Q: What can I do to make my business more well-known in the marketplace?

A: Ever run into that one person everyone refers to as "the computer guy"? How many times have you heard, "I need to go see the florist lady," or "I need to call the fix-it guy"? These labels didn't just happen because these people decided to enter that particular vocation, hang out their shingle and just assume their respective professional moniker. To assume icon status, you have to create what is known in marketing circles as "top of mind awareness." When the need arises for a particular service or product, what is the first thing, name, company or store that comes to mind? Whether it's a person or a business, they have successfully achieved top of mind awareness. The goal of PR-and all marketing-is to be parked in your customers' minds right next to the need button; this button rests right at the top of their mind.

The more buzz about a product or service, obviously the more awareness exists. The more awareness exists, the higher the probability of being in that top of mind position.

Creating a buzz and awareness is done by many things, usually all working together synergistically. It's been said and written about in particular that marketing is made up of many, many, many things. Buzz and awareness work in much the same way.

Getting that label and moniker starts with announcing to the world-usually announcing to your particular target market-that you are in business. This is done with a press release that's sent to the media, handed out to prospects and customers, or used as a direct-mail piece. Posting the press release on your Web site is another effective communication.

Some companies don't have the buzz, yet they've been in business awhile. How then, can they start the process of awareness? They can't announce the grand opening of their business; it's too late in the game.

In this case, a press release can still be used. The information communicated is just different. Since we stated that marketing is made up of many, many things, the buzz is not just dependent on a start-up announcement. There are many media- and news-related items that can be communicated about a company or organization. Anniversaries, relocations, new products, new services, promotions and so on are just a few examples.

In addition to buzzing through the media, being seen contributes to awareness. This is where networking plays a large part. Public presentations are highly effective. They not only provide exposure, but also the extra bonus of credibility that happens when you establish yourself as an expert.

Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.com and http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, or e-mail him at al@market-for-profits.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.