Written by Dawn Mucci
You created a great concept and now you are ready to let the world know about your brand. The trouble is, you only have so many marketing dollars in your company coffers to get the word out. If you are a new or emerging brand with minimal capital this can be a huge challenge. I’ve been there myself and I know the struggle is real. If you find yourself in this situation or simply want to learn how to save some money in this department, consider using the media to grow your brand. I did this successfully albeit out of sheer necessity and I did it by spending time crafting my story and sharing it passionately, forming relationships with key contacts in the industry at all levels. There are many forms of media for you to leverage and I will touch on the top ones in this article.
In all honesty, I was not really using the media. I was helping the media engage their audience with relevant and timely content they needed and wanted to grow their perspective interest. This can be accomplished through traditional media such as TV, radio, and print or via platforms like social media, YouTube, events, podcasts, article writing etc. When I say to ‘use the media’, what I mean is to use what you have to offer in the way of a story, expertise or educational content. When you realize it is not about what the media can offer you but what you can offer them, it becomes less intimidating and much easier to approach people to create those mutually beneficial relationships.
I asked a couple of my franchise industry friends who have done an excellent job in this regard to provide me with their insights; they were more than happy to share these tips:
Make it easy and be timely with your content
Fellow Mompreneur member Ruthie Burd of The Lunch Lady is a media darling, appearing on countless TV shows and in articles teaching families the importance of healthy eating and showing them creative lunch options. She had the following suggestions:
“Be prepared not only with a compelling story but to also have pictures and props, which will eliminate the need to send a photographer or do extra production work. People have too much coming at them already. Anything you can do to reduce their time stress and make it easy for them is appreciated. Be timely with your content as well; for example, we make school lunches a subject of interest in September when the new school year begins. Tell everyone your story, you never know who is listening or who knows who. Finally, hire an agency or someone professional to help you be prepared with ideas to pitch for their advice and feedback. You want to create synergistic partnerships with anyone representing your brand to ensure your voice is authentic in the public space.”
Be engaging, genuine, and give back
Ryan Smolkin of Smoke’s Poutinerie knows a thing or two about branding and leveraging the media, in particular, social media. From day one he was heavily focused on social media as a vehicle to grow his brand and still is. His suggestions:
“You can garner massive amounts of exposure and new business leveraging this platform but you must get the messaging and engagement part right first. Make sure you are authentic and genuine when sharing your brand story. Have fun with your audience. Get out into the community and engage people by creating events and opportunities that give back or allow for interaction and participation. Share these events on social media and engage others to do the same by creating interesting and desirable content for them to share, comment on or participate in.
For example, The Annual Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship that ties in a charity has a massive appeal on social media. Use these global initiatives and encourage franchisees to put a regional spin on them while weaving in their own local flair and charity. Provide leadership, content and opportunity for franchisees and customers alike to help you in this effort as social media works best when the conversation is real, shared, interesting and creates a visceral experience. Start conversations with influencers who have a massive appeal and large followings but make sure you are engaging in mutually beneficial conversations. It’s all about interactions that foster a sense of equal benefit, enjoyment and belonging.
Finally, keep at it and keep an eye on it. Negativity of any kind in any direction will ruin all your best efforts. Make sure your brand story and messages are being shared in a professional and authentic manner that benefits and effects others in a positive way. Not all brands hit the viral lottery on social media right away and it may not happen overnight but if you get it right and persist over time, your fan base and brand will grow one like and share at a time.”
Put yourself out there, be persistent, and attention grabbing
Brian Scudamore took his concept and grew it into a multi-national brand with a guerilla marketing approach to using the media. You may recall back in the early days how 1-800-GOT-JUNK used the media very successfully to get attention when he and his team of providers and franchisees were profiled wearing those awkward big blue wigs. This made more than the local news and eventually helped expose his brand and made it a household name.
I asked Brian what advice he would give a business owner about using the media for brand awareness and PR:
“If you have a new business, you need to get your brand out there. In 1989, when 1-800-GOT-JUNK got started, he was constantly picking up the phone to pitch the brand to media. It’s about getting resourceful and connecting with the right people. The most important thing to consider when leveraging media is authenticity. You should avoid false claims and never say anything you don’t mean. We promise up-front pricing, clean trucks, and friendly drivers — and we deliver on those promises. Our customers come to us because they know we’ll follow through every time. Media has been critical to our brand awareness and growth. When we got our first PR hit in 1992, on the front page of The Province, it had a direct impact on business — phones started ringing. When we landed The Oprah Winfrey Show, our franchise sales exploded. As business has grown, so has our media presence.”
Using the media to grow your brand has clearly helped these three franchise companies and I suspect countless others including my own. I know my franchisees appreciate the effort I put into establishing personal relationships with the media and the PR that comes our way from it. Navigating the many media platforms in a strategic way and sticking with it will only propel your business and in turn help your franchisees and/or employees succeed while making your brand a household name that stands out from the crowd.
Dawn Mucci is an Elite+ Mompreneur Member based out of Innisfil, Ontario. She is the Founder & CEO of Lice Squad Canada.
Featured image courtesy of shutterstock.com