Ten Ways To Get Free Publicity for Your Business

I'm proud to introduce my latest guest blogger, Mums The Boss, otherwise known as Sam Pearce and Helen Woodham. Mums The Boss is THE Bedfordshire networking group for Mums in business and they recently celebrated their first birthday. Here are are their top ten tried-and-tested free (or nearly free) publicity tips.

In our first year in business we have spent the princely sum of £30 + VAT on promotional activity, paying for an insert service which interestingly had a zero return on investment! However we have managed to appear in the local press 3 times, the national press once, and have been interviewed on our local radio station. We have had a double page spread in a local parenting magazine distributed to over 10,000 mums through the school book bags, been featured on numerous websites and been promoted by several business agencies. We have also secured free venue use, free business advice, free business books and had over 20 prizes donated to a recent raffle. And we’ve done all this without ever having to resort to bribery or blackmail. So, how have we done it? We are proud to unveil the Mum’s The Boss Guide to free (or very cheap) publicity!

  1. Be Friendly – if you are approachable and friendly when you meet people, chances are people will remember you and be more willing to help you out in the future. A warm smile and taking an interest in people costs nothing at all.
  2. Barter – if you can’t afford to pay the going rate for a service, barter some of your product or a service of your own in return.
  3. Think Outside The Box – publicity doesn’t have to be paying for advertsing space. Think creatively about what is newsworthy about your business – or make something newsworthy happen – and submit it as editorial to the press. And think about all your contacts, and whether they could promote you to their client base, spreading the word through word of mouth.
  4. Know your audience – if you know exactly who your audience is it will be much easier to reach them by targetting your promotion accordingly. That way, if you do end up having to pay for advertising, you will save a fortune by reaching the right people first time.
  5. Use the Internet – take full advantage of the many sites and forums that you can list your business or event on for free. All it will cost you is your time. Make good use of all the social networking sites you belong to, such as Twitter or Facebook – they are perfect for spreading a message ‘virally’ as well as a fantastic way to make invaluable business connections and pick up free business advice.
  6. Blog! – if you haven’t already done so, start a blog. If you can attract a good level of readership your blog can become a fantastic medium for you to barter with, offering to promote businesses or review products in return for a favour.
  7. Be Different – the press likes good news stories or things that are quirky or unusual. If there is something unusual about you or your business then capitalise on this. If not, can you engineer a story with added interest, by linking your business to an event, charity or something topical?
  8. Add Value – if you are asking someone to do you a good turn you must be able to show them what’s in it for them. This may be something tangible like a complimentary product, or it could be as simple as giving them access to your contact network or promoting them on your website or blog.
  9. Be Cheeky – if you don’t ask you don’t get, and sometimes if you just have the confidence/brass neck to ask for a freebie or a discount people are surprisingly happy to oblige.
  10. Pay People in Cake! – This one NEVER fails. When bartering for people’s time, expertise or use of a venue always offer to bring homemade cake. Works every time!!

We are by no means PR Gurus and these tips are non industry-standard – they are just things that have worked for us and allowed us to enjoy a certain level of publicity for free! Do you have any creative ideas or tips for getting free publicity? We’d love to hear all about them (mainly so we can try them out ourselves)!

Creative Commons License [nohide]photo credit: Steve Snodgrass[/nohide]

Business Ideas for Mums: Running a pre-school group

Tell me more… Pre-school groups are for children under five and usually held in village halls or community centres. They help children play, learn, have fun and interact with other children and include:

  • Messy play
  • Arts and crafts
  • Music and dance/movement
  • Speech and communication
  • Cooking
  • Baby yoga and massage
  • Languages, including sign language

You might also like to consider becoming a tutor.

What are the benefits?

  • You may be able to take your own children with you, although it will depend on the group and the age of your children. Caring for your own toddler while setting up and clearing away could be hard work!
  • You can run as many or as few sessions as you want.
  • You might be able to start your own franchise.
  • You could diversify e.g. you could also run children’s parties or produce a CD.
  • If you don’t want to start from scratch, there are several franchises you could buy.
  • If you have a background in childcare or education but fancy a change from school or nursery, this could be a rewarding new career.

Things to consider…

  • Parents may encourage you to charge on a per-session basis as it’s more convenient for them. But you’ll have costs to cover such as the hire of a hall, so you may need to charge on a termly basis. You could make this more appealing by offering a the first session for free or the first three sessions to be paid on a per-session basis.
  • Demand is likely to be term-time only, so will you need to find other ways of earning an income for the other 12 weeks in the year? Or does term time working suit you?
  • Many Sure Start centres have opened up over the last few years offering free pre-school sessions. You can compete with this, but you will need to think about what you have to offer that the Sure Start centres don’t have. Alternatively, you could ask them if you could run sessions for them. If you can’t beat them, join them!
  • When working out how much you could earn from running a pre-school group, don’t forget to include the time you won’t be paid directly for, e.g. setting up and clearing away, administration, lesson planning and preparation.
  • Check out the legal requirements, which will be different depending on the group you run. For example – do you need a Criminal Records Bureau check? What are the health and safety requirements, do you need to be inspected by Ofsted? The Pre-School Alliance leaflet (see below) is a good place to start.
  • If you’re looking at buying a franchise, how long will it take you to earn back the franchise fee? What do you get with the franchise? Is this good value for money?
  • It may take you a couple of years to get a full group of children.

Further information

Not convinced that running a pre-school group is for you? Take a look at other business ideas for mums.