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How to Be Your Own Media Company

You Are a Media CompanyYou started a new business. You have a great product, and you've figured out who should buy it. Now you're ready to get sales and bring in customers. This is when you decide how to execute a marketing plan. In the old days, that was a lot simpler. Still, there are inexpensive ways to market your stuff, as long as you accept one fact: You're also a media company.

Social changes
One in 11 people on the planet is on Facebook. Most everyone you know has an e-mail account, and likely, an account with at least one social network. That means your customers, your prospects and other contacts you hope to reach and nurture are using these tools to communicate, consume, acquire news and learn--and you have the tools to produce something of value to them.

Tools for the Job
Blog: WordPress.org
Get free WordPress software, set it up on your own domain and build a valuable communications platform.

Video: YouTube.com, Vimeo.com
Have accounts on both and use TubeMogul.com to upload videos to each.

Social networks: Plus.Google.com, Twitter.com, Facebook.com
Pick two of these and start connecting with people.

Photos: Flickr.com
Use this photo-sharing site to host and display pictures.

E-mail: MailChimp.com
This freemium model lets you grow slowly but build momentum fast--and it's easy to navigate.

Create variables
If you want to reach people, get them where they are. E-mail (though some worry it's dead) is still the No. 1 method of reaching people digitally. Don't translate that to mean "let's lob a crappy newsletter full of promotions" at people. Instead, write simple, 500-word e-mails that read personably and offer more than your "thing of the week."

Set up a blog, and post weekly articles. Use a video blog to really get people's attention. Keep videos to four minutes or less for anything except in-depth interviews. And if you want another big move, offer audio downloads to go with your videos. I've seen a huge uptick in people wanting audio files to take with them after they've seen the video.

Broaden distribution
Because e-mail is still tops, work hard to get your buyers and prospects to sign up for your free e-mail newsletter. Utilize Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ (yes, it's in its early days, but I swear it's the next big thing).
If your buyers are very mobile, consider an SMS service to send out brief updates to them via text (get people to opt in or they'll hate you for this). Construction workers, transportation pros and the like work much more from text and voice than e-mail and the web. Keep that in mind.

Curate and distribute
You don't just want to beat people over the head with your own products or services. Find interesting information that applies to their tastes and share that, too. If you're a fledgling winery, for example, offer pairing recipes or link to relevant videos you've found on YouTube. Do whatever you can to share more than your own stories.

It's up to you
You've got the chance to earn people's attention, to convert them from an audience into a community--and, ultimately, into loyal buyers. That's a process, one that takes little money, but requires attention and care. You can't just fire away and hope.

So, what do you think? Ready to get into the media business?

Chris Brogan is president of Human Business Works, a small-business education and growth company. He is also co-author of The New York Times bestselling book Trust Agents, and author of Social Media 101. He blogs at chrisbrogan.com.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the November 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: You Are a Media Company.

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