How to distribute publicity materials

The Nation’s Leading Expert on the Business of Family Child Care

Home Marketing How Can You Distribute Your Marketing Materials?

One of the cheapest ways for family child care providers to get the word out about their program is to distribute marketing materials in their community.

Obviously, you want to distribute them in locations where parents with young children will see them.

Here are some tips about how to promote your program:

  • Have the postal service mail your business postcard to everyone in your area (www.usps.com).
  • Pass out flyers or business cards to families attending youth sports games (ages two and up). Advertise in youth sports programs.
  • Check to see if your county has an online message board and post an advertisement (with an incentive) there.
  • Find out if there is a Moms of Multiples or Mothers of Twins club in your area. If so, advertise your program through these organizations. Parents of multiples often have trouble finding care, particularly infant care.
  • Look in local classified ads for people selling baby items and send them a flyer.
  • Look for birth announcements in your local newspaper. Use the White Pages to locate their address. Mail them a postcard.
  • Tape your business card to children’s books and donate them to doctor’s offices, dentists, beauty salons, eye doctors, pediatrician offices, and veterinary clinics.
  • Put your flyer on the windshield of cars parked at Toys”R”Us, Chuck E. Cheese, and so on. Look for cars that have car seats.

To purchase marketing materials cheaply, check out VistaPrint.

What ideas have you used that worked?

Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com

For more marketing ideas, see my book Family Child Care Marketing Guide.

Target Your Marketing Campaigns

Choose your audience and connect. Use the free Every Door Direct Mail ® (EDDM ® ) mail route mapping tool to target addresses in specific areas, whether you’re sending small business advertisements or large corporate mailings.

Save money on marketing campaigns. USPS ® offers a variety of mail service classes and postage rates based on mailpiece format and content and mailing volume and delivery options.

How to distribute publicity materials

Direct Mail Specialists

Get help formatting your direct mail postcards, brochures, letters, flyers, and more. Contact printers and mail service providers for advice.

Customized Direct Mail

Start a B2B or B2C conversation that turns into C2C sharing. It’s word of mouth in a mailbox. It’s Share Mail ® .

USPS Marketing Insights

Discover expert mailing and shipping tips to save money, be more efficient, and grow your business with USPS Delivers ™ .

Advertise with Every Door Direct Mail

Our online mapping tool and Every Door Direct Mail delivery service make it easy and economical to plan and execute a mailing. Just create mailpieces on your own, select postal routes and pay for postage online, and bring them to us for delivery.

How to distribute publicity materials

How to distribute publicity materials

Email Marketing with Informed Delivery

USPS Informed Delivery ® allows you to engage customers through integrated mail and digital marketing campaigns. See how you can reinforce your call-to-action and drive customer responses with digital mail previews that are tied to physical mailpieces arriving in mailboxes soon.

Deliver Votes with Political Mail

Promote a political candidate, referenda, or campaign using First–Class Mail ® , USPS Marketing Mail ® , or Every Door Direct Mail service. Direct mail marketing provides a personal and cost-effective way to get your message across.

How to distribute publicity materials

How to distribute publicity materials

Direct Mail Promotions

Enhance how your customers interact and engage with mail. USPS offers direct mail advertising promotions and incentives to help you continuously invest in the future of your business, and promote best practices for integrating direct mail with mobile technology and highlight new products and other innovative mailing techniques.

Promote Your Product with Samples

Make your direct mail marketing campaign even more persuasive by putting samples of your product right into people’s hands. See how it works and find the best formats for your product samples.

How to distribute publicity materials

How to distribute publicity materials

Irresistible Mail

Memorable mail in vibrant colors and lifelike textures commands attention. We call it Irresistible Mail ® . Direct mail delivers. Come explore the USPS innovation gallery to see how far mail can take you—and what it will return.

Help for Direct Mail Advertising

The right mailpiece is the secret to bringing in new and old customers. USPS third-party direct mail marketing specialists* can help you format, design, print, and send the perfect advertising campaign. USPS also offers a list of local U.S. printers.

* USPS assumes no liability for the results of any contact with any company listed on the Mailing & Printing Services page or in the printer directory. Private vendors may apply non-USPS charges.

Have you ever read a story about a company and then contacted them to learn more about their product or service? Or perhaps you’ve heard a CEO’s speech and found yourself researching the company later on?

Publicity for business can be extremely valuable in building credibility and awareness for your company. For example, a legitimate news story is an endorsement that can reach a wide audience for very little cost beyond your own creativity and time. There are many forms of publicity including

  • News stories/interviews in trade journals, industry sites, newspapers, magazines, etc.
  • “Expert” quotes in a story written by a journalist or blogger
  • Self-authored stories published on websites or in industry publications
  • Speaking engagements

Publicity for business is a highly cost-effective strategy that can

  • Build awareness about your products/services, expertise and people
  • Drive prospects to your website
  • Drive participation in a promotion or event
  • Educate the market about problems your company can solve
  • Create an ongoing dialogue with the market

How to distribute publicity materials

The key to success: create newsworthy stories. They should be interesting, relevant, timely, and offer new information or insight to your prospects.

Even if you don’t think you have newsworthy content to share with the world, you can benefit by implementing small programs to raise your visibility. At the very least, you should include news releases on your website and home page; they help in search engine rankings and enable prospects to see what you’ve been doing.

Publicity for business isn’t about luck. It’s about investing in a good PR program, and it can really pay off over time.

You capitalize on the role the internet plays in publicity — your press releases drive prospects and customers to your website. You also use blogs or other online publicity techniques to create a strong presence on the internet.

Access detailed step-by-step plans in our new marketing website.
It’s free to use

How to distribute publicity materials

Publicity for Business Key Concepts & Steps

Before you begin

Tie your publicity strategy to goals that you’ve identified in your annual marketing plan.

Create a publicity strategy

Don’t just “shotgun” press releases when you need to drum up some attention. Plan your publicity strategy as you would any marketing campaign:

  • Develop a calendar that ties story ideas to key events and spreads your storytelling out over the year.
  • List events that may offer good speaking opportunities.
  • Identify publications, reporters and bloggers who cover subjects that are relevant for your company.
  • Create traditional and online press materials to give reporters support materials for their stories.
  • Know the audience for each story and carefully target your media.

Develop newsworthy story ideas

Every day, journalists are bombarded with press releases touting new product releases, business alliances, research discoveries, etc. But journalists don’t just make announcements — they need to tell compelling stories that their readers will find interesting and useful. A trade journal may run one-paragraph blurbs about new products, but to get headlines, photos, interviews and pages, you need to develop real stories.

Like movies, good news stories are often about conflict. An endless stream of positive information is boring. Instead, develop stories with substance: Good vs Evil, Nature vs Nurture, Race Against Time, Company A vs Company B, Employee Against the World, Company vs the System.

In addition, good stories can be extremely “viral” when you distribute them on the web.

Market your stories and expertise

Journalists need stories; when you have a story, you have something to offer. With a quick, courteous phone call and a simple pitch, you may get a journalist to say, “Yes, I’m interested in that story, send me your material.” That three-minute phone call could potentially make a substantial difference in your campaign success.

Reach out when you identify a potential speaking engagement or find a journalist or blogger who may want to quote an expert from your company. Be sure to prepare a short pitch and support materials as well.

Use the internet

Many PR experts say the traditional press release is dead. These days, a worthwhile PR strategy has to capitalize on the internet.

  • Write a second version of your normal releases with rich keywords and a format that helps search engines find the release.
  • Post your search-friendly releases on your site – they should be an actual page on the site, not a PDF.
  • Send your release to internet news distribution services.
  • Consider adding an RSS feed to your site – it will send updated content to other publishers.

After Publicity

It’s difficult to measure the return on publicity for business, but if you’re really focused on creating stories and reaching out, you have strong potential for success. One big story or important speaking engagement could generate fantastic results, so keep at it!

Strategy Is Key

How to distribute publicity materials

Creating a book marketing and publicity plan is necessary for all authors, whether your publisher is a traditional house or you’re trying to self-publish. Authors who set up some personal market tactics to execute, whether standalone efforts or those in tandem with their publisher, sell more copies.

A strategic publicity and marketing campaign helps spread the word about your finished book. When you’re the publisher, it’s obviously critical to devise your own detailed plan for your book’s publicity and marketing.

But even when a traditional publisher is releasing your book, paying attention to publicity and marketing is critical. The book marketing department and the publicity department sometimes have dozens of other books to be concerned with, so your efforts as an author to create opportunities are important to the book’s success.

Pre-Publication Platform

The book’s launch is really important to give it sales momentum. To set up a proper launch, a year or more before the book’s publication, lay the groundwork for the book’s publication.

For example, you should:

  • Establish an online presence. At minimum, produce a website and create an author Facebook page for your book. Establish Twitter and Instagram accounts to help get yourself out there.
  • Set yourself up on other social media sites that apply to your book, such as Goodreads.com, Pinterest if your book is visual, etc.
  • Try to guest blog or be interviewed on websites and podcasts that align with your book’s target audience.

Network

Publishers ask authors to utilize all their contacts with a tool called the author questionnaire, which helps gather all the resources an author brings to the marketing and publicity campaign. It could be as grand as having a media platform like a radio show, or as modest as finding a college alumni magazine willing to make an announcement about your book’s publication.

The questionnaire will help you put on your thinking cap about your friends and family who might be useful – the friend of a friend who writes for the local newspaper, or your cousin who owns a café and might be willing to host a book launch event.

Publicity Planning

Especially if you’re doing your own marketing and publicity, find a solid newsworthy reason for the press to pay attention to you – believe it or not, the fact that you published a book doesn’t qualify as news to most media. Note that if book publicists work on your book, they will most likely take care of most of this – but it doesn’t hurt to be informed as to the process.

  • Use an existing event as a media “hook” for your book.
  • Craft a great press release for your book using your strategy.
  • Create a list of media contacts and bloggers who might be interested.
  • Attend major book conferences and be on panels.

Promotional Materials

Online promotion is most important. Book trailers can be inexpensive to produce, practically free to distribute, and best of all, are easy to share. People who find your book trailer, or the book it describes, appealing, may spread the word with their own networks.

You never know who you might run into, so have information about your book handy – a business card with your website address and social media handles, a postcard to send to friends and media outlets – these can help your book get noticed.

Execute Your Plan

Self-published authors need to reach out to media and event venues to set up readings, book signings, or talks. You might also hire a freelance book PR pro to help you. Either way, it’s good to start with at least some idea of the publicity avenues available to you as an author:

  • Email your press release to your media list; follow up within a week
  • Organize a book launch event
  • Reach out to book festival organizers
  • Alert your social media network, as well as your offline network
  • Set up readings and signings with local and regional bookstores

Making a solid pre-publication marketing and publicity plan and following it through might not be as glamorous as writing a book, but they are important steps toward sharing your book with the world.

How to distribute publicity materials

Limited-Time Savings: 60% Off Marketing Books

How to distribute publicity materials

Just what is public relations? And how does it differ from advertising? Public relations is the opposite of advertising. In advertising, you pay to have your message placed in a newspaper, TV or radio spot. In public relations, the article that features your company is not paid for. The reporter, whether broadcast or print, writes about or films your company as a result of information he or she received and researched.

Publicity is more effective than advertising, for several reasons. First, publicity is far more cost-effective than advertising. Even if it is not free, your only expenses are generally phone calls and mailings to the media. Second, publicity has greater longevity than advertising. An article about your business will be remembered far longer than an ad. Publicity also reaches a far wider audience than advertising generally does. Sometimes, your story might even be picked up by the national media, spreading the word about your business all over the country.

Finally, and most important, publicity has greater credibility with the public than does advertising. Readers feel that if an objective third party — a magazine, newspaper or radio reporter — is featuring your company, you must be doing something worthwhile.

Why do some companies succeed in generating publicity while others don’t? It’s been proved time and time again that no matter how large or small your business is, the key to securing publicity is identifying your target market and developing a well-thought-out public relations campaign. To get your company noticed, follow these seven steps.

1. Write your positioning statement.
This sums up in a few sentences what makes your business different from the competition.

2. List your objectives.
What do you hope to achieve for your company through the publicity plan you put into action? List your top five goals in order of priority. Be specific, and always set deadlines. Using a clothing boutique as an example, some goals may be to:

  • increase your store traffic, which will translate into increased sales
  • create a high profile for your store within the community

3. Identify your target customers.
Are they male or female? What age range? What are their lifestyles, incomes and buying habits? Where do they live?

4. Identify your target media.
List the newspapers and TV and radio programs in your area that would be appropriate outlets. Make a complete list of the media you want to target, then call them and ask whom you should contact regarding your area of business. Identify the specific reporter or producer who covers your area so you can contact them directly. Your local library will have media reference books that list contact names and numbers. Make your own media directory, listing names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Separate TV, radio and print sources. Know the “beats” covered by different reporters so you can be sure you are pitching your ideas to the appropriate person.

5. Develop story angles.
Keeping in mind the media you’re approaching, make a list of story ideas you can pitch to them. Develop story angles you would want to read about or see on TV. Plan a 45-minute brainstorming session with your spouse, a business associate or your employees to come up with fresh ideas.

If you own a toy store, for example, one angle could be to donate toys to the local hospital’s pediatric wing. If you own a clothing store, you could alert the local media to a fashion trend in your area. What’s flying out of your store so fast you can’t keep it in stock? If it’s shirts featuring the American flag, you could talk to the media about the return of patriotism. Then arrange for a reporter to speak with some of your customers about why they purchased that particular shirt. Suggest the newspaper send a photographer to take pictures of your customers wearing the shirts.

6. Make the pitch.
Put your thoughts on paper, and send them to the reporter in a “pitch letter.” Start with a question or an interesting fact that relates your business to the target medium’s audience. For instance, if you were writing for a magazine aimed at older people, you could start off “Did you know that more than half of all women over 50 have not begun saving for retirement?”

Then lead into your pitch: “As a Certified Financial Planner, I can offer your readers 10 tips to start them on the road to a financially comfortable retirement . . .” Make your letter no longer than one page; include your telephone number so the reporter can contact you. If appropriate, include a press release with your letter. Be sure to include your positioning statement in any correspondence or press releases you send.

7. Follow up.
Following up is the key to securing coverage. Wait four to six days after you’ve sent the information, then follow up your pitch letter with a telephone call. If you leave a message on voice mail and the reporter does not call you back, call again until you get him or her on the phone. Do not leave a second message within five days of the first. If the reporter requests additional information, send it immediately and follow up to confirm receipt.

How to distribute publicity materials

Limited-Time Savings: 60% Off Marketing Books

How to distribute publicity materials

This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com’s Second-Quarter Startup Kit which explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.

In Start Your Own Event Planning Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. and writer Cheryl Kimball explain how you can get started in the event planning industry, whether you want to work part- or full-time planning anything from a first-birthday party, bar mitzvah or wedding to political fundraisers and product launches. In this edited excerpt, the authors discusses eight different ways you can promote your event planning business to the right audiences.

As you develop your event planning business, it’s impor­tant to market in order to grow your client base. Following are eight ideas for advertising and promoting your event planning business:

Networking. For most planners, networking is at the top of the list in terms of developing a strong client base. Networking can help your business in two ways. If people have met you and know what services you offer, they may refer business to you or use your service themselves. Furthermore, networking with hotels, caterers and so on will give you a chance to meet some of the people whose services you may need as you plan events.

Advertising. Print advertising covers a broad range, from a free—or inexpensive—Yellow Pages advertisement to an ad in a glossy national publication costing tens of thousands of dollars. Most planners agree that an ad in the Yellow Pages makes good business sense. A line advertisement, simply listing your business name, is often provided free of charge when you connect your phone (if you have a landline). You can also opt for a display advertisement — the bigger, bordered ads in the Yellow Pages — but there’s a charge for these.

You may also want to consider advertising in your local newspaper or in a regional magazine, if you plan both corporate and social occasions. Because the market area for this kind of event planner can extend throughout a given county, a magazine focusing on that county can be an excellent one in which to advertise. These magazines can be geared to topics related to your service (e.g., gourmet food, floral design) or aimed at readers in a certain region. An ad in a regional magazine might be a good tool for reaching upscale consumers. A regional business magazine ad would also reach prospective corporate clients.

Business card. Don’t underestimate the power of this small but mighty marketing tool. Even in the computer age, a succinct, professionally printed business card is still critical. Consider it a diminutive brochure, especially if you opt for a tri-fold business card. Many planners opt for this business-card format because more information can be included than on a traditional business card, while the card remains small enough to be tucked inside a wallet or purse.

Include the name of your business, contact information (e-mail, phone and website address, for instance), your name, specialization, your logo, and some testimonials from past clients. Always carry business cards. You never know when you’ll run into a potential client. Ask vendors with whom you work (florists, caterers and photographers, for instance) if you can leave a stack of business cards in their places of business.

Informative brochures. Like your business card, a well-designed, professional brochure can help cement your image as a professional planner. Prospective clients will make judgments about your company based on your brochure, so make sure it’s conceived and produced at the highest level possible.

The brochure should include all the information listed on your tri-fold business card and allow you to expand upon this information, in particular, by adding photographs. The photos should be of successful events you’ve designed. You may also want to include a photo of yourself.

Maximize your chances of success by making sure your company brochure matches the type of business you have. All materials should look professional, but if you are marketing to a budget-conscious group, a too-glamorous brochure can send the wrong message—and send potential budget-conscious clients running in the opposite direction.

As with your business cards, leave your brochure with caterers, florists, photographers, and other vendors with whom you’ve worked.

Direct mail. You may choose to distribute your brochure via direct mail. If you do, make sure your mailing list is well chosen. Event planner David Granger says that while word of mouth is his most effective advertising, he uses mailing lists of the organizations his company belongs to (International Special Events Society, Meeting Professionals International, National Association for Catering and Events, and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau).

Customer service. One of the best ways to keep customers satisfied and coming back is to be constantly on the lookout for new ideas and ways to improve the service you provide. Consider the following:

  • Take a course or a series of courses in event management.
  • Invest in an hour or more with an industry consultant.
  • Attend other events to study how they’re produced.
  • Attend as many arts-related functions as possible (e.g., arts exhibits, theatri­cal performances) to gather ideas.
  • Join trade organizations.
  • Subscribe to at least one professional newsletter or journal.

Facebook. Facebook is geared toward communicating with your network of friends. However, friends “like” websites they want to support or really like. So create a Facebook page for your event planning business, but use it sparingly for promoting your business. Postings to your Facebook wall might include some fun tidbits you learned about a new wedding venue in the region or some behind-the-scenes anecdotes from that Rolling Stones concert you’re coordinating. Check out the Facebook pages of other event planners and other service businesses you use and admire to see how they’re using Facebook to their advantage.

Twitter. With Twitter, you can tweet quick messages to your subscribers to remind them about your business. “Paul McCartney just said ‘yes’ to special appearance at Stones concert! Better get your ticket now!” or “Just found out about a great new event venue with full-service spa—does your corporate event need planning?” might be messages that promote your service while also offering benefit to the reader.

As your Facebook and Twitter audiences grow, stay creative. Invent new ways to engage your audience and encourage them to invite their friends. Continue to avoid hard sales pitches. People don’t forward commercials to their friends — they forward value.

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (FOUO) UNCLASSIFIED CONTROLLED INFORMATION (UCI) Explained.

FOUO is a government generated protective marking. The Government is solely responsible for marking documents �FOUO� in accordance with the protection Guidance Matrix. The contractor is responsible for handling and protection of FOUO markings only when generated and disseminated by the Government, and is required to apply FOUO markings only when extracting FOUO information from such material. Will comply with Government protective markings e.g: (FOUO) identified in the DSCS SCG, dated April 1995 GBS SPG, and the WideBand Gapfiller System, SPG (Strawman). UCI is unclassified information that required protection for any number of reason. This category encompasses both �FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY� (FOUO) and �Sensitive Information� (as defined in the Computer Security Act of 1987). The Government will mark all UCI information/material as �FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY� (FOUO). This category identifies information that is exempt from mandatory release under the provision of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOUO is not a security classification, it is protective marking /caveat. It is not classified according to Executive Order, but is exempt from disclosure to the public under exemptions 2 through 9 of the FOIA. Do not consider or mark any other material FOUO. The FOUO caveat is not authorized as a form of classification to protect national security interest.

NOTE: Instructions on how the contractor will handle FOUO is provided in the below paragraph entitled, �How to Apply FOUO Marking.”

Distribution Statement:

The distribution of UCI/FOUO must be assured. To ensure the FOUO is protected accordingly, the distributor/information provider must verify the identity of the recipient. This verification can be accomplished either by introductions, by a return phone call, or similar means.

How to Apply FOUO Markings:

The following guidance represents the Government�s methods in marking FOUO material and should be followed when responding with FOUO material. NOTE: Portion (paragraph) marking is not required for Non-Classified documents. The originator may mark individual paragraphs that contain FOUO information to alert the users and assist in the review process.

Mark all unclassified material containing UCI information as �FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” conspicuously on the bottom of the front cover, the title page and the outside of the back cover.

Mark an individual paragraph in classified document that contains FOUO information, but no classified information, by placing �FOUO)” at the beginning of the paragraph.

Mark an individual page in a classified document that had both FOUO and classified information at the top and bottom with highest security classification of information Classified information, �FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” at the bottom of the page.

Mark other material, such as computer printouts, photographs, films, tape, or slides, �FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” or �FOUO” in a way that ensures the recipient or viewer know the material contains FOUO Information.

Procedures for releasing, Disseminating, and Transmitting FOUO Material:

UCI/FOUO information may be sent within authorized DoD components and DoD contractors, consultants, and grantees to conduct associated official business. Inform recipients of the status of such information, and send the material in a way that prevents unauthorized public disclosure. Make sure documents that transmit UCI/FOUO material call attention to any UCI/FOUO attachments. After verifying the identity of the recipient, the distributor/information provider may distribute UCI/FOUO by unclassified fax. UCI/FOUO may be distributed via e-mail only after permission of the organization that controls the unauthorized disclosure, consider such factors as attaching cover sheets, location of sending and receiving machines, and availability of authorized to receive the UCI/FOUO information.

Sending FOUO Information by United States Postal Services:

Sending material containing UCI/FOUO information in a way that will not disclose their contents. When not mixed with classified information, individuals may send UCI/FOUO Information by First Class Mail or Parcel Post.

Electronically Transmitted Messages:

UCI/FOUO may be distributed via e-mail only after permission of the organization that controls the information is granted and identity of the recipient is verified. Mark conspicuously each part of an electronically transmitted message that contains UCI/FOUO information.

Safeguarding FOUO/UCI Information:

During Duty Hours. Reasonable steps must be taken to minimize the risk of access by unauthorized personnel.

During Non-duty Hours. Store locked containers, desks, or file cabinets, bookcases, or similar.

The Disposal and Unauthorized Disclosure of FOUO:

Disposal of FOUO Material. Handle, protect and dispose of FOUO information in the same manner as Company Proprietary, or in a way that will prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the material (i.e. tear in quarters).

Unauthorized Disclosure. The unauthorized disclosure of UCI/FOUO material is not an unauthorized disclosure of classified information. However, Air Force and DoD contractor personnel have a duty to take reasonable actions to protect UCI/FOUO material under their control from unauthorized disclosure. Appropriate administrative actions should be taken to fix responsibility for such disclosures of FOUO information protected by the Privacy Act (PA) may also result in civil or criminal sanction against the Air Force. Tell the originating organization about disclosure of it material.

How to distribute publicity materials

Limited-Time Savings: 60% Off Marketing Books

How to distribute publicity materials

This excerpt is part of Entrepreneur.com’s Second-Quarter Startup Kit which explores the fundamentals of starting up in a wide range of industries.

In Start Your Own Event Planning Business, the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. and writer Cheryl Kimball explain how you can get started in the event planning industry, whether you want to work part- or full-time planning anything from a first-birthday party, bar mitzvah or wedding to political fundraisers and product launches. In this edited excerpt, the authors discusses eight different ways you can promote your event planning business to the right audiences.

As you develop your event planning business, it’s impor­tant to market in order to grow your client base. Following are eight ideas for advertising and promoting your event planning business:

Networking. For most planners, networking is at the top of the list in terms of developing a strong client base. Networking can help your business in two ways. If people have met you and know what services you offer, they may refer business to you or use your service themselves. Furthermore, networking with hotels, caterers and so on will give you a chance to meet some of the people whose services you may need as you plan events.

Advertising. Print advertising covers a broad range, from a free—or inexpensive—Yellow Pages advertisement to an ad in a glossy national publication costing tens of thousands of dollars. Most planners agree that an ad in the Yellow Pages makes good business sense. A line advertisement, simply listing your business name, is often provided free of charge when you connect your phone (if you have a landline). You can also opt for a display advertisement — the bigger, bordered ads in the Yellow Pages — but there’s a charge for these.

You may also want to consider advertising in your local newspaper or in a regional magazine, if you plan both corporate and social occasions. Because the market area for this kind of event planner can extend throughout a given county, a magazine focusing on that county can be an excellent one in which to advertise. These magazines can be geared to topics related to your service (e.g., gourmet food, floral design) or aimed at readers in a certain region. An ad in a regional magazine might be a good tool for reaching upscale consumers. A regional business magazine ad would also reach prospective corporate clients.

Business card. Don’t underestimate the power of this small but mighty marketing tool. Even in the computer age, a succinct, professionally printed business card is still critical. Consider it a diminutive brochure, especially if you opt for a tri-fold business card. Many planners opt for this business-card format because more information can be included than on a traditional business card, while the card remains small enough to be tucked inside a wallet or purse.

Include the name of your business, contact information (e-mail, phone and website address, for instance), your name, specialization, your logo, and some testimonials from past clients. Always carry business cards. You never know when you’ll run into a potential client. Ask vendors with whom you work (florists, caterers and photographers, for instance) if you can leave a stack of business cards in their places of business.

Informative brochures. Like your business card, a well-designed, professional brochure can help cement your image as a professional planner. Prospective clients will make judgments about your company based on your brochure, so make sure it’s conceived and produced at the highest level possible.

The brochure should include all the information listed on your tri-fold business card and allow you to expand upon this information, in particular, by adding photographs. The photos should be of successful events you’ve designed. You may also want to include a photo of yourself.

Maximize your chances of success by making sure your company brochure matches the type of business you have. All materials should look professional, but if you are marketing to a budget-conscious group, a too-glamorous brochure can send the wrong message—and send potential budget-conscious clients running in the opposite direction.

As with your business cards, leave your brochure with caterers, florists, photographers, and other vendors with whom you’ve worked.

Direct mail. You may choose to distribute your brochure via direct mail. If you do, make sure your mailing list is well chosen. Event planner David Granger says that while word of mouth is his most effective advertising, he uses mailing lists of the organizations his company belongs to (International Special Events Society, Meeting Professionals International, National Association for Catering and Events, and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau).

Customer service. One of the best ways to keep customers satisfied and coming back is to be constantly on the lookout for new ideas and ways to improve the service you provide. Consider the following:

  • Take a course or a series of courses in event management.
  • Invest in an hour or more with an industry consultant.
  • Attend other events to study how they’re produced.
  • Attend as many arts-related functions as possible (e.g., arts exhibits, theatri­cal performances) to gather ideas.
  • Join trade organizations.
  • Subscribe to at least one professional newsletter or journal.

Facebook. Facebook is geared toward communicating with your network of friends. However, friends “like” websites they want to support or really like. So create a Facebook page for your event planning business, but use it sparingly for promoting your business. Postings to your Facebook wall might include some fun tidbits you learned about a new wedding venue in the region or some behind-the-scenes anecdotes from that Rolling Stones concert you’re coordinating. Check out the Facebook pages of other event planners and other service businesses you use and admire to see how they’re using Facebook to their advantage.

Twitter. With Twitter, you can tweet quick messages to your subscribers to remind them about your business. “Paul McCartney just said ‘yes’ to special appearance at Stones concert! Better get your ticket now!” or “Just found out about a great new event venue with full-service spa—does your corporate event need planning?” might be messages that promote your service while also offering benefit to the reader.

As your Facebook and Twitter audiences grow, stay creative. Invent new ways to engage your audience and encourage them to invite their friends. Continue to avoid hard sales pitches. People don’t forward commercials to their friends — they forward value.