We are a small bakery. We don't have thousands, or even hundreds of dollars to spend on advertising each month. Most small business advisors will tell you how important getting the word out is, and they are so right. That's why we have a website, and why we have a blog.
The dilemma for us, and for many small businesses, is how to make every dollar spent on PR and advertising go as far as possible. It went very far today. The Tuscaloosa News published a photo of our rose and SEC cookies on the front page of the West Alabama section. In color!! If you click on the link, there are six more photos! And it did not cost us an arm or a leg!
We've been in the Tuscaloosa News before (and the Northport Gazette, and the Planet Weekly). When we opened the shop, when we published our cookbook, when we came up with the "Saban Hat" cookie. We've also been featured on local WVUA television. Even Fox6 in Birmingham has interviewed us three times! For a small business in a small city, this is better than Oprah. Lots of people read the local newspaper, and even more just look at the pictures, especially the color ones on the front page.
Access to our news media is one of the advantages of doing business in a smaller city. Yes we have crime and politics, but opening a bakery, publishing a book, or celebrating football is also news here. Tuscaloosa may not be Chicago, or even Birmingham, but we have most of the same amenities -- on a smaller scale. Unfortunately, many of the large media companies, and some of the smaller ones just don't get it.
I get calls almost every day from media sales representatives who want to sell us advertising. They simply do not understand why I'm not willing to pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to attract someone into the shop to spend one dollar on a cookie. Or that I don't have the time or inclination to explain my business plan to perfect strangers again and again.
The conversation often goes like this...
"You have such a nice shop here. It has that 'wow' factor that would really 'pop' on screen (or in print, or whatever), and you have come highly recommended."
Or "This cookie so delicious, I had no idea you were back here. I'd love to help you expand your business."
I'm busy so I cut to the chase. "Is there money involved on my part?"
"Well...yes, you would be sponsoring the video (or the ad). But I am sure it would pay for itself."
I think not.
But free? Well free is good.