Regardless of the size of your company, marketing and PR should be a critical component of your growth strategy. If your budget is limited, you’ll need laser-focused campaigns to ensure maximum ROI. Selecting the most cost-effective methods to reach your target audience, though, can be challenging. We recommend beginning with the following best practices:

Focus on earned, not paid, media coverage 

Traditional ads and pay-to-play media (“advertorials”) are expensive, and their results can be difficult to quantify. Earned media and thought leadership, on the other hand, have no direct cost (other than time and effort) and showcase your company’s expertise.

Thought leadership can take many forms (bylined articles, interviews, executive profiles), but the key is providing your audience (read: prospects) with useful solutions to their problems in an engaging way—a way that not only informs, but also entertains.

Diversify your efforts across multiple thought leadership outlets to maximize reach. Securing interviews or placing bylined articles in local outlets will create awareness with your local business community, while coverage in industry publications will boost your credibility and establish your team as voices of authority in your field.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of follow-up. You can’t count on your prospects organically finding your media coverage on their own. Push out your thought leadership via social media and email marketing to extend its reach.

Leverage centers of influence

Most companies design marketing and PR efforts to target potential clients, but developing campaigns that specifically engage centers of influence and referral sources is equally as important.

A successfully executed referral source campaign can transform your business partners into extensions of your sales team. But before you approach a center of influence, make sure you have materials to share with them that describe your value proposition and the services you offer. Do you have a website that looks credible and professional? Can you direct them to leadership content such as white papers, blogs, or articles that demonstrate your expertise?

Finally, and most importantly, make sure that the relationship is mutually beneficial to keep it long-lasting. Invite your contacts to a workshop, seminar, or networking function where they can make valuable new contacts themselves, or offer up your contacts to them in return.

Develop a marketing strategy (and stick to it)

Companies that attempt to operate without a clear marketing strategy will see their budgets quickly deplete. There is nothing more damaging to a budget than one-off campaigns and half-baked initiatives.

Instead of approaching marketing and PR as isolated events (a trade show here, an email campaign there), identify your goals, create a strategy to reach those goals, and stay the course. If any opportunities pop up (e.g., a sponsorship, a chance to speak at a conference), measure them against your goals. If they don’t directly align with your marketing strategy, don’t invest.