As soon as the weatherman reports the threat of snow or ice, grocery stores start running low on milk, bread and eggs. There’s a definite connection between the world of current events and the health of local businesses. Some of these connections are pretty obvious; others can be subtle. Making your small business part of a news story is an effective marketing gambit that will double, triple or quadruple your marketing dollar. It can also net you invaluable community good will into the bargain.

How News Headlines Help Small Business

When you start thinking about the news as a vehicle for your promotional efforts, you’ll begin to see current events in a new way. Who is your ideal customer, and how might a news story capture his interest? Keep a notebook of words and phrases that reflect your company brand and market. It’ll help focus your attention and get your creative juices flowing.

Leverage volunteerism. Say there’s a push in your local community to clean up the streets through a volunteer weekend litter removal campaign. You contact the event sponsors and offer to provide beverages to volunteers as they pass your facility. Your generosity nets your company a small mention in the local paper and a comment on a local news broadcast. During coverage of the event, your employees are filmed smiling and wearing your logo prominently on their tee shirts. You get your name out to the public, and it’s associated with a worthy cause — a double benefit.

Find a good fit. Your regional lottery jackpot is into the stratosphere and your company sells wallets, or you sell bicycles and gas prices are skyrocketing. These are two examples of product related current events that can drive your marketing campaigns. Make the nightly news work for you by devising eye catching headlines for banners, signs, social media interactions and blog posts that link news topics to your business or products. There will be events that dovetail well with your products and others that will work with a bit of creative license.

Imagine how much more difficult it is to start a new conversation with a stranger at a cocktail party than it is to contribute to an already lively discussion. The nice thing about using current events as a hook for your marketing strategies is that the lead, or the news story, has already gotten the ball rolling. One of the few downsides is that topic specific campaigns are generally of short duration, so the window of opportunity can be small. The media spotlight may be short lived, but some interest will linger and result in increased sales, customer interest, and enhanced brand recognition. A couple of successful campaigns will promote your brand to, if not household name status, at least more prominence than it enjoys today.

You can’t take advantage of headline opportunities unless you track current events and anticipate the way a breaking news story can work to your advantage via a play on words, product application, industry tie-in or other device. These tips will help:

  • How is your product relevant – Whatever the story happens to be, your products should inform the discussion. It could be practical, like selling rock salt when the temperatures plummet, or fun, like promoting your line of reading glasses on International Literacy Day (September 8th).
  • Do you have time to mount a campaign – Some news stories are one or two day wonders, and nothing is worse than exploiting a viral news topic that’s waning. If you’re intrigued by this type of marketing approach, watch stories and trends unfold for a while before you jump in. You’ll be a much better guesser when it comes to what’s going to stay hot for a while and what’s not.

The key here is to spread your efforts across a number of marketing strategies to get and keep your name out there where people can see and begin to recognize it. When it comes to news focused marketing, responding quickly is one advantage a small business has over a large company with slow marketing response times. Be sure to make it work for you.

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