club, I introduced a regular monthly Newsletter for Club members inviting them to advertise in the Newsletter for free. But do you know, although the Newsletter went out digitally to well over 1,000 businesses across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, not many of the members took up the option of free advertising!
Why wouldn’t they want free advertising?
I could only think that maybe it was because they are already so successful that they don’t want to encourage any more business, as this would probably mean them having to employ more staff to cope with their increased growth. Or, maybe they were just too busy to send in an advert? Perhaps advertising was at the bottom of their long list of jobs to do and they never quite got around to putting an advert together.
But promotion should be up there near the top of a business owner’s list of jobs to do. If people don’t know about you, what you do or where to find you, you are not going to get much footfall for your products or your services.
Do you make time to think about advertising? You really need to put time aside to find out how to promote your business. What sort of advertising? What budget do you have? Or even where all the free advertising can be accessed! Just because it’s free, it doesn’t mean it isn’t any good! If you can access free advertising, then surely it is a no-brainer! Do it!
I can help businesses alleviate their stress about thinking about advertising.
I currently write the business page every month for The Advertiser magazine in Faringdon and ask businesses to send me details of what is new in their business.
Have they got new premises, new staff, are they offering something new or a discount, or maybe they have won an Award and want to shout about it? They get a free paragraph on the business page all about them and there are always lots of new things that businesses can mention in their free advert each month.
Discounts/awards/staff are just a few. The more you get your name out there in the limelight, then the more people will remember you and then they are more likely to use your services or your products.
Testimonials are also great! If you can add one to your advert then that gives you more credibility and people are more likely to choose you and your business.
Here are a couple of testimonials I have received and I’m sharing them now – not to blow my own trumpet – but to show how much more credible you can appear when something complimentary is said about you.
- You are a super star, Chris. Thank you for believing in me and being a driving force in getting my business started by writing your wonderful words.
- I just wanted to say thank you for the article in this month’s Advertiser. It was a lovely read and great for my little business. The afternoon teas have been a massive hit and you must book yourself in to try one!
That last one is definitely the sort of testimonial that I like! And I really must remember to book myself in! Especially as these teas are served in a shop that sells gin! So I could have a G & tea!
If you use social media, then you can put a testimonial on social media every Tuesday using the hashtag – Testimonial Tuesday.
Don’t under-estimate the power of social media. I love it. You can reach people that you wouldn’t reach in normal media advertising. Social media is not on the world-wide web for nothing! World-wide, not local, not national!! World-wide!
People always laugh when I say my strap line is “I enjoy poking my nose into other people’s business and then making up stories about them”! They may laugh, but they won’t forget the strap line – it makes people remember! Have you got a memorable strap line?
I firmly believe that making up stories is often better than paid advertising and stories are also memorable. People want to know about people.
If I was to promote say a photographer and advertise that this particular photographer is experienced in child photography, portraits, animals or weddings, then you probably wouldn’t be too interested, as you have heard it all before and many other photographers can claim the same thing.
If, however, I wrote a story to say that this photographer had won an award for a beautiful photograph of a child picking daisies in a field, then your interest would increase. If the story then went on to say that this child was the son or daughter of a well-known celebrity, then you might be even more interested and consider using the photographer yourself.
Do you see how much impact the right story can offer? Sadly, or maybe fortunately, not everyone deals with celebrities, but every business has an interesting story to tell. It’s just a question of finding the interesting hook!
I have been involved now with promoting businesses for 15 years and with writing stories for just over 20 years. At the end of last year, I joined the two skills together and started my own proper grown-up business, Chris Roberts MBE.PR.
I had no idea how it would go. And I didn’t know if anybody would even want to hire me to promote their business, their news or an event they might be about to launch. I can surprisingly say that I have been amazed by the level of interest I have had and I am busy every single day writing, writing, writing! Promoting, promoting, promoting!
As well as writing the monthly business page for The Advertiser in Faringdon, I also write business editorials in the magazine. These editorials are offered free to businesses when they take out three paid adverts. As I mentioned previously, a story can often be better than an advert, so this is a big deal for business owners wanting to promote themselves.
I also write a whole page every week in the Wilts & Glos Standard about local people, local businesses and local events in and around Fairford and Lechlade and across the Cotswolds. There are so many interesting stories happening every week that I am never at a loss about what to write, who or what to promote or raise the profile of a local business. I submit many community stories to the Wilts & Glos Standard that get published on a regular basis and other media outlets.
A small sample of where my articles have also featured are: Business & Innovation Magazine, Campbeltown Courier, Cotswold Life, Fate & Fortune Magazine, Gazette & Herald, Gloucestershire Live, Mendip Times, Oban Times, Somerset Live, Stroud News & Journal, Swindon Advertiser, Take A Break, Town Crier Magazine, Wells Voice and What’s on Netflix. There really are too many to mention!!
In addition, I post some of my PR articles on this website, on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ChrisRobertsMBE.PR) and promote them on social media.
I am very fortunate to have a few valuable and loyal clients that I do a range of work for – promoting their businesses, featuring them in newspapers, magazines and social media, writing content for their websites and getting them on the radio to talk about their businesses and themselves.
I also work with a local PR expert and write some of her articles, as she is always so busy. So I have regular monthly work as well as one-off contracts and longer term commitments.
I am always happy to discuss promotion with people. Everyone has a story to tell. It just needs teasing out sometimes. You and your business are far more interesting than you think you are and I can write words to make your business sound unique and special to potential customers, clients and suppliers.
People have told me that I can make things happen. Without wishing to sound too big-headed, this is mostly true! I have found throughout my life that I have been able to make things happen for me – but that’s probably because I grew up as an only child and was used to getting what I wanted!
But anyone can make things happen. Everyone can achieve what they want if they believe in the power of positive thinking, have self-belief, try hard to make it happen and want it badly enough.
Please do get in touch if you want me to promote your business and make it happen for you.