3 steps to getting your small business discovered

Marketing maven Mark Amtower shares expert tips for making your small business stand out in the crowd.

I recently saw a discussion post in a group on LinkedIn that complained about people not lining up to download an application this person had on his web site. Why don’t people come to get this totally unique, valuable application? the person whined.

Why indeed!

We don’t operate in a vacuum and business does not occur by burning incense, chanting and praying for the phone to ring – or by posting something on a web site that very few people know about or visit.

What’s a company got to do to get on the radar?

Here are three relatively simple things that any company, especially small companies, should be doing so they can "get found."

First, define your expertise in terms that resonate with your niche in the market. Bob Davis, vice president at HeiTech Services in Silver Spring, Md., calls this defining your “sustainable competitive advantage,” which should be something that your company does better than 90 percent of your competitors. This is a skill that you have demonstrated through work with a variety of clients, not simply one you claim without demonstrable experience.

In other words, you need to differentiate your company.

Second, get conversant with the new social media tools. Social media here encompasses web 2.0 tools like webinars, podcasts, blogs, web video, web radio and social networks like LinkedIn and GovLoop. To stand out and be found, you have to participate in multiple venues and offer some good content in each.

This does not mean that you have to use all of the above web tools, but you need to understand the value that each tool offers. Then use the tools that will help you get your message out to targeted audiences.

As I indicated in last month's column, each of these tools brings something different to the table.

If you are offering a technical solution, webinars are a great tool to educate. Both blogging and webinars are great for developing a thought leadership position in your niche. Podcasts allow you to offer white papers, another thought leadership tool, in an audio format.
The goal is to use one or two of these tools on a regular basis to highlight and support your claim to your market position and your sustainable competitive advantage.

The third task is to spread the word. You now have the message (your sustainable competitive advantage) and the platform(s) – whichever tools you have opted to use.

Next, you have to tell people where to find this great content. In February 2011 I wrote “Content may be King, but Delivery is the Ace” in which I explained that, although content is key to proving you own a particular piece of intellectual real estate, unless you can show people where to find that content, you will never get on the radar and get the right people to read, listen to, or watch any of the content you have developed.

Traditional methods still work. A solid PR campaign can help, but using social media to share the content as well as deliver it is effective.

Many people read my Washington Technology columns because they find the link to the article posted on LinkedIn, Tweeted, and occasionally even on Facebook.

Go back to the beginning of this article where the guy was whining about people not downloading an application that this person had on his web site. People have to know it’s there in order to download it.

Get on board and get on the radar of your audience.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Mark Amtower also will be leading a workshop at FOSE on April 4 on government marketing essentials.
FOSE and Washington Technology share a parent company, 1105 Media.