Whatever your product or service is, you know it’s great. You know that, if people only paid attention, they’d be lining up to get what you’re offering. But therein lies the rub: how do you get people to pay attention in the first place? In this world of nonstop chatter and sensory overload, standing out from the crowd is tougher than ever. Word of mouth and organic growth are important, but most businesses can’t rely entirely on the traditional WOM marketing techniques. You must work to get noticed in other ways, as well, but how?

Dave Navarro wrote at Small Fuel Marketing about how to get your small business noticed. He offered 35 tips, but we’ve combined some and highlighted others to create the following list of ten. Take these tips, get your business (and yourself) on the map, and watch your success increase!

1. Conquer your fear of public speaking. One great way to become more visible is to speak in front of people. Find meetings, organizations, clubs and groups that are relevant to your offering, then make yourself available to speak to them. Many of these groups are regularly on the lookout for guest speakers for their meetings, and you might fit their bill.

One important thing – Don’t make your speech one big sales pitch. Instead, pick a topic that relates to your offering and to the group, position yourself as an expert (or expert-ish), and give an informative, entertaining talk. You can reference your own offering in subtle ways, and of course, the group will have your business card and other info in hand once you’ve met them. You won’t get paid for these speaking gigs (and you shouldn’t be paying to do them, either), but they can do wonders for your visibility.

If you REALLY can’t conquer your fear of speaking, invite a speaker to your own office instead, and send invitations to people that you would like to connect with. Invite them to come hear the speaker, and then take the opportunity to interact with them when they arrive.

2. Invite a media outlet to interview you. Many media outlets, especially local or very niche-specific ones, crave news about local businesses. Interviews are especially attractive because the interviewers can get in-depth while still making the subject human and accessible (and they’re more fun to read than a big block of non-dialogue text). Again, offer insight into a topic relevant to your product or service; the better you position yourself as someone with the knowledge, the more likely people will turn to you for what they need. Being interviewed will also put your name and business in front of a wide variety of potential customers.

3. Be part of a worthy cause. There are lots of great causes out there, and being a sponsor or regular contributor can put you in the spotlight. You don’t have to be a platinum-level sponsor for a major fundraiser, of course; simply contribute how you can, be it through money or goods/services. Causes are always seeking business sponsors who can help them reach their goals, and the publicity and good PR for you are helpful to your own desire to get noticed. If you can manage to get your brand associated with a cause that people care about, you will have succeeded.

4. Get your blog on. We’ve talked before about why you need a blog to build social capital and get more attention for your offering online. But having a good, high-ranking blog is more than simply writing a post here or there about something helpful or entertaining that relates to your product (although that’s very important, since fresh, quality content is key). Take your blog further by inviting other professionals in your field to write guest posts, and offer to guest-post for others. This sort of “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” arrangement means a bigger audience for you and increased recognition for your blog. You can also interview someone for your blog, further driving traffic to your pages; don’t forget, you should comment on other blogs to maintain your participation in the conversation surrounding your niche.

5. Do an ad space swap. Buying advertising space can be pricey, but if you swap ads with another company, it can be free and beneficial. Find a company with an audience you’d like access to (perhaps a company with an offering complementary to yours) and suggest that they place an ad for your company on their page. Put an ad to their company on your own page in return. This can widen your visibility significantly.

Along the same lines, if you’d like to buy ad space but can’t afford it on your own, think about splitting the cost with another company. You can share the space and divide the cost, which could be great for both of you. Your business relationships really can help you be seen!

6. Take Word of Mouth up a notch. Word of mouth matters a lot, and we know that people are more likely to buy from companies that are recommended by their friends. So how do you get people to talk about you? Usually, people talk at one of two times: after a really bad experience, or after a really good one. Try to be the latter! The more outstanding your service is, the more likely customers will refer others to you in glowing terms. Be the standout in your field for how you treat people, and word will definitely get around.

7. Don’t cast too wide a net. Many companies try to do too much and focus on too broad a market. Narrow your niche to get more visibility quickly among a more specific group of potential customers. Once you’ve established your superiority in that niche, you can start to widen your field a bit, drawing in other niches or a broader customer base. Starting small can be the key to getting really and truly set as a success before you branch out.

8. Make a video. Lots of companies try this and fail. They try to be cute, funny, shocking or unique in the hopes that their video will go viral, but in the end, they generally end up falling on their faces. Instead of trying to one-up the “evolution of dance” guy, do what you should be doing with your blog: create content that’s helpful to those in your niche. If your company makes a specific engine part for cars, make a how-to video that illustrates how your part can be installed and used. You can also use video to interview experts, illustrate case studies or otherwise share info with those who really care to see it. Once you’ve made and posted your videos on YouTube, share them on your blog, website and forums. You might not reach viral spread to the tune of 14 million hits, but your videos might become the go-to content for your niche market, raising your visibility still further.

9. Make new friends, but keep the old. Don’t burn bridges in your business. Instead, get to know the influencers in your niche, and make yourself useful to them. Help them solve issues and make new contacts, and they’ll probably return the favor by spreading the word about you. In addition, keep in touch with your older contacts regularly! You never know when someone might be in a position to refer a customer to you, so you want to stay on all the relevant radars.

10. Stay above-board. You might have heard recently about the online businessman who used negative feedback from his angry customers to boost his own page ranking. He abused and threatened clients and, as a result, he saw his position rise, at least temporarily. But now, that guy is in jail, and Google is tweaking their algorithms to try to keep negative content from raising a company’s rank. That guy thought he had the system figured out, but he got his visibility in a bad way, and it came back to bite him.

When you’re working toward getting noticed yourself, don’t break the rules. Avoid spam (in emails, comments or forums), don’t go for link farms to artificially inflate your page rank, and don’t make people angry just to get ahead. Google has ways of punishing those who game the system, banishing them to low rankings and bad reputations. It’s not worth it! Keep your nose clean and get noticed the right way. Good luck!

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