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Marketing / Small Businesses

8 Ways to Be Your Own PR Firm

No business is so small it doesn't have to market or manage relations with customers and the community, but many are too small to afford professional help.
8 Ways to Be Your Own PR Firm
Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images
- Guest Writer
Entrepreneur, business advisor and marketing expert.
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The office building I own, which serves as the headquarters for my internet marketing company, also host a number of tenants, such as Dr. Adam Harris, the proprietor of one of the fastest-growing wellness practices in the state of Colorado. On the surface, what he does and what I do are light-years apart -- he's a one-man operation while I have dozens of employees; he heals people while I bolster their ROI; he engages his clients one-on-one while I have hundreds of clients around the world I may never personally meet. But, it turns out, the secret to Adam's seemingly "overnight" success is very similar to mine. The truth is, there is no secret, no magic bullet, no easy way. In today's society, marketing yourself and your business is easily as much work as the business itself; almost like a second job. We sat down recently to compare notes, and here are the eight key concepts Dr. Harris swears by, in his own words. Just substitute "business" and "customer" where he says "clinic" and "patient" and you'll see his advice applies to any local business.

1. Referrals

I know this seems like the most obvious thing, and yet can be the most difficult to master. I have found the best way to establish a referral-based clinic is to talk about referrals. Do not ask for referrals, but talk about them. If you truly care about something such as establishing a referral-based clinic, it will naturally be something you want to talk about. Start by asking new and prospective patients who referred them. When new patients come in, have your staff ask a few more times to really reiterate the referral mindset. Have a few referral reminders around the office, such as a small sign that says we appreciate your referrals. Have a TV running different slides and tickers about referrals; and the most important thing is to have a white board thanking people who have referred. If you want to establish a referral-based clinic, you must talk a lot about referrals!

Related: 5 Referral Marketing Strategies for Professional Service Providers

2. Text messaging

I set up a Google number and provide it to my patients. I have found it to be a fantastic way to communicate with current and prospective patients. Now my patients feel connected to me at all times of the day and can ask questions and get answers any time they want. I probably do 80 percent of my scheduling from the convenience of text messaging. I have also established appointment reminders which are a fantastic history for my patients to see when they will be coming in for their next appointment.

Related: 5 Rules for Texting Anyone You Do Business With

3. Stay visible.

I have found that if you try to hide, no one will find you. You must think of yourself as your own publicist and be visible within your community. A publicist must generate and manage publicity for a public figure (especially a celebrity), a business, a book, a film or an album. Most top-level publicists work in private practice, handling multiple clients; your only client is you. If you are truly happy with what you are selling, you won't have any problem shouting about it from the rooftops. Ways of being visible include social media, blogs, websites, talks, groups, volunteering and being active within the community.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a PR Firm

4. Sponsor a local team or a pro athlete.

In the past, a great way to get your face in front of a lot of people who need your service is to donate your time to high school sports, clubs and more. I teamed up with a local PT and together we pick times to come to the school and help the kids. Later, I became active in the pro world and sponsored one pro athlete. We were able to cross promote each other as well as generate a ton of referrals within that athlete's circle of friends and competitors.

Related: Before You Sponsor an Event, Answer These Questions

5. Philanthropic partnerships

On a quarterly basis, partner up with a local charity and do different types of campaigns and drives for their cause. Often the charity will publish what you are doing within their network, which is a great way to expand your own reach. At the end of the drive, hold an "after hours" to present what you have collected and celebrate!

Related: 4 Strategies to Build a Stronger Brand Through Philanthropy

6. Talks and speeches

I went around to different restaurants and food chains and asked to speak with their marketing reps. Sometimes they have a marketing budget and a goal to cater different events. You can use the list of potential clients they want to reach and offer a catered presentation that suits the client. This is a much easier way to penetrate businesses who normally wouldn't allow you past the front desk. Once the "Lunch and Learn" is setup, the employees would be treated to a nice meal and a short educational talk about health and wellness.

Related: How Entrepreneurship And Education Can Go Together

7. Corporate wellness programs

I routinely go into larger business groups and offer discounted care, provided I'm able to treat enough people at their place of business. This takes a little bit more time to establish, but eventually you'll have a few businesses to treat once or twice a month on a wellness basis only. This is another great way to reach out and get to know the employees as well as their families. If they get injured or need more specialized care they will come to your office first.

8. Give material.

I purposely left this for last, as it pertains to the other things I spoke of in combo. I firmly believe that you need to give the world an opportunity, and material, to give back. Do not place your marketing dollars on a 1-1 basis. In other words, if you do a talk and no one signs up, don't worry; you put material out into the world and you will get new patients from other sources! If you create a void for new patients to fill and allow yourself to be ready to accept those patients, as well as tell the word you are in the business of new patients, the world will reward you with new patients! The key is, you have to have both in order for it to work.

Dr. Harris's guide to distinguishing yourself and your business underscores a hard truth. The notion of hanging a sign on a door and achieving success is a myth. You must market, promote and network every day. You must give to get. But, if you have the stamina and commitment and follow these steps, or adapt them and make them your own, you will come a little closer each day to achieving your dream.

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