Using community-based media to market your small business

The conversation on marketing your business these days is generally centred around digital first! And that’s not bad advice. It’s just that it is the first advice that comes to mind.

Social media and online marketing have provided a cost-effective and easily measured method of marketing your startup business.

But businesses often forget that their operations start within a community structure with known family and friends. And extends within that network to people that your family and friend are acquainted with, or know; and with this community, you don’t have to reach out just via digital distribution.

This is where community-based media fits in perfectly. Also known partly as offline marketing.

Search local newspapers and radio stations

Community Newspapers

Community newspapers are distributed free of charge to suburbs and communities around the country. Released on a weekly basis, they provide a week by week glance of community happenings from school announcements, current affairs, health and lifestyle advice, to the bustling Classifieds section promoting a host of businesses.

The papers also carry a range of advice pieces from local business owners or professional service providers. These pieces provide guidance on health matters, legal or financial tips and lifestyle orientated trends.

WHAT TO DO: Connect with your local newspaper. Introduce yourself to the reporter/s on the beat, about showcasing local businesses or producing advice pieces. Suggest that you would like to contribute a column talking about your field of expertise. NOTE: Please don’t expect to get paid for this. This effort is about getting exposure for your business and showcasing your knowledge and expertise in a field. Once your have secured a slot, ensure that you write consistently according to the slot you’ve been given.

South African community newspapers

Community Radio

Community radio stations abound in South Africa and across the world. They are like beating pulses all over the landscape; covering news, views, events, outdoor broadcasts and special happenings. You will also find that these stations are run and operated by DJs from within the communities – providing a real sense of connectedness.

As with community newspapers, community based radio stations cover a similar type of beat with content; that is, covering current affairs news, interviewing local business experts with industry knowledge and having interesting conversations.

WHAT TO DO: Connect with the Station Manager or Programmes Manager at your local radio station. Present yourself as a free resource to do a slot or possible show about your area of expertise. Remember to have a good idea of existing shows and your concept of your slot already prepared. Without this, you will look unprepared and simply be ‘taking a chance.’ Being prepared lends confidence to your pitch by being knowlegeable about your service or business offering and its value to people’s lives.

Janet Atkins Memorial Production Studio in Ghana

Other Tactics

  • Buy advertising options with community media
    • This is a much cheaper alternative than national publications or stations who will charge much more for advertising or sponsored slots than their community counterparts
  • Invite local businesses who write regular columns in community newspapers to guest blog on your business’s blog. Through this connection you are able to strengthen your network
  • Connect with the social presence of community media in your area. Provide relevant commentary on latest posts that are relevant to your area of interest or business.
  • Connect with community business whatsapp groups, that already have a connection with local community media forums. Take care not to spam these groups, but to provide consistent, and frequent updates on happenings in your industry