Standing Out & Blending In (The Advice You Never Hear)

When it comes to marketing, every person on Earth knows that you need to stand out, be unique, paint yourself purple, and stick out like a sore thumb.

I’m not saying that advice is wrong, but it’s important to remember that standing out and blending in are not opposites!

Here’s what I mean:

By associating your business with similar groups, you can draw a lot more attention to yourself. Don’t try to be a lone wolf! Instead, find the businesses that compliment your services and start cross-marketing.

Here are a few ways you can do that.

Throw a Charity Event.

If you have a local business, get together with others for a charity or social event. It will create goodwill for your brand and draw in new potential customers.

This can be especially useful for newer businesses to make a name for themselves in the community.

Digital Business? No Problem.
Just Don’t Get Stuck in the Friend Zone.

You’re probably already sending friend requests all over the internet… and you’re probably already disappointed.

Being friends with someone online is a meaningless gesture.

But creating products cooperatively, building lead magnets together, and hosting an event in real life can all make that relationship more powerful.

Even simply offering coupons to your respective customers can strengthen your bond (and your bottom line).

Just Remember:
People Trust Groups More than Individuals.

It’s natural for us to be wary of random people selling us goods and services online.

But by aligning yourself with well-known and trusted businesses, you instantly boost your credibility.

It’s the same reason that web designers show a portfolio of their best clients. It’s called social proof, and it can drastically increase your sales.

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3 Tips for Growing a New Business (for Free)

One of the biggest challenges in starting a new business is simply getting past all the bad advice.

Here’s what most people do when they first get started:

  • Make a website.
  • Put up advertisements.
  • Wait for results.
  • Get disappointed.
  • Quit.

The unfortunate thing here is that paying for a fancy website and some advertisements only reduces the money you have to spend on better, more effective resources.

More importantly, most of the right tools are actually free, like this guide to getting more customers during the holidays.

So here are our 3 tips for growing a new business (for free):

1. Start Small & One-at-a-Time.

No one starts a business with the dream of having one customer.

But the reality is that businesses are built from those early, small groups of customers (that often become loyal patrons for life).

Instead of trying to launch international advertising campaigns, try to zero-in on smaller groups of people.

Getting your name into local newspapers can be far more effective than online advertisements. After all, people like to support local businesses, and you have a legitimate connection to your prospects–they’re your neighbors!

2. Get Involved in Your Community.

We live in a small town of about 20,000 people.

That doesn’t change the fact that we have a vibrant local business community. In fact, I’ve found new clients just by hanging out in the local coffee shop.

Find small business groups. Talk to the owners of restaurants and stores in town.

Yes, it takes more time than posting ads online, and it takes a bit of confidence, but talking to someone in person gives you the advantage of not having to compete with the entire internet for their attention.

3. Grow for Free by Giving for Free.

The content on this website is free. So is this guide to getting more holiday customers.

It’s easy to get sucked into the idea that you have to charge for everything, but the vast majority of people aren’t going to buy something from you the first time you meet.

You have to build trust.

Don’t worry about giving away too much.

You might think that the only way to maintain value is by keeping the gates locked, but that simply isn’t true.

Software often comes with a free version. Grocery stores give away free samples. PR agencies called Two Potatoes offer free consultations.

If your offer isn’t valuable enough that people would pay for it after getting a free sample, you need to improve the offer.

Good luck!

— Ryan

 

Is Publicity Too Serious for Your Small Business?

The short answer:

No.

The long answer:

Businesses don’t hire PR agencies because they’re already big. They hire those agencies to get bigger.

In fact, some of our most successful clients are one-person operations that tactically used a press release to generate more business, sell more products, or increase brand awareness.

Think You Have Nothing to Say?

Guess what. That’s not your job.

It’s ours!

Let’s say you’re a web developer who’s only had a few clients in the past quarter. You don’t have any unique story to tell, and you don’t have any big success to report.

It doesn’t matter.

When you come to a PR agency, it is the agency’s job to figure out how you can publicize yourself.

Even If You Have Literally No “News”…

One of our clients had a supplement that he was marketing.

This weight-loss supplement, Garcinia Cambogia, wasn’t new at the time. It had been on the market for years.

And his supplement wasn’t even a new formulation.

At first glance, there was nothing newsworthy here.

That didn’t matter.

We Create News Stories.

After speaking with that client, we found out some information that helped create a meaningful story–and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The important thing to remember is that he thought there was nothing newsworthy in his product.

But it wasn’t his product we cared about…

it was his customers.

One of his customers had a transformation story that naturally appealed to people, whether they wanted to lose weight or not.

By putting her story alongside the product, we created a story that lifestyle magazines couldn’t resist.

Give Us Your Most Boring Product…

and we’ll give you a news story.

Remember: publicity isn’t just for big businesses. Most of our clients are one-person businesses, some of them making between $1 and $5 million per year.

They didn’t wait until they got rich to start using PR. They used PR to bring attention to their businesses, generating more customers.

Got a one-person business that needs a boost in sales? We’ll be happy to help.

Tell us about your boring, uninteresting, completely mind-numbing business in the contact form below. We’ll give you a few free suggestions for news stories.

[Case Study] How We Got 27% of Publications to Cover an eBook

Let’s face it: there’s no shortage of eBooks out there.

With Amazon and Microsoft Word, anybody can publish a book in a matter of minutes.

There are over 12 million Kindle books available right now, covering virtually every topic and telling virtually every story.

Getting your own book some attention can be frustratingly difficult.

In spite of the overflowing pile of competition, we were able to get stories in 27% of the publications we emailed.

And the way we did it was incredibly simple.

1. Personalized Emails.

Even though your press release is going to be identical for everyone, there’s no reason your emails should be.

In a very informal test, we tried sending out two emails:

  • One with a personalized message, followed by a press release.
  • Another with a generic greeting, followed by a press release.

The personalized email became a story 20% of the time.

The generic email produced only one result–and it wasn’t a story. The recipient emailed us back about two months later to say that they’ve been busy, and they might cover the book later.

So how did we personalize the emails?

All we did was mention something the publication had written about or was proud of. If they focused on environmental concerns, we made sure they knew how important that was to the author.

Press releases create stories, but personalized messages create connections.

2. Following Up.

Just because you haven’t heard back from someone doesn’t mean they’re completely uninterested.

The editor here at Two Potatoes receives literally hundreds of press releases every week. He has to boil that down to a handful of stories, and on top of that, he’s busy actually editing the news.

Sometimes, stories slip through the cracks.

That’s why we followed up. A phone call was the preferred method, but if we couldn’t find the number, we went with a second email.

This boosted our success rate from 20% to 27%.

It only took about 15 minutes, and it created an additional audience of about 100,000.

3. Forget the New York Times.

I love the Times, but they’re probably not going to write about every client that comes through here.

That’s OK.

When deciding whom to email, we didn’t focus on the “big fish.” We found the publications that were going to care most about this particular book, big or small.

Stay-at-home bloggers made the list, too. This is important, because even though they have small audiences of about 1-10,000, it adds up quickly.

Plus, they’re usually pretty excited about having a PR agency email them, asking for their attention.

And the because of the way search engines work…

10 publications with 10,000 viewers is better than
1 publication with 100,000 viewers.

That’s because your book is easier to find and more likely to show up in Google.

It doesn’t sound as impressive (to people outside of marketing), but it’s more important to your sales.

–Ryan

Consumer-Targeted Press Release: The Perpetual Motion Device for Business

I’ve rallied for the use of press releases in place of advertisements due to the (often higher) ROI.

But most people think of a press release as something unrelated to advertisements, which is why consumer-targeted press releases probably don’t get the attention they deserve.

Here’s how it works:

  1. We create a press release with links to your product or service.
  2. The press release is then posted online, either on your own website or with a third-party journal of some sort.
  3. Finally, the press release is also mailed to publications who can then write their own stories about your business.

This consumer-targeted strategy allows your press release to work as an advertisement, sort of like an advertorial or native ad.

3% Conversion and $1.70 per Click.

Using a consumer-targeted press release, one of our clients, a supplement affiliate, managed a 3% conversion rate, making almost $2 for every person who clicked the ad.

($2 isn’t much, but when you have 100,000 visitors every month, it adds up fast.)

And bear in mind that a 3% conversion rate isn’t bad even for an actual advertisement. Getting these results with a press release is great.

Generating Buzz and a Profit All At Once.

Making money directly from the consumer-targeted press release is awesome, but what really sweetens the deal is that our client then used the same press release as… well, a press release.

That means that publications were telling customers about his offer for free, in the form of a news story, which generated even more traffic.

It’s like a perpetual motion device that spits out money.

And all it took was a $250 press release.

What’s the ROI on that?

Well, just 147 clicks covered the cost of the press release.

1,000 clicks after that made him about $1,700.

At 100,000 clicks… $170,000.

That’s enough to quit your day job, take a vacation, buy a new car, and go all-in with your true passion.

Is that worth $250? I certainly think so.

Advertising vs Publicity: Price Comparison

When it comes to advertising and publicity, there are millions of options, and as I’ve said in previous posts, I’m not against advertising. (I’m a copywriter, after all.)

But depending on your budget, publicity is far and away the better deal. Here’s why.

#1. For small budgets, publicity goes farther.

A press release from Two Potatoes, including distribution and guaranteed coverage, costs you just $250.

Our clients have enjoyed audiences of over 500,000 within a few days, 100,000 new customers, and daily revenue gains of $200 — which means they basically made their money back in one day and enjoyed a profit for the rest of the year.

For $250 in online advertisements, you’ll be lucky to get 100,000 views.

More importantly, your advertising results are artificially limited by your budget because…

#2. In advertising, you pay more money for better results.

One advertisement can create a much larger audience than one press release, but only if you’re willing to pay for that audience.

First, you create the ad (or hire someone else to do it). Then, you pay for traffic.

But with a press release from Two Potatoes, you get guaranteed coverage and free distribution. We’ll send it out to our private list of contacts and speak with them directly.

And whether your story generates 1,000 new customers or 1,000,000, the price stays the same. We won’t charge you more money just because your cash flow is up.

#3. Bad news for publicity: you can’t scale up.

If there’s a downside to a Two Potatoes press release, it’s that you can’t buy more customers. (This is the flip side of #2.)

Since our rate is flat, when you have a successful campaign, you can’t pay us more money to bribe publications… that’s just called “advertising.”

Of course, you can hire us to create a new press release and repeat the process, but if you have a budget of $10,000, it wouldn’t make sense to spend it on 40 press releases.

Still, for budgets under $1,000, Two Potatoes PR is a great way to get your business out there, create buzz, and generate new customers.

We even offer services as low as $50 — with a success guarantee.

Know Where You’re Sending Your News

Here’s why you need to know the region you are sending your press releases to.

I was looking at a press release about a pump manufacturer moving into a new facility yesterday. I nearly passed on the story twice because of amateur mistakes.

I almost skipped it immediately because the dateline was from outside of my readership, but decided to read on because the release was from a known contact.

After reading the first paragraph, I still could not find how it was relevant to my region. The release’s only saving grace was that, as I was scrolling away from it, I noticed it had been sent to other news organizations in my area.

I knew it had to be relevant to my publication somehow, so I skimmed the whole release and finally found out, in the last paragraph, that the company who was moving into a new facility was a wholly owned subsidiary of a supply company that was a major player in my readership.

This piece of information should have been front and center.

These days, newspapers are staying alive by focusing in on their region. Editors know that if a story has made it to the Associated Press, then a reader will be able to find it anywhere else. We want to know immediately why that story is relevant to our region because big local news is the best kind of content.

Despite the all encompassing nature of the internet, location matters. It takes time and research to know what regions are affected by your news, what publications would want to know about it, and then tailor the press release to each area.

Want to know what publications in what regions you should send your press release? We can help you with that.

A Two-Page Press Release is Two Pages of Garbage

A few months ago, a prospective client insisted on having a two-page press release for the announcement of his new brand of supplements.

Aside from the fact that it should never take more than a paragraph to explain a weight-loss pill, I had to tell him that a two-page press release is two pages of garbage.

Not for me, as the writer, but for the publications we email.

Two pages might seem like a decent length — after all, you want to be sure there’s enough content — but writing a press release that’s longer than one page is a waste of your time.

Even though two pages is still very short, no one is going to read it. And the reason is quite simple:

You’re asking for twice the amount of time as everyone else, but you haven’t provided any evidence that you’re worth it.

Plus, it shows that you didn’t hire a professional, which is only further evidence that the writer shouldn’t take your announcement seriously.

You may be thinking that your business has some very hefty news, and it simply can’t be explained in one page.

I can guarantee you that’s not true. 

Plus, if there really is more information that needs to be conveyed, the writer will ask for it.

Writers are just that: they write stories for a living. If they need to do more research, they will. They don’t need to you to spell out the whole story, and they’re likely to find new information that you didn’t provide yourself.

For example, I sent out a press release for an eBook just last month.

At just 300 words, it was short even for a press release, but that didn’t stop writers from creating long reviews on the book.

When they needed more material, they simply read the book.

Are you having trouble getting your press release down to one page?

We’ll be happy to help!

Just fill out the contact form below, and we’ll trim down your lengthy press release, ensuring a higher response rate and a more successful campaign.

(By the way, that guy who insisted on a long press release still hasn’t found his way in any publications; I just checked.)

100,000 App Downloads (and Hundreds in Daily Ad Revenue)

This case study is a perfect example of why a press release should be your first strategy, not advertising.

100,000 people downloaded this app, and they open it an average of 12 times per day. If you aren’t familiar with mobile ad revenue, this is generating quite a bit of money — enough for most people to live on.

Just a few months ago, I got the chance to work with MyLOL, the #1 dating site for teens in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. They needed a press release to announce their newest app, SpotAFriend.

Advertising is obviously a very powerful strategy, but the problem with advertisements is that everyone knows you’re selling something.

A press release, on the other hand, becomes a news story… and people trust those publications more than they trust businesses.

So when we spread the word about SpotAFriend with our press release, people were naturally more engaged. They actually took the time to read about the app, instead of dismissing it out of hand.

More importantly, because security was a concern for this teen meetup app, the age verification software was thoroughly reviewed, putting readers to rest.

That kind of trust just doesn’t come out of an advertisement. Sure, advertorials can be effective, but it’s not just about efficiency… it’s about price.

A single advertorial can cost as much as a press release (or even more). 

And while that advertorial is only going to appear in one publication (and requires additional spending for advertising), just one press release can generate five, ten, or twenty stories in multiple different publications.

So if you want the best bang for your buck, a press release can blow away the advertising strategy.

We’re not anti-advertising. (After all, I’m a copywriter.) But too many businesses dismiss press releases altogether and focus on advertising.

In my opinion, you need PR as well as advertising to enjoy a successful campaign, but if you have to choose one, PR is usually the most efficient use of your money.

With the holidays coming up, this is especially true. It’s nearly impossible to compete with the billions of dollars being poured into advertising right now.

But a press release can keep you in front of the competition all season.

To learn how you can stay ahead of the pack, check out our free guide: 3 Ways to Stay Visible in the Blizzard of Holiday Advertising.

Good luck out there!

— Ryan