THE BLOG
21/05/2014 13:07 BST | Updated 21/07/2014 06:59 BST

Getting the Word Out on Your Small Business

Once you've made it through the development phase and hired your team - you certainly feel you're ready to get out there and sell your product or service. But how exactly do you get the word out? I've found that many entrepreneurs struggle with this. It's important to remember that marketing and PR is not an afterthought to your business plan. Marketing and good PR is essential for the success of any business. It may not matter how great the product or service you are offering is if nobody knows about it.

Think carefully about the image you want to project and spend time on a marketing plan. When creating and implementing this, it is important to think about your branding and how you want your business to be perceived in both the short and long term. Rebranding is not something you want to be continuously doing in your first couple months after you've hit the ground running.

Every business is different, and as an entrepreneur no one knows that better than you and your team. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work; you need to spend time researching your audience and focusing on the messages you want to communicate. Once you know your message and audience, you need to discover what mediums work best to project your message. It may be TV, print, social media, guerrilla marketing or a combination of all mediums that may work best for your brand.

Additionally, keep your goals in mind. Do you need to drive traffic to your website, simply raise awareness or increase sales? Setting clear objectives from the start is crucial to your marketing success. Every marketing action should be measurable, so ensure you have the ability to track all the results.

You know how great your product or service is - now is your chance to amplify this to the rest of the world. From the start you should be thinking about what added value your company or product brings. What makes it unique? Many entrepreneurs have asked me to share with them the secret to get a journalist to listen. The truth is there are thousands of business stories. You need to be thinking why a journalist would be interested in yours? If you were a journalist and you brought a story to your editor, why would they give you the okay to print your story? The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners think outside the box and learn to identify the angle or hook.

When I set up Hamilton Bradshaw, I went directly to a PR agency thinking that they would help me get the word out on my company. After six months, I was only getting two to three stories in trade publications. What I learned in the end, is that no matter how many people are working the PR side of the business for you, nor how much money you pay -you're never going to get the results and the big return you're looking for if you haven't thought about your angle.

I now see Communications as vital to the growth of any business. I set up my specialist start-up investment vehicle Recruitment Entrepreneur for that specific reason; because I know that apart from capital, my team and I can add real value to any business by helping entrepreneurs think and communicate their unique selling points to the public.

Remember to also continue to fine tune your communications and marketing. Once people get to your website, you need to keep them engaged. Your site should be aesthetically pleasing while at the same time promoting your unique selling points. Some small businesses produce a website then forget about it for two or three years, when they should be reviewing it every month. Every month something happens to your business - whether you have hired someone, won an important new client or launched a new product or service. All of this should be visible on your website.

The remarkable thing about the world we live in today is that businesses with tight budgets could use social media as the cornerstone of their marketing. If Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn is useful for you, then don't miss out on the opportunity use these free tools. The benefit of social media is that it allows you to experiment with your message and target a specific audience.

You can also use your industry knowledge by participating in speaking engagements or giving expert opinions to publications. Imaging being quoted in an article related to your line of business, which you can then use it to promote your business. Perhaps more people will look you up and you can use the piece as fresh content on social media -all improving your branding and company reputation.

There have never been more ways to reach your audience; you just need to be creative, think outside the box and capture the imagination of your customers and the people talking about you.

James Caan is offering up to half a million pounds and his mentoring to the next recruitment entrepreneur. To find out more visit recruitmententreprenuer.com