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Free PR Tactics

How to spread the word about your business without spending any money

If you're like many entrepreneurs, you haven't set your marketing budget. That's because you haven't been effective in your planning, don't know what it will cost, or can't afford to spend any money on marketing.

All are real-life situations. When any of these situations arise, though, there are many free or low-cost things you can do to market your business. PR is one example. The cost of sending out a press release is the cost of a fax, a postage stamp or an e-mail. Doing this on a regular basis is key to keeping your name in front of your customers' and prospects' eyes and in creating top-of-mind awareness for you and your products and services.

In the spirit of guerrilla marketing, here are five more types of free marketing using PR:

1. Writing articles: Writing about how to do something is always something of value to readers. Writing articles gives you instant credibility. Submitting online, as well as offline, provides another good chance to get your name in print at no cost. Not a writer? Write down 10 questions you think your prospects might have about a particular area of your expertise and write out the answers to those questions. This can be an article. Lists are great articles and can be top 10 lists, checklists, mistakes made and so on.

2. Free reports: Offering a free report online is a good way to get an e-mail from prospects so you may market to them later. You can do the same thing offline to get contact information. Offering the report offline is a good way to get a prospect to call or contact you. The information gained from the exchange can then be used for subsequent marketing over and over again.

3. Online forums: Participating in online newsgroups and forums is another way to get your name in front of a prospective buyer. Participating by answering and asking questions will position you as an expert and a resource for others. Many online forums will let you put an e-mail signature with a link to your website or an affiliate website.

4. Letters to the editor: A little-known secret that's a good follow-up to a press release is a letter to an editor. This is free PR. Many times, a letter to the editor has a better chance of getting published than the actual press release. You'd be surprised how many people read this column in publications. You can even write a letter to the editor about someone else's PR. Don't ignore this one.

5. Hosting an event: Hosting an event for your business or at your business can be the equivalent to getting an article published in a targeted publication. The event can take the form of an open house or a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Publicizing the event is news in the eyes of an editor, a producer or a target market member. Not only can you publicize the announcement of the event, but you can also invite the media and publicize the event itself. Another kind of event is a seminar or presentation of some type. Again, the same PR leverages can occur.

These are just some of the many free PR avenues that can increase the top-of-mind awareness with your target customers and prospects. You don't need a huge budget for any of these tactics. In fact, most can be done with no cost involved at all.

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.

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