Recently, I caught up with Bruce Freeman, The Small Business Professor (aka “Professor Bruce”) to get his current thoughts on small business success.
In addition to having a syndicated, small business column with Scripps Howard, teaching and running his own marketing and public relations business, Bruce is the co-author of the entrepreneurship book, “Birthing the Elephant.” Here’s what Bruce had to say:
Tell us about your passion.
I don’t think I have to tell your audience about the difficult economic times we live in. When I hear the economists talk about the unemployment rate using terminology like a “decrease in the rate of increase” with respect to number of jobs lost or the rate went down last month from 9.8% to 9.7% and we may have bottomed out, I want to scream, “You just don’t get it”. When you’re unemployed, the unemployment rate is 100%.
Many people who are losing their jobs are trying to redefine themselves. They do not want to take the chance of being “fired” again so they are giving self-employment a shot.
This is the way I got started in 1991 after being let go from a management position with a large publishing company. I have a successful business, but more important, I have a good quality of life and I am the master of my own destiny. That is why I am so passionate.
Tell us about your business.
My main business is ProLine Communications, where I provide media relations services to my clients to help them get greater exposure (and ultimately sales) in their respective market place.
Why did you start your radio program?
David Wolf, the CEO of Smallbiz America Radio, had originally interviewed me as “The Small Business Professor” about the impact of President Obama’s stimulus package on small business.
After that interview, David called me and told me I had a good “radio voice,” and in his opinion, I sounded a bit like Andy Rooney. David asked if I was interested in doing a regular show. I told him I had interviewed many unique and interesting entrepreneurs over the years, and I could share some humorous and inspirational stories with his audience. We decided on two-minute segments in a commentary format with a moral to each story.
What do you hope to accomplish with your new radio program, speaking events and teaching?
My goal in all media platforms is to strengthen the “Small Business Professor” brand. Radio represents a new platform for me and gives me the opportunity of reaching new audiences. I am already reaching audiences through my Scripps Howard “Ask the Small Business Professor” column, my book, “Birthing the Elephant,” and being an adjunct professor at Seton Hall and Kean universities.
The link to my radio program is now on the speaking page of my website so that event managers looking to hire speakers can hear how I speak. Each time I add a new radio segment, I do an e-mail blast to all my contacts. I have several new speaking engagements coming up, including one at the University of Pennsylvania in December.
The key is to “parlay”. The column led to my book. The book led to my radio show, which led to more speaking events. This led to being contacted by a speakers’ bureau.
Hopefully this will continue.
What has been the most successful marketing or publicity tool you have used to bring in new business during the recession?
Everyone wants to do the one thing that will bring in 10 new clients. There isn’t. However, there may be 10 things you can do to bring in one, new client.
As far as I am concerned, it’s about “totality.” Social networking, attending networking groups, belonging to professional organizations, writing a newsletter and e-mail blasts are just a few good ways of keeping your name out there. When the economy does recover, people will remember you if your name has always been out there.
What advice do you have for small business owners trying to build buzz on a tight budget right now?
Send a press release to your local newspaper announcing a new employee, an expansion, an anniversary of your business, etc.
Contact the regional newspaper and let them know of your expertise and that you will make yourself available if they need source information.
Go to tradeshows with a stack of business cards, and leave one with each vendor. When they call to sell you, ask for the person that you need to make your sale.
Make regular announcements on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You don’t want to miss any opportunity.
What kinds of stories are you looking for from entrepreneurs for your radio show?
The formula for my radio show is simple. I need an interesting business or product, a humorous anecdote and a moral. You can hear my show at https://www.smallbizamerica.com.
What is the best way for the StartupNation audience to reach you?
The best way to reach me is my web site www.smallbusinessprofessor.com
Thanks Bruce! That’s great advice!
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